Comparing CO2 in warm and cold periods in geologic history

I recall a conversation I had with Dr. Bob Carter at a restaurant in Townsville, QLD after our public presentations there in June 2010 where he lamented the fact that many of the AGW proponents and many of his critics, “really don’t integrate the earth’s geologic timeline into their critical thinking”. I’ve had dozens of similar comments posted on WUWT. It only takes one look at this graph from Lorraine Lisiecki’s most recent paper in Geophysical Research Letters to get a handle on the geologic timeline of CO2 in recent Earth history. The title and x axis annotations are mine. Compare the peaks of CO2 and Sea Surface Temperature change over the last 1.5 million years.

click to enlarge

Figure 3. Proxy comparison. (top) pCO2 (red) [Petit et al., 1999; Monnin et al., 2001; Siegenthaler et al., 2005; Lüthi et al., 2008 , Dd13CP−NA 2 (blue), alkenone concentration (green dashed)  [Martínez‐Garcia et al., 2009″], boron‐based estimates with error bars  (black dots [Hönisch et al., 2009]; gray circles [Tripati et al., 2009];  triangles [Seki et al., 2010]), and alkenone d13C estimates (squares)  [Seki et al., 2010]. Dd13CP−NA 2 and alkenone proxies are scaled to ppm  using the mean and standard deviation of pCO2 from 800–0 ka. (See  auxiliary material for ODP 1090 age model.) (bottom) Changes in  Dd13CP−NA 2 (blue), WEP SST [Medina‐Elizalde and Lea, 2005], and a  tropical SST stack (purple) [Herbert et al., 2010] with trend reduced by  0.29°C/Myr to match the WEP. Dd13CP−NA 2 is scaled to °C using the  standard deviation of the SST stack from 500–100 ka. – click for larger  image”]

Granted, there’s not enough resolution on this graph to see the present (at far left) clearly, and I’m sure there will be arguments complaining it doesn’t show the current measured CO2 ppm value, at ~390ppm, but I’m not posting this to try to dispel current measurements, only to help others gain an understanding of the longer geologic record. Here’s the abstract and conclusion, along with another graph of interest:

Abstract: (emphasis mine)

A high‐resolution marine proxy for atmospheric pCO2 is needed to clarify the phase lag between pCO2 and marine climate proxies and to provide a record of orbital‐scale
pCO2 variations before the oldest ice core measurement at 800 ka. Benthic d13C data should record deep ocean carbon storage and, thus, atmospheric pCO2. This study finds that a modified d13C gradient between the deep Pacific and intermediate North Atlantic (Dd13CP−NA2) correlates well with pCO2. Dd13CP−NA 2 reproduces characteristic differences between pCO2 and ice volume during Late Pleistocene glaciations and indicates that pCO2 usually leads terminations by 0.2–3.7 kyr but lags by 3–10 kyr during two “failed” terminations at 535 and 745 ka. Dd13CP−NA 2 gradually transitions from 41‐ to 100‐kyr cyclicity from 1.3–0.7 Ma but has no secular trend in mean or amplitude since 1.5 Ma. The minimum pCO2 of the last 1.5 Myr is estimated to be 155 ppm at ∼920 ka. Citation: Lisiecki, L. E. (2010), A benthic d13C based proxy for atmospheric pCO2 over the last 1.5 Myr, Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L21708, doi:10.1029/2010GL045109.

That minimum pCO2 920,000 years ago of 155ppm comes dangerously close to the value at which photosynthetic function shuts down, said to be around 140-150ppm. Earth came close to losing its plant life then.

Here’s another graph, again annotated by me, showing her data:

click to enlarge

Figure 2. Comparison of pCO2 (gray) [Petit et al., 1999; Monnin et al., 2001; Siegenthaler et al., 2005; Lüthi et al., 2008 with (top) benthic d18O (black) [Lisiecki and Raymo, 2005 and (bottom) Dd13CP−NA 2 (black). Glacial stages are labeled by MIS number. In Figure 2 (bottom), pCO2 has been smoothed with a 2‐kyr boxcar filter.

I also found this passage of interest:

An anomalous phase relationship between ice volume and pCO2 may explain why these two warming events [Termination 6 (535 ka) and MIS 18 (745 ka)] are weaker than most Late Pleistocene terminations. During both “failed” terminations, the initial d18O change is approximately half the amplitude of most Late Pleistocene terminations; d18O spends ∼20 kyr at intermediate values of 3.8–4.2‰ and then briefly returns to more glacial values before achieving full interglacial conditions ∼40 kyr after the initial warming. The Dd13CP−NA2 lag during these two failed terminations suggests that full deglaciation requires an early pCO2 response.

This is along the lines of Andrew Lacis CO2 knob idea, but it is clear that CO2 isn’t fully in control, but one of many control knobs for climate. There’s also some discussions about the role of polar ice in climate regulation:

The initial trigger for terminations and the mechanistic link between pCO2 and northern hemisphere ice volume remain controversial [e.g., Huybers, 2009; Denton et al., 2010]. Variability in the phase between d18O and Dd13CP−NA2 supports the hypothesis of Toggweiler [2008] that glacial changes in pCO2 are controlled by southern hemisphere processes only weakly linked to northern hemisphere insolation and ice volume. However, tighter coupling between the hemispheres appears to develop at ∼500 ka, as suggested by smaller phase differences between Dd13CP−NA 2 and d18O (Table S3), an increase in pCO2 amplitude, and the phase lock between Antarctic temperature and northern hemisphere insolation during the last five terminations [Kawamura et al., 2007].

Conclusions
[19] In conclusion, Dd13CP−NA2 correlates well with ice core pCO2 from 800–0 ka and reproduces many features of the pCO2 record. Comparison of Dd13CP−NA
2 and pCO2 suggests that marine and ice core age models [Lisiecki and Raymo,
2005; Parrenin et al., 2007; Loulergue et al., 2007] differ by ≤2.7 kyr at terminations. Within the marine sedimentary record Dd13CP−NA2 usually leads d18O by 0.2–3.7 kyr at terminations but lags by 3–10 kyr during “failed” terminations at 535 and 745 ka. Thus, an early pCO2 response appears necessary for complete deglaciation, and pCO2 appears less tightly coupled to northern hemisphere ice volume before 500 ka. [20] Several proxies that correlate with pCO2 (Dd13CP−NA2 , South Atlantic productivity [Martínez‐Garcia et al., 2009], and WEP SST [Medina‐Elizalde and Lea, 2005]) and a carbon
cycle box model [Köhler and Bintanja, 2008] suggest that glacial pCO2 minima do not decrease during the MPT. Moreover, the minimum pCO2 concentration of the last
1.5 Myr is estimated to occur at 920 ka. Dd13CP−NA2 gradually shifts from 41‐kyr cycles to 100‐kyr cycles from 1.3–0.7 Ma but shows no secular trend in mean or amplitude over the last 1.5 Myr, whereas tropical SST records suggest warmer glacial maxima before 1.3 Ma [Herbert et al., 2010]. This likely indicates that at least one of these proxies is affected by factors other than pCO2 before 1.3 Ma; thus, additional high resolution proxies are needed.

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

The thing to bear in mind is that these are proxies, not empirical measurements, and there’s no error/uncertainty shown. Of course at the present, we have ~ 390ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere, and that is nothing I dispute, not does any other skeptic I know of. What is clear from this study though is that our current period of increased CO2 is riding on the back of natural variability of CO2 concentration, which has been observed to occur with regularity over the past 1.5 million years. Of course the question arises as to how much the present concentrations will affect our slide into the next glaciation, if at all. If we are lucky, our “geoengineering” of the planet with some extra CO2 may very well be a lucky break for humanity. Notice that those peaks in CO2 and SST, the most recent of which is the very brief  period of the rise of man, are quite short compared with the much longer periods of cooler temperatures.

h/t to Dr. Leif Svalgaard, who has the full paper here

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94 thoughts on “Comparing CO2 in warm and cold periods in geologic history

  1. ******
    That minimum pCO2 920,000 years ago of 155ppm comes dangerously close to the value at which photosynthetic function shuts down, said to be around 140-150ppm. Earth came close to losing its plant life then.
    ******

    W/o looking up the numbers, C3-type chlorophyll plants might be beyond their limit, but C4-type (grasses) would be OK down to lower amounts.

    Still, 140-ppm CO2 would prb’ly be a killer for an agricultural-based civilization.

  2. Our geoengineering experiment will cause rapid changes in climate that will be hard for us to adjust to. If we were smart we’d leave the carbon in the ground. 19,000 years from now we may wish to dig it and burn it to prevent the next ice age. But see this for a more realistic discussion: http://www.technologyreview.com/article/24117/

    “The thing to bear in mind is that these are proxies, not empirical measurements, ”

    You mean so say proxy measurements are not direct measurements of temperature or CO2. They are still empirical.

  3. Anthony, another outstanding post. Two things you said I find particularly interesting:

    “…but it is clear that CO2 isn’t fully in control, but one of many control knobs for climate.”

    I don’t think any qualified climate scientist would disagree with this, but many sceptics might not want to give CO2 any control at all.

    You also said:
    “If we are lucky, our “geoengineering” of the planet with some extra CO2 may very well be a lucky break for humanity…”

    ____
    Indeed, IF we are lucky, but luck is associated with gambling, and so, the other side of the toss of the coin must be asked, and is the whole thrust of much of the honest efforts to reduce our addiction to fossil fuels…What if we are UN-lucky, and the climate is very sensitive to the sharp spike in CO2 that we’ve seen over the past 300 or so years? As you know, I am not currently a believer in Catastrophic AGW, but certainly I do believe it is more likely than not that our tuning of the one control knob of the climate control of CO2 so that the current levels go right off the nice chart you give above is a reason for caution and is already likely showing its effects on climate. Do we really want to take the gamble that sending the CO2 levels off the long term chart by our use of fossil fuels will be harmless or simply forestall the next glaciation? This is certainly not prudent. Reducing our addiction to fossil fuels is prudent on many levels, and in my mind, the only real question is how to reduce them in a manner that spreads out the cost of this reduction in an economically equitable way between the wealthy and poor countries of today while preserving a viable planet (for human habitation) for tomorrow.

