Dallas Cowboys Stadium Seating and Atmospheric CO2

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader at the stadium

With the possibility of the coldest Super Bowl ever coming this week, this story about CO2 concentration seemed appropriate.

Ryan Scott Welch writes:

Anthony as you know, many people don’t know much about the earth’s atmosphere.  For example, when questioned about how much CO2 is in our atmosphere most people give me a guess of somewhere between 30% and 70%.  When I tell them that CO2 is only 0.04% or really about 395 ppm (parts per million) they generally look at me as if I was speaking some kind of foreign language.  The layman simply cannot convert 0.04% of the atmosphere or 395 ppm into anything they can picture or relate to.  In searching for some way to help the layman to understand the earth’s atmosphere, CO2, and the human contribution to atmospheric CO2, I came upon the idea of relating a sample of the atmosphere to something that nearly every person has seen, a football stadium.

So, instead of talking about ppm atmosphere, I talk about seats in a stadium.  I put together a presentation using football stadium analogy and it goes something like this.

How much atmospheric CO2 is from human activity? If a football stadium represented a sample of our atmosphere, how many seats would be human caused CO2? The Dallas Cowboys Stadium seats 100,000 for special events.

welch_slide1

Each seat represents one molecule of gas in our atmosphere.

welch_slide2

Nitrogen is 78% of the atmosphere, Oxygen is 21%, and Argon is 0.9% giving you a total of 99.9% of the atmosphere.

welch_slide3

So, where is the CO2?  CO2 is a trace gas that is only 0.04% of the atmosphere which in this sample = 40 seats.

welch_slide4

But of the 40 seats, or parts per 100,000 of CO2 in the atmosphere, 25 were already in the atmosphere before humans relied on hydrocarbon fuels (coal, gas and oil) leaving 15 seats.

welch_slide5

And since humans only contribute 3% of all CO2 emitted into the atmosphere each year (97% is from nature), the human contribution is 3% of the 15 remaining seats in our sample.  3% of 15 is 0.45.

welch_slide6

welch_slide7

So in our stadium sample of 100,000 seats the human contribution of CO2 is less than half of one seat.  That is less than one half of one seat from 100,000 seats in a Dallas Stadium sized sample of our atmosphere is human caused CO2.

welch_slide9 welch_slide8

[NOTE: per Dr. Robert Brown’s comment pointing out an oversight, this half-seat visualization analogy is on a PER YEAR basis, not a total basis – Anthony]

Here is my presentation uploaded on slideshare.net

http://www.slideshare.net/ryanswelch/how-much-atmospheric-co2-is-from-human-activity-23514995

REFERENCES:

Mauna Loa CO2 data: ftp://aftp.cmdl.noaa.gov/products/trends/co2/co2_mm_mlo.txt

Wigley, T.M.L., 1983 The pre-industrial carbon dioxide level. Climatic Change 5, 315-320 (lowest value of 250 ppm used)

Increasing Atmospheric CO2: Manmade…or Natural? January 21st, 2009 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D. http://www.drroyspencer.com/2009/01/increasing-atmospheric-co2-manmade%E2%80%A6or-natural/

Water Vapor Rules the Greenhouse System, Geocraft, http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/greenhouse_data.html

The Carbon Cycle, the Ocean, and the Iron Hypothesis, Figure based on Sabine et al 2004, Texas A&M University http://oceanworld.tamu.edu/resources/oceanography-book/carboncycle.htm

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Richard Sharpe

I predict that you will be labeled with the D word.

