Why the CO2 increase is man made (part 1)

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

Guest Post by Ferdinand Engelbeen

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

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

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

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

The mass balance:

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

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

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

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/CarbonCycle/Images/carbon_cycle_diagram.jpg
Figure 1 is from NASA: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/CarbonCycle/Images/carbon_cycle_diagram.jpg

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

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

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

Or rearranged:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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MattN
August 5, 2010 7:48 am

I wasn’t aware that this point was still up for debate…

Scott Covert
August 5, 2010 7:59 am

[Snip] Invalid email address. RT-mod

Espen
August 5, 2010 7:59 am

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

Pamela Gray
August 5, 2010 8:02 am

Is it just me or are these two posts about CO2 not counter points? I would have rather compared two posts about CO2’s ability to warm the atmosphere, or conversely, whether or not the increase in CO2 is measured correctly and that it is anthropogenic. The two posts presented really can’t be compared to each other in terms of classical debate structure.
REPLY: Pam, it’s a word borrowed from Tom Vonk’s title which had “counter view” in it, where I should have said “another” instead of “counter”. I’ve made a change to be more accurate. My point in the link was that we cover both sides of the CO2 issues here, pro and con. And, as we see in comments below, no good deed goes unpunished. – Anthony

John Egan
August 5, 2010 8:10 am

As a left critic of AGW, I have little doubt that the majority of increase in CO2 in human caused. And I have been called a fascist and mass murderer – not to mention an idiot – on liberal web sites for expressing skepticism about the modeling and policy imperatives that the AGW community has inferred from the above basic observation.
First, there is a false precision about much of the scientific data presented – from temperature records to the relative greenhouse impacts of various gasses. I recall when I was in sixth grade how upset I was with the mathematical concept of significance – i.e. discarding 16 single units when another data point was measured to the nearest 1000 units. “How could one simply throw away 16 perfectly good units?” I protested.
Second, the geometric expansion of error in nearly every model developed makes any “prediction” practically worthless. The IPCC claim of a 7C temperature increase is nothing more than an Ouija board prediction of the future. The fact the many of the same modeling elements are used in long-range forecasts that predicted the barbeque summers in Britain or missed the recent record cold events in South American or snow on the Eastern Seaboard show the limitations of any long-range modeling. To what degree recent temperature increases are part of natural temperature fluctuations, rebound from the LIA, and greenhouse impacts remains uncertain.
Finally, the policy imperatives do NOT necessarily follow from any increase in CO2. Even if there is a moderate increase in world temperatures – which is by no means a given – there are a range of responses other than restriction of CO2 emissions and the concomitant impacts that this will have on human societies. One of the primary failures of Copenhagen – and it was a huge failure – was the underlying neocolonialism of the framing of carbon reduction. In other words, “We can drive, but y’all need to keep your oxcarts.” In Western nations, although public opinion tends to support AGW in vague generalities, when specifics are framed opposition tends to be strong. As a progressive, I am loathe to see CO2-based climate demands steal most of the oxygen from other, far more important issues that are the core of progressive values – human rights, equitable incomes, conflict resolution, and environmental sustainability.

carrot eater
August 5, 2010 8:12 am

“For a counter view on this issue, please see also the guest post by Tom Vonk”
Huh? One post is about why there’s more CO2 in the atmosphere. The other is about what that CO2 might do, while it’s there. These aren’t even close to being counter views on the same issue.
REPLY: Well I borrowed the word from his title, and I should have used “another view. I’ve changed it to “For a another view on the CO2 issue”, just to make you happy. I’m simply trying to point out that I cover both sides.
Thanks for recognizing that unlike some other blogs you frequent and support, we offer both pro and con sides of the issues, both in full posts and in comments. – Anthony

TomRude
August 5, 2010 8:12 am

Will Mr Engelbeen be as “responsible” when he’ll discuss Beck or just like on his page, simply biased?
REPLY: You’ll have to include me. I don’t think Beck’s work is worth much in the context of trends because many of the historical samples he cites were done by less accurate chemical reduction methods and taken in cities with little or no quality control from point to point or metadata. Like with temperature and UHI/siting issues, I don’t think cities are a good sampling place for global trends in CO2 either. – Anthony

August 5, 2010 8:17 am

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

Bruce
August 5, 2010 8:17 am

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

Bill Yarber
August 5, 2010 8:19 am

I think you have seriously underestimated the impact on the oceans outguessing CO2 as they warm! Look at the ice core data, CO2 has repeatedly risen 200 to 800 years after Earth’s temperatures began to rise. This happened repeatedly and long before man’s influence. The rate and magnitude of those changes are very close to what we see in the past 150 years, especially when you consider we are near historic lows for CO2 concentration for the past 10 million years. Oceans outgas CO2 as they warm, this is the source of the majority of the 100 ppm increase in CO2 concentration over the time since the end of the LIA. You need to seriously re-evaluate you mass balance estimates for the oceans. As they warm, they outgas CO2 in massive quantities!
Let’s also look at the opposite end of the equation. The ice core data also shows that CO2 concentrations drop 800 to 2,000 years after the Earth’s temperatures begin falling. Since vegation thrives under high CO2 and higher temps, it is obvious that vegetation will decrease as the temperatures fall. Therefore, the only sink for CO2 that can account for the measured decrease is the oceans! Again, man played no role in those temperatue or CO2 changes shown by the ice core data!

August 5, 2010 8:22 am

Pamela Gray says:
August 5, 2010 at 8:02 am
Is it just me or are these two posts about CO2 not counter points?
Indeed, there is no link between the two discussions, as mine is about the cause of the increase, while Tom Vonk’s is about the effect of the increase…
Still, some influential sceptics like (or hope) to prove that the increase is not anthropogenic (as several posts at WUWT from the -even recent- past show), as that makes that the influence doesn’t matter at all…
REPLY: Ferdinand, it’s a word borrowed from Tom Vonk’s title which had “counter view” in it, where I should have said “another” instead of “counter”. I’ve made a change to be more accurate. My point in the link was that we cover both sides of the CO2 issues here, pro and con. And, as we see in comments, no good deed goes unpunished.
You could, simply thank me for publishing both pro and con, unlike many other blogs on climate.
– Anthony

Robinson
August 5, 2010 8:26 am

To be honest this discussion is really not very interesting. Does anyone still dispute the fact that mankind has increased the amount of Co2 in the atmosphere? I implicitly accept this as being the case whenever I start my car.
In my humble opinion what would be more interesting to know is whether nature has a mechanism (centennial, millennial) that will adjust to compensate, i.e. are CO2 levels (step changes notwithstanding) broadly stable? I think perhaps increasing CO2 + Land clearance (replacing vegetation with asphalt) will probably affect any such feedback, i.e. it will no longer function as it may have in the past.

899
August 5, 2010 8:28 am

Well, aside from the sources of CO2, and the sinks, and the fact that the gas has been increasing in quantity lately, I see nothing which hasn’t been discussed to death previously.
So what if the CO2 is increasing? It was far higher in the geological record in the past, and the Earth’s temperature preceded both the rise and the fall.
What caused the Roman Warming period? What cause the Medieval Warm period? What caused the Little Ice Age?
Blaming CO2 for anything is like blaming a child for needing new clothes because he’s outgrown his current wardrobe.
Back to square one.

Robert of Ottawa
August 5, 2010 8:28 am

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

The Engineer
August 5, 2010 8:29 am

Apparently the rises in CO2 levels have been going on for about 150 years – and on a relatively straight upward curve.
I’m slightly confused by this, as early rises in CO2 seem to be larger than possible for human emissions alone, which were much lower at the end of the 19th century.
In fact according to my own graphs (amatuer I admit) it wasn’t actually possible for human emmision to be responsible for the entire rise in CO2 until the 1940s.
Yet another misnomer is the contradiction between exponential growth of human emissions and the linear growth of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Why doesn’t your Nasa figure show the largest Carbon Sink – Chalk. By far the greatest depositry for carbon, all of which must have been at some time in the atmosphere.

August 5, 2010 8:33 am

tallbloke says:
August 5, 2010 at 8:17 am
Julian Flood posted here last week and said that there are different types of plankton in the ocean which prefer different isotopes of carbon. If I understood him correctly, at the moment, the plankton type which preferentially absorbs the ‘natural’ carbon isotope is in the ascendency. This leaves more of the ‘fossil fuel’ isotope in the atmosphere as the alleged fingerprint of human co2 emission being the cause of increased levels in the atmosphere.
This first part is only about the mass balance, without looking at the isotope ratio’s. Only based on the mass balance, there is no room for any additional CO2 from nature. In one of the next parts, the isotope balance and the oxygen balance will be interpreted. These add to the evidence of the human origin, but don’t give absolute proof. But the mass balance does…

August 5, 2010 8:43 am

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

BillD
August 5, 2010 8:44 am

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

August 5, 2010 8:44 am

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

Caleb
August 5, 2010 8:46 am

Like “tallbloke,” my ears also perked up when I read Julian Flood’s ideas. Unfortunately I’m afraid such ideas do not get encouraged by funding, due the politics involved.
I always felt Jaworowki’s ideas about the ice-cores having flaws and weaknesses deserved more credit than he received. Instead he was treated like a modern day Copernicus.
My intuition tells me that CO2 must rise and fall more than the ice-core records show. Without any scientific backing, I feel major volcanic eruptions, especially the ones involving vents passing through limestone, should inject massive amounts of CO2 into the world-wide system, and should show in the ice-core record as sharp peaks followed by gradual valleys. Because the ice-core record shows no such events, even over hundreds of thousands of years, I imagine some sort of mixing process occurs in the ice, and the bubbles are not as “pristine” as so many people blithely assume.
Ideas such as the two I mentioned above could throw a wrench into the preconceptions people have about what CO2 is “man-made,” and what is the “normal” level of CO2 in the atmosphere. However I feel anyone who threatens the current preconceptions will be most definitely a pariah, more due to politics.

Malaga View
August 5, 2010 8:49 am

Basic logic error! The formula is:
dCO2(atm) = CO2(in1 + in2 + in3 + in4…) – CO2(out1 + out2 + out3 + out4…)
Where: in1, in2, in3, in4… ALL vary over time
The number of inputs may not have been fully defined
out1, out2, out3, out4… ALL vary over time
The number of outputs may not have been fully defined
And dCO2(atm) observations vary with time of day, season, wind speed,
location, altitude, temperature….
ALL are subject to interpretation (to put it mildly)

Doug Proctor
August 5, 2010 8:50 am

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

Bill Toland
August 5, 2010 8:52 am

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

Alex
August 5, 2010 8:53 am

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

Peter
August 5, 2010 8:57 am

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

Dave F
August 5, 2010 8:57 am

What is known with reasonable accuracy are the emissions, which are based on inventories of fossil fuel use by the finance departments (taxes!) of different countries…
Could you please elaborate on how this is done? Is the dollar amount of taxes received for the sales tax on fossil fuel used? Is there some other method?

Jeremy
August 5, 2010 9:01 am

1) What efforts have been made to determine how constant incoming cosmic rays have been to earth on all timescales? Could a change in C14 production due to fluctuations in cosmic ray intensity be more responsible for any correlation in this regards?
2) My understanding is that C13, being a byproduct of decay of Nitrogen-13 (half-life 10 min), which is itself a product of proton collision with atomic Oxygen, could be a product of cosmic rays entering the atmosphere. So I reiterate question 1 with regards to C13, providing there is no physics reason I am unaware of that would prevent cosmic rays from creating N13 from H+O16 (too low KE, etc..)
Thank you for your time answering these questions.

EthicallyCivil
August 5, 2010 9:02 am

Tallbloke: I read that as well, but I’m unaware of any other isotopically specific chemical or biological processes, I’ve got a few large grains of salt I’m taking that with. Isotopes have identical orbital structures and would appear chemically identical, no?
Can anyone point to resources indicating isotopically (isotopicly?) specific chemical/biological reactions.
If one could selective chemically react with specific isotopes, the whole centrifugal U235 separation process (and thus our concerns about the numbers of centrifuges certain countries have) would be unnecessary.

Josh Grella
August 5, 2010 9:05 am

Before I begin to discuss why I don’t buy this particular argument, let me just say that I do believe humanity has caused some increase in the overall levels of CO2. I find most of the discussion presented in this post hard to swallow, though because of the following points:
1. “As there are no processes in the atmosphere which convert CO2 to something else” that we know of. Even if that is true (and I’ll readily admit I don’t know), we don’t know, with any certainty, what the natural process’s net effect is. (see my next point).
2. “From all those flows very few are known to any accuracy.” In other words, there’s no way for us to determine what the natural world can actually do with CO2, but our limited amount of knowledge SUGGESTS blah blah blah
3. “Without any knowledge of any natural flow in or out of the atmosphere or changes in such flows, we know that the sum of all natural outflows is 4 GtC larger than the sum of all natural inflows. In other words, the net increase of the atmospheric CO2 content caused by all natural CO2 ins and outs together is negative.” If I’m reading this statement correctly, without human emissions, CO2 would eventually disappear from the atmosphere entirely because the net NATURAL increase is negative (meaning an overall decrease year after year).
4. “There is no net natural contribution to the observed increase, nature as a whole acts as a sink for CO2.” See item #2 where it is admitted that we don’t know the natural in and out flows with any accuracy. If we have no accurate measurements, how can this assertion be made?
5. “The Vostok ice core record shows that a temperature change of about 1°C gives a change in CO2 level of about 8 ppmv over very long term. That indicates an about 8 ppmv increase for the warming since the LIA, less than 10% of the observed increase.” I seem to remember a previous discussion on this blog about the reliability of ice core records due to diffusion of CO2 from the trapped air bubbles. Hasn’t it been shown that due to diffusion over long periods of time that the levels of various gases in the ice core samples should NOT be considered representative of the atmospheric conditions when the bubble was formed?
All that said, I am not naive enough to state that humanity has not added to the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. That would require complete disregard for chemistry and common sense. What I am saying is that these bits of “evidence” are not very strong.
Most importantly, though, the ultimate questions remain. Where is there any shred of evidence that this increase in CO2 has done anything to warm the planet? What temperature SHOULD the planet be? Does a global average of temperatures (even if one could be accurately measured) mean anything when none of us are affected by the global mean temperature, but rather by our local weather?

pat
August 5, 2010 9:08 am

Pamela Gray. I concurr.
Totally unrelated.
Mauna Kea glacier expansion traced to slower North Atlantic current in last ice age.
http://www.staradvertiser.com/news/20100805_Faraway_current_set_off_Mauna_Kea_glacier.html
And note:
“The ancient system also may have stirred up old carbon-rich deep waters, contributing to the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, the scientists said.
“This could have catalyzed further warming and accelerated the glacial meltdown,” Menviel said.”
—-
Frankly I am uncertain how calcium carbonate or sediment contributes to atmospheric CO2 in this scenario. The usual vehicle is volcanism. But a good article.

Enneagram
August 5, 2010 9:12 am

Of course it is MANN-MADE!

Vince Causey
August 5, 2010 9:13 am

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

August 5, 2010 9:13 am

So far this seems to be an incomplete analysis: I have the following questions:
1. What is the total reservoir of biologically available carbon in soil, lake and ocean sediment and rock (eg oil in shale and oil sands) for the Earth?
2. What is the rate of conversion of that carbon to CO2 by bacteria/fungi/insects?
3. If the Earth warms, do the bacteria/fungi/insects increase in biomass (change in number of individuals x size of individuals? Do they increase in activity, hence converting carbon reserves to CO2 at a higher rate per unit of biomass?
4. We know that bacteria “eat” oil, presumably creating CO2. Is this process temperature sensitive? Is it limited to oil seeps or does it occur in deep oil collections such as shales and sands?
5. How accurate are the ice core data really?
6. If humans have caused the recent CO2 increases, what caused the previous CO2 increases? Did the CO2 follow the temp up, lead it, or change contemporaneously?
7. I do not doubt that human activity is part, maybe a large part of recent CO2 change, but I am skeptical that the various factors, such as I mention above, are understood with nearly the certainty precisions pretended to in the claims that humans are the cause of almost all of the recent CO2 increases in the atmosphere.
Total biomass of bacteria, fungi, and insects dwarfs humans and human industrial activity, including in overall CO2 production, as I understand it. A small percentage change in non-human biologic production of CO2 could have a large change in gross amounts emitted and ought to be measured and be part of the discussion.

Pamela Gray
August 5, 2010 9:14 am

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

Bob from the UK
August 5, 2010 9:20 am

There was one critical factor left out of the above, that is temperatures.
A certain percentage of CO2 I believe is emitted absorped according to the ocean temps. We know this mechanism does exist simply from ice cores that shows CO2 swinging up and down through the millenia. Could this be happening on shorter timescales. Well it must be, otherwise it wouldn’t happen over longer timescales, the question is then by how much.
Surely it isn’t just coincidence that when the SST is low there is a lower increase than when they’re high.
So are we saying this then?
i.e. in years that CO2 increases are low there are low SST’s is a pure coincidence, that just so happens to have been occuring consistently since CO2 measurements began.

Gary Pearse
August 5, 2010 9:22 am

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

Jim G
August 5, 2010 9:22 am

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

CodeTech
August 5, 2010 9:25 am

BillD says:

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

Anyone who makes unsupported blanket statements of this sort is clearly unable to understand the scientific method, and thus “basic science”.
Just because you want to believe something does not make it so. Asserting your belief in the form of a factual statement or derisive insult does little for advancing knowledge.
Ah, but you are all-knowing, so you have no need to advance your knowledge…

Jack Simmons
August 5, 2010 9:33 am

Does anyone know of any sources of CO2 levels before the observatory was established on Mauna Loa? How accurate were these measures?
Also, has someone validated the various sources of CO2? How about sinks?
What is the lifetime of the average CO2 molecule in our atmosphere? Have read where some believe it is hundreds of years to a few years.
I have just assumed mankind is responsible for the rise in CO2; just didn’t think it would ever be an issue.
Good review article.

richard
August 5, 2010 9:37 am

Ferdinand,
I’m not sure the mass balance is the slam dunk argument that you think it is. For instance, the natural inflows and outflows might somehow be a function of the human emissions.
To take a (silly) example to make my point, imagine if 100% of human emission were from burning wood or, better, grass. This carbon would have been a natural outflow via decay except for the fact that we are burning it. In other words, one of the inflow terms decreased by our human emissions. In that situation, you cannot attribute the CO2 rise to our emissions.
Now, I’m not trying to argue that something so direct is happening or that there is necessarily any link at all. But logically, the mass balance argument cannot, on it’s own, prove causation.

PJP
August 5, 2010 9:39 am

The biggest (potential) problem that I see with this analysis is the assumption that absorption/generation rates (other than human induced) are linear.
Perhaps they are for all practical purposes over the very small changes we are talking about, but in general I would expect these to be non-linear — probably Log(e).

Bob Kutz
August 5, 2010 9:42 am

Tom,
Okay, I will go ahead and cede the point. Humans are likely responsible for a significant increase in CO2. And the Earth has warmed by (?) something like 0.8 C degrees (depending on who you ask) in the last 120 years. This if 8ppm equals 1 C, we should be at at least +10C right now. That would seem to cast serious doubt on the AGW hypothesis that CO2 is causing the current warming, wouldn’t it? Tipping points? Right out the window. Feedbacks would necessarily be negative given the data of the last 100 years.
Too simple, but let’s continue on;
No matter what argument you make, it does not follow that the increase in temperature is caused by the increase in CO2. This is an assumption and is refered to as the “post hoc ergo propter hoc” fallacy. The simple bottle experiment with CO2 and a heat lamp doesn’t really apply in a gigantic chaotic system such as the Earth’s atmosphere. This is like stating that a car’s forward motion produces the heat that the car generates. It may seem logical, and the motion may generate a little heat of it’s own, but this is far from the true cause of the heat produced.
Next, a simple review of ideal gas laws and thermodynamics seems to tell us that whatever the situation is, it is far more complicated than just “more CO2 equals higher global surface temp”. All else being equal, the atmosphere would be as likely to simply expand rather than increase in temperature. You’d likely get more clouds, reducing surface T. I will admit to being very much a laymen on the science of all of this, but I do understand enough of it to see that it cannot be as simple as most of the pro-AGW set would have us believe.
But let’s simplify this argument; The only way you can prove CO2 is the cause of the warming is to exclude every other possible cause, and show a direct link between CO2 levels and global surface temp. Right now you cannot even establish the global surface temp to any degree of considered certainty. Right now the uncertainty band of our statistically synthesised surface T proxy is greater than our measured increase over the last 100 years. Just given the number of measurements compared to the total surface area of the Earth tells us we don’t know within a degree with any certainty. Our sample lacks quality control, consistency, longevity, randomness. And every time there is an adjustment made for any quality issue we see that it tends to inflate temps in recent years and decrease them in the more distant past. How certain are we again?
Further, the data that we do have are in such a shambles that it’s doubtful anyone can prove anything. Some of it we cannot be certain what adjustments have been applied, if any. The provenance of all of it is highly suspect and the independence of the several sets is highly dubious. The reason the data are so screwed up? The current powers that be in climate science chose sides about 20 years ago and have co-opted science to their own ends. They’ve literally held the data hostage to their agenda. At the point they don’t share and then collude to violate the law to avoid sharing the data and methodology you can rest assured something is rotten in Denmark. When you start to look at the adjustments they’ve added to the data there can be little doubt as to their agenda. When you hear statements such as “the science is settled” you know you’ve found a problem! Not even gravity is settled. We think we know, and we’ve got pretty good formulas, but then again, so did Newton. So if you hear that climate science is certain about something you should know that the giant Wizard bellowing platitudes and knowledge to frighten everyone who would dare question him is really just a little man behind a curtain with little real knowledge to show.
But nature, as always, has all of the aces. The solar cycle progression and projection has just been updated through July, and if the Sun doesn’t come out of it’s funk pretty soon, the current era will likely come to be know as the “Eddy Minimum” and the whole cadre of prominent climate scientists will come to be regarded as the Charles Dawson’s of their day. Nature is cruel like that. But I don’t know for certain what will happen, I’m just reading the tea leaves. The temp could go up or down, we don’t know. Further, we might know better if our “scientists” weren’t so invested in seeing it increase. So we really ought to drop the whole “settled science” perspective, see if we can piece together a valid data set and really try to understand the inner workings of our climate. As Jack Eddy would say; we need to figure out just how many ends that interface cable has and what they all do. It’ll take time. But if we just assume that there is no interface cable, and that we know everything there is to know about what causes the Earth to heat and cool, we will be caught unprepared for whatever it eventually does. At least Piltdown Man didn’t actually cause any deaths. Mann, Jones, Gore, et. al. will not be able to make that claim.
But I (and I think many others on the skeptical side of the debate) would be glad to cede the point with regard to recent CO2 increases being (largely) anthropogenic.