  4. Mike says:
    November 13, 2010 at 10:04 am

    Our geoengineering experiment will cause rapid changes in climate that will be hard for us to adjust to. If we were smart we’d leave the carbon in the ground.

    That’s one opinion, certainly. I am of the opinion that we are better placed now than at any time in human history to adapt to the natural climatic changes that are happening and have always happened and always will happen. Technology is a wonderful thing. And if you think it would be “smart” (to use the Americanism) or clever to “leave the carbon in the ground,” then what do you think would be the answer to the energy problem that would result? Maybe you think we should go back to a pre-industrial-age existence. Yep. That would be very “smart.” Whatever you or I think, it’s purely academic, cos it’s never gonna happen.

  5. I checked the current CO2 value related to the post, I’d assumed we would be seeing reduced levels due to the recession. Mauna Loa monthly value is above ˜390 ppm.

    Note: I’m not questioning NOAA’s integrity but is it logical to place a CO2 monitoring observatory near a volcano?

    Mauna Loa, Hawaii
    Measurements are adjusted to account for local degassing of CO2 from the nearby volcano.

    Monthly Mean CO2 Data:
    ftp://ftp.cmdl.noaa.gov/ccg/co2/trends/co2_mm_mlo.txt
    Note: most recent eruption occurred from 24 March 1984 to 15 April 1984

    # decimal average interpolated trend #days
    # date (season corr)
    1984 1 1984.042 343.87 343.87 343.94 31
    1984 2 1984.125 344.59 344.59 344.00 29
    1984 3 1984.208 345.29 345.29 343.77 23
    1984 4 1984.292 -99.99 346.58 343.98 2
    1984 5 1984.375 347.36 347.36 344.19 27
    1984 6 1984.458 346.80 346.80 344.33 25

    Given that temperature drives CO2 and given the observatory location related to ENSO changes, isn’t it a bit odd the CO2 record from 1958-present has nearly always risen?

  6. CO2 at 155 ppm was low enough that the most common C3 bushes and trees would have a very hard time growing. The globe was probably nearly completely C4 grass-covered with sparse forests in the high precipitation rain-forest areas only. [That should also say something about what the animals were eating at the time as well].

    I don’t have this latest data from Lisiecki as it is doesn’t appear to be available yet (but have others and she does a lot of really great work on the paleoclimate).

    Just wanted to show Temp and CO2 on a comparable basis (going back 800,000 years) because CO2 only changes a small amount compared to the temperature (something which is not always clear in these type of charts or in Al Gore’s movie for example). Lowest CO2 in the period 172 ppm at 667,000 years ago versus the 155 ppm at 920,000 years ago quoted above.

  7. Mike says:
    November 13, 2010 at 10:04 am

    Mike,
    That’s what you call a more realistic discussion? And why 19,000 years from now? Where is the evidence that the next ice age will occur 19,000 years from the present? How about discussing the paper rather than just repeating the same old “precautionary principle” crapola.

  8. I my opinion, those who are most vocally calling for a return to pre-industrial usage of carbon-based fuels are those who are least likely to survive if we do so.

    There will be huge population crashes in cities if that were to occur. By population crashes, I mean lots and lots of people will die. It will not be pretty and just to survive people will have to kill other people who are trying to take away their means of survival.

    Perhaps those in the UK will get a foretaste of what it means to be without energy this coming winter (since they have rushed headlong down the path of alternative energy bullshit) … let’s see how much they like it.

  9. This is probably a very silly idea but nothing ventured nothing gained.

    Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru (most of South America) went from having a majority of their populations living in rural areas, to a majority living in urban areas, within the last 60 years (1950-2010).

    Are the daily CO2 readings and trends at Mauna Loa related to Industrialization, Urbanization, and environmental conditions in South America?

  10. Someone needs to match up the actual fossil records of that age with the 155ppm CO2 levels — see if what is reflected in terms of diversity, type, animal life, etc. If that’s possible…

  11. *****
    Mike says:
    November 13, 2010 at 10:04 am
    *****
    We need to keep burning fossil fuels until we can get nuclear on line, but study if black carbon can be used to keep the albedo down during the next ice age.

  12. RGates:
    “Indeed, IF we are lucky, but luck is associated with gambling, and so, the other side of the toss of the coin must be asked, and is the whole thrust of much of the honest efforts to reduce our addiction to fossil fuels…”

    +++++++++

    That comment is the much abused precautionary principle in a dress with lipstick. As is frequently posted here at WUWT, caution works both ways. That people are now wondering and watching what happens because of possible unexpected consequences of increasing the CO2 in the atmosphere is good. It already happened, so there is little use cryin about spilt milk. What is so galling is that certain folks want to dominate the discussion with their own, rapidly generated, post-facto qualified opinions, and on balance, poorly-informed opinions at that. The people best qualified to speak on the subject of climate and CO2 are not environmentalists or politicians, they are geologists who have routinely studied these sorts of things. I personally know several geologists and not one of them finds the present climate alarming, and further, they find the prognostications of climate models childish. I was surprised by this because I did not expect them to stand out, as a group, from the AGW social trend, given the contrived consequences they might be made to suffer.

    People use oil because it is a very good fuel and we have developed many technolgies that use it efficiently. That is not wrong. It is a good idea, actually. Oil may well be a renewable resource formed in the ‘factory’ of the earth’s mantle from ingredients we know are there, at pressures we know exist, and temperatures which are extant. We reproduce the process on the surface so it is not a mystery. It is a hot research field.

    Coal is in a different category because it is not being formed at present and will probably peak in 2070 (Willem Nel 2008). Within 60 years we will have to find a supplement for oil, wind and solar. The latter two are expensive at present. Present technologies do not respond well to scaling in terms of cost. So what to do? There is no rush, that’s for sure. Every year major advances are made in materials research which will underlie truly viable solar technologies and geothermal power. That’s fine. Keep your shirt on. Solar cells may coon reach +60% efficiency (development announced last week).

    The poor temperature response of the atmosphere to increased CO2 is an inescapable fact. Arguments that look for ‘tipping points’ are invalid. There are no tipping points that anyone can construct even with wild speculation. It is simply not how an open system with huge mobile moisture capacity works. It is basic physics. Only by ignoring basic physics can one ‘model’ tipping points caused by CO2.

    We will all move to new energy technologies when they work properly, when they affordable, and when there are enough of them available. We do not need to trogylodize humanity on the basis of bad math, poor physics, ignoring the geologists and forgeting climate history. We deserve better than mis-applied precaution.

  13. R gates says

    What if we are UN-lucky, and the climate is very sensitive to the sharp spike in CO2 that we’ve seen over the past 300 or so years.

    Climate shows no high sensitivity at the moment. A deltaT of 0.8°C in 150 years is not high sensitivity.
    Secondly, where do you get the idea that we can control all the CO² moving in and out of the atmosphere? when humans add only 3.27% CO² each year.
    The sensitivity to CO² and ONLY CO² would have to be enormous for us to be able to control the temp of the planet within 1°C and if we got it wrong and could modify the temp down below the level of 150yrs ago how would our farmers get on? would we be able to produce enough food for 3 times the population of 150yrs ago.

    Which risk is greater? That we try to control the climate when we patently can’t or we let the climate move within pre-existing limits and adapt as we have done over the last 3 million years when temps have swung between -10°C and +5°C from those of today?
    You AGW / control the climate mob are a bunch of loons. You need to think outside the funding box and in the real world.

  14. CO2 probably plays less of a role when the atmosphere is loaded with water. During an ice age when it is pretty dry, CO2 likely plays a larger role than it does during an interglacial. Not to say it plays that much of a role. If Earth’s atmosphere was pure CO2 and no water it would probably be a little warmer than now but only because of the lack of clouds and heat transport that water provides from the surface to high altitude.

  15. Not only should the U.S. and other developed countries be going full-bore with fossil fuels for prosperity (jobs, happiness, ending quantitive easings, paying off the debt, and enhance global representative democracy), but for the affluence to develop the technology (in a free enterprise environment) to develop additional, more efficient sources of energy — nuclear especially. We could then decide how much CO2 to pump (via fossil fuels) into the atmosphere to keep plant life happy and resistant to drought. We also would have the dough to search and prepare for comet/asteroid impacts that are inevitably coming as well as to mitigate against the inevitable major earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and other catastrophes (see Pathological Geomorphology). In addition, we could figure out some grand infrastructure projects such as shipping-sending-piping water (desalinized or melted glacier or massive floods) to dry areas. For example, a Roman or Medieval Warm Period dries out the North American West and other areas as well. Warm is not everywhere wet. Let’s let our Earth bask in the possibilities of its most technologically adept inhabitant — and get out of our own way, a way most uniquely developed in the United States of America.

  16. re post by: rispin in Washington DC says: November 13, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Within 60 years we will have to find a supplement for oil, wind and solar. The latter two are expensive at present. Present technologies do not respond well to scaling in terms of cost. So what to do?

    That’s an easy one and we have had the technology for decades – nuclear. The biggest problem with nuclear by far has been interference by anti-nuclear factions, and various government regulations.

  17. Hmm! Proxy!

    How come we can believe these proxies but not Mann’s?

    Every one seems sure that CO2 at high levels will improve the earth an very low levels will kill vegetation. But, assuming the proxies are believable, then we see that vegetation survived the ice ages quite well:
    180ppm 20000 years ago

  18. John from CA says:

    “I’m not questioning NOAA’s integrity but is it logical to place a CO2 monitoring observatory near a volcano?”