rgbatduke

The half-seat analogy is selling something, not a fair appraisal. The real question is, of the fifteen seats, how much of the are human produced CO_2 that has hung around from the half-seat contributed PER YEAR. That would be all of it, so the presentation should have stopped at 15 seats. A second objection is that this has nothing to do with whether or not the first 25 seats are an important component of the overall GHE, or whether or not the addition of 15 more seats produces a measurable, possibly significant, increase in greenhouse trapping of heat. It’s all about helping people to visualize small numbers which is just fine but obscures the simple fact that the GHE is real and that the 0.04% atmospheric concentration contributes a lot more than 0.04% of it. Sure, it isn’t as important overall as water vapor, but water vapor is highly variable and CO_2 is more or less well-mixed and hence provides a widespread and consistent base to the overall GHE.
Much as I am skeptical about the overall predictions of greenhouse warming, much as I freely acknowledge that GCMs are failing and that we really have no good idea of the marginal effect of the extra 0.015% that humans have contributed, I don’t think it does the search for truth any favors if you present the 0.04% in such a way that you leave people with the impression that CO_2 couldn’t produce catastrophic warming. Of course it can. The physics of this is quite clear. The only question is, given the complexity of the overall atmosphere with its many nonlinear feedbacks both positive and negative, if it will. That, I would assert, is not known, not by you and not by me and not by the most ardent warmist or skeptic. At the moment the evidence for catastrophic warming is weak, but that could change. The evidence for some human-linked warming is moderately strong. At the moment, however, we have no reliable way to partition natural warming from human induced warming.
rgb

mike fowle

There’s a similar analogy in Michael Crichton’s State of Fear, where the atmosphere is compared to a hundred yard football field. If I remember correctly, the CO2 concentration was about the width of a pencil. Interesting that State of Fear is one of the very few novels not filmed. Notice how environmentalists usually talk about tonnes of carbon being released without putting it in context.

Kelvin Vaughan

So less than half a seat warms up the rest of the stadium by 1°C.

davidmhoffer

I was about to go an on rant, but RGB beat me to it.

Dell from Michigan

And I really doubt that 1/2 of one seat representation is going to make this years Super Bowl feel likes its a tropical paradise in New Jersey come Sunday.
I guess the NFL shouldn’t have believed in Al Gore’s promise of warmer climate in the Northern USA when they picked the stadium for this year.
;>P

timc

rgbatduke says:The evidence for some human-linked warming is moderately strong.
Yes with UHI raising night time temps that “moderately strong” is in doubt.

I like the presentation. However, I don’t aggree with the 15 seat to <0.5 seat step. I think that is a bit of a stretch…

R. de Haan

What’s a Cowboys Stadium?

Willis Eschenbach

I agree with Robert Brown. You were doing great until you got to the end. Yes, humans only contribute a small percentage PER YEAR, but over time that addition builds up. For an illustrative example, if you were to save a small percentage of your salary every year, soon it would end up as a large percentage of your savings …
Second, I don’t see the point of the analogy. Your argument seems to be, CO2 is only a trivially small part of the atmosphere, so we can ignore it.
However, compare it with something like say cyanide. The percentage of cyanide that someone slips into their business partner’s breakfast may be as small as the percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere … but the reality of the world is, some things have effects that go far, far beyond their level of concentration.
Now, do I think that CO2 is one of those things whose effect is far beyond its tiny concentration? Well … yes and no. Yes, it’s a part of why the globe has reached some kind of long-term thermal equilibrium. And no, at thermal equilibrium it no longer makes much difference, because at that point the temperature is regulated by emergent phenomena.
As a result, trying to show that CO2 is not important because it is a small part of the atmosphere simply doesn’t work for me … it doesn’t begin to capture the complexity of the situation.
Thanks for an interesting post, however, well written, good graphics.
w.

Mr Welch, Thank you. I will post the link to my FB and if you don’t mind maybe to my web site, later.
As a side bar, What I find amusing is all the Carbon measurements is the amount of carbons in many products that are used in the industrial world that contribute but go un-measured. We Have yet to measure the amount of carbons released at the Poles via exchange at the Equator from the last ice age or mini-ice ages.
This hypothesis of man-made global warming is on the way out.
Paul Pierett

Martin

It’s not Argon that is 0.9% of the atmosphere, its water (H2O) that is around 1%.