August 5, 2010 9:44 am

The difference in the atmosphere after a year is the sum of all inflows, no matter how large they are, or how they changed over the years, plus the human emissions, minus the sum of all outflows, no matter how large they are, wherever they take place.
Hang on a minute! Are we tacitly assuming here that the sum of all the other flows is not affected by human emissions? Why, for instance, would the net outflow from natural sources (which often depend on the process of osmosis) not be slowed down by the CO2 that humanity already puts into the atmosphere?
I suspect that we cannot actually predict what the present-day atmospheric CO2 concentration would be without human-induced emissions. It may end up exactly the same — natural sources making up for the loss of human-induced CO2.

Mike S
August 5, 2010 9:44 am

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

Jay
August 5, 2010 9:47 am

Two things have always bugged me about the ML CO2 data.
1. In figure 3 above, the yearly increase bounces around a lot, from 0.5 to 2.5 ppm/year, over short periods of a few years.
If the human input is increasing all the time, why does the rate of increase vary by a factor of 5?
2. Due the fine economic mess the banksters have given us, I heard the CO2 emissions were down like 7 or 9% for the US, maybe 1% for the world. Has this decrease been observed in the slope of the Keeling curve?
-Jay

Bob Kutz
August 5, 2010 9:47 am

Sorry, I should’ve addressed that to Ferdinand.
My mistake.

jorgekafkazar
August 5, 2010 9:51 am

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

John R. Walker
August 5, 2010 9:58 am

“From all those flows very few are known to any accuracy.”
Precisely – I think you just shot yourself in the foot…
I’m going for a beer… So I can watch the pretty bubbles of plant food rising up and escaping before some moron decides that I have to fit carbon capture device to my beer glass…

August 5, 2010 9:59 am

Counter point. Review http://www.kidswincom.net/climate.pdf and draw your own conclusions. As to the IR issue, review http://www.kidswincom.net/CO2OLR.pdf.

BillD
August 5, 2010 10:04 am

CodeTech says:
August 5, 2010 at 9:25 am
BillD says:
Anyone who does not understand that the burning of fossil fuels is the main cause of the regular increase in CO2 that is has been documented over the last 50+ years is clearly unable to understand basic science.
Anyone who makes unsupported blanket statements of this sort is clearly unable to understand the scientific method, and thus “basic science”.
Code Tech:
Certain findings are widely and clearly demonstrated in science and do not need support by citation and documentation. In my view, the conclusion that fossil fuel burning accounts for the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere fits into that category. That assumes that one has at least read evidence at the basic textbook level. Another well-accepted finding is that the earth follows an orbit around the sun. At one point these issues may have been cotroversial, but the controvery has long since been settled. Clearly, other aspects of climate science are controversial.
Actually, I am a scientist who publishes on basic science. Although I am not a climate researcher, I have followed the scientific literature on this topic. My peer- reviewed publications have received over 2800 citations, so I do have some credibility as a scientist.

Dave B
August 5, 2010 10:06 am

There is another, equally useful discussion on this issue at:
http://www.barrettbellamyclimate.com/page20.htm
It has the merit to my mind of explaining how challenging AGW orthodoxy emphatically means endorsing mainstream physics.
Many of us who are scientifically more or less literate but are neither physicists not climatologists find the “slam dunk” (lovely phrase) arguments that have been resurfacing recently in the sceptic blogosphere confusing to put it mildly and not very helpful.
The premise that humans have caused most of the recent CO2 increases rests on a very strong empirical base and I for one will need some persuading that it fails. I’ve yet to see it.
So, looking forward to Pt II.

August 5, 2010 10:09 am

Bill Yarber says:
August 5, 2010 at 8:19 am
I think you have seriously underestimated the impact on the oceans outguessing CO2 as they warm! Look at the ice core data
No I haven’t underestimated the impact of the oceans: over very long term (Vostok ice core) that is about 8 ppmv/C, the same for the MWP-LIA cooling (only visible in the high resolution Law Dome ice core). Currently the short term influence of temperature is about 4 ppmv/C around the trend, but the trend itself is largely from the emissions…

Sun Spot
August 5, 2010 10:12 am

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

August 5, 2010 10:14 am

Robert of Ottawa says:
August 5, 2010 at 8:28 am
I missed something here. Where did the 4GT/year come from?
The only accurate way would be to estimate it from the 2 ppm increase per year.

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

RHS
August 5, 2010 10:20 am

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

Robert
August 5, 2010 10:23 am

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

Jim G
August 5, 2010 10:24 am

Too many unmeasured exogenous intercorrelated variables and then there is the causality issue.

August 5, 2010 10:25 am

Malaga View says:
August 5, 2010 at 8:49 am
Malaga View says:
August 5, 2010 at 8:49 am
Basic logic error! The formula is:
dCO2(atm) = CO2(in1 + in2 + in3 + in4…) – CO2(out1 + out2 + out3 + out4…)
Where: in1, in2, in3, in4… ALL vary over time
The number of inputs may not have been fully defined
out1, out2, out3, out4… ALL vary over time

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

August 5, 2010 10:26 am

Response to: Why the CO2 increase is man made (part 1)
The linear increase of CO2 is your problem, or what is equilibrium, part II.
I object to some of the straight lines in fig. 3 In 1960 the annual increase of CO2 was around 1 ppm/y and the total amount of CO2 in the atmosphere was 315 ppm. Presently the increase is 2 ppm/y. Now, a total of 390 ppm CO2 is in the atmosphere, corresponding to 1000 Gigaton of Carbon. Presently, approx. 10 GtC fossil fuel are burned, which corresponds to 4.5 ppm/y when distributed fully into the atmosphere. In 1960 approx. 2 GtC of fossile fuel had been produced and burned, corresponding to roughly 1 ppm/y: This means, at that time basically all the CO2 remained in the atmosphere. Obviously, at that time, basically none of the CO2 has been sequestered elsewhere.
There is a very simple reason for that: the pre-industrial value of CO2 in the atmosphere had been 280 ppm. At that time, atmosphere and oceans have been in equilibrium concerning CO2 concentrations. (In the ice age with its lower temperatures, the equilibrium atmospheric concentration had been 200 ppm).
Around 1900, mankind started to burn fossile fuels in larger quantities. Atmospheric CO2 concentrations started to increase and to deviate from the equilibrium value. The simplest way to treat the deviation from equilibrium is to assume that the sequestering rate per year (into the oceans) is proportionate to the deviation from equilibrium in the atmosphere.
Now you can set up rate equations. With the simplifying assumption that the oceans, which contain a total of 40000 GtC of CO2, can take up eventually all extra CO2, you end up with a simple 1. order differential equation. You get the following results: Sequestering starts quadratically, not linearly, with deviation from equilibrium (as seen in the data). More importantly, eventually all emitted CO2 will be sequestered. This means that the atmospheric CO2 content gets saturated. Simple estimates give a saturation limit of approx. 450 to 480 ppm.
This can be seen quite easily: presently we have approx. 100 ppm excess CO2, and half of the presently emitted CO2 gets sequestered. with 200 ppm excess CO2, all of the then emitted CO2 gets sequestered. So the saturation limit is 280 + 200 = 480 ppm.
In this simplest of all models there is CO2 saturation in the atmosphere, there is no linear increase of CO2. IPCC keeps assuming a linear increase forever, models use 600 to 800 ppm CO2 for calculating warming in 2100. However, nobody bothers to argue why that simple model should fail.

Pascvaks
August 5, 2010 10:27 am

A thought and questions –
What has changed in, say, the past thousand years? Look at human population, and we say, “Certainly! It’s Up!” Look at sea live, and we say, “Down Big Time?”
During a Glacial we have a rise in sea life and decline in land animals and plant types. During an Interglacial we have a decline in sea life and a rise in land mammals and vegetation? Has all this been adequately factored in to the math on CO2? Is the term Anthroprogenic appropriate, or is it better to say Zoologic (with a big chunk of manmade)?

Malaga View
August 5, 2010 10:29 am

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

Life forms have a nasty habit of being carbon based… they also have a nasty habit of dying and being buried in the ground… so overall biology can be seen as a carbon sink that accumulates in the ground.
CO2 levels have being dropping as life has evolved on earth… and they have been dropping towards dangerous levels in recent geologic times… luckily we have volcanoes, tectonic movements, natural gas, oil seeps and the WEATHER to naturally erode and re-cycle all that buried carbon… but best of all we have great big SUVs and AIRPLANES to so we can have fun while we help replenish the atmospheric CO2 levels which greens our planet and improves our harvests.
So adjust your lifestyle to address our CARBON challenged environment:
a) Get a bigger car and drive more.
b) Take more holidays abroad (and don’t forget to hire a car)
c) Rip out the central heating and put in a coal fire or wood burner.
d) Change you will to make sure you are cremated (so you don’t put your carbon in the ground)
ENJOY OUR GREENING PLANET – IT’S THE ONLY ONE WE’VE GOT!

Slioch
August 5, 2010 10:30 am

It is indeed the case that some people still do not accept that the rise in atmospheric CO2 in recent times has been caused by human actions. The following (slightly edited) is a reply I made earlier this year to some such person after one of Christopher Booker’s articles in the UK Daily Telegraph:
“If you want to know how much humans have contributed to the increase in atmospheric CO2 you need to ask, “what would atmospheric CO2 levels be now in the absence of any influence from humans?” and compare that with present actual levels. Of course, we cannot be absolutely sure what the “natural” level would now be – the best we can do is to look at CO2 levels in the centuries and millennia before 1750 when human contributions were very small and extrapolate the graph to the present. Here, the evidence from ice cores shows that there was very little change in CO2 for several hundred years before the industrial revolution – the graph is flat. See, for example:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1c/Carbon_Dioxide_400kyr.png
Thus CO2 levels have not changed by more than a few ppmv of CO2 for several hundred years prior to 1750, and had not increased by as much as 20ppmv above the 1750 level of 280ppmv (ie exceeded 300ppmv) for at least 800,000 years. There is absolutely no reason to believe that levels should have suddenly shot upwards in recent times for any other reason than human action. Thus, from that reasoning, human activities can be safely said to account for all (or very nearly all) of the increase from 280ppmv in 1750 to 390ppmv now.
But, secondly, there is another way of understanding this claim:
If you wish to know if there has been any NET natural contribution to the increase in atmospheric CO2 levels, all you need to do is measure
1. the amount humans have ADDED to the atmosphere, and
2. the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere over the same period.
It is that simple.
The figures for the atmosphere from 1850-2000 are as follows:
1. Total human caused emissions of CO2: 1620 billion tons CO2
2. Increase in atmospheric CO2: 640 billion tons
Thus, the amount of CO2 humans have added to the atmosphere greatly exceeds the observed increase in CO2 in the atmosphere. Thus, the human contribution is more than able to account for the entire increase (most of the CO2 emitted by humans has been absorbed into the oceans and the terrestrial environment). The net flow has been from the atmosphere to the oceans, NOT from the oceans to the atmosphere.
Of course, the interesting question is for how much longer the oceans are going to behave as a net sink for CO2.
[If you want to check the figures go to the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Centre: http://cdiac.ornl.gov/faq.html#Q4 ]

August 5, 2010 10:35 am

Doug Proctor says:
August 5, 2010 at 8:50 am
The Barrow and the Mauna Loa CO2 concentrations drop between June and October, but do not in Antarctica. Is this reflecting the growing season in both a northern temperate forest and the oceanic phytoplancton?
Yes it is: the oceans have a larger capacity for changing the CO2 levels either way, but are relative slow emitters/absorbers, compared to the burst of greening in spring/summer of the mid-latitudes. That is a lot less in the SH, as there is less land and the ITCZ hinders the transport of air masses (including CO2, SO2, dust,…) between the NH and the SH.
That will be further explained in other parts…

August 5, 2010 10:45 am

Bill Toland says:
August 5, 2010 at 8:52 am
Why are the figures for the natural sinks so variable from year to year?
Mainly caused by temperature variations: some 4 ppmv/C (ocean) on short term. increasing to about 8 ppmv/C over long term. Several contributions here on WUWT have calculated the good correlation between temperature and the rate of increase (not the same as the cause of the increase itself!). From the “warmer” side, a good description is by Pieter Tans, who included precipitation in the equation:
http://esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/co2conference/pdfs/tans.pdf starts about half way the presentation.

Frank Lansner
August 5, 2010 10:57 am

Hi Ferdinand 🙂 Good to see you again in the debate!
1) In this little writing
http://hidethedecline.eu/pages/posts/co2-carbon-dioxide-concentration-history-of-71.php
– I have summarized some of the better pieces of evedence pointing to the “fact” that CO2 concentrations has fluctuated strongly earlier in the 20´ieth centure as well as in the stonage etc. This does not really support the idea that only humans can cause periods with larger CO2 concentrations?
2) Earlier i showed that Co2 concentration increase/year is smaller and smaller compared with global temperatures:
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/12/17/the-co2-temperature-link/
So even if humans did indeed cause significant contributions to CO2 concentrations, it appears that “something” (the biosphere) is rapidly on the way to omit the human effect.
As I remember in the debate we had back then, you said that the facts could be interpreted in both your and my way. Thus i think you should be open to my viewpoint as a real possibility.
3) Finally, with just a simple trend through CO2 measurements of the ocean, it appears that the CO2 content in upper layers of oceans are indeed not rising in the latest decade. yes, not many people mentions this, but i think its rather relevant to be aware in this contexts as in contradicts the great dominating human effect to some degree. Humans are still emitting CO2, but the big ocean buffer does not show increase of CO2 anymore…
http://hidethedecline.eu/pages/posts/co2-carbon-dioxide-concentration-in-the-oceans-72.php
– how does this affect your thoughts?
Again: good to see you again in the debate 🙂
K.R. Frank Lansner

sandyinderby
August 5, 2010 10:58 am

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

Malaga View
August 5, 2010 10:59 am

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

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

Lets assume your formula is correct and your Carbon Cycle graphic is vaguely realistic
So the 5.5 “fossil fuels and cement production” (EM) in the graphic equals 8GtC.
Therefore, the ocean outgassing (OO) of 90 in the graphic equals roughly 131.
So lets retry your equation for ocean outgassing:
4 GtC = CO2(in1 + in2 + in3 +…) + 131 GtC – CO2(out1 + out2 + out3 +…)
See your problem?
CO2(in1 + in2 + in3 +…) – CO2(out1 + out2 + out3 +…) = -127
In fact it is a big problem for you!
Like I said:
Basic logic error!
The formula is:
dCO2(atm) = CO2(in1 + in2 + in3 + in4…) – CO2(out1 + out2 + out3 + out4…)

August 5, 2010 11:07 am

Peter says:
August 5, 2010 at 8:57 am
What I still don’t understand is that if the natural outflow is 4GT greater than the natural inflow, then how come atmospheric CO2 levels didn’t drop to virtually nothing after all the thousands of years before man started burning fossil fuels?
The simple answer is: if we stop all emissions today, next year the CO2 levels in the atmosphere indeed would drop with about 4 GtC (2 ppmv). But as the level in the oceans didn’t drop as fast, the pressure difference of CO2 in the atmosphere and the ocean surface drops a little, so that the second year, the drop isn’t 4 GtC but only 3.8 GtC,… and so on until we are back to around 300 ppmv in the atmosphere, which is the level which corresponds more or less with the current (ocean) temperature.
Reality is far more complicated, but in general, that is the trend…

August 5, 2010 11:16 am

Jim G says:
August 5, 2010 at 9:22 am
Models vs measurement again. This is a large planet and lord knows what CO2 might be spewing out in the 67% that is covered by water and I did not see any measurement devices in the plumes when Pinatubo or Mt St Helens went off.
No model at all in this case: fossil fuel sales inventory vs. measured CO2 increase in the atmosphere. Simple straight-forward calculation. And the Pinatubo emitted some more CO2, but also cooled the oceans by reflecting sunlight away, which caused more CO2 absorption and thus less CO2 increase than in warmer years…

James Sexton
August 5, 2010 11:21 am

Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
August 5, 2010 at 10:14 am
Robert of Ottawa says:
August 5, 2010 at 8:28 am
“I missed something here. Where did the 4GT/year come from?
The only accurate way would be to estimate it from the 2 ppm increase per year.
The 4 GtC is calculated as the increase in carbon mass of the atmosphere, while the 2 ppmv is CO2 in measured as volume procent of the atmosphere. These two are equivalent.”
Ok, so mass balance, I buy that. The 4GtC = 2ppmv I buy that. 2ppmv is the average increase/yr. I buy that. We know man’s emissions to a fairly accurate degree.(Even though I’m unclear about how we count agriculture and things of that nature and fauna breathing.) Even still, (and I hope you address this later) we know atmospheric CO2 with or without man’s emissions is not constant. For expedience, and since I’m not aware of anyone doubting the validity of such statements, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Phanerozoic_Carbon_Dioxide.png .
Your equation 4 GtC = CO2(in1 + in2 + in3 +…) + 8 GtC – CO2(out1 + out2 + out3 +…) and correct me if I’m wrong. 8GtC is man’s emissions. So, without man’s emissions, as you stated, CO2(in1 + in2 + in3 +…) – CO2(out1 + out2 + out3 +…) = – 4 GtC
Doesn’t this eventually get us to a near zero ppmv atmospheric CO2. Is there any evidence that has ever happened? Doesn’t this indicate another mechanism in play? If I missed something in your presentation, feel free to point it out, if you’re going to present the answers later, feel free to ignore.
Thanks

August 5, 2010 11:27 am

richard says:
August 5, 2010 at 9:37 am
Ferdinand,
To take a (silly) example to make my point, imagine if 100% of human emission were from burning wood or, better, grass. This carbon would have been a natural outflow via decay except for the fact that we are burning it. In other words, one of the inflow terms decreased by our human emissions. In that situation, you cannot attribute the CO2 rise to our emissions.
In the case of burning more or less fast renewable sources of carbon, that doesn’t count as emissions, as that (as all human and animal food) was captured a few months to a few years before from the atmosphere. The impact of this on current CO2 levels is negligible. If you burn fossil fuels, burried in an atmosphere of many millions of years ago (at much higher CO2 levels), that makes a difference in the current atmosphere.
The border between “renewable” and not is not that clear: If you burn a 1,000 year old oak, that is assumed “renewable”, while burning peat of the same average age is “not renewable”…

rbateman
August 5, 2010 11:30 am

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

Ed Murphy
August 5, 2010 11:31 am

indeed near the full increase of CO2 in the atmosphere is caused by the human emissions. Only a small part might have been added by the (ocean) warming since the LIA.
People need to study this:
Volcanic Gases and Their Effects
http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hazards/
gas/index.php
The numbers and volume of eruptions have increased a lot since 1998, you can type in the years and look for yourself. Eruption volume has gone up and down throughout history.
http://www.volcano.si.edu/world/find_eruptions.cfm
Eyjafjallajökull was recently pumping out the equivalent weight of 100+ to 200, 2,000 lb F-150 pickup trucks a second in eruption volume for a very long time.