    Forget the volcano, – it’s the ENSO, warming up seawater releasing CO2 back to the atmosphere.

  19. Crispin in Washington DC says: “….Solar cells may [soon] reach +60% efficiency (development announced last week).”

    Even at 100% efficiency, solar cells are so far from economic practicality that they are a pipe dream except for a very few remote applications. Promoting solar cells as alternative energy is, well, lunacy.

  20. Mike
    November 13, 2010 at 10:04 am

    You mean so say proxy measurements are not direct measurements of temperature or CO2. They are still empirical.
    #
    Bzzzt! Wrong answer. The proxy data are empirical measurements. The CO2 values are not, as they were derived through an assumed model.

  21. R. Gates says:
    November 13, 2010 at 10:34 am

    Do we really want to take the gamble that sending the CO2 levels off the long term chart by our use of fossil fuels will be harmless or simply forestall the next glaciation? This is certainly not prudent. Reducing our addiction to fossil fuels is prudent on many levels, and in my mind, the only real question is how to reduce them in a manner that spreads out the cost of this reduction in an economically equitable way between the wealthy and poor countries of today while preserving a viable planet (for human habitation) for tomorrow.

    There you have it, the sum of “progressive” Post Normal Climate Science: demonizing Man’s use of fossil fuel, disasterizing GW, and achieving “equality” or equitable-ness between “rich” and “poor” via central, superimposed control, which will somehow magically cause Nature to become amicable. And all in the face of the fact that Communism has never worked and is essentially a dead end kind of human and societal evolution = Slavery.

  22. Mike says:

    You mean so say proxy measurements are not direct measurements of temperature or CO2. They are still empirical.

    In fact these theoretical physicists turned “climatologists” have shown a consistent inability to handle proxy data with the necessary large grain of salt.

    Crispin in Washington DC says:

    I personally know several geologists and not one of them finds the present climate alarming, and further, they find the prognostications of climate models childish. I was surprised by this because I did not expect them to stand out, as a group, from the AGW social trend, given the contrived consequences they might be made to suffer.

    In fact, referring to that survey that AGW people often quote as if it were scientific evidence, the majority of geologists don’t even think that people are responsible for a “significant part” of the warming trend.

    Finally note that during a glacial expansion the amount of water vapor in the air would decrees significantly causing co2 to have 3 times its normal effect according to everybody’s favorite site Wikipedia.

  23. I have a problem with these types of graphs, or rather in the context they are presented.

    First of all all cheers to the work done, but it still is only a smooth out average of proxy data from a local area. So for starters it can only say something about the local CO2 levels if, and only if, it has been interpreted correctly and the proxies are accurate and all that and the proper calculations are done properly and the algorithm’s used doesn’t include any bugs, et cetera.

    What bugs me the most with these kind of graphs is that everything has changed and it keeps changing all the time.

    We change the way we collect data, the way we store data, the way we treat data. We have changed the programming language used to implement the algorithms, we have changed the algorithms, we have changed the math, we have change our criteria for interpreting the data how we implement the data, how we treat the data and the results and how we treat and interpret the results, some even change the reference periods from time to time, et cetera. It’s all BS unless you use the same methods of collecting, storing, treating of the data through the same algorithm implement the exact same through the exact same interface on the same god damn hardware (and yes even different hardware gives different results in the minute form, the more accurate the hardware becomes the more obvious the difference.)

  24. Rational Debate has just commented:
    “That’s an easy one and we have had the technology for decades – nuclear. The biggest problem with nuclear by far has been interference by anti-nuclear factions, and various government regulations.”
    Agreed, and the greens lead the pack.
    Liquid-fluoride thorium is the answer, just as soon as governments start listening to scientists, rather than computer modellers, magicians, druids, spin doctors, astrologers, prophets of doom, anything green, other politicians, and STOP WASTING MONEY ON INEFFECTUAL, OVER-PRICED, SHORT-LIVED WINDMILLS!!!

  25. JPeden says: “…And all in the face of the fact that Communism has never worked and is essentially a dead end kind of human and societal evolution = Slavery.”

    A dead end, indeed: “According to R. J. Rummel’s article in the Encyclopedia of Genocide (1999) the top three most murderous regimes are: (1) the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, 62 million deaths, 1917-’87; (2) People’s Republic of China, 35 million, 1949-’87; (3) Germany under the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, 21 million, 1933-’45.”

    That’s 118,000,000 people who have fallen victim to the Socialist “Workers’ Paradise” hoax, so far. That’s twenty Holocausts, all in the name of Socialist “equality.” Relabeling it ‘green’ will never remove the murderous stench that accompanies it.

    “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely…” –John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton

    See: http://rexcurry.net/socialism.html

  26. JPeden says:

    And all in the face of the fact that Communism has never worked and is essentially a dead end kind of human and societal evolution = Slavery.

    Actually, that is not true. Communism has worked for some people. Most notably, those who were in charge and were nimble enough to avoid being purged at the whim of those above/around them.

  27. jorgekafkazar comments:
    “Even at 100% efficiency, solar cells are so far from economic practicality that they are a pipe dream except for a very few remote applications. Promoting solar cells as alternative energy is, well, lunacy.”
    Agreed, again, as above for B****Y WINDMILLS!!!, with the codicil that not only are photovoltaic cells very expensive, and have a relatively short life (some 20-25yr at present), they also are made with some rare materials. China has made a small fortune.

  28. re post by:

    walt man says: November 13, 2010 at 12:22 pm
    Hmm! Proxy!
    How come we can believe these proxies but not Mann’s?
    Every one seems sure that CO2 at high levels will improve the earth an very low levels will kill vegetation. But, assuming the proxies are believable, then we see that vegetation survived the ice ages quite well: 180ppm 20000 years ago

    Proxy credibility is based, of course, on a number of different issues. In Mann’s case, there were major flaws found that really dragged the credibility of his proxy use into question.

    As to vegetation surviving ice ages “quite well…” how are you defining ‘quite well?’ Its my understanding that during ice ages many plant species go extinct, biodiversity really drops, etc. During periods of warmth, biodiversity explodes. In other words, not a lot survives ices ages ‘quite well.’

  29. walt man says:
    November 13, 2010 at 12:22 pm
    … we see that vegetation survived the ice ages quite well:
    180ppm 20000 years ago
    ——————————
    Here are three versions of the global vegetation map at the last glacial maximum and we see that vegetation did not do too well in the ice ages – mainly because CO2 and precipitation levels were lower – C4 bushes and trees need extra precipitation when CO2 levels are low because the stomata need to be open more, allowing greater water transpiration – C4 grasses do okay with low CO2 and low precipitation but there is a limit.

    (All the charts are from the same person who is the leading expert on this but for whatever reason the color schemes are not chosen very well).

  30. Mike says:
    November 13, 2010 at 10:04 am

    Our geoengineering experiment will cause rapid changes in climate that will be hard for us to adjust to. If we were smart we’d leave the carbon in the ground.

    “We”, Mike?
    Have you done ANYTHING personally to support your recommendation?
    Or are you going to continue to drive, which requires petroleum-based fuels, or use electricity that comes from a majority of carbon-fuel power plants?
    How about the clothes you wear (many petrol-based), or the plastics that you use, or the house that was built from materials hauled in on rubber-tired trucks.
    I could go on and on and on, but please, enlighten us with an answer regarding your personal sacrifices showing how you’re “leaving carbon in the ground”.

  31. John from CA says: November 13, 2010 at 11:25 am
    Are the daily CO2 readings and trends at Mauna Loa related to Industrialization, Urbanization, and environmental conditions in South America?

    Hi John. The increase in CO2 concentration being measured a Mauna Loa is due to the net burning of fossil fuel (coal, oil, gas) across the entire planet, of which South America is a contributor. Historically North America has been the major player.

  32. crosspatch says: November 13, 2010 at 12:01 pm
    If Earth’s atmosphere was pure CO2 and no water…

    You are describing Venus.

  33. nc says: November 13, 2010 at 11:43 am
    R.Gates how much of the present C02 levels are caused by man? Also how long does that C02 hang around?

    The increase in CO2 from pre-industrial times is near 100% caused by man as confirmed by isotope studies. A pulse of CO2 in the atmosphere has an “effective residence time” on the order of 100s of years. The spread of estimates for this number is quite large. (The “residence time” of an individual CO2 molecule is much shorter – of the order of years – and the two are regularly confused.)

  34. Richard Sharpe says: November 13, 2010 at 11:22 am
    I my opinion, those who are most vocally calling for a return to pre-industrial usage of carbon-based fuels are those who are least likely to survive if we do so.

    Indeed. I am in the “c”AGW camp, meaning I am applying +3C as climate sensitivity, extrapolating the results and not liking where the analysis takes us. It is well and good to say the earth has seen warmer temperatures and life flourished. It is another thing altogether to assess how our current agricultural and coastal city based +6 billion people lifestyle can adapt if such a change happens rapidly.

    The flip side is Richard’s comment. Calls from the environmental movement for 50% reductions in fossil fuel use by 2030 etc are legion with absolutely no credible mechanism for how this is to be accomplished. Many (not all) strident opponents to fossil fuel use have not invested the time to work out where their bread comes from and how the internet is powered. I highly recommend Dr David Mackay’s “Sustainable Energy without the hot air” http://www.withouthotair.com/. Other commentators have also recommended this read. It provides a framework for understanding the magnitude of the problem and the necessary scale of any enterprise that could provide a solution.

  35. jorgekafkazar says:
    November 13, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    Currently photovoltaics are 2-3 times the cost nuclear power. Natural gas is close to half the cost of nuclear.

    The efficiency of photovoltaics is largely irrelevant as space to place them is not a limiting factor. The critical metric is cost per megawatt hour. Natural gas is about $70, coal about $90, nuclear/geothermal/biomass all near $120, wind is around $160, and pulling up in distant last place the current generation photovoltaics is around $300.