Dan in Nevada

Michael Crichton, in his book “State of Fear”, also uses a football metaphor. In the book, he compares the fraction of each relevant atmospheric gas to “yardage” on a gridiron. By the time he gets to CO2 and you realize it only makes up 0.04 yards, it doesn’t seem so fearsome after all.
I don’t really have a point, it’s just curious that people use American football stadia for these comparisons instead of, say, cricket pitches or dwarf-tossing arenas.

Mike Maguire

Yeah, but the one person in that seat has an atomic bomb and is going to blow up the entire stadium and much of the city with it (:
http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2013/11/25/how-much-global-warming-is-there-in-terms-of-atomic-bombs-the-hiroshima-widget/

Realist

“The layman simply cannot convert 0.04% of the atmosphere or 395 ppm into anything they can picture or relate to.”
In addition to layperson getting their head around the infinitesimally small amount of CO2 as a percentage of the atmosphere, it seems the effect of “Big Lie repeated often enough” theorem holds as true as ever. I have people in my own family who believe heart and soul in whole AGW premise, mostly they get their “news” from the lib Lie Stream Media and they don’t believe that so many fanatical agenda driven faux;news organizations can be so fanatical and agenda driven. I have tried to get them to look up other sources on the web and investigate and verify for themselves, but they are supremely confident in their “they can’t all be lying” assumptions.
And whatever you do don’t try giving them statistical data or any other numerical facts or arguments as they instantly turn off and smugly proclaim that you are “trying to fool them with numbers they don’t understand”. Sheesh.
As frustrating as it is I have given up on them for now. I guess I will have to wait until the declining temps finally get through their thick skulls and they realize they have been fooled with the Big Lie they believe can’t possibly exist.

Brad Rich

Yeah, I’m with dook. It’s not fair to make people think that carbon dioxide can’t even get a seat at the Super Bowl.

richardscourtney

davidmhoffer:
At January 27, 2014 at 10:53 am you say

I was about to go an on rant, but RGB beat me to it.

And you both beat me to it.
Richard

NotTheAussiePhilM

A scandalous attempt to mislead those readers who are a little ‘hard of thinking’!
– you should be ashamed of yourself!

joelobryan

For the reasons RGBATDUKE outline above (which I wholeheartedly concur with), WUWT should this take down completely or in a comment from Andrew, WUWT should strongly distance itself from this piece by Welch. Once Welch introduced the time factor (CO2 per year) into his argument, he was lost.

Box of Rocks

Grrrr
rgbatduke says:
January 27, 2014 at 10:46 am
“…..
It’s all about helping people to visualize small numbers which is just fine but obscures the simple fact that the GHE is real and that the 0.04% atmospheric concentration contributes a lot more than 0.04% of it.
…”
rgb –
please show me thermodynamically how t.hat 0.04% can contribute more than 0.04% of the GHE backed up with calculations.
“….
if you present the 0.04% in such a way that you leave people with the impression that CO_2 couldn’t produce catastrophic warming. Of course it can. The physics of this is quite clear. The only question is, given the complexity of the overall atmosphere with its many nonlinear feedbacks both positive and negative, if it will. …
rgb”
Help me with the math here…
We will start with a control volume of 1 square foot of “atmospheric air”
How much energy is released when the control volume cools 1 degree F?
How much of the released energy comes from the 0.04% CO2?
IF the CV was to cool over 60 seconds without CO2, how much of additional time is needed due to the CO2 present in the cv at a 0.04% concentration?
How much energy will the CO2, that is present in the CV, be required to be generated by the CO2 molecules to prevent the whole CV from cooling?
Furthermore, how much energy is needed to be released from the CO2 molecule to add 1 degree F to the CV? Where does that energy come from?
What is the physical process on which CO2 can heat the atmosphere?
Thanks,
Box of Rocks.