James Sexton
August 5, 2010 11:38 am

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

James Davidson
August 5, 2010 11:40 am

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

August 5, 2010 11:42 am

Sun Spot says:
August 5, 2010 at 10:12 am
Questions for Ferdinand Engelbeen:
a) What is the NATURAL base line atmospheric ppmv of CO2 to be for planet earth ???
b) Is the natural atmospheric CO2 level dependant on temperature ???
c) What is the optimal atmospheric CO2 level for life on earth ???
d) What is a dangeruosly low atmospheric level of CO2 for life on earth ??
e) If we don’t have answers to the above questions how could we possibly engineer an atmospheric CO2 level that is correct for planet earth as proposed by the IPCC ???

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

DaveF
August 5, 2010 11:43 am

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

Theo Goodwin
August 5, 2010 11:43 am

Engelbeen concludes:
“We could end the whole discussion here, as humans have added about twice the amount of CO2 to the atmosphere as the observed increase over the past 150 years, the difference is absorbed by the oceans and/or vegetation. That is sufficient proof for the human origin of the increase, but there is more that points to the human cause… as will be shown in the following parts.”
Maybe the later parts will add more to this account but, as it stands, it is an application of brute force, the use of a sledge hammer to kill a flee. The argument is very simple. The present mass of CO2 is greater than preindustrial times, the present mass is less than what was added by mankind and, therefore, the oceans took on some of man’s excess but not all. See the sledge hammer. Is there anything in this argument that can be associated with the subtlety of science? Are there any physical hypotheses of note? Has our scientific understanding of the behavior of CO2 in Earth’s many environments been increased. No. Is there a simple logical objection to this sledge hammer argument? Yes. As the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere increases, the rate at which the oceans absorb CO2 increases much faster. So, the argument raises more questions than it answers. Does the author present reasonably confirmed hypotheses about varying rates of absorption of CO2 by the oceans? Well, of course not. He could not make this sledge hammer argument if he did. Do we have such well-confirmed hypotheses? No. In sum, this argument exhibits all the defining characteristics of Warmista argument.

August 5, 2010 11:51 am

RHS says:
August 5, 2010 at 10:20 am
My only objection to the statement the CO2 cannot be created or destroyed (law of mass conservation) is that neither the Carbon or the Oxygen can be destroyed.
You are right, therefore CO2 is mostly expressed in GtC, as the carbon balance must be right, wherever the CO2 is absorbed or released, no matter in what form. For CO2 in the atmosphere itself it doesn’t matter, as there are no destruction or release reactions, except for a small contribution from the oxydation of organics (methane, natural VOS).

Malaga View
August 5, 2010 11:57 am

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

BINGO! All the defining characteristics of a belief system.

August 5, 2010 12:06 pm

The mass balance claim is a non sequitur. We know that the total fluxes are far higher than the anthropogenic flux and we know that many of the other components are variable, but we do not know how variable. We simply do not know how much CO2 there would have been in the atmosphere at this time in the absence of anthropogenic emission. CO2 levels might have risen at the same rate, or stayed constant, or even gone down. They might even have risen faster! That CO2 levels have increased by a roughly constant third of the emissions is suggestive but not conclusive. Over so short a period, corresponding to an apparent warming trend over the past century, the correlation could easily be no more than coincidence. On this basis it’s more likely than not that the increase is man made, but it’s by no means certain. It’s an obvious conclusion that it is – but the obvious isn’t always correct.
Isotope ratios can’t answer the question either. Leaving aside important caveats about the various natural phenomena that can mimic fossil fuel emissions, all they could tell us is the fraction of CO2 currently in the atmosphere that comes from fossil fuel emissions. It still wouldn’t tell us how much CO2 there would have been in their absence. There is no reason to believe that the various fluxes are independent of each other (and strong reason to suppose that they’re not).

August 5, 2010 12:07 pm

Dave F says:
August 5, 2010 at 8:57 am
What is known with reasonable accuracy are the emissions, which are based on inventories of fossil fuel use by the finance departments (taxes!) of different countries…
Could you please elaborate on how this is done? Is the dollar amount of taxes received for the sales tax on fossil fuel used? Is there some other method?

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

Mac the Knife
August 5, 2010 12:08 pm

You are the real ‘Science Guy’, Anthony!
Thanks for ‘doing what you do’ so well!
And Thank You to Mssrs. Engelbeen and Vonk, for their most interesting posts!

August 5, 2010 12:23 pm

Werner Weber says:
August 5, 2010 at 10:26 am
The linear increase of CO2 is your problem, or what is equilibrium, part II.
That is for part 2, but I have no problems with a linear increase of CO2 (in fact it is slightly exponential, together with the emissions, see: http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/temp_emiss_increase.jpg )

August 5, 2010 12:37 pm

Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
August 5, 2010 at 8:33 am (Edit)
tallbloke says:
August 5, 2010 at 8:17 am
Julian Flood posted here last week and said that there are different types of plankton in the ocean which prefer different isotopes of carbon. If I understood him correctly, at the moment, the plankton type which preferentially absorbs the ‘natural’ carbon isotope is in the ascendency. This leaves more of the ‘fossil fuel’ isotope in the atmosphere as the alleged fingerprint of human co2 emission being the cause of increased levels in the atmosphere.
This first part is only about the mass balance, without looking at the isotope ratio’s. Only based on the mass balance, there is no room for any additional CO2 from nature. In one of the next parts, the isotope balance and the oxygen balance will be interpreted. These add to the evidence of the human origin, but don’t give absolute proof. But the mass balance does…

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

August 5, 2010 12:38 pm

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

JaneHM
August 5, 2010 12:41 pm

Ferdinand
The logic of your oft-repeated statement (below) is wrong if the system involves feedback mechanisms. If a system involves feedback mechanisms, it does NOT always follow that removing one source (or sink) would cause the net to decrease (or increase) by the flux associated with the removed source (or sink).
“… we know that the sum of all natural outflows is 4 GtC larger than the sum of all natural inflows. In other words, the net increase of the atmospheric CO2 content caused by all natural CO2 ins and outs together is negative. There is no net natural contribution to the observed increase, nature as a whole acts as a sink for CO2. “

TomRude
August 5, 2010 12:46 pm

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

Dan Evans
August 5, 2010 12:52 pm

@EthicallyCivil
Although isotopes are said to be “chemically identical” they do respond differently to some chemical reactions. The reason is that a complex chemical reaction can depend on precise timing and energy of the reactants. A heavier atom will be slower and may not have the same energy to achieve the required reaction potential.
Heavy water acts different than regular water and is toxic for this reason.
As with conventional separation methods the percentage difference in mass between the isotopes makes the chemical response in lighter elements more dramatic although there are processes that can even enrich uranium.

nandheeswaran jothi
August 5, 2010 12:57 pm

Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
August 5, 2010 at 8:33 am
mass balance: in this case small difference between large numbers known very imprecisely. and we do not even know if we ALL the factors.
that is not balance. that is just a whole lot of …..

Malaga View
August 5, 2010 1:01 pm

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

Thanks for the link – makes interesting reading – especially in you live in the UK.
Inland Energy Consumption, 1980 to 2008 (million tonnes of oil equivalent)
http://www.statistics.gov.uk/resources/inlandenergyconsumption_tcm119-23574.jpg
Overall, consumption has grown by 19.7 mtooe (9.63%) in 28 years!
Of that increase 5.3 mtooe has come from Renewables and 3.7 mtooe from Nuclear.
So carbon emitting consumption has increased by 10.7 mtooe (5.23%) in 28 years.
However, the “dash to gas” reduced coal consumption by 48.43% (73.3 down to 37.8)
So I doubt the UK has had an upward impact on the Mauna Loa CO2 readings.

Dave Springer
August 5, 2010 1:06 pm

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

I wasn’t aware that the “natural” carbon cycle was invariant.
What was the heat content of the ocean during the little ice age? In calories would be fine. What is it today?
What is the total amount of carbon that gets chemically locked up and sinks out of sight at plate boundaries vs. the amount of carbon that is released at oceanic ridges?
What was the total biomass of the planet in 1880 and what is it today? Is total biomass growing or falling?
Seems to be a rather bold leap into the geologically, biologically, and chemically ludicrous.
There’s so much missing data that these hasty conclusions trying to be passed off as settled science is laughable.

August 5, 2010 1:06 pm

Frank Lansner says:
August 5, 2010 at 10:57 am
Hi Ferdinand 🙂 Good to see you again in the debate!
Indeed, good to see you (and others) again. Even if we still have a few unresolved disputes… About your last remark:
Finally, with just a simple trend through CO2 measurements of the ocean, it appears that the CO2 content in upper layers of oceans are indeed not rising in the latest decade.
You are looking at pCO2, but that is only about 1% of total carbon (CO2 + bicarbonate + carbonate) in the (upper) oceans and heavily influenced by temperature and alkalinity. In this case, the total carbon at Bermuda increased (until 2004, the last figures I have), while total alkalinity increased, causing a drop in pCO2:
http://www.bios.edu/Labs/co2lab/research/IntDecVar_OCC.html

Paul Hildebrandt
August 5, 2010 1:08 pm

Gary Pearse says:
August 5, 2010 at 9:22 am
Heck, we get diffusion of elements through solid rock and crystallized minerals (eg: in pegmatites the lithium aluminum silicate mineral spodumene has been invaded by sodium solutions and replaced by the sodium aluminium silicate mineral albite in part or wholly without destroying the original crystal shape – ice wouldn’t be so formidable a barrier to diffusion.
Correct. Essentially, glacial ice is considered a metamorphic rock. Temperature and pressure of metamorphism can be calculated using the amount of diffusion of metal ions (Fe-Mg ratios between garnet-biotite pairs and Ca activity between garnet-plagioclase pairs) between adjacent mineral pairs. However, for example in the pressure calculations using Ca, if Ca has been remobilized during a subsequent metamorphic event, the pressure calculations are invalid. As an example, I had one mineral pair that gave me a negative pressure, which indicated that the rock had been metamorphosed in outer space! There is no reason why CO2 molecules could not be remobilized due to changes in pressure and or temperature or by the introduction of water from another source following fractures through the ice.

Dave Springer
August 5, 2010 1:21 pm

The bottom line for me however is the indisputable record contained in the geologic column. A warmer earth with an atmosphere richer in CO2 is a greener earth. Compared to biosphere hay days like the Eocene optimum the present interglacial period looks close to death from exposure to the cold.
I mean to say if you prefer rocks and ice to plants and animals then be all means advocate reducing atmospheric CO2 and whatever else you can to cool the surface down. However, if you prefer a great abundance of plants and animals to rocks and ice then when it comes to fossil fuels —- Burn baby, burn!

DN
August 5, 2010 1:23 pm

As L.B. Klyashtorin and A.A. Lyubushin note in their “On the coherence between the dynamics of the world fuel consumption and global temperature anomaly”, Energy & Environment, Vol. 14, No. 6 (2003), world fuel consumption since the mid-1850s has not been linear – in fact, it has been anything but. As they state (from the graph on page 775), global consumption of fossil fuels (world fuel consumption, or WFC) rose slowly from 1861 to about 1950, rose very rapidly from about 1950 to the late 1980s, declined briefly, and then began rising again in the mid-1990s. If increases in atmospheric CO2 concentration were principally due to anthropogenic carbon emissions, then changes in CO2 concentration would correlate closely with changes in aggregate WFC. It does not.
It’s also worth noting that, historically, energy consumption declines markedy in response to shattering economic catastrophes. We saw significant declines, for example, in US energy consumption during the 1973 oil shock, the 84-84 recession, and as a consequence of the collapse of the dot-com bubble and 9/11. Energy consumption has been declining again in the US and other western countries for the past 18 months as a consequence of the current economic crisis – and yet atmospheric CO2 concentrations continue trickling steadily upward, following the same cyclical annual pattern they have followed throughout the observable record. Where’s the deflection in the rate of change in CO2 concentrations correlating with changes in energy consumption that we would expect if the latter caused the former?
(Of course, the broader point of the K&L argument is that the lack of any detectable correlation between delta CO2 and delta T over the entire period of human industrialization precludes the possibility of a causal relationship between the latter and the former. That of course is a different discussion.)

August 5, 2010 1:24 pm

Malaga View says:
August 5, 2010 at 10:59 am
NO – you are not correct.
You have no idea what caused the observed increase and you have no idea whether your observed increase is correct.
Lets assume your formula is correct and your Carbon Cycle graphic is vaguely realistic
So the 5.5 “fossil fuels and cement production” (EM) in the graphic equals 8GtC.
Therefore, the ocean outgassing (OO) of 90 in the graphic equals roughly 131.
So lets retry your equation for ocean outgassing:
4 GtC = CO2(in1 + in2 + in3 +…) + 131 GtC – CO2(out1 + out2 + out3 +…)
See your problem?
CO2(in1 + in2 + in3 +…) – CO2(out1 + out2 + out3 +…) = -127

I don’t see any problem at all. If we didn’t know what the human emissions were, there would be a problem. Then we can’t know the result of the emissions. But we know that the emissions are double the measured increase in the atmosphere: in your example, the one known extra natural input from the oceans is 131 GtC/year, the net result is an increase of 4 GtC/year, thus the sum of all outputs (to the oceans and vegetation) must take away 127 GtC/year extra to compensate for the increased ocean input. But one of the other inputs, human emissions, is 8 GtC, whatever one of the in’s (in1, in2, in3,…) it is. Thus the real natural output, whatever the extra more or less outgassing of the oceans is, must be 4 GtC more natural outs than natural ins.
Take it in another view: if there were no human emissions in the past years and today, would the CO2 level in the atmosphere have increased, decreased or stayed level? And next year(s)?

Chris
August 5, 2010 1:28 pm

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

August 5, 2010 1:35 pm

James Sexton says:
August 5, 2010 at 11:38 am
I see you answered part of my questions with a response to another person. Thanks, but if… [snipped]… is true then how did we get to 2000 ppmv CO2 100 million years ago?
Different times: different arrangement of the continents, different temperature/humidity, less calcite deposits,… The 8 ppmv/C only is for the last near million years, more ice age than interglacial, everything before that can’t be compared with current times…

Frank Lansner
August 5, 2010 1:37 pm

Ferdinand, this AR4 illustration (2007) goes a bit further than 2004, and its quite clear that both the Atlantic and Pacific stations used in AR4 shows no rise in pCO2 in surace water for a decade.
Why?
How much can atmospheric CO2 rise when ocean surface pCO2 has stoped rising?
And Ferdinand, even though this pCO2 of the ocean is measured in upper ocean layers, be aware that upper layers should be even easier to affect for human CO2. So still a stagnating ocean pCO2 is a nasty problem to get around if one believe that human CO2 rules the CO2 levels today.
The obvious and “too easy” explanation for the stagnating pCO2 is of course a fast growing biosphere that “threatens” to make the Earths CO2 levels dive in not so distant future. A dive that pehaps has some implications not so welcome for food production around the world.
K.R. Frank Lansner

brad tittle
August 5, 2010 1:38 pm

Yet again we have charts presented in their “impressive” form.
Why is it that scientists won’t plot their data honestly?
Seriously. What number would represent NO CO2?
The chart at the top of the page starts at 375ppm.
All of these debates would be beyond boring if everyone plotted in a standardized way. What is done above is Chartmanship and is specifically called “Suppression of the Zero”. By suppressing the zero we suppress lots of pertinent information about the chart. Even grown scientists who know better get taken in by such tactics. This is why all presenters who employ such methods should be promptly slapped with an appropriately wet noodle.
Zero is a wonderful place to start for just about any metric.

Frank Lansner
August 5, 2010 1:40 pm

Wops, heres the link:
http://hidethedecline.eu/media/co2%20concentretions%20in%20oceans/b4.jpg
I made the illustration from AR4 illustrations as you can see. So who can “deny” that data are valid ? 😉

Gail Combs
August 5, 2010 1:43 pm

winterkorn says:
August 5, 2010 at 9:13 am
4. We know that bacteria “eat” oil, presumably creating CO2. Is this process temperature sensitive? Is it limited to oil seeps or does it occur in deep oil collections such as shales and sands?
____________________________________________
That one I can answer. They have found bacteria chomping away on coal deep in the earth.
Go to the bottom of this article for references on subterranean bacteria such as:
A new species of bacteria found in deep, hot fossil fuels:
“Isolation and characterization of Thermococcus sibiricus…
The article is “creationist” but it is good for a one stop source of references.

Gail Combs
August 5, 2010 1:43 pm

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

August 5, 2010 1:54 pm

Theo Goodwin says:
August 5, 2010 at 11:43 am
Maybe the later parts will add more to this account but, as it stands, it is an application of brute force, the use of a sledge hammer to kill a flee.
After near four years of discussions on this very topic, even with otherwise very wise (wo)men, I have used the sledge hammer as an alternative…
The argument is very simple. The present mass of CO2 is greater than preindustrial times, the present mass is less than what was added by mankind and, therefore, the oceans took on some of man’s excess but not all.
Yes that is what the sledge hammer procedure tries to hammer in some minds, but even that seems not to help with several respondents here…
See the sledge hammer. Is there anything in this argument that can be associated with the subtlety of science? Are there any physical hypotheses of note? Has our scientific understanding of the behavior of CO2 in Earth’s many environments been increased. No.
That may be somewhat compensated by the following parts, but I suppose that the law of conservation of mass must be followed, and that is a real sledge hammer item…
Is there a simple logical objection to this sledge hammer argument? Yes. As the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere increases, the rate at which the oceans absorb CO2 increases much faster.
I don’t see any reason that the oceans should absorb CO2 faster than the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. That isn’t seen in the figures either: the increase in emissions and the absorption rate (oceans + vegetation) follow each other with a near constant ratio.
So, the argument raises more questions than it answers. Does the author present reasonably confirmed hypotheses about varying rates of absorption of CO2 by the oceans? Well, of course not. He could not make this sledge hammer argument if he did. Do we have such well-confirmed hypotheses? No.
Please look at my previous comments: the variability in absorption rate is directly related to ocean temperatures, that is where friend and foe agree with each other. Where some disagree (but all warmista’s and many sceptics agree) is the cause of the trend itself.
In sum, this argument exhibits all the defining characteristics of Warmista argument.
No comment, as that lacks any substance.

The Engineer
August 5, 2010 2:05 pm

@Ferdinand Engelbeen.
First thank for taking the time to answer the questions on here.
About your graph which is quite similar to the one I produced myself, except you manage to keep emissions much closer to rise in atmospheric CO2 in the first part of the 20 century than I could.
http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/temp_emiss_increase.jpg
The question still remains though. The rise in CO2 before the start of the 20th century was greater than can be explained by human emissions. The rise in CO2 in the first half the twentieth century can just be explained by human emissions if we assume that nature doesn’t increase absorption, while after 1950 nature suddenly decide to absorb HALF of human emissions.
This would seem to be a rather large conundrum unless you can explain it ?

August 5, 2010 2:06 pm

Paul Birch says:
August 5, 2010 at 12:06 pm
The mass balance claim is a non sequitur. We know that the total fluxes are far higher than the anthropogenic flux and we know that many of the other components are variable, but we do not know how variable. We simply do not know how much CO2 there would have been in the atmosphere at this time in the absence of anthropogenic emission.
Fluxes, no matter how large, add anything to the atmosphere, as long as these are in balance. Only the unbalance adds or removes mass to/from a reservoir. Human emissions are one-way additions. These add to the reservoir(s).
Over the last 800,000 years, there was a clear relation between temperature and CO2 levels in the atmosphere, where CO2 levels followed temperature with a lag. That relation was 8 ppmv for each degree C increase or decrease. Based on the current temperature, the responding CO2 level would be around 300 ppmv. We measure 390 ppmv today and humans have added about double that amount in the past 150 years. So, to me it is clear that humans are the cause.

Jan K. Andersen
August 5, 2010 2:07 pm

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

August 5, 2010 2:12 pm

Alexander Feht says:
August 5, 2010 at 12:38 pm
I don’t see how “natural sink” data could be used in good faith when there is no certain understanding of how much CO2 is really being absorbed by the biosphere (and, what is most important, how much CO2 will be absorbed by the biosphere if the atmospheric content of CO2 will keep rising).
I didn’t use any measured natural sink data, the sink rate is simply the difference between two known items: the emissions inventory at one side and the measured increase in the atmosphere at the other side. The difference between the two is the net natural sink rate or net natural emission rate (if the increase in the atmosphere was larger than the emissions).

crosspatch
August 5, 2010 2:14 pm

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

August 5, 2010 2:18 pm

JaneHM says:
August 5, 2010 at 12:41 pm
Ferdinand
The logic of your oft-repeated statement (below) is wrong if the system involves feedback mechanisms. If a system involves feedback mechanisms, it does NOT always follow that removing one source (or sink) would cause the net to decrease (or increase) by the flux associated with the removed source (or sink).

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

John Hounslow
August 5, 2010 2:23 pm

I invite you to visit http://www.daviesand.com/Choices/Precautionary_Planning/New_Data/
and examine the CO2 growth deduced from the Vostok Ice Cores starting around 10,000 years ago, when there were few “men” to exert a man-made effect. Compare with the comparable phase of previous climate cycles. Something has changed in the current cycle. Why?