    The thing of it is that photovoltaic cost per megawatt hour can come down a heck of a lot in a short period of time. So can biomass. The rest have much less room for improvement although latest generation experimental nuclear reactor designs might be competitive with natural gas but it takes decades to go from experiment to safe commercial reactors. Biomass and photovoltaic are the most promising near term alternatives – biomass to generate liquid fuels to power the vast infrastructure extant in internal and external combustion motors and photovoltaics to power everything else. In the meantime there appears to be adequate supplies of existing energy sources and no need to waste money developing and/or installing alternatives that are far more expensive and show little promise of great cost/performance improvements. That money would be much better spent on R&D in PV and biomass improvements.

  36. “John from CA says:
    November 13, 2010 at 10:48 am

    Given that temperature drives CO2 and given the observatory location related to ENSO changes, isn’t it a bit odd the CO2 record from 1958-present has nearly always risen?

    John from CA says:
    November 13, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Are the daily CO2 readings and trends at Mauna Loa related to Industrialization, Urbanization, and environmental conditions in South America?”

    Before 1750, temperatures drove CO2 levels since warm oceans can hold less CO2 (and all other gases) than colder oceans. However since the industrial revolution around 1750, man has been increasing the CO2 due to the burning of fossil fuels in houses and cars. The rate of man’s production of CO2 has really accelerated since 1945. As a result, the CO2 has increased from about 280 ppm in 1750 to 390 ppm today.
    Roughly, about 50% of the CO2 man has put into the air since 1750 has stayed in the air, about 40% has gone into the oceans and about 10% has gone into increased photosynthesis in plants. The net effect is that concentrations in the air are now going up at a linear rate. See page 6 at (http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/monckton/co2_report_july_2010.pdf). However the effect of CO2 on temperature is logarithmic (Law of diminishing returns). For a graphical illustration of this, see page 8 at (http://joannenova.com.au/globalwarming/the_skeptics_handbook_2-3_lq.pdf).

    So the bottom line is that while this increased CO2 is good for plants and food production, it has virtually no further effect on temperature. Any talk about about tipping points and trying to avoid this with carbon capture is just not scientific and a total waste of money.

  37. nc ask on November 13, 2010 at 11:43 am:

    “R.Gates how much of the present C02 levels are caused by man? Also how long does that CO2 hang around?”

    Ay, there’s the rub. The answer depends on who you ask and how you ask it. Do a Google search and you find very few answers that agree with one another. The IPCC put a value of 100 years on CO2 residence time in the atmosphere while many, perhaps most other scientific studies show a value of 5-15 years. Man’s contribution to CO2 levels is also hotly debated. AGW proponents say that half of all the human contribution accounts for all of the increase (and half is absorbed by oceans and plants.) But some estimates are as low as 15 ppmv; that’s roughly 4% of the CO2 in the atmosphere. (CO2 currently increases between one and 2.5 ppm annually.)

    Yet a better question is “How much is mankind’s contribution to the ‘greenhouse effect?’ ” It is about 0.28%, if water vapor is taken into account– about 5.53%, if not. Yet another interesting question is to ask the difference between CO2 content of winds coming ashore on the Pacific coast and winds exiting the Atlantic coast of the USA. An article in Science magazine (sorry, I can’t find the reference now) said that North America was a net CO2 sink, probably due to reforestation. That makes one wonder why North America is accused of being the source of all this CO2, and what we can really do by way of Kyoto, et al.

    As for the annual increase in CO2 in the atmosphere, that has been shown to vary by a factor of more than six within a six-year time period. (1992-1998). Something is not understood about sources and sinks. As a geologist, I would argue that the carbon cycle itself is poorly understood.

    So it depends on what question you ask as well as of whom you ask it.

  38. We were just talking about this in the post, ‘ “Extreme Global Warming” In The Ancient Past.’ As it is about to vanish from the bottom of “Recent Posts,” I hope I am forgiven for reprinting here what I replied there, about the subject. (The problem is that WUWT zooms through so many subjects, these days, that by the time I have finished mulling something over in my head and decided upon my reply, the post I want to reply about is already old news…”) Anyway, I replied:

    RE: “The rapid increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels around 40 million years ago approximately coincides with the rise of the Himalayas and may be related to the disappearance of an ocean between India and Asia as a result of plate tectonics…”

    The geology I’ve read suggests some sort of “hot spot” was able to melt away the “roots” of the Indian sub-continent, so that when it broke away from Antarctica it was able to zoom north at a speed something between twice and three times as fast as any continent “drifts” today.

    Innocent Asia was just sitting there, minding its own business, with a vast continental shelf which had been accumulating coal and oil and gas for hundreds of millions of years, when along comes this upstart chip of Antarctica and smashes into it. It seems to me very little of the coal and oil and gas in Asia’s continental shelf survived the collision. (Unless there are reserves high up in the Himalayas.)

    In other words, Mother Nature burned oil in a manner far more effective than mankind can, and leeched every bit of coal out, even from areas which would be completely inaccessible to man, and squeezed all the natural gas from the pre-collision continental shelf of Asia. One way or another, (and likely involving volcanoes and even limestone being turned to CO2,) a vast amount of “sequestered” CO2 was ejected back into the atmosphere.

    If the uptick in CO2 caused warming, and if the warming didn’t “run away” then, why should warming “run away” now?

    All that seemed to happen was the world became a warmer and lusher place, a place in many ways more kind to life, and to evolution. Mammals were able to thrive and develop all sorts of new species. The vast release of CO2 gave life a kick in the pants.

    Were it not for the release of “sequestered” carbon, a planet might become increasingly cold and sterile, with plants gasping for breath due to so little CO2 being left in the air, and an “Iceball Earth” becoming a distinct possibility.

    So…..perhaps those who like to think of Gia as having a mind that thinks, ought think in this manner:

    Gia was very worried Earth might turn into an iceball, and all life would freeze. She had to figure out some way to release a lot of sequestered carbon, but there were no continents due to collide, and no asteroids available. Therefore, in a stroke of genius, She evolved humans out squeaky little tree shrews, and, at the last possible moment and in the nick of time, burned up lots of coal, and an ice age was averted.

    At the very least, thinking in this manner would allow Moon-bats to feel much more warm and fuzzy about toasting their toes by a warm fire, and might even allow them to be thankful during a Thanksgiving dinner.

  39. Rational Debate says:
    November 13, 2010 at 1:35 pm
    re post by:

    walt man says: November 13, 2010 at 12:22 pm
    Hmm! Proxy!
    How come we can believe these proxies but not Mann’s?
    Every one seems sure that CO2 at high levels will improve the earth an very low levels will kill vegetation. But, assuming the proxies are believable, then we see that vegetation survived the ice ages quite well: 180ppm 20000 years ago.”
    The main problem, as I see it, is taking a proxy for say, temperature from tree ring formation, is that an increase in temperature will inevitably lead to an increase in atmospheric CO2. An increase in CO2 level will automatically increase plant growth, and so tree rings, as a proxy for temperature will, after several hundred years, be wider apart, due to abnormal growth. Which way is this taken in the production of all these graphs? Temperature rise always precedes atmospheric CO2 rise.

  40. “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely…” –John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton
    Hmph. This may appear as a truism, and no doubt we are all aware of its existence.
    I would put it another way…
    Corruption of power tends towards absolute power, and if conjoined can lead to absolute corruption.

  41. Michael Chrichton in his book “State of Fear” gives a great synopsis of the vegetation rebound after the glaciers. He also provides references.

  42. If one accepted for a moment that CO2 was driving temperature what would the graphs look like? The AGW theory states that the CO2 reduces the outgoing radiation
    in the 14-18 micron band and so the earth has to increase its temperature in order to radiate more energy at the other wavelengths to compensate. However the earth’s climate system has a huge thermal inertia due to the capacitance of the sea so it would take many thousands of years for the effect of increased CO2 to be fully balanced. Thus one would expect that peak CO2 would correlate with the fastest rate of increase in temperature. That rate of rise would then gradually diminish as the absolute temperature increased until equilibrium was reached. Therefore the peak temperature should follow the peak CO2 by several thousand years. One would definitely not expect to see the temperature fall at a time when CO2 was at its peak. However it is generally understood that far from the absolute temperature lagging CO2 by several thousand years the CO2 tends to lag the temperature by up to one thousand years. Thus we find that periods of cooling tend to coincide with peak CO2 and periods of warming coincide with minimum CO2. Thus the facts do not support the theory.

    The other thing that no one has been able to explain to me is why there should be a variation of CO2 linked to the Milankovitch cycles that drives the temperature. All logic seems to suggest that it is the temperature that is cyclic and that drives the CO2 due to it solubility in water being temperature dependent.

    Indeed I believe AGW climate scientists accept that it is this way round but they then insist that the CO2 effect acts as a positive feedback. However the graphs shown have none of the characteristics of any positive feedback like overshoot. If there is any positive feedback it must be tiny compared with the main cyclical driver otherwise the oscillation would stop.

    It was this contradictory paleo data that first made me question AGW orthodoxy. I have seen nothing that makes me change my view.

  43. That minimum pCO2 920,000 years ago of 155ppm comes dangerously close to the value at which photosynthetic function shuts down, said to be around 140-150ppm. Earth came close to losing its plant life then.

    Bill Illis says:
    November 13, 2010 at 10:50 am
    CO2 at 155 ppm was low enough that the most common C3 bushes and trees would have a very hard time growing. The globe was probably nearly completely C4 grass-covered with sparse forests in the high precipitation rain-forest areas only. [That should also say something about what the animals were eating at the time as well].

    An interesting and even alarming aspect of this paper is the CO2 minima that have apparently come close to levels that restrict plant metabolism and photosynthesis. Puts in perspective the EPA’s intellectual brilliance in declaring CO2 a pollutant.

    Here is a speculative hypothesis – probably wrong but perhaps thought-provoking.

    Why does global temp spike up sharply after long gradual decline during recent glaciations? Lets assume that global temperature and climate are closely associated with and controlled by the hydrological precipitation cycle on land. Assume secondly that plant life – trees and land plants in particular – play a major role in sustaining the hydrological cycle in its current form (thus the big temp drop in the phanerozoic following evolution of land plants and trees.)

    So (here’s the hypothesis): during glaciations, CO2 falls along with temperature. Eventually CO2 gets to a level when it starts to restrict plant metabolism. This causes a big change in global plant cover (land and sea), affecting hydrology. The effect on hydrology in turn affects climate – a big decrease in albedo for instance.

    Thus the sharp termination of glaciations is due to a global plant stress event caused by incipient CO2 starvation. The end. Discuss.

    Finally – as I have posted before – fig. 6 of this paper by Franck shows that it is CO2 starvation that will bring about the end of all life on earth:

    http://www.biogeosciences.net/3/85/2006/bg-3-85-2006.pdf

    Anyone know where I can get a good deal on an SUV?

  44. Reply to DCC says:
    November 13, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    You mention a more than 6 fold change from 1992 to 1998. The low number for 1992, 0.43, just happens to be when the effects of the eruption of Mount Pinatubo were being felt. The Hadcrut3 anomaly for that year was 0.062. On the other hand, the high number of 2.93 was in 1998 when Hadcrut3 recorded its all time high anomaly (so far) of 0.548. See (http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/hadcrut3gl.txt). I am well aware of the often mentioned 800 year period between changes in prehistoric times, however it seems that these numbers cannot be a coincidence either. My explanation for both numbers being low in 1992 and both being high in 1998 is that while man was contributing about the same amount of CO2 in each of these years, the colder ocean in 1992 absorbed more CO2 and in 1998, the warmer ocean absorbed much less of the man-made CO2.

    I feel that the following sentence needs some clarification: “But some estimates are as low as 15 ppmv; that’s roughly 4% of the CO2 in the atmosphere.” This certainly sounds much less than the 39% increase one obtains when comparing the 280 ppm from 1750 to 390 ppm today. They seem contradictory, but the 4% is just the excess humans contribute each year at the present time. In the 1800s, this percentage would have been much lower. However the cumulative total of all human increases over 260 years is that we have increased the CO2 by 39%. Do you more or less agree with this?

  45. Clean up on isle 5

    Ammonite says:
    November 13, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Ammonite says:
    November 13, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    Ammonite says:
    November 13, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Ammonite says:
    November 13, 2010 at 2:35 pm

  46. Don’t know bout you guys but I would prefer +3degC over today’s temps vs. -6degC. Gonna get very crowded down south during the next glacial.

  47. walt man says:

    “Hmm! Proxy! How come we can believe these proxies but not Mann’s?”

    We cannot believe Michael Mann because he used the Tiljander proxy — even after being informed that it was upside down. And as we see in the link, Mann repeatedly massages other data to support his repeatedly debunked hockey stick chart.

    There are numerous articles falsifying Mann’s use of the Tiljander proxy. Do a search for “Tiljander” here, or at Climate Audit, or at Bishop Hill, and at many other sites.

    Dr Michael Mann deliberately used a corrupted proxy because it gave his graph the desired shape. That is why we cannot believe Mann’s proxies, or the mann himself.

  48. That minimum pCO2 920,000 years ago of 155ppm comes dangerously close to the value at which photosynthetic function shuts down, said to be around 140-150ppm. Earth came close to losing its plant life then.

    I’m not sure how this idea spread on here, as I’ve seen it repeated a few times now, but it’s incorrect.

    The pCO2 compensation point for C3 plants varies generally within the range of ~40-150 uatm, depending on taxon, and is subject to a reasonable amount of plasticity, depending on other environmental variables, and particulars of a plant’s physiology.

    C4 and CAM plants have much lower pCO2 compensation points (e.g., ~10 uatm for corn). For example, see http://jxb.oxfordjournals.org/content/27/1/98.abstract

    Most algae (marine and freshwater) have effective carbon concentrating mechanisms, and are able to perform photosynthesis effectively even at much lower pCO2 levels than C4 and CAM plants.

    So, if atmospheric CO2 were to drop to 150 or 140 uatm, that doesn’t mean that “photosynthetic function shuts down” or anything close to it. It atmospheric CO2 dropped to that level it would mean that some C3 plants are going end just breaking even on their carbon budget some to much of the time. It wouldn’t be good for those particular plants, but they’d most likely just be outcompeted by other C3 or C4 plants with lower CO2 compensation points.

    In order to shut down photosynthesis of land plants, you’d have to drop atmospheric CO2 to < ~ 10 uatm. Even so, marine algae would still be able to perform photosynthesis. To shut down photosynthesis on the planet almost entirely (and therefore have insufficient DIC for even marine algal photosynthesis), you really have to have very, very low atmospheric CO2 (<< 1 uatm). There's no way to get that low anytime soon (or even not soon).

    While atmospheric pCO2 of ~155 uatm probably did make some C3 plants a lot less competitive, the suggestion that the planet was remotely close to the global shutdown of photosynthesis is totally baseless.

    Best,

    Chris

  49. Proxies are what they are. They may be empirically measured but that are not direct measurements of what they are proxy for. A proxy is not the real thing we all know that. Some are reasonably good others less so. In this case they appear to be reasonable but you will notice the absence of error bars. This is a big red flag for me. I also question the true representativeness of the proxy and empirical data distributions. I have the haunting thought that behind all these compilations on geological time scales are some models. Think GISS.

    I guess what I am trying to say is for sure we simply don’t know.

  50. Ammonite says:
    November 13, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    crosspatch says: November 13, 2010 at 12:01 pm
    If Earth’s atmosphere was pure CO2 and no water…

    You are describing Venus.

    Or Mars? (pressure anyone?)

  51. Mike says:
    November 13, 2010 at 10:04 am
    You mean so say proxy measurements are not direct measurements of temperature or CO2. They are still empirical.
    Yes, of course. In the same way that a knife may be used to inflict damage.

    It might be minor, but it may still causes damage.

    But how much damage depends upon BOTH the placement and severity of the inflicted injury.

    In the end, your argument loses for the following reasons:

    — (A) Proxies are just that: Stand ins for something else, i.e., they are NOT a direct measurement, and ARE YET affected by OTHER effects NOT mentioned.

    — (B) Proxies –not being directly translatable to REAL scientific measurements– are essentially nothing more than the opinions of the proxies themselves. That is, how did the proxies respond to their environment? What ELSE was involved in that decision to respond in that certain way?

    — (C) Proxies then, cannot be said to be accurate, for they are NOT direct measurement devices, UNLESS the quality being measure is THE ONLY thing which affects their indications.

  52. Chris
    Nov 13, 7:57 pm

    Trees are among the most climatically influential plants. Trees – and 85 % of all plants – are C3. For low CO2 to influence climate via vegetation, it would not need the extreme of photosynthesis failure. C3 plant stress and changed ratios of plant species (e.g. More grass less trees) would suffice.

  53. If in fact the lowest CO2 concentrations shown in the proxy graph would put severe stress on the ability of plants to do photosynthesis, that is not so much an indication that the earth’s biosphere had a close call in the recent geological past as it is an indication that the CO2 values of the proxy graph are too low. Note that if the graph is recalibrated so that the highest levels of the interglacials more closely match today’s CO2 levels, then the lowest levels do not go low enough for photosynthetic stress to occur.

  54. @Mike November 13, 2010 at 10:04 am

    “proxy measurements are not direct measurements of temperature or CO2 [but they] are still empirical.” Yes, Mike, that’s also my understanding of the word.

    “based on observation and experiment: based on or characterized by observation and experiment instead of theory”
    http://encarta.msn.com/dictionary_1861608199/empirical.html

    Conversely, for example, computer projections of global temperature – are based on theory alone and not observation and experiment, there being none.

  55. Some authorities claim that 180 ppmv CO2 is the point when plant life starts to die. Either way, 155 or 180, plant life is the basis for ALL life. No plants-no life.
    As far as present CO2 concentrations are concerned, 390 ppmv is certainly the correct measure, where it is measured but may not be for all the planet’s surface. CO2 is a heavy gas and will form in pockets as has been known in volcanically active areas causing deaths of people by asphyxiation.
    CO2 measurements for the past 100 plus years show that up to, or even over, 500 ppmv were not unusual so this fixation with 285 ppmv as ‘normal’ by the alarmists has no foundation in fact at all.

  56. Can I just point out that in the second graph, covering 800,000 years, the thickness
    of the line is about 2500 years?

  57. The fact is, humans will burn all carbon based fuel until we cannot find any more, well, at least all of it until it becomes too expensive.

    Nothing short of the mass murder of billions of people will change that fact.

    Why do the climatists waste time on it?

    Shouldn’t they advocate preparations to adapt?

    Perhaps instead of worrying about high lakes in the Andes, we could begin designs for adding water reserves and pipelines in the vicinity. Or also, hurricanes, they are coming anyway, shouldn’t we be trying to prepare the areas better and start moving away from places like New Orleans and other periodically inundated locals?

  58. Politics is about making change and gaining advantage. Science is about searching for truth. Whenever you see a ‘scientist’ trying to make change (social or monitary;-) and gain advantage, s/he is more about politics than science. Lorraine Lisiecki’s latest paper is all about the science.

    AGW is a dead theory that is stinking up the global atmosphere big time. The politicians of the world (and a few unscrupulous “scientists” who always liked the dark side of the force) are still trying to make a dime off it before the flys and maggots have completely devoured it and it’s all gone; they’ll then have to find some other corpse to use for gain and change.