August 5, 2010 2:23 pm

DN says:
August 5, 2010 at 1:23 pm
If increases in atmospheric CO2 concentration were principally due to anthropogenic carbon emissions, then changes in CO2 concentration would correlate closely with changes in aggregate WFC. It does not.
There is an extreme good correlation between accumulated emissions and the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere, but that is for next part…

Steven mosher
August 5, 2010 2:25 pm

I’m waiting for someone to argue that our burning of fossil fuels DIMINISHES
the C02 in the atmosphere.
If you are not willing to take up that argument and offer proof, then the balance of the evidence is that we do add C02 to the atmosphere. The current value would be lower BUT FOR our additions.

Dave Andrews
August 5, 2010 2:28 pm

Slioch, 5th Aug 10.30am
According to the US EIA, world CO2 emissions from the consumption and flaring of fossile fuels increased from 18.5 billion metric tons in 1980 t0 29.2 billion metric tons in 2006.
An increase of 58%
At the same time CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere increased from 339ppm to 382ppm. An increase of 13%
So where do you find any correlation between the two figures?

Dr A Burns
August 5, 2010 2:31 pm

“… That is sufficient proof for the human origin of the increase …”
You have got to be kidding ! What rubbish !!
Warming in the past has caused atmospheric CO2 conc. increases … you know, the bit that Mr Gore tried to hide … there is nothing to say it is still not happening.
If you can show that global temperatures have been falling, yet atmospheric CO2 conc has been increasing, you might have an ounce of credibility !

August 5, 2010 2:37 pm

Frank Lansner says:
August 5, 2010 at 1:37 pm
Ferdinand, this AR4 illustration (2007) goes a bit further than 2004, and its quite clear that both the Atlantic and Pacific stations used in AR4 shows no rise in pCO2 in surace water for a decade.
Why?
How much can atmospheric CO2 rise when ocean surface pCO2 has stoped rising?
And Ferdinand, even though this pCO2 of the ocean is measured in upper ocean layers, be aware that upper layers should be even easier to affect for human CO2. So still a stagnating ocean pCO2 is a nasty problem to get around if one believe that human CO2 rules the CO2 levels today.

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

Richard Percifield
August 5, 2010 2:39 pm

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

Theo Goodwin
August 5, 2010 2:39 pm

Ferdinand Engelbeen writes:
“I don’t see any reason that the oceans should absorb CO2 faster than the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. That isn’t seen in the figures either: the increase in emissions and the absorption rate (oceans + vegetation) follow each other with a near constant ratio.”
Of course you don’t, because you have not investigated it. I just offered that example as one alternative hypothesis. There are a million others. And we should all be honest and admit that all of them have to be investigated scientifically before we can claim that they can be taken for granted. That’s how science works. It is not engineering.
The general run of climate scientist constantly repeats a narrative created by Karl Marx. The narrative is very simple. There was a Garden of Eden, a Golden Age, “L’Age d’Or,” when Earth was perfect and had a static balance of energy and of CO2 molecules. It lasted until Capitalism hit the world, in about 1850 when Jones’ temperature record starts. Capitalists upset the balance of everything. The wonderful static world became DYNAMIC – HORRORS! We must return the world to its pre-Capitalist, pristine, static condition. Workers of the World Unite!
The history of science shows conclusively that scientific progress always yields an account of the world that reveals an unbelievably more dynamic and complicated world. The idea that Earth’s CO2 budget and its energy budget were somehow pristine and static in the past belongs to the most outrageous science fiction. Of course, Mann and company have been busting their buns to turn the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age into domesticated pussy cats, as they must if they are to pursue their anti-scientific Marxist dream. And when you think of computer models, think static, static, and static because that is what they are.
We know nothing of Earth’s energy budget and nothing of its CO2 budget. When we learn something about them it will be because we have created sets of hypotheses which actually describe the regularities that exist among the various processes involving CO2 absorption and related phenomena. Those hypotheses will be mind boggling. But somebody is going to have to get up from the computer, go outside, and perform some experiments. I don’t think climate scientists have it in them to do that.
Engelbeen again:
“That isn’t seen in the figures either: the increase in emissions and the absorption rate (oceans + vegetation) follow each other with a near constant ratio.”
When the first “Green Revolution” was launched in the Sixties, it occurred to no one to say that increasing CO2 would help crop yield. Only recently are we getting reports of increase in tree size from CO2. Where are the hypotheses, the real stuff not the guesses, that describe the regularities in this phenomenon? We do not have them yet and we would be fools to think that we could. The work is just beginning.

James Sexton
August 5, 2010 2:39 pm

Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
August 5, 2010 at 1:35 pm
James Sexton says:
August 5, 2010 at 11:38 am
I see you answered part of my questions with a response to another person. Thanks, but if… [snipped]… is true then how did we get to 2000 ppmv CO2 100 million years ago?
“Different times: different arrangement of the continents, different temperature/humidity, less calcite deposits,… The 8 ppmv/C only is for the last near million years, more ice age than interglacial, everything before that can’t be compared with current times…”
Thanks for getting back with me. It’s really appreciated. That being said, I’m even a bit more perplexed. While I accept there were different arrangements in other times, did not the “laws of conservation of mass” apply then as they do now? Quite obviously, we know there were different mechanisms in play in those past times. We don’t know what they were, we don’t know what engaged or disengaged the mechanisms. Given that, we don’t know some of them are not engaging to account for some of the “ins” or “outs” at our present time. While I can appreciate the assumptions and they certainly are plausible, the “8 in”- the “4 out” = 4Gt total increase”, from what I can see, is simply an assumption. This is counter-intuitive. Given the formula you’ve given us, wouldn’t we eventually move the atmospheric CO2 down to nil sans man’s CO2 emissions when we know of times it was quite the opposite. I’m not trying to be contrary, I’m just trying to understand the leap.
Thanks again,
James

August 5, 2010 2:46 pm

Ferdinand Engelbeen says: (in response to Malaga View)
August 5, 2010 at 1:24 pm
“Take it in another view: if there were no human emissions in the past years and today, would the CO2 level in the atmosphere have increased, decreased or stayed level? And next year(s)?”
We do not know! The natural cycle is so variable and uncertain, our understanding of all the relevant mechanisms so lacking, and our inability to carry out controlled experiments so limiting, that the realistic error range of any supposedly comprehensive “prediction” would far exceed the magnitude of the observed increase. My best guess is that, because of the warming since the little ice age, CO2 levels would still have increased, but probably not by quite as much. I couldn’t prove it, though. So weird are some of the possible feedbacks I couldn’t even give a rigorous proof that they wouldn’t have increased even more!

August 5, 2010 2:50 pm

Gail Combs says:
August 5, 2010 at 1:43 pm
More information on 13C
Please, some patience… the isotope changes will be in one of the next parts…

Malaga View
August 5, 2010 2:53 pm

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

I do not know – neither does anyone else!
We can all make guesses… but that is all they are: guesses!

Slioch
August 5, 2010 2:55 pm

Dave Andrews
Perhaps it would be a good idea to think a little before posting.
Are you suggesting that if human emissions doubled between year X and year Y then atmospheric CO2 would also double? Don’t be ridiculous.

CRS, Dr.P.H.
August 5, 2010 3:00 pm

Speaking of carbon dioxide, this just popped up on Chicago Tribune’s Breaking News:
Feds drop plans for FutureGen power plant
August 5, 2010 2:54 PM
CHAMPAIGN — The U.S. Department of Energy says it will drop plans to build a futuristic power plant in eastern Illinois but still use the location to store carbon dioxide underground.
The so-called FutureGen project originally was to include an experimental coal-fired power plant near Mattoon. Carbon dioxide from burning the coal would have been stored underground.
Now, the department says an existing plant in western Illinois will be retrofitted and carbon from that plant piped to Mattoon for storage.
FutureGen has been in the planning stages for years. Developers had been working the past 11 months to cut its costs.
— Associated Press
———————–
Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me to pipe carbon dioxide the width of the state!! What a waste of money!!

August 5, 2010 3:03 pm

My training, Physical Chemistry. I have also done plenty of background reading on many of the issues surrounding CO2. The more I learn, the more I realise how little we know! These comments are just to encourage you all to read more widely.
The Natural sink rate is NOT 4 GT. That is just the current equilibrium reaction to human additions. Given humans increase CO2 emissions, this figure would rise from chemical equilibrium processes. It is also climate related, so may fall or rise based in decadel climate cycles.
The C12/C13 ratio isn’t very useful. In any chemical process involving CO2, HCO3-,CO3–, the slight difference in the atomic weights will indeed change the rate of the reactions. The problem is that there are so many processes in the carbon cycle, that any conclusions are based on conjecture. Different biochemical pathways in different organisms confuse the results.
Ice Core CO2 data is highly problematical, and modern results have been adjusted to suit the ruling paradigm.
Plant Stomata react more accurately to CO2 concentration, as has been determined in experiments. (More CO2 means fewer stomata, as plants exchange CO2 more efficiently) Historical collections of leaves can be used to determine past CO2 levels. In most cases, researchers are bound by the modern paradigm, and get confused by the low stomata counts of the past. Stomata cannot measure very high CO2, but only indicate high C)2. Higher CO2 levels over 325ppm are underestimated. When reading stomata research, you need to filter out the ruling paradigm when the problematical ice-core data is used to calibrate the stomata, when it should be the reverse.
Rapid atmospheric changes are well known from past reconstructions:
See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC129389/pdf/pq1902012011.pdf
& http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/Reference_Docs/Late_Holocene_CO2_3000-4300_BP_Jessen_etal_2005.pdf
Changes of close to 100ppm in a century are quite common.
Which brings me to historical CO2 chemical determinations. Chemists have had excellent methods for determining CO2 since the Early 1800s’. From early measurements, CO2 in the Atmosphere appears to have dropped from about 400-500 ppm in 1800 to about 300ppm by 1900. Over the 20th Century the CO2 has risen back.
Now, of course humans are adding to the CO2, but there is a natural increase as well.
This means that the equilibrium sink of human CO2 emissions must be much higher than 4Gt, and I suspect probably close to 6Gt. If we go into a climate reversal, and the seas start absorbing CO2, we may start to see a decline, which will be slow due to mankind’s added emissions.
At this stage, total CO2 is unlikely to be any higher than in other times in the past 100 years.

August 5, 2010 3:08 pm

Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
August 5, 2010 at 2:06 pm
Paul Birch says:
August 5, 2010 at 12:06 pm
The mass balance claim is a non sequitur. We know that the total fluxes are far higher than the anthropogenic flux and we know that many of the other components are variable, but we do not know how variable. We simply do not know how much CO2 there would have been in the atmosphere at this time in the absence of anthropogenic emission.
“Fluxes, no matter how large, add anything to the atmosphere, as long as these are in balance. Only the unbalance adds or removes mass to/from a reservoir. Human emissions are one-way additions. These add to the reservoir(s).”
I presume you meant “don’t add anything…”. But your argument is still a non sequitur, because the natural fluxes are not in balance over any timescale. Sometimes they have been hugely out of balance. We have no independent measurement that could tell us whether or not they have been in balance over the past century, or by how much they have been in imbalance. Secondly, it does not follow that the natural fluxes are the same as they would have been in the absence of man-made emissions; you can’t assume their sum is unchanged; indeed, your own argument requires that it has changed, since the increase does not equate to the anthropogenic flux. Thirdly, human activities are not all “one-way”; agriculture and irrigation are obvious counter-example; less obvious are things like ploughing and engineering works that mobilise sediments, fertilising coastal waters and increasing natural CO2 take-up by plankton. In principle, such effects could even outweigh the direct CO2 emissions (they probably don’t, but it is not absurd to suppose that they might).

Milwaukee Bob
August 5, 2010 3:10 pm

Dave Springer said at 1:06 pm
….What was the total biomass of the planet in 1880 and what is it today? Is total biomass growing or falling?…. There’s so much missing data that these hasty conclusions trying to be passed off as settled science is laughable.
What was the Soil Microbe level in 1880? 1955? 2009?
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/04/28/new-ground-truth-microbiotic-negative-feedback/
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/03/25/earth-follows-the-warming-soils-add-100-million-tons-of-co2-per-year/
This analysis could not distinguish whether the carbon was coming from old stores or from vegetation growing faster due to a warmer climate. But other lines of evidence suggest warming is unlocking old carbon…..
What was the energy/heat and CO2 output of sea floor vents in 1880? 1955? 2009?
http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/dynamic/exploring.html
http://www.rdmag.com/News/2010/03/Environment-Research-Evidence-Of-Hydrothermal-Vents-On-The-Seafloor-Near-Antarctica/
What was the CO2 ppm Global Average in 1880? 1955? 2009?
http://www.pensee-unique.eu/001_mwr-083-10-0225.pdf
What was the Soil Respiration rate in 1880? 1955? 2009?
http://www.biogeosciences-discuss.net/7/1321/2010/bgd-7-1321-2010-print.pdf
What was the extent/mass of Arctic Sea ice in 1880? 1955? —–
(Hmm, where is that post/study of sea ice and CO2?)
I could go on but this kinds of sums it all:
From all those flows very few are known to any accuracy.
Surely you jest…..?

August 5, 2010 3:12 pm

The Engineer says:
August 5, 2010 at 2:05 pm
The question still remains though. The rise in CO2 before the start of the 20th century was greater than can be explained by human emissions. The rise in CO2 in the first half the twentieth century can just be explained by human emissions if we assume that nature doesn’t increase absorption, while after 1950 nature suddenly decide to absorb HALF of human emissions.
This would seem to be a rather large conundrum unless you can explain it ?

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

savethesharks
August 5, 2010 3:14 pm

BillD says:
Anyone who does not understand that the burning of fossil fuels is the main cause of the regular increase in CO2 that is has been documented over the last 50+ years is clearly unable to understand basic science.
Anyone who makes unsupported blanket statements of this sort is clearly unable to understand the scientific method, and thus “basic science”.
Certain findings are widely and clearly demonstrated in science and do not need support by citation and documentation. In my view, the conclusion that fossil fuel burning accounts for the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere fits into that category. That assumes that one has at least read evidence at the basic textbook level. Another well-accepted finding is that the earth follows an orbit around the sun. At one point these issues may have been cotroversial, but the controvery has long since been settled.
===========================================
Nice try, but that ancient orbit-sun controversy is a completely unworthy and false analogy to the current “controversy” CAGW myth-religion, the science of which is so far from being “settled” that it hurts just to type this.
And the REAL reason that you might say that “certain findings are widely and clearly demonstrated in science and do not need support by citation and documentation” on this issue is because…there is NONE to be found.
No TRUE documentation.
Just model conjectures.
Please produce the definitive measured real-world, real-time, hard evidence showing real-world (not modeled) direct cause and effect between humans, increased CO2, and how it is causing or will cause catastrophic climate change.
Smokey and many others on here have waited for a long time to see just that…and we we are all still waiting.
Let’s see the hard evidence!
Chris
Norfolk, VA, USA

August 5, 2010 3:18 pm

Ferdinand,
The surface ocean flux of 1,020GT is the really interesting figure. The amount added by humans is a small percentage of that. Less than 1%
If there is a downward trend in the ocean surface flux of less than 1/2% of absorption annually, we are off the hook.
Fish stocks have diminished. Some of this is due no doubt to human consumption, but if it also indicates an increasing scarcity at the base of the food chain, then such a trend is perfectly possible.
How could we measure such a small trend?

Dave Wendt
August 5, 2010 3:20 pm

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

August 5, 2010 3:23 pm

Dave Andrews says:
August 5, 2010 at 2:28 pm
Slioch, 5th Aug 10.30am
According to the US EIA, world CO2 emissions from the consumption and flaring of fossile fuels increased from 18.5 billion metric tons in 1980 t0 29.2 billion metric tons in 2006.
An increase of 58%
At the same time CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere increased from 339ppm to 382ppm. An increase of 13%
So where do you find any correlation between the two figures?

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

Scarlet Pumpernickel
August 5, 2010 3:23 pm

http://gerlach1991.geologist-1011.mobi/
The volcano science for undersea volcanoes is certainly not settled

August 5, 2010 3:28 pm

Dr A Burns says:
August 5, 2010 at 2:31 pm
“… That is sufficient proof for the human origin of the increase …”
You have got to be kidding ! What rubbish !!
Warming in the past has caused atmospheric CO2 conc. increases … you know, the bit that Mr Gore tried to hide … there is nothing to say it is still not happening.
If you can show that global temperatures have been falling, yet atmospheric CO2 conc has been increasing, you might have an ounce of credibility !

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

August 5, 2010 3:37 pm

Paul Birch says:
August 5, 2010 at 2:46 pm
We do not know! The natural cycle is so variable and uncertain, our understanding of all the relevant mechanisms so lacking, and our inability to carry out controlled experiments so limiting, that the realistic error range of any supposedly comprehensive “prediction” would far exceed the magnitude of the observed increase.
Neither in the (smoothed) ice cores, nor today with very accurate measurements, there is any large variability visible: both the temperature swing over the seasons as the year-by-year variability show some 4 ppmv/C change, nothing more, over the past 50+ years. Thus the possibility of large swings is rather questionable.
Further, if we stop all emissions today, and the levels wouldn’t drop, then the IPCC is right to claim that (part of) the emissions would stay in the atmosphere forever?

Malaga View
August 5, 2010 3:38 pm

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

Challenge accepted!
More fossil fuels burnt means more CO2 and soot in the atmosphere.
This causes the formation of additional, larger water droplets to form in clouds.
More CO2 dissolves into these larger droplets…
And by a cruel twist of fate the quantity of dissolved CO2 is greater than that released by burning fossil fuels.
I can not prove it is right! You can not prove it is wrong! But we both can speculate!
If you are not willing to take up that argument and offer proof, then the balance of the evidence is that we do add C02 to the atmosphere. The current value would be lower BUT FOR our additions.
The problem is about evidence… or more precisely the LACK OF EVIDENCE…
The balance of speculation is NOT PROOF – JUST SPECULATION…
And you talk about science – rolls eyes!

Matt G
August 5, 2010 3:40 pm

I see the estimation for outgassing of CO2 from the oceans using ice cores are flawed because the planet over the past 160 years has a much higher rise in CO2, yet with only rough 0.8c rise in global temperatures.
Therefore the data from the ice cores must be incorrect for measurement of CO2 in the air at the time because these are only proxies and don’t match much more accurate recent trends in ppm of CO2 and global temperatures.
The more accurate estimations don’t show a 1c rise in temperature per 8ppm of CO2, but ~139 ppm per 1c rise in global temperatures. This is if only CO2 warmed the climate, which it didn’t.
Therefore as climate is still dominated by natural cycles and any trend from CO2 is still underlying, natural cycles must be at least 50 percent of the warming. (the past decade shows this)
Hence, using more accurate instruments the current planet shows a 1c rise/ 278 ppm of CO2 at the lowest.
My conclusion is the outgassing of CO2 from the oceans is much higher than claimed from using ice cores. Looks a figure at least 35 times the value currently given.

August 5, 2010 3:57 pm

Theo Goodwin says:
August 5, 2010 at 2:39 pm
Ferdinand Engelbeen writes:
“I don’t see any reason that the oceans should absorb CO2 faster than the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. That isn’t seen in the figures either: the increase in emissions and the absorption rate (oceans + vegetation) follow each other with a near constant ratio.”
Of course you don’t, because you have not investigated it. I just offered that example as one alternative hypothesis. There are a million others. And we should all be honest and admit that all of them have to be investigated scientifically before we can claim that they can be taken for granted. That’s how science works. It is not engineering.

Sometimes it helps to have had a working life as an engineer, to bring some scientists back on their feet… Of course I did look at the emission/absorption rates and they fit magically. But I can’t show all background I have sampled in over four years in one page. Thus that point is for the next part.
Don’t underestimate what science already has investigated about the CO2 cycle, as well in the atmosphere as in the oceans…

Frank Lansner
August 5, 2010 4:00 pm

Hi Ferdinand!
You say that pH controls pCO2 and therefore a decade of stagnation in CO2 is no problem for the idea that increasing human CO2 outlet controls CO2 levels?
But pH levels have stagnated too:
http://hidethedecline.eu/media/pH%20in%20oceans/e1.jpg
http://hidethedecline.eu/media/pH%20in%20oceans/d9.jpg
Summa: we have constant pH and CO2 for a decade, so why should not the human emissions result in increased pCO2 according to your thoughts?
Yes, then you also mentions temperatures. They have stagnated too in the period – so in what way should temperatures explain that human CO2 emmisions does not lead to increased pCO2 in oceans?
And finaly, you mention that BIOLIFE could be a reason that pCO2 is indeed stagnating while human CO2 outlet is increasing:
YESYESYES!!! Say it again 🙂
Thats just the point, human outlet appaers more and more chess-mate by natures forces, and therefore what ever we humans do the CO2-levels are still less under human control while the Earths biosphere is awakening and… eating CO2 faster and faster.
We cant make CO2 increase as Hansen and co believes even if we wanted too 🙂
K.R. Frank Lansner

Matt G
August 5, 2010 4:01 pm

Sorry, a few mistakes
Should be ppmv and any contribution from CO2 is underlying, plus not 35 times, but 17 times.
Can this be corrected and this deleted?