    When you try to step back and get a wider perspective of what is happening these days, if you’re any kind of history buff at all, you get the feeling that all this has happened many, many times before. Today, it’s about something called AGW and/or CO2; or it is if you only glance at the surface. What is it really? It’s more about fear than anything else. The proxey is not the problem, the problem is the fear. People have and will fear everything under the Sun till the end of time. When they get hyper they pick out something that seems really bad and use it for all it’s worth. In the end, they tend to do all kinds of mean and stupid things via their proxey to quench their fears. They usually get to the point that they start killing each other in great numbers, run out of resources and energy, relax for 20-30 years, and then their kids pick it up again with some other proxey. What do we fear? Over population? Diminishing resources and raw materials? Destruction of the environment? Loss of our way of life? Who do we fear? What’s a good excuse to jump up and down about and get everyone excited?

    There are other things that are part of the human equation of fear. One is that there are those within our midst that simply hate (and fear?) the way things are and they just want to get everyone fired up and marching behind them and their little red flag; and if their mob stomps all over some other mob, well that’s just part of the cost, and the fun, of politics.

  59. R. Gates says:
    November 13, 2010 at 10:34 am

    On the other (C02 climate control knob) hand, we have not (nor will we ever be able to) sustain burning of fossil fuels to keep the C02 levels up long enough to hold off the 10-20 kyr fall into the next glaciation.
    To put it into better words, we can only keep the C02 levels up for the plant life we depend upon, not the cozy temperatures we enjoy now. Geologic sequestration has a life of its own, and an appetite that will far outlast our reserves.

  60. Socialism is the fraudulent offer to live at the expense of others if only they would allow others to do the same, all facilitated and controlled by unlimited government. Christians should easily see which of the Ten Commandments that are violated by socialism. For the others, it is the Commands that forbid telling lies, coveting the property of another and theft.

    Socialism holds out that society will really be better for everyone if only it were allowed to achieve its goals. However, that is the core lie. The fatal flaw in socialism is that when government sets wages and prices, there cannot be any “economic calculation”, and thus scarce resources (all resources are in finite supply), cannot be efficiently allocated.

    Economist Joseph Salerno wrote of this in an essay, Postscript: Why a Socialist Economy is “Impossible”

    “In “Economic Calculation in a Socialist Commonwealth,” Ludwig von Mises demonstrates, once and forever, that, under socialist central planning, there are no means of economic calculation and that, therefore, socialist economy itself is “impossible” –not just inefficient or less innovative or conducted without benefit of decentralized knowledge, but really and truly and literally impossible.”

    see: http://mises.org/econcalc/post.asp

  61. R. Gates says:
    November 13, 2010 at 10:34 am

    “Do we really want to take the gamble that sending the CO2 levels off the long term chart by our use of fossil fuels will be harmless or simply forestall the next glaciation?”

    Do we really want to take the gamble that sheer idiocy will cause economic collapse? Thats where I think the Precautionary Principle should apply.

  62. JPeden says:
    November 13, 2010 at 12:45 pm
    R. Gates says:
    November 13, 2010 at 10:34 am

    Do we really want to take the gamble that sending the CO2 levels off the long term chart by our use of fossil fuels will be harmless or simply forestall the next glaciation? This is certainly not prudent. Reducing our addiction to fossil fuels is prudent on many levels, and in my mind, the only real question is how to reduce them in a manner that spreads out the cost of this reduction in an economically equitable way between the wealthy and poor countries of today while preserving a viable planet (for human habitation) for tomorrow.

    There you have it, the sum of “progressive” Post Normal Climate Science: demonizing Man’s use of fossil fuel, disasterizing GW, and achieving “equality” or equitable-ness between “rich” and “poor” via central, superimposed control, which will somehow magically cause Nature to become amicable. And all in the face of the fact that Communism has never worked and is essentially a dead end kind of human and societal evolution = Slavery
    ________

    Interesting way to meld the idea of being prudent in our use of fossil fuels (which should be an environmental and health issue) into a warning on the dangers of slipping into “communism”. Indeed, nature doesn’t care if you are rich or poor as the laws of physics will apply the same. A rich man and a poor man alike will die when then fall off a cliff, and if there is chance that we are headed for a cliff with the rapid rise of CO2 that humans have caused over the past few hundred years (a geological blink of the eye) then the prudent thing to do is to put lots of resources in place to see if there is a cliff there, and how we might put the brakes on in time so as not to take the plunge over it.

    Also, just a comment about the notion that there is no way that there could be tipping points in the effects of rising CO2 levels. As the climate is a system existing on the edge of chaos, we know that there are always tipping points. Yes, only a few parts per million of CO2 are being added every year by human activities, but like grains of sand added to a sand pile, eventually there is a tipping point and the pile changes through a small landslide until a new equalibrium point is reached. The issue with CO2 is that we don’t know is where those tipping points are…400 ppm, 450 ppm, 600 ppm? Humans are conducting an experiment on a grand scale and it would be wise to try and truly understand what the sensitivity of the climate is to this experiment, i.e. where the tipping points might be…

  63. DCC says:
    November 13, 2010 at 3:05 pm
    nc ask on November 13, 2010 at 11:43 am:

    “R.Gates how much of the present C02 levels are caused by man? Also how long does that CO2 hang around?”

    Ay, there’s the rub. The answer depends on who you ask and how you ask it. Do a Google search and you find very few answers that agree with one another. The IPCC put a value of 100 years on CO2 residence time in the atmosphere while many, perhaps most other scientific studies show a value of 5-15 years. Man’s contribution to CO2 levels is also hotly debated.

    The 5-15 years is the residence time of any CO2 molecule in the atmopshere (whatever the origin), before being catched by one of the other reservoirs (mainly oceans and vegetation). Nothing to do with how much time it costs to reduce an excess amount of CO2 (whatever the origin) above the 1.5 million years temperature-CO2 equilibrium as seen in the introduction. The residence time is mainly seasonal with a 150/800 GtC exchange rate, the excess CO2 decay is based on a 4 GtC/800 sink rate, quite a difference… The latter gives a half time decay rate of about 40 years. The IPCC has a different approach with several short to very long decay rates, depending of the reservoir where the extra CO2 sinks. But the long rates are based on a saturation of the deep oceans (if we burn all oil and gas and a lot of coal), which still is not for tomorrow…

    And humans are responsible for the the increase in the atmosphere: over the 160 year period we have emitted near double the amount of CO2 which is found as an increase in total quantity present in the atmosphere (as mass, not as individual molecules). In how far that affects temperature, is a complete different question…

  64. John Marshall says:
    November 14, 2010 at 4:38 am

    As far as present CO2 concentrations are concerned, 390 ppmv is certainly the correct measure, where it is measured but may not be for all the planet’s surface. CO2 is a heavy gas and will form in pockets as has been known in volcanically active areas causing deaths of people by asphyxiation.
    CO2 measurements for the past 100 plus years show that up to, or even over, 500 ppmv were not unusual so this fixation with 285 ppmv as ‘normal’ by the alarmists has no foundation in fact at all.

    The current 395 ppmv and the ancient 285 ppmv are what is measured in the bulk of the atmosphere everywhere over the oceans and above a few hundred meters over land. Near ground over land, levels at night and morning are elevated, due to soil bacteria and plant respiration, especially without wind under an inversion. In the afternoon, sunlight warms the soil and better mixing with the overlying background CO2 levels occur.

    The net effect is that many historical measurements refer to local CO2 levels and that plants may survive even very low CO2 levels as measured in the bulk atmosphere, as the local CO2 levels are high enough for at least a few hours a day of photosynthesis.

  65. A number of correspondets here seem to think that ‘communism’ and ‘social democracy’ are identical. They are not. Have a good look at Australia. We regularly have ‘social democrat’ governments, but we have never had ‘communism’ Capitalism is well and very healthy here – more healthy, perhaps because better regulated, that in the USA. If you use labels, like ‘fascism’, ‘Nazism’, or ‘communism’, it would be a good idea to know what they mean. I have worked with old-generation American scientists who maintained that ‘Australia is a Communist country’. THAT is sheer BS. Private enterprise prospers here, unless it clearly doing thgings that are illegal.

  66. Malcolm Miller says:

    “A number of correspondets here seem to think that ‘communism’ and ‘social democracy’ are identical. They are not.”

    I agree. The main difference is that communists are socialists in a hurry.

    Both systems are based on confiscating the earned assets of productive workers, and redistributing that wealth to those who have not earned it.

    Socialism is a foot in the door, and it is based entirely on coveting of the property of others, which is a bad idea that always causes problems. As a previous reader put it:

    1. Government is force
    
2. Good ideas do not have to be forced on others

    3. Bad ideas should not be forced on others

    4. Liberty is necessary for the difference between good ideas and bad ideas to be revealed, which is why socialism is ultimately opposed to freedom and democracy

    You could pay $100,000 for an Econ education and never learn those simple facts.

  67. Malcolm Miller says:
    November 14, 2010 at 5:06 pm
    A number of correspondets here seem to think that ‘communism’ and ‘social democracy’ are identical. They are not. Have a good look at Australia. We regularly have ‘social democrat’ governments, but we have never had ‘communism’ Capitalism is well and very healthy here – more healthy, perhaps because better regulated, that in the USA. If you use labels, like ‘fascism’, ‘Nazism’, or ‘communism’, it would be a good idea to know what they mean. I have worked with old-generation American scientists who maintained that ‘Australia is a Communist country’. THAT is sheer BS. Private enterprise prospers here, unless it clearly doing thgings that are illegal.

    So, by your definition, the People’s Republic of China is a social democratic government with a capitalist economy and no Communism….

  68. R. Gates says:
    November 14, 2010 at 11:45 am

    “Indeed, nature doesn’t care if you are rich or poor as the laws of physics will apply the same. A rich man and a poor man alike will die when then fall off a cliff, and if there is chance that we are headed for a cliff…”

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

    The only thing that is headed for a cliff, is the herd of lemmings that comprise the CAGW religion.