August 5, 2010 4:09 pm

Ross Jackson says:
August 5, 2010 at 3:03 pm
My training, Physical Chemistry. I have also done plenty of background reading on many of the issues surrounding CO2. The more I learn, the more I realise how little we know! These comments are just to encourage you all to read more widely.
The Natural sink rate is NOT 4 GT. That is just the current equilibrium reaction to human additions. Given humans increase CO2 emissions, this figure would rise from chemical equilibrium processes. It is also climate related, so may fall or rise based in decadel climate cycles.

Historical data, ice cores and stomata data will be handled at the end parts. Historical data and stomata data have their own biases and problems…
Of course the current natural sink rate is about 4 GtC, that is about 55% of the current emissions. The same ratio for over 50 years now. That is the response to a disturbance of a physical equilibrium. The equilibrium may fall or rise with temperature, but we are far away from that equilibrium…

Mindbuilder
August 5, 2010 4:14 pm

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

Jeremy
August 5, 2010 4:19 pm

Good to see the criticism of this work.
I fully agree with those that say we can’t conclude that man is the major contributor to increases in atmospheric CO2 until we know much more about other carbon sources/sinks – almost all living things, volcanoes, forest fires and oceans – just to name a few – clearly there is a lot that could be influencing atmospheric CO2 levels.
We can be sure man has emitted large amounts of CO2 from burning fossil fuels which can be roughly estimated. However, how can we be sure that this is what drives the overall CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere without knowing any of the other natural processes to any degree of accuracy?
This article is just another example of the lack of scientific rigor prevalent today. Correlations and back of the envelope assumptions are NOT how I was taught Physics. You have to quantify the unknowns BEFORE you can draw conclusions.

It's always Marcia, Marcia
August 5, 2010 4:21 pm

So humans have added carbon….and?
Are we to assume then that warming is caused by humans? Or would that just be conflation?
Adding co2 to earths atmosphere does not warm the earth. There are other factors enacted in earths climate system from increased co2 that results in cooling the earth.

Gail Combs
August 5, 2010 4:24 pm

#
#
Scarlet Pumpernickel says:
August 5, 2010 at 3:23 pm
http://gerlach1991.geologist-1011.mobi/
The volcano science for undersea volcanoes is certainly not settled
_____________________________________________________________
You can say that again. We do not even know how many undersea volcanoes there are or how active they are.
Thousand of new volcanoes revealed beneath the waves “…This is over 10 times more than have been found before.
The team estimates that in total there could be about 3 million submarine volcanoes, 39,000 of which rise more than 1000 metres over the sea bed. “

Submarine Ring of Fire 2004 Exploration, NOAA-OE “bubbles of liquid CO2 escape from the white chimneys and surrounding seafloor “
Submarine Volcanoes “Currently there are over five thousand active volcanoes underwater “
Iceland: Volcano emitting 150-300,000 tonnes of CO2 daily ” “
And RUSSIA and Alaska: Volcano Activity Notifications

August 5, 2010 4:31 pm

Paul Birch says:
August 5, 2010 at 3:08 pm
I presume you meant “don’t add anything…”. But your argument is still a non sequitur, because the natural fluxes are not in balance over any timescale. Sometimes they have been hugely out of balance. We have no independent measurement that could tell us whether or not they have been in balance over the past century, or by how much they have been in imbalance. Secondly, it does not follow that the natural fluxes are the same as they would have been in the absence of man-made emissions; you can’t assume their sum is unchanged; indeed, your own argument requires that it has changed, since the increase does not equate to the anthropogenic flux. Thirdly, human activities are not all “one-way”; agriculture and irrigation are obvious counter-example; less obvious are things like ploughing and engineering works that mobilise sediments, fertilising coastal waters and increasing natural CO2 take-up by plankton. In principle, such effects could even outweigh the direct CO2 emissions (they probably don’t, but it is not absurd to suppose that they might).
The accurate measurements we have in the past 50+ years show that the unbalance in natural fluxes is not more than +/- 2 GtC, which causes the year-by-year variability. Over the past 150 years we have two ice cores (Law Dome) with 8 years resolution. Any one year peak of 40 GtC or a sustained change of 4 GtC over a period of 10 years would have been noticed above the accuracy of the cores. Thus it seems very unlikely that there were very large unbalances in recent times. Of course the further back, the more coarse the resolution is.
As far as we know, there was a balance between temperature and CO2 levels: besides the possible year-by-year unbalances, there is a good correlation between the two even over thousands of years. That balance now is disturbed by the human emissions.
Agreed that humans also can help to sequester some CO2, but until now the emissions still by far overwhelm the sequestering…

Malaga View
August 5, 2010 4:32 pm

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

BRAVO! Standing ovation.

It's always Marcia, Marcia
August 5, 2010 4:35 pm

Robinson says:
August 5, 2010 at 8:26 am
To be honest this discussion is really not very interesting. Does anyone still dispute the fact that mankind has increased the amount of Co2 in the atmosphere
I was thinking the same thing.
I think the reader is supposed to make the mental leap that this human caused increase in co2 proves humans are causing global warming, and also the predicted disasters from global warming are on the way from it. But all of us have gone around in that circle argument so many times that those who don’t think mankind is bringing disasters to earth from their car exhaust expect proof, a deeper explanation, that co2 actually does warm the earth and that these disasters are inevitable. Otherwise we are just running over the same old tedious ground.
But I do thank Anthony for this post since this comment thread is providing plenty of good reasoning why people should question every aspect of ‘global warming’. The more the ‘science’ of manmade global warming is brought out into the light the more people will see how poor the case is.

August 5, 2010 4:39 pm

Milwaukee Bob says:
August 5, 2010 at 3:10 pm
From all those flows very few are known to any accuracy.
Surely you jest…..?

All these flows are of not the slightest interest, as we know the balance at the end of the year: 4 GtC more sink than source. Thus without the human addition of 8 GtC/year, there would be a loss of 4 GtC in the first year.
You don’t need to know all detailed transactions of your bussiness during the day to know what your loss or profit was at the end of the day: just count what is in your cash register…

August 5, 2010 4:47 pm

tallbloke says:
August 5, 2010 at 3:18 pm
Ferdinand,
The surface ocean flux of 1,020GT is the really interesting figure. The amount added by humans is a small percentage of that. Less than 1%
If there is a downward trend in the ocean surface flux of less than 1/2% of absorption annually, we are off the hook.

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

It's always Marcia, Marcia
August 5, 2010 4:48 pm

Alex says:
August 5, 2010 at 8:53 am
Did anybody say we didn’t increase co2 in the air? I don’t get this who is he arguing against?
As in my comment above, I think the reader is to assume that man is causing global warming. But the science does not show this.
The cost of postage stamps has gone up in the last 100 years. That must be causing warming. This comparison is just as valid as saying warming is caused by co2. And it may be an even better relation since the only science to come out has show that co2 increases actually cause cooling because of negative feedback.
There is no data in the historical, or current, scientific record that shows co2 causes warming in the climate.

Gail Combs
August 5, 2010 4:53 pm

Frank Lansner says:
August 5, 2010 at 1:40 pm
Wops, heres the link:
http://hidethedecline.eu/media/co2%20concentretions%20in%20oceans/b4.jpg
I made the illustration from AR4 illustrations as you can see. So who can “deny” that data are valid ? 😉
________________________________________
Frank does the pCO2 in the oceans correlate to the ocean oscillations? Perhaps with a bit of lag? It does look like it.
Atlantic (AMO)
http://digitaldiatribes.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/amoraw200908.png
Pacific (PDO)
http://icecap.us/images/uploads/PDO_Easterbrook.JPG

Editor
August 5, 2010 4:59 pm

I basically agree with the gist of the article.
The carbon cycle pic is a bit out of date, though (the totals are a bit higher by now).
The big question is whether feedbacks are positive or negative. (I see greater evidence so far that they are negative.)

August 5, 2010 5:04 pm

Frank Lansner says:
August 5, 2010 at 4:00 pm
Hi Ferdinand!
You say that pH controls pCO2 and therefore a decade of stagnation in CO2 is no problem for the idea that increasing human CO2 outlet controls CO2 levels?
But pH levels have stagnated too:
http://hidethedecline.eu/media/pH%20in%20oceans/e1.jpg
http://hidethedecline.eu/media/pH%20in%20oceans/d9.jpg

Dear Frank, I see that you still don’t get it: pCO2 is not the important factor for the total amount of carbon in the oceans. pCO2 is only related to free CO2 in solution, not to the bicarbonate and carbonate ions, which give the bulk (99%) of all CO2 in the oceans.
As the pH decrease seems to level off, that may be the reason that pCO2 and thus the free CO2 in the oceans levels off too. But that doesn’t influence the total amount of carbon in the oceans, which still is going up in parallel with CO2 in the atmosphere.
Not the reverse. If the CO2 levels of the oceans were the cause of the increase in the atmosphere, then the total carbon levels in the oceans would drop, not increase.
The same problem for more biolife in the oceans: that should reduce total carbon levels, but there still is an increase.
——————-
Wow, this is quite intense… Need some sleep now (it’s 2 AM here…).

DocMartyn
August 5, 2010 5:04 pm

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

August 5, 2010 5:08 pm

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

EthicallyCivil
August 5, 2010 5:12 pm

@Dan Evans — thanks. I googled this up. Seems to be on point…
http://www2.glos.ac.uk/gdn/origins/life/carbon.htm
“Alternatively, isotopic fractionation takes place during a chemical reaction. In this case it is the speed of the reaction which is important. In other words there is a kinetic control on the fractionation. In detail the strength of a chemical bond is dependent upon atomic mass, such that bond strength increases with the substitution of heavier isotopes. In biological processes, when inorganic carbon is used to make organic compounds, 12C is more weakly bonded and reacts more readily than 13C, because of its lighter mass. This means that organic matter tends to become enriched in 12C relative to the reservoir of inorganic carbon from which it has been drawn.”

Dave Springer
August 5, 2010 5:12 pm

Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
August 5, 2010 at 4:39 pm
You don’t need to know all detailed transactions of your bussiness during the day to know what your loss or profit was at the end of the day: just count what is in your cash register…

Yeah, that’s cute but misses the point when you don’t how much you have in the bank.
How much CO2 is in the deep ocean, Ferdinand?
Are you aware of the recent discovery of liquid CO2 coming of oceanic ridges and it’s so deep and cold it stays liquid for God only knows how long?
Do YOU know how long? Of course you don’t. Stop bluffing. This isn’t settled science.

u.k.(us)
August 5, 2010 5:18 pm

Umm, I think Ferdinand Engelbeen, is teasing us.
Making us think.
Can’t wait for Part 2.

Richard S Courtney
August 5, 2010 5:20 pm

Ferdinand:
You and I have debated these matters for several years.
Above, at August 5, 2010 at 10:25 am, you assert:
“Yes, but if humans add 8 GtC per year as CO2 a year and we see only an increase of 4 GtC per year in the atmosphere, then all other flows together, whatever their variation within or over the years, must remove the difference. The variability of the natural removal rate is quite low: +/- 1 ppmv/year (or +/-2 GtC/year, about half the current emissions in year-by-year spread).”
From that, you assume the increase of “an increase of 4 GtC per year in the atmosphere” is an accumulation of part of the anthropogenic emission. Sorry, but that assumption is a logical error.
In the absence of knowledge of how natural emissions (and sequestrations) are varying, then any one (or more) of them could be responsible for the observed increase.
There are several inputs and outputs to the atmosphere that are much larger than the anthropogenic emission. Indeed, as your first (not numbered) figure and your Figure 2 both show, during each year the CO2 in the atmosphere increases then decreases by an order magnitude more than the anthropogenic emission of a year. This increase and decrease within each year is known as the seasonal variation.
So, the annual increase to the CO2 in the air for a year is the residual of the seasonal variation of the year. And the residual is about an order of magnitude less than the seasonal variation which is induced by variations in the natural emissions and sequestrations.
This residual could be induced by the anthropogenic emission affecting some component of the system, but it is clearly not merely an accumulation of the anthropogenic emission for the following reasons.
Firstly, as your Figure 2 shows, the system rapidly adjusts during the year in a manner that does not suggest it is near to saturation. Indeed, the graph strongly suggests that most CO2 emission (both natural and anthropogenic) is sequestered near its source. And the sequestration rate at Northern latitudes (e.g. at Barrow) is more than 100 times the rate of human emission (as your Figure 2 shows). This strongly suggests that the natural sequestration processes can easily sequester the small anthropogenic emission.
Secondly, as others have pointed out, your assumption requires that in the absence of the anthropogenic emission the CO2 in the atmosphere would fall by 4 GtC per year. Therefore, it should have declined at that rate prior to the anthropogenic emission. However, such a decrease would have removed all the CO2 from the air millennia in the past, and all life would have then ceased. But that did not happen because we are here to debate it.
Thirdly, your argument is circular. You assume the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration is an accumulation of the anthropogenic emission then say, “See, the emission is sufficiently large to provide more than the observed increase”. But a change to any other emission (or sequestration) that is larger than the rise could also be said to be sufficiently large to provide more than the observed increase.
And your only justification for choosing the anthropogenic emission as the cause is that we know its magnitude but we do not know the magnitudes of the variations to the (much larger) natural emissions and sequestrations!
I do not know if the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration is natural or anthropogenic in part or in whole, but I want to know. And I regret that your assumptions and assertions add nothing to available knowledge concerning what I want to know.
Richard

Dave Springer
August 5, 2010 5:26 pm

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

Gail Combs
August 5, 2010 5:30 pm

John Hounslow says:
August 5, 2010 at 2:23 pm
I invite you to visit http://www.daviesand.com/Choices/Precautionary_Planning/New_Data/
and examine the CO2 growth deduced from the Vostok Ice Cores starting around 10,000 years ago, when there were few “men” to exert a man-made effect. Compare with the comparable phase of previous climate cycles. Something has changed in the current cycle. Why?
_____________________________________________________–
At that site the Vostok Ice Core data shows the CO2 dips below 200ppm almost to 180 ppm for long periods.
There is this statement:
“As CO2 is a critical component of growth, plants in environments with inadequate CO2 levels – below 200 ppm – will cease to grow or produce.” This is based on real life measurements by those dealing with greenhouses for a living.
http://www.planetnatural.com/site/xdpy/kb/implementing-co2.html
Another paper states under 200 pm CO2 trees starve, but has since disappeared . It was http://biblioteca.universia.net/ficha.do?id=912067
This entire article is refuted here: http://www.co2web.info/
This particular pdf looking at the dogma and politics behind the 70 years of CO2 measurement as well as the science. It is a very interesting read. http://www.co2web.info/ESEF3VO2.pdf
Unfortunately Dr. Segalstad of Resource- and Environmental Geology,
Geological Museum, University of Oslo is swamped and can not write a rebuttal to this article.

Editor
August 5, 2010 5:31 pm

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

George Steiner
August 5, 2010 5:35 pm

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

August 5, 2010 5:38 pm

Where’s E.M Smith? On his Chiefio blog he posted a comprehensive demolition of the isotope balance argument some time ago.

Dave Springer
August 5, 2010 5:41 pm

I think one thing has been clearly demonstrated by some physicists who Anthony evidently cherry-picked because they happen to support his beliefs — this is far from settled science as a greater number of equally qualified individuals have surfaced to call the OPs no more than opinion trying to masquerade itself as settled science.
Very little of the this “science” is settled. It’s mostly all correlations offered up as causation few of which are unbiguously supported by observation and experiment and most of which are supported only by theoretical models of reality. The QM descriptions are all over the board. Ask 10 physicists about deep questions in QM and you get different answers depending on which QM interpretation the responder has decided is the one that deserves his faith.
Settled science my ass. It’s bandwagon science.

Theo Goodwin
August 5, 2010 5:49 pm

Ferdinand Engelbeen writes:
“Don’t underestimate what science already has investigated about the CO2 cycle, as well in the atmosphere as in the oceans…”
I have been searching for the information for years. All I can find is what can be deduced from characteristics of the CO2 molecule and the theory of radiation. As regards credible studies of actual phenomena, physical processes, there aren’t any. The reason there aren’t any is that AGW proponents don’t actually do science. Successful science always culminates in reasonably well-confirmed hypotheses, though experiments that falsify can be considered successes too. AGW proponents do not produce reasonably well-confirmed hypotheses and certainly have never reported a falsifying experiment. The only thing I know from AGW proponents that I will dignify with the name of hypothesis is Mann’s hockey stick, imperfect as it is. I believe that if genuine hypotheses do in fact exist and support the AGW thesis they would be plastered all over the place. Where are they? Can anyone state the hypotheses that describe the natural regularities that constitute the La Nina phenomenon? I don’t think so. Can anyone explain the role of CO2 in the La Nina phenomenon? I don’t think so. Can anyone explain the energy budget of the La Nina phenomenon? I don’t think so. I use La Nina for an example simply because the name is widely recognized. But I believe that the same is true for at least 99% of all relevant natural processes.
Why do AGW proponents not produce reasonably confirmed hypotheses about the behavior of CO2 in natural processes? Because that is not their goal. Each and every paper produced by an AGW proponent has as its conclusion a dire warning about the harm caused by production of CO2. That is not science; rather, that is moral philosophy. It will never produce reasonably well-confirmed hypotheses about natural phenomena. It will produce only moral prescriptions. If you can rewrite your paper and choose not to treat 1850 and 270 ppm as NORMS then I will be greatly impressed. But I do not see how you can. You take 1850 and 270 ppm as a norm for a closed system and argue that mankind is responsible for all increase in CO2 concentrations after 1850. Do you not? Is that a scientific argument? No. It is a moral argument. Science would give us hypothese that explain the behavior of CO2 at 377 ppm but it would not tell us who is to blame. You tell me who is to blame but you do not provide the reasonably well-confirmed hypotheses that would enable me to understand the behavior of CO2 in this environment.

Dave Springer
August 5, 2010 5:55 pm

Anthony appears to be doing what I’ve seen a whole bunch of young earth creationists do. They accept some fundamental but unproven and unprovable axioms of the random mutation plus natural selection crowd, namely the age of the earth, and say “well I’m willing to accept an old earth but God still designed it all”. This gives imparts a patina of at least accepting some of the science as being settled so the YEC isn’t labeled a total hopeless mystic crank.
I suspect if Anthony questioned the more fundamental axioms of the CAGW crowd he fears it would put him squarely in the crank category so, purely for appearance’ sake he doesn’t question certain beliefs masquerading as settled science. Beliefs like the like the so-called greenhouse effect being marginally functional and beliefs like CO2 rise being due to anthropogenic sources. These things are not settled science and it’s dishonest to pretend they are.

August 5, 2010 6:09 pm

It is truly irrelevant whether humans are increasing CO2 levels or not because the effect is negligible as CO2 cannot and does not drive the climate, it follows the climate, at least until recently. (Beck’s bottle data collection questions the validity of the cherry-picked contention that CO2 was historically low until recently.) In either case, CO2 cannot trap heat or act as a greenhouse and water vapor is NOT a positive forcing factor as it is part of a massive global heat engine which carries heat upwards and away from the surface – it’s called the water cycle.
CO2 is plant food and plants of all kinds thrive with more CO2. CO2 cannot acidify the oceans as the oceans are a complex buffer and CO2 is part of an extended equilibrium which cannot eat the calcium carbonate it leads to. In fact, more CO2 means more calcium carbonate, not less. More plant food, more food, and more efficient use of nutrients and water – there’s no down side here.

August 5, 2010 6:29 pm

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

Werner Weber says:
August 5, 2010 at 10:26 am
The linear increase of CO2 is your problem, or what is equilibrium, part II.
That is for part 2, but I have no problems with a linear increase of CO2 (in fact it is slightly exponential, together with the emissions, see: http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/temp_emiss_increase.jpg )

A quick eyeball tells me that the increase in CO2 from that graph seems to relate much more closely to the increase in temperatures than anthropogenic emissions. That would support the argument that the increase is mainly dues to temperature rises.
Neither follow the amount of anthropogenic emissions well.
That’s just the way it looks….

Pascvaks
August 5, 2010 6:33 pm

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

Jim Reedy
August 5, 2010 6:57 pm

Slioch says:
August 5, 2010 at 10:30 am
Of course, the interesting question is for how much longer the oceans are going to behave as a net sink for CO2.
Slioch, isnt the answer provided by Henry’s Law? (which simplistically put defines how the equilibrium between whats in the atmosphere and whats in the oceans is reached)
cheers
J

Milwaukee Bob
August 5, 2010 7:16 pm

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

Spector
August 5, 2010 7:18 pm

As a result of an article by Prof. Lance Endersbee, ‘Oceans are the main regulators of carbon dioxide,’ I have entertained the notion that the ocean might act as a huge temperature-sensitive reservoir of dissolved CO2. I find, however, that I cannot accept the high temperature sensitivity factors (over 100 ppm/deg C) required for this to be effective.
Thus, while I do think that CO2 levels should track major climate shifts and biota changes, I have no real reason to doubt the primary attribution of the recent CO2 rise to anthropogenic activity.

Gail Combs
August 5, 2010 7:32 pm

Ross Jackson says:
August 5, 2010 at 3:03 pm
My training, Physical Chemistry. I have also done plenty of background reading on many of the issues surrounding CO2. The more I learn, the more I realise how little we know! These comments are just to encourage you all to read more widely…..
____________________________________
Oh good another Chemist!
I have a question for you. Mauna Loa Observatory in the 50’s and 60’s took measurements with “a new infra-red (IR) absorbing instrumental method” In the seventies I tried, at two separate corporations, to use a infra-red (IR) Spectrophotometer for analytical work and gave up in frustration because I could not get reproducible results even when using an added internal calibration standard.
Have you ever used an IR for analytical work and were you succesful? Remeber back then there were no computers attached to analytical instruments.
Mauna Loa Observatory states:
“4. In keeping with the requirement that CO2 in background air should be steady, we apply a general “outlier rejection” step, in which we fit a curve to the preliminary daily means for each day calculated from the hours surviving step 1 and 2, and not including times with upslope winds. All hourly averages that are further than two standard deviations, calculated for every day, away from the fitted curve (“outliers”) are rejected. This step is iterated until no more rejections occur.”
http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/about/co2_measurements.html
From: http://www.co2web.info/ESEF3VO2.pdf
At the Mauna Loa Observatory the measurements were taken with a new infra-red (IR) absorbing instrumental method, never validated versus the accurate wet chemical techniques. Critique has also been directed to the analytical methodology and sampling error problems (Jaworowski et al., 1992 a; and Segalstad, 1996, for further references), and the fact that the results of the measurements were “edited” (Bacastow et al., 1985); large portions of raw data were rejected, leaving just a small fraction of the raw data subjected to averaging techniques (Pales & Keeling, 1965).
The acknowledgement in the paper by Pales & Keeling (1965) describes how the Mauna Loa CO2 monitoring program started: “The Scripps program to monitor CO2 in the atmosphere and oceans was conceived and initiated by Dr. Roger Revelle who was director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography while the present work was in progress. Revelle foresaw the geochemical implications of the rise in atmospheric CO2 resulting from fossil fuel combustion, and he sought means to ensure that this ‘large scale geophysical experiment’, as he termed it, would be adequately documented as it occurred. During all stages of the present work Revelle was mentor, consultant, antagonist. He shared with us his broad knowledge of earth science and appreciation for the oceans and atmosphere as they really exist, and he inspired us to keep in sight the objectives which he had originally persuaded us to accept.” Is this the description of true, unbiased research?
The annual mean CO2 level as reported from Mauna Loa for 1959….

Paul
August 5, 2010 7:50 pm

The carbon ratios demonstrate nothing other than that there are some human emissions from fossil fuels taking place. That such is occurring is obvious. It does not, however, follow that the changing carbon rations demonstrate that rising CO2 levels are due to fossil fuel combustion.
Consider for a moment, that if half of emissions are reabsorbed by the biosphere, if there were no emissions and sink was static, then CO2 would be declining year over year at about the rate it is now increasing. This suggests by the same logic of the IPCC that the mean surface temperature would fall by several degrees C in the next hundred years.
Of course no one believes that to be so because they believe that the sink is not static. If emissions slow down, the sink slows down. If you believe that, then the equilibrium concentration of CO2 is determined at least in part endogenously to the emissions themselves.
So, some but not all of the increasing CO2 concentration is due to man-made emissions.

Theo Goodwin
August 5, 2010 8:09 pm

The Engineer writes:
“Why doesn’t your Nasa figure show the largest Carbon Sink – Chalk. By far the greatest depositry for carbon, all of which must have been at some time in the atmosphere.”
Cool. Tell us more. How is chalk the biggest sink and how does it do the job?

Spector
August 5, 2010 8:35 pm

RE: Dave Springer says: (August 5, 2010 at 5:55 pm) “I suspect if Anthony questioned the more fundamental axioms of the CAGW crowd he fears it would put him squarely in the crank category so, purely for appearance’ sake he doesn’t question certain beliefs masquerading as settled science.”
I believe there may be a point in letting the ‘other guy’ know that you are at least willing to hear him out. Perhaps he will respond in kind.

Barry Moore
August 5, 2010 9:06 pm

With reference to IPCC 4AR page 515 fig 7.3 this is a very similar diagram to the NASA diagram shown in the article with the exception that the IPCC diagram breaks the carbon down into natural and anthropogenic ( black and red numbers) I am not sure where Ferdinand learned his mass balance calculation methodology from but there are some glaring mistakes in his assumptions and methods. Since the carbon passes between the ocean, land and air in varying fluxes depending on a number of conditions, ocean temperature being one, a mass balance can only be performed considering all three sinks as one total unit.
Back to fig 7.3, IPCC show the content of the ocean surface as 900 GT natural 18 GT anthropogenic but when this same water evaporates the vapour contains 70.5 GT natural and 20 GT anthropogenic, now the normal rules of mass balance would dictate that the ratio in the vapour must be the same as the ratio in the liquid which produced the vapour. Same for the air land exchange, there is a ratio of 597 natural to 165 anthropogenic in the air but the vegetation absorbs 120 natural to 2.6 anthropogenic please explain how this can happen.
If 20% of all atmospheric carbon is recycled annually then 20% of the anthropogenic carbon must be recycled and emissions to the air must be in the ratio of the contents of the land and water. I have posted this before so the recycle is a little higher but the principle of true mass balance is the same.
The following calculation shows the effect of human produced CO2 on our atmosphere.
There is approximately 860 GT of carbon in the atmosphere which is approximately 2.2 GT per ppm. A very conservative estimate of the total carbon cycled in and out of the atmosphere is 215 GT per year which is 25% of the carbon in the atmosphere, personally my calculations are closer to 400 GT per year. Break that down into weeks and you get 0.48 % per week of all the carbon in the atmosphere.
Now construct a simple Excel program which starts with 100 GT i.e.45.5ppm of anthropogenic carbon, deduct 0.48 % and on the next line you have the balance remaining after 1 week of the original amount i.e. 99.52 GT just repeat that calculation ( copy and paste ) and you have 78.24 GT of your original carbon left after 52 weeks.
This means 21.76 GT of the original anthropogenic carbon has been removed from the atmosphere but our output is only 9 GT per year so that does not balance.
To achieve a balance one must reduce the anthropogenic carbon to 18.8 ppm i.e. 41.36 GT. Now 21.76% of 41.36 is 9 GT per year thus the CO2 levels are not increasing because of human emissions they remain in equilibrium. Now if you assume a 400 GT carbon cycle per year the human contribution really becomes insignificant.
If you think my numbers are way out go to page 515 of IPCC AR4 fig 7.3 and check them out.

Editor
August 5, 2010 9:18 pm

Pamela Gray says:
August 5, 2010 at 9:14 am
The Engineer has a very valid point. If fossil fuel consumption is the culprit, the percent CO2 increase should be increasing, not remain steady.

I concur Pamela. Whether viewed in terms of percent OR in terms of PPM per year the atmospheric increase should be reflective of increase in anthropogenic CO2 emissions. That reflection being somewhat proportionate, which however, it is not.
There has been a long term trend of annual increase in atmospheric CO2. However, it is not consistent with emission levels. This graph is of the annual additions of CO2 to the atmosphere.
http://leekington.com/climatebuzz/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/corrected08co2.jpg
The graph covers Mauna Loa data from 1959 thru 2008. During that time span anthropogenic CO2 emissions have increased (some reports) by six fold. In 1959 about 1 ppm CO2 was added to the atmosphere. Rather than 6 ppm being added, due to man emitting 6x the amount of CO2, in 2008 there was only about 1.5 ppm of increase in CO2.

Barry Moore
August 5, 2010 9:20 pm

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

Barry Moore
August 5, 2010 9:28 pm

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

April E. Coggins
August 5, 2010 9:29 pm

Oil (fossel fuels) is natural, man is natural. When man digs oil out of the earth and uses it to his benefit, its natural. If ants were doing the same thing, there would be a documentary on the miracles of nature.
I notice in the picture that nature provided oil is left out, as if evil man is creating evil oil all by himself.
The oil is a natural part of our earth, whether it is burnt or spilled. I don’t understand how man’s beneficial use of the oil changes much of anything other than a comfortable and convenient rearrangement of what is already here. Isn’t that what all creatures do?

899
August 5, 2010 9:36 pm

BillD says:
August 5, 2010 at 8:44 am
Anyone who does not understand that the burning of fossil fuels is the main cause of the regular increase in CO2 that is has been documented over the last 50+ years is clearly unable to understand basic science. It’s also true that the two views posted here are not opposites and are not mutually exclusive. Also, to the best of my understanding, the first one on the greeen house effect does not really contradict the role of GHG in climate.
You neglect to consider the fairly linear rise in CO2 which was happening before the advent of mineral crude.
Additionally, what with China, India, et al., now contributing a far higher amount to that gas, the rate of rise is still linear.
Further, even with that continued rise, the global temperature isn’t rising, and indeed if not exactly static, is falling slightly.
Finally, in your expressed concern over the use of mineral crude, you neglect to consider one thing: If we humans don’t use it, nature will eventually suffocate us with it as it seeps to the surface, and there it will burn by happenstance.
So then, if it’s okay for nature to eventually sully the surface of the planet with that stuff, then so too should it be for humanity to dispose of it in the most ecologically beneficial and efficient way: By burning it.
More CO2 = more plants = more O2. What’s your beef with that?

stumpy
August 5, 2010 9:38 pm

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

April E. Coggins
August 5, 2010 9:39 pm

“The Engineer has a very valid point. If fossil fuel consumption is the culprit, the percent CO2 increase should be increasing, not remain steady. ”
I marked that too. The reply from the author was a promise of a reasoned explanation. I am looking forward to the explanation.

anna v
August 5, 2010 9:44 pm

I have often debated with Ferdinand the meaning of measuring CO2 in high places over volcanoes and remote regions where there is no vegetation etc. I see also that Anthony tends to ignore Beck’s compilations some of which were made by the best scientists of the time.
For me there is no reason to discard chemical methods, particularly as validation to complicated radiation measuring devices which go to a number of convolutions ( meaning integrations with constants and parameters of choice) before numbers come out.
Let me put it another way: Accepting that Maona Loa and 14 or 50 or so other measurements represent world CO2 , is like using 14 or 50 measurements to get the global temperature, and those preferably at top of mountains.
Most of them are either with Keeling directly involved in the papers or Keelings’s students.
It also puts a lot of faith in “well mixed” which AIRS and now the Japanese data show that well mixed is a hypothesis.
Thus I think we have to wait a few years for the satellite measurements, and for the scientific climate to change from the AGW mantra that pushes everything into a mold.
So, even if I do not dispute that humans are adding CO2 in the atmosphere, I dispute that the data are unbiased, and the simplistic interpretations of summations and subtractions. This system is nonlinear too.

kuhnkat
August 5, 2010 9:46 pm

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

Spector
August 5, 2010 10:30 pm

I note in this discussion a reference to returning to a ‘ground state’ analogous to what an excited electron in an atom does. At the atomic level, the emission spectrum just corresponds to an allowed set of energy states. If this were the case with molecular vibration, I would think we would only see simple sharp spectral lines
However, when I look at the HITRAN data available online I see a broad array of many sharp spikes. This gives me the impression that molecular vibrations may be in a transition region between the quantum and the continuous worlds. I suspect that each band represents a vibration mode and perhaps each narrow spike represents one of the allowed modal vibration energy states. Imagine a bell that changes tone in steps as the vibration dies out.
As these molecules are continuously striking one another, each molecule should always be quivering in some agitated state. Perhaps any given photon emission or absorption just corresponds to a single quantum change in an allowed set of multi-level modal vibration energy states — food for thought.

Spector
August 5, 2010 10:40 pm

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

Slioch
August 5, 2010 10:57 pm

Jim Reedy
said, “Slioch says:
August 5, 2010 at 10:30 am
‘Of course, the interesting question is for how much longer the oceans are going to behave as a net sink for CO2.’
Slioch, isnt the answer provided by Henry’s Law?
No, I don’t think so – or only marginally. CO2 is absorbed into the oceans not only by simply solution (which is where Henry’s Law would apply) but mainly by:
1. reaction with carbonate ion to form bicarbonate ion:
CO2 + CO3– + H2O 2HCO3-
The carbonate ions largely derive from weathering of terrestrial rocks, eg.
Mg2SiO4 + 2CO2 => SiO2 + 2Mg++ + 2CO3–
2. By being absorbed via photosynthesis:
6CO2 + 6H2O => C6H12O6 etc.
So the recently reported decline in phytoplankton is a concern for CO2 absorption, as well as other things related to the food chain and biodiversity.
So it is a lot more complicated than if the oceans were pure water and devoid of life. But, of course, both Henry’s Law and paleoclimatic evidence point in the same qualitative direction: the warmer the oceans the less CO2 they can hold.

James Sexton
August 5, 2010 11:26 pm

James Sexton says:
August 5, 2010 at 2:39 pm
Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
August 5, 2010 at 1:35 pm
James Sexton says:
August 5, 2010 at 11:38 am
I see you answered part of my questions with a response to another person. Thanks, but if… [snipped]… is true then how did we get to 2000 ppmv CO2 100 million years ago?
“Different times: different arrangement of the continents, different temperature/humidity, less calcite deposits,… The 8 ppmv/C only is for the last near million years, more ice age than interglacial, everything before that can’t be compared with current times…”
Ok, you didn’t respond to my last query and I’m a bit more inebriated, so I hope you’ll forgive me for what some may perceive as abrasion. My abrupt manner should not be conceived as a personal attack.
You said, ” different arrangement of the continents, different temperature/humidity, less calcite deposits,…”
Humidity? Did we have more or less H2O then than we do now? Really? I’d like an answer to that.
In what manner does the arrangement of the continents have to do with any thing relating to our discussion? Do you really think that passes as an honest answer? Personally, I can’t conceive of a better insult to a person such as myself.
Temperature was different then? No SH?T!!!!!! Again, I can’t conceive a better insult. Aren’t temperatures the [self snip] topic of our conversation!!??!!! Instead of being dismissive, why don’t you try to explain, for all the world to see, how you believe calcite deposits are relevant.
Anthony, sorry, but where in the hell did you get this guy? I thought he was here for a serious discussion. If I’m wrong, please point it out to me, but I loathe condescending SOBs that try to project some sort of graciousness by talking to us “little people”.

Julian Flood
August 5, 2010 11:40 pm

Ferdinand,
Do you have a copy of NASA’a Fig 1 above with error bounds? I’m particularly interested in the plus/minus figures for the carbon export into the deep ocean from the surface ocean. I think I’ve got them on my old computer but it’s a bit flakey, not least because I keep it in the shed.
TIA.
I cannot follow the logic of your argument, no doubt because I have not looked closely enough. My first reading is that you know perfectly (plus or minus) one part of the input to a pipeline but do not know the rest of the input with accuracy. You do not know what control valves are in the pipeline and whether other hands are on those valves. You do not know if there is a processing plant into which the gas flows to be altered into other forms (or, if you know about the plant, you don’t know details of its processes to any accuracy, nor even if it is changing other inputs into the output you are studying) and you don’t know within large error bounds what the outputs are at the other end of the pipeline. And yet you can assign the output change of one product accurately (plus or minus) because you know the increase of the input of that product. Hmmm.
I’m obviously missing something here — logic was never my strongpoint — but then I never followed the teleconnections argument either (I laughed when I first read that one, asuming it was a joke). I will think about it.
JF
Hint: look at the possible changes in the uptake, not just changes in the input.

James Sexton
August 5, 2010 11:42 pm

Ferdinand Engelbeen………. did you really imply the arrangements of the continents were pertinent to the atmospheric CO2 of earth? How so?
Did you really imply the global humidity was different in relation to atmospheric CO2? How so?
When you stated “different times”, does that mean atmospheric CO2 and the global temperature changes with time?
I’d love to hear about calcite deposits and then laws of conservation of mass.
Best wishes,
James Sexton

Julian Flood
August 5, 2010 11:50 pm

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

Alex
August 5, 2010 11:52 pm

Tony, the level of “discussion” goes down. You need better contributors.
To the post of Ferdinand Engelbeen>
Your putting of brackets in the mass balance Eq. is purely political. Mathematics tells us, addition is commutative and it is associative. Thus, your Eq. does not prove anything. Yet, it tells us that the “mankind CO2-emissions” is smaller than the uncertainties in the “natural” sources and sinks of CO2. Thus, the direct mankind CO2-emissions cannot be blamed for CO2 increase. This political preconceived satement diverts us from the search for the real cause of the observed CO2 rise.
To the post by Tom Vonk. May be, the guy studied physics a bit, but no more than that.

Bart
August 5, 2010 11:55 pm

Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
August 5, 2010 at 2:18 pm
“In this case, there is a solid argument that the removal of the one component that gives one-way addition makes a difference: there was a temperature-CO2 equilibrium, where we are now far above in CO2 level.”
Your “solid argument” rests on the claim that there was a long term temperature-CO2 equilibrium, and that without anthorpogenic inputs, this quasi-equilibrium would still exist. But, the only evidence you have for this is the ice core data, which you must first establish as incontrovertible and globally representative, coupled with the assumption that the conditions prevalent during the ice core fixation also would still exist to the present day. That is one unestablished proposition and one unsubstantiated extrapolation.
I say “quasi-equilibrium”, and assume you will not object, because you acknowledge it as such in this post:
Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
August 5, 2010 at 1:35 pm
“Different times: different arrangement of the continents, different temperature/humidity, less calcite deposits,… “
So, the conditions of the quasi-equilibrium can vary due to a variety of possibilities, some of which you acknowledge by your ellipses you have not considered, but presumably these can only change over geologic time, because otherwise you would have seen the variation in… the ice core data. So, basically, the foundation of your faith rests entirely on the ice core record. Do you begin to see that you may be carrying an awful lot of eggs in a single basket of dubious integrity?
Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
August 5, 2010 at 2:23 pm
“There is an extreme good correlation between accumulated emissions and the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere, but that is for next part…”
I expect it is too much to hope that there will be anything like a spectral analysis showing correlation across a substantial bandwidth – actually, I know it is, because I have done that analysis, and there is no observable overlap at all. I expect, as in past posts not necessarily from this author, we will be treated to a pair of integrated series that, mirabile dictu, will both be increasing on average and, when plotted on an appropriate scale, have a superficial resemblance in curvature.

Slioch
August 6, 2010 12:02 am

In my above post the equilibrium symbol that I tried to use ( ) didn’t print, so I’ll repeat the first equation using => :
CO2 + CO3– + H2O => 2HCO3-

August 6, 2010 12:10 am

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

Well you are wrong. Ferdinand is simply trying to establish the basics. He is not trying to push some unspoken conclusion at you.
Ferdinand, thanks for the correction on the difference between ocean reservoir and ocean flux. If the ratio between the two is ~10:1 and most of that is seasonal, what is the ratio in that seasonal flux between temperature effect and biotic effect? The NASA cartoon at the top gives 9GT to biota and 90 to ocean/air, but you said 1C temperature rise causes around 8ppm increase in the atmosphere, presumably mostly due to ocean outgassing. So what process is responsible for the rest? Or does the seasonal outgassing/reabsorption due to temperature weigh 90GT?

August 6, 2010 12:43 am

Mindbuilder says:
August 5, 2010 at 4:14 pm
The logic seemed solid at first – We’ve added more CO2 to the atmosphere than is there now, so nature must have absorbed CO2 rather than added CO2. But there is a simple counter proof to demonstrate that that logic does not always hold. Water vapor. By burning fossil fuels we have released a great deal of water vapor into the atmosphere, but the concentration has risen only slightly if at all. That means nature is absorbing rather than adding to the water vapor in the atmosphere. Yet if we stopped adding water vapor, nature would just stop absorbing it and the levels would stay about the same.
The logic is the same, but the time frames involved are quite different: water vapor from combustion (including cooling towers…) indeed adds to the total amount of water. But the residence time of water vapor is only a few days, that of CO2 several years. If we stop all burning of fossil fuels, the extra water vapor above the temperature dependent natural equilibrium will be gone in a few days, the removal of CO2 (nowadays about 30%) above the temperature dependent equilibrium will take a lot of years…

August 6, 2010 12:55 am

Jeremy says:
August 5, 2010 at 4:19 pm
Good to see the criticism of this work.
I fully agree with those that say we can’t conclude that man is the major contributor to increases in atmospheric CO2 until we know much more about other carbon sources/sinks – almost all living things, volcanoes, forest fires and oceans – just to name a few – clearly there is a lot that could be influencing atmospheric CO2 levels.