    And it can’t happen fast enough!

    http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.cartoonstock.com/newscartoons/cartoonists/rni/lowres/rnin632l.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.cartoonstock.com/directory/j/jump_off_a_cliff.asp&h=400&w=243&sz=33&tbnid=AGP7fbxFFVpTAM:&tbnh=288&tbnw=175&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dlemmings%2Bcliff&zoom=1&q=lemmings+cliff&usg=__eBCe3WMdKVXuANuyg46Wt-_01kw=&sa=X&ei=Io3gTOKeEoLWtQOTvpC8Cg&ved=0CBkQ9QEwAQ

    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  69. “Why does global temp spike up sharply after long gradual decline during recent glaciations?”

    Well known orbital mechanics?

  70. Ref – JK says:
    November 14, 2010 at 8:39 pm
    “Why does global temp spike up sharply after long gradual decline during recent glaciations?”

    Methane (and other manmade gases) in caves reach a critical density and explode when two stick are rubbed together?

  71. R. Gates says:
    November 14, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Interesting to see you still working the sandpile model and “edge of chaos” argument. It seems a little opportunistic since generally the orthodox AGW position is “the physics” i.e. just radiative balance without any consideration of dynamic system complexity – to to a cynic your selective appeal to chaos is somewhat lacking consistency.

    From what I have been reading recently it I’m starting to think that CO2’s effect on climate is more biology than physics. Take Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis – everyone looks at this at a sort of new-age mysticism but in fact it is a serious scientific hypothesis and probably largely correct. Earth is a living planet and the biosphere is a very strong if not dominant climate driver.

    Take this paper by Beerling and Berner 2005 (PNAS):

    http://www.pnas.org/content/102/5/1302.full

    For a period during the Devonian – Carboniferous there was a positive feedback between trees sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere and the tree’s leaves evolving larger wider shape and more efficiency to fix CO2 even as their own activity decreased atmospheric CO2 and forced them to increase efficiency further.

    Overall during the early phanerozoic (600-200 Mya) global temperature fell sharply and I think its arguable that this was largely due to plant evolution and development of soils, forests and spreading the hydrological cycle to land (plus dimethyl sulphides from photosynthesising plankton nucleating cloud at sea). So in general plant and tree increase means lower temperatures.

    There is no reason to believe that the effect of plants on CO2 and climate was confined to the Devonian/Carboniferous. What if increasing CO2 now gave a boost to plant photosynthesis and tree / plant natural assemblages in such a way as to reduce temperature via the hydrological cycle? This could be another negative feedback of CO2. In fact CO2 would then exert two opposing effects – warming due to radiative balance, but cooling due to enhanced plant metabolism (providing enough land is left non-urbanised). And a variable producing opposing effects is a recipe for chaotic dynamics and nonlinear pattern.

  72. Ammonite says:
    November 13, 2010 at 2:08 pm
    John from CA says: November 13, 2010 at 11:25 am
Are the daily CO2 readings and trends at Mauna Loa related to Industrialization, Urbanization, and environmental conditions in South America?

    Hi John. The increase in CO2 concentration being measured a Mauna Loa is due to the net burning of fossil fuel (coal, oil, gas) across the entire planet, of which South America is a contributor. Historically North America has been the major player.

    ========
    Ammonite,
    This isn’t logical. The readings at Mauna Loa are daily measurements that should reflect changing conditions yet they are presented as if they reflect “Global” trends. IMO, there is something very wrong with a graph that shows such a consistent pattern and trend.

    W h y    d o e s    a t m o s p h e r i c    C O 2    r i s e
    source: http://www.radix.net/~bobg/faqs/scq.CO2rise.html

    “Most “new” CO2 comes from the Northern Hemisphere.  Measurements in Antarctica show that Southern Hemisphere CO2 level lags behind by 1 to 2 years, which reflects the interhemispheric mixing time. The ppmv-amount of the lag at a given time has increased according to increasing anthropogenic CO2 emissions. [Schimel 94, p 43] [Siegenthaler]”

    …”atmospheric carbon monoxide with a lifetime of about 2 months [Novelli], or methane with a lifespan of 10+ years.  Their roles as atmospheric carbon reservoirs are minor, both eventually end up largely as CO2 [Prather 94/95].”

    “The average annual increase of CO2 went up from about 0.9 ppmv/year during the 1960s to about 1.5 ppmv/year during the 1980s.  The annual CO2 growth rate has kept fluctuating since the start of direct measurements in 1958.  Many fluctuations appear to be related to El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events.  The drop of the CO2 growth rate between late 1991 and late 1993, however, cannot be directly linked to an ENSO event.  The rise of atmospheric methane and of nitrous oxide temporarily slowed down at about the same time. Mt. Pinatubo’s 1991 eruption may have played a role, but the matter is not settled. [Heimann] [IPCC 95, p 75-6] [Prather 95, p 87-8] [Schimel 95, p 80-2]”

    Carbon Monoxide from [SA] Biomass Burning
    MOPITT: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=1144

    “This pair of images shows levels of carbon monoxide at the atmospheric pressure level of 700 millibars (roughly 12,000 feet in altitude) over the continent of South America, as observed by the Measurements Of Pollution In The Troposphere (MOPITT) sensor flying aboard NASA’s Terra spacecraft.”

    MOPITT Images: http://www.eos.ucar.edu/mopitt/dataimages/index.html

  73. Mauna Loa Observatory ppm data and charts related to my last post:

    Monthly mean atmospheric carbon dioxide at Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii
    source: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/

    “The carbon dioxide data, measured as the mole fraction in dry air, on Mauna Loa constitute the longest record of direct measurements of CO2 in the atmosphere. They were started by C. David Keeling of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in March of 1958 at a facility of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Keeling, 1976). NOAA started its own CO2 measurements in May of 1974, and they have run in parallel with those made by Scripps since then (Thoning, 1989). The black curve represents the seasonally corrected data.”

  74. John from CA says:
    November 15, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Ammonite,
    This isn’t logical. The readings at Mauna Loa are daily measurements that should reflect changing conditions yet they are presented as if they reflect “Global” trends. IMO, there is something very wrong with a graph that shows such a consistent pattern and trend.

    There is little difference between the trends of the 10 “baseline” stations measuring CO2 from near the North Pole (Alert) to the South Pole. See the “carbon tracker”, where you can see the graphs and download the data of many stations (baseline and others) at:
    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/iadv/ or the data of the baseline stations directly at:
    http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/co2/contents.htm

    The “baseline” stations were choosen to have a minimal influence of local/regional CO2 sources/sinks. The main variability in the NH is caused by the seasons: highest values around the trend due to vegetation decay in late fall, winter and early spring, sharp reduction when the mid-latitude forests start to grow their leaves and further in summer and early fall. Increase again in late fall, winter and early spring. See:

    The seasonal amplitude is far less in the SH, more ocean and less vegetation…

    Mauna Loa still is in the NH (about 20 N) and reflects the mid-altitude NH CO2 levels, already largely mixed by the trade winds. Local sources and sinks are all near-ground and when these reach the altitude of Mauna Loa (3,400 meter) most differences are already leveled off.

    Rests the lag between the NH and the SH: about 90% of all human emissions are released in the NH. The ITCZ slows down the exchange of air masses (including CO2) between the hemispheres, which causes the lag of the SH. Not that this is very important: even with a 1-2 years lag, the difference in yearly average between all baseline stations is not more than 5 ppmv, while the trend is already over 60 ppmv since the accurate measurements at the South Pole (as first) started:

    Why Mauna Loa is used as “global”? It simply is the longest continuous record and there is little difference between the official “global” record (which is the average of several sealevel baseline stations) and that of Mauna Loa.

  75. In addition:

    The 1992 dip in increase rate of CO2 is due to the Pinatubo eruption: partly due to a temperature drop of about 0.6°C, which increases the absorption by colder ocean waters, partly due to increased vegetation growth. Seems contradictory, but the stratospheric dust of the eruption caused scattering of incoming sunlight, which made that leaves that were normally in the shadow of other leaves for direct sunlight now had more light from different directions for photosynthesis.

  76. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:

    Thanks,
    They do adjust the data to coincide with NH reads and they adjust the readings for the CO2 from the nearby volcano. By the time they are done adjusting the measurements, they end up with a trend they apply to global conditions.

    If you look at the daily measurements, you’ll discover the monthly values are not based on full daily readings for the month. In the extreme case I listed above, one month was based on measurements from 2 days with a curious resulting value.

    If I’m reading the circulation patterns correctly, Mauna Loa is downwind from South America and South America is downwind from Africa. If the mixing takes 1-2 years (I’m assuming they are referring to Antarctica in the study), and the readings are daily in Mauna Loa (thus influenced by events in SA), shouldn’t we anticipate seeing a far more dynamic monthly and chart trend result?

  77. Ferdinand,
    What I’ve been alluding to Is the Heart of the Issue.

    I have the greatest respect for Anthony Watts and Judith Curry (in the same breath).

    Anthony and Judith seek the same prize but from starting blocks opposed in direction yet defined by the same distance during the same “Race”.

    The data needs to add up and what the “Science Isn’t Capable of Defining” Needs to be stated and understood.

    The Most amazing part “so far” is the willingness of the world (for the first time in history) to decide to agree.

    UN IPCC was stupid and was doomed to fail yet the idea is long overdue — the logic of integrating global data for analysis was a “baby-step” — one needs to crawl before walking — it “Should”get fun from here if we do ; )

  78. I find it interesting that Dr. Carter laments his critics “really don’t integrate the earth’s geologic timeline into their critical thinking”
    Given that when he references periods further back, 500m years BP and the high CO2 levels vs temperature he invariably fails to mention the host of things that were different about the planet, the position of the continents, different currents (due to the previous), little land based life i.e very different albedo and most importantly the likely output of the Sun was lower by several percent, the current drop in solar output during solar minimum is less than 0.01%.

  79. John from CA says:
    November 15, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    They do adjust the data to coincide with NH reads and they adjust the readings for the CO2 from the nearby volcano. By the time they are done adjusting the measurements, they end up with a trend they apply to global conditions.

    They don’t adjust anything. They only don’t use data which are obviously contaminated by the local volcano or by upwind conditions for averaging. But even if you include all the data, contaminated or not, that doesn’t change the yearly average nor the trend with more than 0.1 ppmv. Here a comparison of the raw, unadjusted, hourly averages and the monthly averages only based on “selected” data, deemed “background” for Mauna Loa and the South Pole:

    But be aware of the scale! If you plot the same values on full scale, both are near straight lines…

    Monthly averages are based on at least 10 days of valid daily averages (with at least several consecutive hours of background readings), otherwise the month is “missing”. For convinience, if one month in a year is missing, the missing month is infilled with a curve fitting algorithm, based on the seasonal curve plus growth over 4 preceding years. Two missing months in a year makes a missing year.

    The procedures for measuring, calibrating and selecting the data at Mauna Loa (and all baseline stations) are detailed here:
    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/about/co2_measurements.html

    And Mauna Loa is definitively in the NH for CO2 levels, as also the seasonal trend shows: opposite to the much smoother South Pole (and other SH) data. The mixing in one hemisphere is far more rapid than between the hemispheres: days to weeks within the same altitude band for each hemisphere, weeks to months for exchanges between altitudes in the same hemisphere and 1-2 years between the hemispheres. See e.g. the distribution with altitude of the seasonal amplitude in the NH:

  80. I’m sorry guys, but when I see graphs like that, I want to scream. Graphs like that imply some great precise information that just simply isn’t real.

    YES, some dataset was used, and those lines are real, based on the AVERAGE of what little data they have for those very ancient times.

    But where are the error bars?

    Every data point used was not only +/- some amount in the Y-direction, it also had a good deal of +/- in the X-direction. And we here at WUWT know that even if we accept the X-direction as given, the Y-values are based on sporadic and isolated proxies that are not proven to be reliable one-to-one indicators of temperatures or (probably) CO2 levels. We all know that many of those individual data points are representing centuries, one data point on the entire globe in many cases, and that data point the only one in perhaps a thousand or more years.

    So such squiggly lines make me ill. They SELL the graph as something precise, when in fact it is anything but.

  81. John from CA says:
    November 15, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Ferdinand,
    What I’ve been alluding to Is the Heart of the Issue.

    I have the same respect for Steve, Anthony, Judith and several others.

    In the case of CO2 measurements, I have the deepest respect for the late C.D. Keeling, who has devoted his life to use the best available methods, the most rigorous quality control and fighting near continuously against administrations which would end his work as not important. Read his autobiography here:
    http://scrippsco2.ucsd.edu/publications/keeling_autobiography.pdf
    A really fascinating read!
    One can only hope that one day the temperature measurements all over the world were quality controlled in the same manner…

    His successor, Pieter Tans from NOAA, is as good very open if you have any questions regarding the data or procedures.

    BTW, just found back a poster with the atmospheric circulation at Mauna Loa: second from top, left in the poster:
    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/co2conference/pdfs/changingcarbon.pdf

  82. Master or Doctor Engelbeen,
    Did you check their research “disclaimer” before posting about their data and its potential relevance?

    Respectfully,
    John from CA

  83. OMG!!! — Master or Doctor Engelbeen, Please forgive my comment(s) if offensive — it wasn’t my intent.

    “In the case of CO2 measurements, I have the deepest respect for the late C.D. Keeling, who has devoted his life to use the best available methods, the most rigorous quality control and fighting near continuously against administrations which would end his work as not important.”

    Respectfully Yours,
    John from CA

  84. Master or Doctor Engelbeen,
    I simply wish to know why the Science has been “Dumbed Down” and therefore has NO relevance in logic!!!

    ; )

  85. This is likely to become a “Thing”; )

    Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    November 15, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    “They don’t adjust anything. They only don’t use data …”

    CHECKMATE ; )

  86. “John from CA says:
    November 15, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    The drop of the CO2 growth rate between late 1991 and late 1993, however, cannot be directly linked to an ENSO event. The rise of atmospheric methane and of nitrous oxide temporarily slowed down at about the same time. Mt. Pinatubo’s 1991 eruption may have played a role, but the matter is not settled.”

    I agree with
    “Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    November 15, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    The 1992 dip in increase rate of CO2 is due to the Pinatubo eruption: partly due to a temperature drop of about 0.6°C, which increases the absorption by colder ocean waters,”

    As stated, the colder oceans could absorb more of all gases. The oceans have a huge suface area and if they cooled 0.6°C, it would not take a long time for the upper 10 or 20 metres to absorb one or two extra ppm of CO2 or other gases. This in no way contradicts earlier reports of an 800 year time lag between higher temperatures and higher CO2 readings in ancient times. If the air got warmer by a few degrees due to a Milankovitch cycle, it could well take hundreds of years for the added heat to reach the bottom of the ocean. Then it could take hundreds of more years for the CO2 deep in the now warmer ocean to make its way to the surface. And the graphs in these cases show changes of 100 ppm from 180 to 280 ppm. But changes of only a single ppm may only take weeks.

  87. Continuing the GAIA theme further – the biosphere was “spooked” by the CO2 concentration lows reached during the current glacial period at the glacial maxima – CO2 levels below 200 ppm which approached levels where photosynthesis – the fountain of ecosystem primary production – would become constrained. So the GAIA response was to evolve intelligent apes which would burn wood and fossil fuels to restore atmospheric CO2 to safe levels, as we are now successfully doing.

  88. John from CA says:
    November 15, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    Master or Doctor Engelbeen,
    Did you check their research “disclaimer” before posting about their data and its potential relevance?

    I have a BSc degree in industrial chemistry, but half my working life was as a MSc grade process automation engineer in a large chlorine/VCM/PVC plant. Now retired.
    Over thirty years interested in climate items, after reading a book about the influence of the sun on earth’s climate, even earthquakes and wars (human “climate”)…

    I suppose that your objection is for:
    These values are subject to change depending on quality control checks of the measured data, but any revisions are expected to be small.

    Well that indeed is a question of rigorous quality control: calibration mixtures are continuously used every hour to calibrate the apparatus and to calculate the CO2 levels by comparing the voltage readings of the air flow with the readings of the calibration mixtures with known composition. But the calibration mixtures themselves are calibrated too, before and after use over several months. If one sees a change over time, all measurements done with these calibration gases are recalculated, which is easely done as the raw voltage data (since the digital age) were archived. For the first decades, that is more work, as the data were charted as analog values on long continuous paper rolls. Even so, in most cases recalibration changes are very small, in the tenths of ppmv’s.
    The largest correction ever needed was when was discovered that the apparatus did give a different voltage reading if the same CO2 level was in a CO2-air mix than in a CO2-N2 mix. The latter was used for calibration mixtures at first, for fear that oxygen would react with the steel containers and deteriorate the composition. All equipment at all stations was recalibrated with the new CO2 in dry air calibration mixtures and the CO2 levels adjusted accordingly.

    Further, your objection against:
    “They don’t adjust anything. They only don’t use data …”
    in this case is unfounded. Contrary to some “hide the decline” scientists, all the data still are available (four stations even online for hourly averages: ftp://ftp.cmdl.noaa.gov/ccg/co2/in-situ/ ).
    The rules for inclusion or exclusion of data for averaging are clear and predate the data gathering. No after-the-fact change of the rules. The main point is that they (and we) are interested in background/global CO2 levels, not in what the local disturbances are.
    If one is interested in estimating the volcanic emissions, measure near the vents. If one is interested in CO2 fluxes in vegetation, measure under and over the leaves. Both are done in several places. The disturbance of Mauna Loa data even was used to estimate the CO2 releases from the local volcano over time…
    And last but not least, the average and trend doesn’t change with more than 0.1 ppmv if the local outliers are included or not. Even if in one year there is a slight under- or overestimate, that is captured in the trend over the next year(s)…

  89. “”””” jorgekafkazar says:
    November 13, 2010 at 12:32 pm
    Crispin in Washington DC says: “….Solar cells may [soon] reach +60% efficiency (development announced last week).” “””””

    So who was it that made that announcement of nothing ?? I hereby predict that Solar cells may reach 95% efficiency.

    But I don’t say when nor what they will cost to make.

    And that will be high volume automated factory production cells; not hand tweaked R&D lab cells; nor do I say how long their mean time to failure will be.

  90. “”””” Dave Springer says:
    November 13, 2010 at 2:50 pm
    jorgekafkazar says:
    November 13, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    Currently photovoltaics are 2-3 times the cost nuclear power. Natural gas is close to half the cost of nuclear.

    The efficiency of photovoltaics is largely irrelevant as space to place them is not a limiting factor. The critical metric is cost per megawatt hour. “””””

    Well Dave I think you have it exactly backwards. PV energy is limited by the Solar Constant; so it is totally area dependent.

    And even if the Federal Government simply gave the land for free to the promoters of PV solar; they still have to build large area structures that can withstand 150 year storms and the like. It costs real money to cover large areas with structurally sound constructions; even if they do absolutely nothing.

    I would say that the ONLY thing that matters in PV solar is cell conversion efficiency; since that is what determiens the area. The cost of the panels is trivia compared to the installation costs; and then of course there are the maintenance costs of keeping huge areas clean of debris, and sandstorm erosion and the like.

    The toy ones that people put on their roofs are one thing; but a PV solar farm is something else. In silicon valley; they won’t let you put up a system bigger than I believe 3 kW on your house; well PG&E doesn’t want any competitors.

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