What I have shown is that whatever the natural flows did or didn’t do, there is more natural outflow than inflow, at least over the past 50+ years of quite exact measurements. Thus nature as a whole didn’t add one gram, or tonne of CO2 to the atmosphere in the past 50 years. Any net addition by nature would have been seen as an increase larger than the emissions of 8 GtC/year.
As long as the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere is less than the human emissions, nature doesn’t add any extra CO2 (as mass, not as individual molecules) to the atmosphere.
It is that simple…

August 6, 2010 12:58 am

Dave Springer says:
August 5, 2010 at 1:21 pm
The bottom line for me however is the indisputable record contained in the geologic column. A warmer earth with an atmosphere richer in CO2 is a greener earth. Compared to biosphere hay days like the Eocene optimum the present interglacial period looks close to death from exposure to the cold.
I mean to say if you prefer rocks and ice to plants and animals then be all means advocate reducing atmospheric CO2 and whatever else you can to cool the surface down. However, if you prefer a great abundance of plants and animals to rocks and ice then when it comes to fossil fuels —- Burn baby, burn!
___________________________Reply;
The AGW narrative is designed help facilitate a plan of world government of the elite over the working surfs, to keep the lower classes from becoming free on their own, they need to lower the CO2 content, remove the private ownership of land and keep people enslaved into the international mega corporations.
If the world were to warm up and have higher levels of CO2 (plant food) it would be easy for people to be free range and live with out the need of government programs funded by taxes that are wasted by the elite on keeping themselves in power.
“They” have already killed the housing market by pumping up the values then yanking the credit carpet out from under the first time buyers. Bailed out their banks, and shuffled the debt off onto taxpayers. The whole scare tactic they are still running with is just to keep the sheeple from jumping off of the grid, before they can bleed them dry, while starving the mass of the third world population to death to have better control, down the road a few more generations when the ice age comes back.
The more time we each spend in fighting this crime against humanity the less we are able to get free ourselves, due to the additional drain on our usable time, so it is to their benefit that this senseless arguing continue as a distraction as long as possible.
So their useless idiots consume themselves fighting reason, and there are even less of them as well in the end.

August 6, 2010 1:08 am

It’s always Marcia, Marcia says:
August 5, 2010 at 4:21 pm
So humans have added carbon….and?
Are we to assume then that warming is caused by humans? Or would that just be conflation?

As already said in the introduction: the point of the effect of the increase of CO2 is an entirely different discussion. I don’t believe in CAGW, I think that more CO2 may have a small effect, but mostly beneficial (like the Mediterranean climate in my cold, wet country…).
What concerns me is that the belief of many here that the increase is NOT human caused, where the “consensus” is rock solid, will harm the credibility of sceptics on other points where there is far more reason for debate…

August 6, 2010 1:27 am

Milwaukee Bob says:
August 5, 2010 at 7:16 pm
Ferdinand Engelbeen said at 4:39 pm
Milwaukee Bob ….
All these flows are of not the slightest interest….
I am not a physicist or a chemist and I do not play either on TV so you can probably run circles around me spouting scientific formulas, but trust when I say, after 50+ years of owning and running business of all kinds successfully, if all you are doing at the end of the day is counting your cash AND ignoring ALL (but one of) the “flows” that put it there your an – – – – well, I don’t want this to be sniped so let’s just leave it at – you’re going to fall flat on your corporate butt! Very much like what you have done – – – ah, let’s just leave it at- “flows” are obviously not your strong suit.
I am sure that it is good bussiness to know all details of all transactions during the day, but if you are only interested in knowing if you made a profit or a loss at the end of the day, you don’t need to know all these details. Just looking into your cash register would do the job. That is the (als always bad) analogy with the CO2 levels in the atmosphere…
Another anology with bank accounts: you bring your daily profit to a local bank every day. At the end of the year, the bank publishes their bussiness record, which shows that they have a turnover of many millions per year. But their profit is less than what you have personally saved over the year. Without any knowledge of what others have loaned or saved during that year, wouldn’t you look for another bank to save your money?

Alcheson
August 6, 2010 1:42 am

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

Jason
August 6, 2010 1:51 am

Whats the point of all this? Of course C02 levels are rising. The question is are they the driver for climatic change and would the climatic change occur without them. Thats the big question we need answering.
As a follow up to that question, I watched Sky news (UK) earlier and they had a piece about the warming in greenland. They said warming was twice as fast there as anywhere else in the world.
They then went on to explain how farmers there are expanding their pasture and sheep flocks, and how the last time this was possible was when the vikings were there.
When they cut back to the studio, the anchor man even quipped how it really did look like a green land.
Why can’t people join the dots? If pasture farming was done by the vikings and the land was called Greenland for obviously non-ironic reasons, then just maybe….it is not unprecendented!

Slioch
August 6, 2010 1:52 am

Ferdinand Engelbeen said, “As long as the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere is less than the human emissions, nature doesn’t add any extra CO2 (as mass, not as individual molecules) to the atmosphere.
It is that simple…”
Quite. It is extremely simple … .
Just as I pointed out earlier:
If you wish to know if there has been any NET natural contribution to the increase in atmospheric CO2 levels, all you need to do is measure
1. the amount humans have ADDED to the atmosphere, and
2. the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere over the same period.
It is that simple.
The figures for the atmosphere from 1850-2000 are as follows:
1. Total human caused emissions of CO2: 1620 billion tons CO2
2. Increase in atmospheric CO2: 640 billion tons
Thus, the amount of CO2 humans have added to the atmosphere greatly exceeds the observed increase in CO2 in the atmosphere.”
Q.E.D.
The fact that, after all this time, this simple matter still has to be discussed on WUWT and large numbers of people manifestly still don’t get it, speaks volumes for the continuing prevalence of confusion here.
[reply] Suggest you read Alcheson 2010/08/06 at 1:42 am on Ferdinands first thread to see why people here check the facts from several angles. RT-mod

August 6, 2010 1:53 am

Gail Combs says:
August 5, 2010 at 7:32 pm
Ross Jackson says:
August 5, 2010 at 3:03 pm
My training, Physical Chemistry. I have also done plenty of background reading on many of the issues surrounding CO2. The more I learn, the more I realise how little we know! These comments are just to encourage you all to read more widely…..
____________________________________
Oh good another Chemist!
I have a question for you. Mauna Loa Observatory in the 50′s and 60′s took measurements with “a new infra-red (IR) absorbing instrumental method” In the seventies I tried, at two separate corporations, to use a infra-red (IR) Spectrophotometer for analytical work and gave up in frustration because I could not get reproducible results even when using an added internal calibration standard.

I don’t know for what purpose you needed IR spectroscopy, but for CO2, it is quite ideal for continuous measurements, with a minimum of maintenance, if working with a water trap and internal calibration. Checks done with alternative methods (cryogenic, GC and mass spectrometers) show essentially the same results.
From: http://www.co2web.info/ESEF3VO2.pdf
”At the Mauna Loa Observatory the measurements were taken with a new infra-red (IR) absorbing instrumental method, never validated versus the accurate wet chemical techniques.

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

August 6, 2010 2:07 am

Barry Moore says:
August 5, 2010 at 9:06 pm
With reference to IPCC 4AR page 515 fig 7.3 this is a very similar diagram to the NASA diagram shown in the article with the exception that the IPCC diagram breaks the carbon down into natural and anthropogenic ( black and red numbers)
The IPCC diagram contains too many errors in the distribution of “human” vs. “natural” CO2. For the mass balance, the attribution of the CO2 to its origin is of no interest and even the different flows are of no interest, as long as the emissions are larger than the increase in the atmosphere…
For the rest, you are looking at the residence time of any CO2 molecule (whatever the origin), not the decay time of an impulse of some extra mass of CO2…

John Murphy
August 6, 2010 2:14 am

EthicallyCivil
The isotopes are chemically identical because the number and arrangement of electrons are identical. However, because of their slightly larger mass, the heavier isotopes diffuse more slowly and so the overall reaction rate of the heavier isotopes is lower than that for the lighter isotopes.
That is why the lighter isotopes are (very slightly) preferrentially incorporated in, for example, plant tissues.

Editor
August 6, 2010 3:02 am

Ferdinand,
Thank you for your well thought out and very well presented essay.
If your assumptions about the natural sink rates are sound and the Antarctic ice core data accurately represent Pleistocene and early Holocene atmospheric CO2 concentrations with sufficient resolution, your position is “bullet proof.”
While your assumptions might be correct. There are reasons to think that they may not be.
The fact that Knorr’s “Bombshell From Bristol” was considered to be counter-paradigm by much of the so-called consensus suggests that the natural source rates and sink capacities aren’t so well understood. The long term stability of the airborne CO2 fraction ran “contrary to a significant body of recent research which expects that the capacity of terrestrial ecosystems and the oceans to absorb CO2 should start to diminish as CO2 emissions increase.”
On the ice cores, I suggest Van Hoof et al. 2005, Atmospheric CO2 during the 13th century AD: reconciliation of data from ice core measurements and stomatal frequency analysis.
They fairly conclusively demonstrate that the ice core data cannot accurately resolve century scale CO2 fluctuations as recently as 800 years ago.
It will be interesting to see the results of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide Ice Core Project. The snow accumulation rates in the study area are similar to those of Greenland and they expect to obtain much higher resolution data than previous Antarctic cores.

August 6, 2010 3:17 am

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

Dikran Marsupial
August 6, 2010 3:37 am

I just wanted to say “thank you” to Ferdinand for the energy he puts into explaining this particular topic (and WUWT for hosting the article), again and again, with unfailing politeness, even to those who show him little of the respect he has earned by thorough research. That is not at all easy to do, I know I would have given up in exasperation long ago!
For those who say we can’t know that man is responsible for the observed rise because of the uncertainties in the internal fluxes between individual environmental reservoirs, a simple analagy (only slightly adapted from one on Ferdinand’s excellent website) demonstrates why this is not the case:
Imagine you share a bank acount with your wife and you put in $8 a year [representing anthropogenic emissions], but never make a withdrawal. If you see that your annual balance [representing atmospheric CO2] rises by only $4 a year, then you know for a fact that your wife [the natural environment] is spending more than she deposits. That means she is opposing the rise in you bank balance, not causing it. You don’t know whether this is because she is spending $4 and depositing $0 a year, or because she is spending $1,000,004 a year and depositing $1,000,000. You know she had spent more than she has put in without going over the detailed statement of all transactions, you only need the balance.
Likewise the mass balance argument does not depend in anyway on knowledge of individual fluxes between reservoirs, it only depends on the total net flux (i.e. the difference between total “natural” emissions and total “natural” uptake) and we can infer that from knowledge of anthropogenic emissions and from the annual rise in atmpspheric CO2, both of which we can measure with sufficient accuracy for there to be no room whatsoever for any reasonable doubt that the natural environment is a net sink, and hence is opposing the rise rather than causing it.
This is one of the few parts of AGW argument that is absolutely rock solid, and those that can’t accept it merely marginalise themselves from the debate, which does nobody any good.
Keep up the good work Ferdinand!

Slioch
August 6, 2010 3:47 am

RT-mod said, “Suggest you read Alcheson 2010/08/06 at 1:42 am on Ferdinands first thread to see why people here check the facts from several angles.”
in reply to Slioch says: August 6, 2010 at 1:52 am.
On the contrary, Alcheson’s post is riddled with errors and simply adds to the confusion:
1. Mass of atmosphere is 5.15*10^6 gigatonnes (not 5.93).
2. “the total mass of C contributed by man each yr” is not 4 gigatons of CO2, it is about 9Gt/year of CARBON, which equates to 9*44/12 = 33Gt/year of CARBON DIOXIDE.
3. The ‘5ppm in 2 yrs’ to which Alcheson refers is ppm by volume, not mass, for which he makes no correction.
Using these corrected figures we get, 33/5.15*10^6 = 6.4 ppm by mass per year or 12.8 ppm by mass per two years. To (approximately) convert that to ppm by volume multiply by 28.8/44 = 8.4ppmv (taking 28.8 as the approximate average molecular weight of the atmosphere, being 80% N2 at 28 and 20% O2 at 32).
This 8.4ppmv human contribution to the atmosphere is clearly greater than the 5ppmv recorded increase, which is precisely the point that I and Ferdinand (and others) are making. ie human contributions of CO2 to the atmosphere are greater than the recorded increases and therefore the human contribution is more than able to explain the increase.
But, with respect, when the moderator of this thread does not pick up on the kind of errors that Alcheson demonstrates, is it any wonder that the confusion continues?
[reply] Thank you for your exposition, which looks correct to me, although I note that your conclusion, while plausible, is not necessarily correct, and does not exclude other possibilities. RT-mod

899
August 6, 2010 4:10 am

Dave F says:
August 5, 2010 at 8:57 am
What is known with reasonable accuracy are the emissions, which are based on inventories of fossil fuel use by the finance departments (taxes!) of different countries…
Could you please elaborate on how this is done? Is the dollar amount of taxes received for the sales tax on fossil fuel used? Is there some other method?
I will consider, Dave, that you miss the whole point: It is now KNOWN that mineral crude is NOT a so-called ‘fossil fuel,’ inasmuch as it is pretty much common knowledge that said mineral crude is produced by ongoing geological processes.
So then, that being the case, the powers that be —having it in mind to milk the rest of us ad infinitum— will connive to extort as much wealth from the rest of us as they might by creating both artificial constraints and price manipulations.
What’s needed now is a new source of energy which effectively competes with the current paradigm, such as to reduce energy costs to the point of ‘reasonable,’ and then some.

August 6, 2010 4:26 am

Richard S Courtney says:
August 5, 2010 at 5:20 pm
Ferdinand:
You and I have debated these matters for several years.

Indeed, that is the reason that I have made my web page and this article…
Several points of what you wrote will come at order in next parts, but here a short response:
Firstly, as your Figure 2 shows, the system rapidly adjusts during the year in a manner that does not suggest it is near to saturation. Indeed, the graph strongly suggests that most CO2 emission (both natural and anthropogenic) is sequestered near its source. And the sequestration rate at Northern latitudes (e.g. at Barrow) is more than 100 times the rate of human emission (as your Figure 2 shows). This strongly suggests that the natural sequestration processes can easily sequester the small anthropogenic emission.
The seasonal amplitude at Barrow only shows a variability of +/- 8 ppmv, but that is local/regional. If that was global, then the seasonal variation would be +/- 16 GtC, about four times the yearly human emissions. But the real global average seasonal variability is only +/- 2 GtC (half the emissions) for a global change of +/- 0.5 C, or (again) an influence of about 4 ppmv/C, which is the short term variability seen over the past 50+ years.
Thirdly, your argument is circular. You assume the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration is an accumulation of the anthropogenic emission then say, “See, the emission is sufficiently large to provide more than the observed increase”.
No, I didn’t assume that the rise in atmospheric CO2 was anthropogenic, I only compared the emissions with the increase in the atmosphere, which shows that it is impossible for the sum of all natural flows to have a net contribution to the rise. Which makes that the increase is solely the result of the emissions…

Slioch
August 6, 2010 4:29 am

RT-mod said, “your conclusion, while plausible, is not necessarily correct, and does not exclude other possibilities.” ref. Slioch says: August 6, 2010 at 3:47 am
I’d be interested to hear what you consider to be the “other possibilities”, perhaps couched in the terms of Dikran Marsupial’s (August 6, 2010 at 3:37 am) excellent analogy. (I assume the poor man is married!)

Chris Wright
August 6, 2010 4:31 am

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

Dikran Marsupial
August 6, 2010 4:32 am

RT-mod: out of interest, what other possibilities?
If nature were a net source of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere then the annual increase in atmospheric CO2 would be greater than anthropogenic emissions as both the natural environment and man were contributing to the rise. However, this is observed not to be the case. The only way for the annual rise to be less than anthropogenic emissions is for the natural environment to be a net carbon sink and hence opposing the rise rather than causing it. Slioch’s conclusion is not only plausible, it is an understatement, it is not only that anthropogenic emissions are sufficient to cause the observed rise, we know that the natural environment is opposing the rise, so anthropogenic emissions is left as the only cause consistent with the observations.
In short, any argument that suggests that the observed rise is not anthropogenic needs to be able to explain why the observed rise is unformly lower than anthropogenic emissions.

Dave Springer
August 6, 2010 4:32 am

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

What? And let facts get in the way of beliefs? Won’t happen.
Say a blind man sits on the street with a tin cup. It’s empty in the morning and there’s some change in it at the end of the day. There you have it. Proof that human contribution of CO2 changes the equilibrium point at the ocean/atmosphere interface just like human contribution of loose change causes the blind man’s cup to have more coins in it. /sarc off

August 6, 2010 4:58 am

Lee Kington says:
August 5, 2010 at 9:18 pm
The graph covers Mauna Loa data from 1959 thru 2008. During that time span anthropogenic CO2 emissions have increased (some reports) by six fold. In 1959 about 1 ppm CO2 was added to the atmosphere. Rather than 6 ppm being added, due to man emitting 6x the amount of CO2, in 2008 there was only about 1.5 ppm of increase in CO2.
The uptake out of the atmosphere is a function of total CO2 in the atmosphere it is not a function of the yearly emissions. But that is for part 2.

899
August 6, 2010 4:59 am

BillD says:
August 5, 2010 at 8:44 am
Anyone who does not understand that the burning of fossil fuels is the main cause of the regular increase in CO2 that is has been documented over the last 50+ years is clearly unable to understand basic science. It’s also true that the two views posted here are not opposites and are not mutually exclusive. Also, to the best of my understanding, the first one on the greeen house effect does not really contradict the role of GHG in climate.
Three questions:
.
[1] What is a ‘greenhouse gas?’
.
[2] Where –on planet Earth– is there any kind of shield which creates a ‘greenhouse?’
.
[3] Where is your bona fide, certified, quantifiable, and undeniable proof regarding that matter of ‘Anthropogenic’ global warming?
.
When replying to the above questions, please DO note: Models of whatever sort are NOT considered as having any kind of valid reference, inasmuch as models are NOT real.

Dave Springer
August 6, 2010 5:04 am

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

No. This is dogma that begins the debate. Without it there is nothing to debate.
This bit of dogma is correlation being paraded as causation. To test the causation would require that we stop producing anthropogenic CO2 and observe what happens to atmospheric CO2 as a result. That experiment isn’t going to happen.
I don’t know what the result would be and neither does anyone else. That’s we actually perform experiments instead of just assuming the result.
It’s a logical fallacy called “affirming the consequent”.
Examples:
Argument: If people run barefoot, then their feet hurt. Billy’s feet hurt. Therefore, Billy ran barefoot.
Problem: Other things, such as tight sandals, can result in sore feet.
Argument: If it rains, the ground gets wet. The ground is wet, therefore it rained.
Problem: There are other ways by which the ground could get wet (e.g. dew).

Dave Springer
August 6, 2010 5:21 am

Dikran Marsupial says:
August 6, 2010 at 4:32 am
If nature were a net source of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere then the annual increase in atmospheric CO2 would be greater than anthropogenic emissions as both the natural environment and man were contributing to the rise. However, this is observed not to be the case. The only way for the annual rise to be less than anthropogenic emissions is for the natural environment to be a net carbon sink and hence opposing the rise rather than causing it. Slioch’s conclusion is not only plausible, it is an understatement, it is not only that anthropogenic emissions are sufficient to cause the observed rise, we know that the natural environment is opposing the rise, so anthropogenic emissions is left as the only cause consistent with the observations.

There are other possibilities.
Ocean holds a vast reserve of CO2, particularly in cold deep water at very high pressure where it has a virtually unlimited capacity for it due to pressures high enough to hold CO2 as a liquid instead of dissolved gas. This has been confirmed by the recent discovery of liquid CO2 upwelling from oceanic ridges where new crust is formed.
At the ocean surface exists a state of near equilibrium between dissolved CO2 and atmospheric CO2. If we were to reduce the partial CO2 pressure in the atmosphere by 100ppm to pre-industrial levels it would drive the ocean/atmosphere inface farther from equlibrium. Since the ocean has vast reserves of CO2 that make 100ppm look like a peanut in a moving van we might reasonably expect that the ocean would simply release enough CO2 to restore the equilibrium point.
There are so many unknowns about how those CO2 reserves in the deep ocean mix with the surface layer that we simply don’t know what would happen if atmospheric CO2 were reduced by 100ppm. If anyone says they know what would happen they’re wrong – they are guessing at what would happen with no practical means of confirming or falsifying their guesswork.

August 6, 2010 5:27 am

Barry Moore says:
August 5, 2010 at 9:20 pm
Going back to fig 7.3 in IPCC 4AR they do state that an all time total of 244 GT of anthropogenic carbon has been released but 100 GT has been sequestered in the ocean floor as carbonates, someone mentioned chalk well here it is. That leaves 144 GT between the ocean land and air but the air has 165 GT
I am not at all responsible for the calculation errors of the IPCC…
The only figures of interest are the human emissions and what was measured as increase in the atmosphere. And these show that the emissions were larger than the increase. Thus the difference is somewhere absorbed by nature…

Dave Springer
August 6, 2010 5:32 am

The null hypothesis I offer is bascially that the tail does not wag the dog.
The global ocean establishes the equilibrium level of atmospheric CO2. Absent anthropogenic CO2 the ocean would release a commensurate amount of CO2 to keep the equilibrium point exactly where it is today.
Prove it wrong.

Dikran Marsupial
August 6, 2010 5:34 am

Dave Springer: I’m afraid I don’t have the patience that Ferdinand apparently does, so I am not going to engage in a long debate on this issue, except to point out that:
(i) we don’t need to conduct an experiment to test the hypothesis by reducing anthropogenic emissions to zero, there are other experiments we could perform, for instance we could increase emissions exponentially and see if the resulting rise in atmospheric CO2 were in accordance with expectations. As it happens we have already performed that experiment, it has been ongoing for quite a while.
(ii) You say that the argument is dogma, and yet I have explained why we know that the rise is of anthropogenic origin, and yet you disagree, but have produce no counter argument, or identified any flaw in the reasoning. Are you sure you have identified where the dogma actually lies? ;o)
(iii) I set out a challenge to anyone wanting to assert that the rise is not anthropogenic, namely present a theory where the rise is of natural origin but that is consistent with the annual rise being lower than the level of anthropogenic emissions (as the observations show). I have an open mind, I have fullfilled Poppers requirements and stated how my theory can be falsified. The ball is in your court – go for it.

old construction worker
August 6, 2010 5:38 am

Dikran Marsupial says:
August 6, 2010 at 3:37 am
‘Imagine you share a bank account with your wife and you put in $8 a year [representing anthropogenic emissions], but never make a withdrawal. If you see that your annual balance [representing atmospheric CO2] rises by only $4 a year, then you know for a fact that your wife [the natural environment] is spending more than she deposits. That means she is opposing the rise in you bank balance, not causing it. You don’t know whether this is because she is spending $4 and depositing $0 a year, or because she is spending $1,000,004 a year and depositing $1,000,000. You know she had spent more than she has put in without going over the detailed statement of all transactions, you only need the balance.’
I understand what you are saying. But I also understand what the others are saying.
You are saying “I’m mad at you. You are spending more than you are depositing”.
While other are saying. “Before you can jump all over you wife, don’t you need to know the rest of the story? Is this a interest bearing account? If so, has the interest rates fluctuated? Have the Bank charges gone up or down? Are bank charge fluctuating a net gain or net lost? Did the bank make an error? If so, did the bank correct the error? Maybe she knows something you don’t?

Bob from the UK
August 6, 2010 5:40 am

I suggest comparing UAH satellite temps:
http://www.drroyspencer.com/latest-global-temperatures/
With figure 3 above showing increases of CO2.
Notice something?
The peaks and troughs so seem to match up!
Ok now here is an interesting research question …..why ?

Dikran Marsupial
August 6, 2010 6:03 am

Dave Springer
(i) I have already explained why the mass balance argument is not affected by uncertainties in the individual environmental fluxes between reservoirs here
(ii) For the natural environment to be the cause of the observed rise, it would have to be a net source of CO2 into the atmosphere. We know that none of the possible sources of “natural” CO2 that you mention have strengthened sufficiently to cause the natural environment to be a net source because we observe the annual rise in CO2 to be less than anthropogenic emissions. I made that point in the text you quoted, so you must have read it.

August 6, 2010 6:06 am

James Sexton says:
August 5, 2010 at 11:26 pm
James Sexton says:
August 5, 2010 at 2:39 pm
Humidity? Did we have more or less H2O then than we do now? Really? I’d like an answer to that.
In what manner does the arrangement of the continents have to do with any thing relating to our discussion? Do you really think that passes as an honest answer? Personally, I can’t conceive of a better insult to a person such as myself.
Temperature was different then? No SH?T!!!!!! Again, I can’t conceive a better insult. Aren’t temperatures the [self snip] topic of our conversation!!??!!! Instead of being dismissive, why don’t you try to explain, for all the world to see, how you believe calcite deposits are relevant.

Sorry that I was a little short in my answer: I have underestimated the number of comments I need to respond to. And yours was rather OT for the subject.
But in short (!):
During e.g. the Cretaceous, ocean temperatures were (much) higher than today (more CO2 in the atmosphere), including the deep oceans, much higher ocean levels and no ice at the poles. Higher temperatures means more water vapor and more rain, causing more plant growth and decay. The continents were drifting away from each other, but still close enough to give free way to ocean flows over the large continuous ocean (which is the main cause of the warm poles…). In that period, enormous quantities of chalk were deposited by algues, like whole South England (the white cliffs of Dover). That reduced in part the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere (and oceans) in deposits which are not easely reached for release today. Still the mass balance holds: what is buried in oil, coal and chalk deposits was once a part of the oceans and atmosphere…
In the current constellation, the North Pole is not easely reached by ocean flows and the increase of the Himalayan heights pushed the western winds more to the north, including the building of the Gulf stream, bringing warmer, wetter air more northly. The availability of a lot of land in northern latitudes is easing the buildup of ice sheets over land, if the temperature drops low enough, which causes a chain reaction with feedbacks (like higher albedo)…
The effect of this all on CO2 levels is about 8 ppmv/C as seen in the Vostok and other ice cores. That only is true for the past probably few million years or so, not applicable for longer time spans where the geological circumstances were quite different.

Dikran Marsupial
August 6, 2010 6:08 am

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

Dikran Marsupial
August 6, 2010 6:14 am

Old construction worker – I was tempted to add to the analagy a comment pointing out that someone was bound to over-extend the analagy and miss the point, pity I left it out.
The man represents anthropogenic emissions, the wife represents the natural environment (i.e. everything else). As I said, if someone can come up with an explanation why anthropogenic emissions are not the cause of the observed rise that doesn’t imply that the observed rise in atmopsheric CO2 will be larger than anthropogenic emissions, THEN they will have a plausible alternative. However all of the alternative explanations given in the thread thus far, fall at that first hurdle.

Slioch
August 6, 2010 6:17 am

Dikran Marsupial says:
August 6, 2010 at 4:32 am
said, “Slioch’s conclusion is not only plausible, it is an understatement”.
Indeed.
There is, of course, another source of “new” CO2 emitted to the atmosphere, in addition to that produced by humans by burning fossil fuels or land-use changes, namely that produced by volcanoes. However, the amount of volcanic CO2, both terrestrial and sub-sea sources together, amount to only about one per cent of human emissions.
I phrase the situation as “the human contribution is more than able to explain the increase” (which is true) rather than “the increase is totally caused by human emissions” with this small caveat concerning volcanoes in mind. If we were living in a time of sudden increase in volcanic CO2 emissions (which we are NOT!!) such that say 10% or 50% of new CO2 came from volcanoes then this phraseology would, I think, be more necessary.

899
August 6, 2010 6:23 am

John Egan says:
August 5, 2010 at 8:10 am
As a left critic of AGW, [–snip rest for brevity–]
Prove undeniably, certifiably, and without ANY degree of doubt, that humans are –in any way– responsible for so-called ‘global warming.’
Prove it.
If you cannot, then all your words/pixels are worthless.
PROVE IT.
Further, PROVE –undeniably, certifiably, and without ANY degree of doubt– that there is NO OTHER AGENCY involved.
Prove it.
Can you?
Will you?

Dave Springer
August 6, 2010 6:27 am

Dikran Marsupial says:
August 6, 2010 at 5:34 am
“I’m afraid I don’t have the patience that Ferdinand apparently does”
Nor do I.
“I am not going to engage in a long debate on this issue”
Smart move.
“except to point out that”
“(i) we don’t need to conduct an experiment to test the hypothesis by reducing anthropogenic emissions to zero, there are other experiments we could perform, for instance we could increase emissions exponentially and see if the resulting rise in atmospheric CO2 were in accordance with expectations. As it happens we have already performed that experiment, it has been ongoing for quite a while.”
CO2 emissions have not increased exponentially but I take your point. They have increased. But the temperature of the global ocean has also increased. We know this from precision sea level measurements. Sea level rise is dominated by thermal expansion. Warmer water changes the surface CO2 equilibrium pressure causing either a slowing of CO2 absorption or rise in emission.
How do you propose to separate the effect of rising oceanic temperature and accelerated emission of anthropogenic CO2? This is called isolation of variables and is very important in all manner of investigation.
“(ii) You say that the argument is dogma, and yet I have explained why we know that the rise is of anthropogenic origin, and yet you disagree, but have produce no counter argument, or identified any flaw in the reasoning. Are you sure you have identified where the dogma actually lies? ;o)”
Cute. I’m certainly not holding the dogma. I offered a null hypothesis and asked how it could be disproven. That’s how science works. My null hypothesis could very well be wrong. You however are insisting the science is settled. Proven. Proofs are for math my friend. Science is about best explanations where every explanation is tentative and subject to possible falsification.
“(iii) I set out a challenge to anyone wanting to assert that the rise is not anthropogenic, namely present a theory where the rise is of natural origin but that is consistent with the annual rise being lower than the level of anthropogenic emissions (as the observations show). I have an open mind, I have fullfilled Poppers requirements and stated how my theory can be falsified. The ball is in your court – go for it.”
I have fulfilled your request. You simply dismissed it out of hand which is exactly what dogmatists do.

Richard S Courtney
August 6, 2010 6:38 am

Ferdinand:
Thankyou for your post at August 6, 2010 at 4:26 am which addresses some of the points I posted at August 5, 2010 at 5:20 pm.
However, you ignore one of my points and selectively quote another (so misrepresenting it).
I can live with your not addressing one of my points because it could be said that you have addressed the issue in responses to others (although, as others have pointed out, your responses are pure ‘arm-waving’).
But in response to my writing:
“Thirdly, your argument is circular. You assume the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration is an accumulation of the anthropogenic emission then say, “See, the emission is sufficiently large to provide more than the observed increase”. But a change to any other emission (or sequestration) that is larger than the rise could also be said to be sufficiently large to provide more than the observed increase.
And your only justification for choosing the anthropogenic emission as the cause is that we know its magnitude but we do not know the magnitudes of the variations to the (much larger) natural emissions and sequestrations!”
You have replied with the following selective quotation and response:
Your entire quotation of what I said is;
“Thirdly, your argument is circular. You assume the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration is an accumulation of the anthropogenic emission then say, “See, the emission is sufficiently large to provide more than the observed increase”.
And your answer to that is:
“No, I didn’t assume that the rise in atmospheric CO2 was anthropogenic, I only compared the emissions with the increase in the atmosphere, which shows that it is impossible for the sum of all natural flows to have a net contribution to the rise. Which makes that the increase is solely the result of the emissions…”
But that completely ignores my point that;
“a change to any other emission (or sequestration) that is larger than the rise could also be said to be sufficiently large to provide more than the observed increase.”
Indeed, your ignoring this point proves that you DID (and do) “assume that the rise in atmospheric CO2 was anthropogenic”.
I point out that I said in my post at August 5, 2010 at 5:20 pm which you answered:
“There are several inputs and outputs to the atmosphere that are much larger than the anthropogenic emission. Indeed, as your first (not numbered) figure and your Figure 2 both show, during each year the CO2 in the atmosphere increases then decreases by an order magnitude more than the anthropogenic emission of a year. This increase and decrease within each year is known as the seasonal variation.
So, the annual increase to the CO2 in the air for a year is the residual of the seasonal variation of the year. And the residual is about an order of magnitude less than the seasonal variation which is induced by variations in the natural emissions and sequestrations.”
So, for example, a small reduction to the sequestration by the oceans of the seasonal natural emission could easilly account for the observed rise. And this is NOT “impossible” as you assert.
A change to average ocean surface layer pH of only 0.1 would reduce the ocean sequestration rate by more than is required to achieve the observed rise to atmospheric CO2 concentration.
Is such a change sufficiently large to be measurable? No.
Could such a change have occurred naturally? Yes.
How could such a natural change have been induced? The following is one possibility.
Sulphur ions are released by sub-sea volcanism and are dissolved in the water. The provision of such dissolved sulphur ions will vary with the variation in the volcanism. Centuries after the ions have dissolved they will be transported to the ocean surface layer by the thermohaline circulation and then will provide the change to surface layer pH.
Has this happened or not? Nobody knows and nobody can know.
Is the time-delayed effect on the pH of the ocean surface layer likely to occur? Yes.
So, this possibility of a time-delayed effect on the pH of the ocean surface layer alone could be the entire reason for the observed rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration. Furthermore, it is a more plausible explanation for the observed rise than the anthropogenic emissions because in some years almost the entire anthropogenic emission seems to be sequestered and in other years almost none of it. Hence, the possibility of a time-delayed effect on the pH of the ocean surface layer alone defeats your entire argument.
And there are several other possible explanations for variations in the natural emissions and sequestrations that could be the cause of the observed rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration, too.
Richard

August 6, 2010 6:39 am

Alex says:
August 5, 2010 at 11:52 pm
Your putting of brackets in the mass balance Eq. is purely political. Mathematics tells us, addition is commutative and it is associative. Thus, your Eq. does not prove anything. Yet, it tells us that the “mankind CO2-emissions” is smaller than the uncertainties in the “natural” sources and sinks of CO2. Thus, the direct mankind CO2-emissions cannot be blamed for CO2 increase. This political preconceived satement diverts us from the search for the real cause of the observed CO2 rise.
OK, my math is a quite rusty, but as far as I remember, putting brackets around a sum of components doesn’t change the sum itself… And I have never heard of “political” brackets… But if you prefer, here without brackets:
dCO2 = in1 + in2 + in3 +… + emissions – out1 – out2 – out3 -…
with the knowns:
4 GtC = in1 + in2 + in3 +… + 8 GtC – out1 – out2 – out3 -…
or rearranged:
in1 + in2 + in3 +… – out1 – out2 – out3 -… = – 4 GtC
Still the natural flows are a net sink for CO2, no addition at all, whatever the variability of the individual flows. The year-by-year variability in total sink capacity is +/- 2 GtC over the past 50+ years, that is all.

Dikran Marsupial
August 6, 2010 6:50 am

Dave Springer says:
“The global ocean establishes the equilibrium level of atmospheric CO2. Absent anthropogenic CO2 the ocean would release a commensurate amount of CO2 to keep the equilibrium point exactly where it is today.
Prove it wrong.”
O.K. If the ocean establishes an equilibrium level for atmospheric CO2 (actually it is not only the oceans; the other elements of the natural carbon cycle also dictate the equilibrium), then the fact that the mass balance argument shows that the natural environment is a net sink means that the equilibrium level is below current levels. Q.E.D.
If we were already at the equilibrium point, then by definition natural emissions would be in balance with environmental uptake – but we know that is not the case.

Dave Springer
August 6, 2010 6:51 am

Portland lemonade stand runs into health inspectors, needs $120 license to operate
Dang. I bet the little girl looked at her cash drawer at the end of the day and thought she’d made a profit.
So much for the cash drawer theory of anthropogenic CO2, eh? lol

August 6, 2010 6:58 am

Dikran Marsupial says:
August 6, 2010 at 3:37 am “Imagine you share a bank acount with your wife and you put in $8 a year [representing anthropogenic emissions], but never make a withdrawal. If you see that your annual balance [representing atmospheric CO2] rises by only $4 a year, then you know for a fact that your wife [the natural environment] is spending more than she deposits. That means she is opposing the rise in you bank balance, not causing it. You don’t know whether this is because she is spending $4 and depositing $0 a year, or because she is spending $1,000,004 a year and depositing $1,000,000. You know she had spent more than she has put in without going over the detailed statement of all transactions, you only need the balance.”
But you don’t know what she would have done if you hadn’t deposited any money in the bank at all! She might have reduced her withdrawals or increased her deposits (or some combination of the two) by $4, so that the balance would have risen by the same $4 a year, or by some greater or lesser amount, so that the balance might have risen faster or slower, or fallen. What wives do depends strongly – but unpredictably – on what their husbands do. What nature does depends on what man does. The sum does not and cannot answer the counterfactual.

August 6, 2010 7:15 am

Dikran Marsupial says:
August 6, 2010 at 5:34 am
“(iii) I set out a challenge to anyone wanting to assert that the rise is not anthropogenic, namely present a theory where the rise is of natural origin but that is consistent with the annual rise being lower than the level of anthropogenic emissions (as the observations show). ”
First, we are not asserting that the rise is definitely not anthropogenic. We are asserting that we do not actually know; that the evidence does not prove that it is. A contrary hypothesis would be the very simple one that CO2 is in approximate equilibrium between atmosphere and oceans, so the CO2 level has risen principally due to the rise in ocean temperatures since the Little Ice Age. Under this hypothesis it would have risen at almost exactly the same rate irrespective of anthropogenic emissions. More sophisticated variants of the theory would include absorption and circulation lags for both CO2 and heat, and in those the rise would typically happen a bit quicker with anthrop. emissions than without (and falls a bit later).

Matt G
August 6, 2010 7:24 am

Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
August 5, 2010 at 10:09 am
Bill Yarber says:
August 5, 2010 at 8:19 am
I think you have seriously underestimated the impact on the oceans outguessing CO2 as they warm! Look at the ice core data
No I haven’t underestimated the impact of the oceans: over very long term (Vostok ice core) that is about 8 ppmv/C, the same for the MWP-LIA cooling (only visible in the high resolution Law Dome ice core). Currently the short term influence of temperature is about 4 ppmv/C around the trend, but the trend itself is largely from the emissions…
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Ferdinand,
Theres no doubt that humans have contributed towards the increase in atmospheric CO2 emissons and thankyou for your explanation, but the question is how much? The key debate in how much this relies on is the assumption that CO2 ice core data is good compared with realty. (instrumental data over the past 1oo or so years)
I had made a post yesterday at 3.40pm that shows scientific evidence that you have seriously underestimated the impact on the oceans outgassing CO2 as they warm. (unless see below at bottem)
The globe and regions of it have shown much lower increases in temperatures with much higher levels of CO2. There are concerns about the loss of atmospheric CO2 when the ice core samples are taken. How accurate would a snow/ice core sample taken from the surface now(or near), show CO2 to be compared with recent instrumental levels?
So why is the ice core data valid and why have you not taken into account the instrumental values of CO2 that don’t show this 1c/8 ppmv rise? With these major differences both can’t be right so which one is wrong and demonstrates different orders of CO2 outgassing from the oceans?
CO2 outgasses from the oceans the same amount via the the same rise in ocean temperature as it does now as then. You must see the very big problem here and can you explain this? Alternately are you suggesting the ice core data is right and the amounts were released from warming oceans from a 1c rise and that means extra CO2 shown from instrumental data is irrelevent and shows no/trace warming effect on the globe over the past 100 years.

Dikran Marsupial
August 6, 2010 7:36 am

Paul Birch
It is perfectly true that we don’t know what the wife would have done had the husband not deposited any money. However, that is irrelevant as we know what she actually did do, and it is what she did do that affected the balance of their bank account, rather than what she might hypothetically have done.
Likewise it is true that if we hadn’t produce anthropogenic emissions, we can’t know for certain what the environment would have done (although the null hypothesis would be that it would continue to follow its behaviour since the start of the current integlacial). HOWEVER, we know that the environment has not been a net source of CO2 as we can infer the net flux via the mass balance argument. So while (through some unspecified mechanism) the environment might have caused a rise in CO2, the obsevations show that it HASN’T.
A scientist doesn’t ignore the data, and the data show unambiguously (via the mass balance argument) that the natural environment has been a net sink throughout the industrial era. Note this is exactly what you would expect from a system in approximate equilibrium; if you disturb the equilibrium (e.g. by putting fossil carbon into the atmoshere) then the system will react to oppose the disturbance.

August 6, 2010 7:39 am

Julian Flood says:
August 5, 2010 at 11:40 pm
Ferdinand,
Do you have a copy of NASA’a Fig 1 above with error bounds? I’m particularly interested in the plus/minus figures for the carbon export into the deep ocean from the surface ocean. I think I’ve got them on my old computer but it’s a bit flakey, not least because I keep it in the shed.
I have no direct figures, but the error estimates for the ultimate sequestering of CO2 in the oceans and vegetation (based on d13C and O2 balances) are +/- 30% for oceans and +/- 60% for vegetation. As the estimates for the fluxes are based on the same indicators, the error margins may be similar… See:
http://www.bowdoin.edu/~mbattle/papers_posters_and_talks/BenderGBC2005.pdf
For the deep oceans, I have my own estimate, based on the fact that the deep oceans still don’t show contamination by low 13C human carbon: with a refresh rate of about 40 GtC directly (or indirectly via the ocean surface layer) between the deep oceans and the atmosphere, the 13C response is a near fit to the emissions of fossil fuels:
http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/deep_ocean_air_zero.jpg
But that too is an estimate…

Richard S Courtney