Heroic Professor Brown,
We engineers like numbers. “A lot more than 0.04%” is a question-begging term if I have ever heard one. I have heard many versions of the answer to this question, anywhere from 3% to 25-30%. Would you care to express your opinion? As an engineer, I do not believe that water vapor can feed back and increase itself, but CO2 could influence it to some degree.
Kelvin Vaughn,
“Kelvin” Vaughn? Really? No, water vapor is most if not almost all of it, let’s hope Professor Brown tells us what he thinks. He pretty much said nobody knows, but I would trust his gut maybe more than anyone else I know.

glenncz

No, I’m surprised you let this through Anthony. To say the the change in CO2 from pre-industrial t o now is represented by 15 out of 100k seat – yes. But then to say that only 3% of that 15 is from humans is dead wrong on AGW theory. All 15 seats are from humans, “according to the theory”. Yes, according to theory, only 3% of emissions are from humans, but that is years new emissions, not CO2 allready there. AGW theory says that 50% of human emissions stay and accumulate in the atmosphere because the 97% of natural emissions have been in “perfect balance” in nature taking them back in. Of course there is skeptical disagreement with this theory.

Box of Rocks

R. de Haan says:
January 27, 2014 at 10:58 am
What’s a Cowboys Stadium?
What is football?

An excellent article, an accurate perspective is as desirable as hindsight!
We are spending billions of £/$ combatting a non-existent problem (according to the last 17+years of global temperature records) which if there was a problem anyway, would now be ended due to the non-linear GW effects of CO2.
The proponents of this farce should be charged with crimes against humanity!

Ralph Tittley

I don’t think the cyanide analogy holds, Willis. Cyanide produces huge affects in a biochemical system but CO2 produces small actions in a physical system. It’s a bit like comparing electrons to oranges surely.

joelobryan

On second thought, Anthony (sorry, not Andrew my bad) should redact the entire text of Welch’s piece, but LEAVE in the picture of the Cheerleader.

Michael S-H

I am no scientist, but what about water vapor? Water vapor, I have heard asserted, contributes 95% of the GHE, with co2 and methane contributing the other 5%. How many “seats” does the water occupy (on adv.; humidity is variable (far more so than co2 level)?
I think you need a GHE gas seating section, with co2 subsection, a human caused co2 sub subsection.
The yearly production proportions do seem irrelevant, but…
Whether the 25 to 40 seat increase is all due to human action is an open question; arctic thaw and ocean warming release co2 with no human fingerprint.

glenncz

A very interesting article written by Joe D’Aleo on why it doesn’t make sense that the rise of CO2 is caused solely by man-made CO2
http://www.principia-scientific.org/carbon-dioxide-the-houdini-of-gases.html
It takes a little thought to get what they are saying.
Here is Spencer – Increasing Atmospheric CO2 man-made or natural
http://www.drroyspencer.com/2009/01/increasing-atmospheric-co2-manmade%E2%80%A6or-natural/
The warmers think they can tell that the 400-150=250 ppm is all man-made because of isotopes differences between man-made and natural CO2. I think there have been these articles on this forum discussing this. But it doesn’t appear to be that simple
This very interesting WFT graphs show that CO2 concentration rise and falls AFTER a temperature change.
http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/esrl-co2/isolate:60/mean:12/scale:0.2/plot/hadcrut3vgl/isolate:60/mean:12/from:1958
And here is Murry Salby who has youtube video’s discussing the same topic.

Pat Frank

I’d like to follow timc, and ask rgb what the moderately strong evidence is for, “some human-linked warming.”
As I see it, evidence in science is found by reference to a falsifiable physical theory. With respect to air temperatures, there’s evidence they’ve increased. But how is it possible to assign any causality to this (moderately strong evidence for), when there’s no viable physical theory of climate?

Stephen Richards

rgbatduke says:
January 27, 2014 at 10:46 am
Recent satelite observations of CO² in the atmosphere showed that it was not well mixed as had been hypothosised.

oldgamer56

my, my appears you struck a nerve.
And excess CO2 does not buildup like compound interest. Inceases over time, but not compounding, We are also near the point where the GW effect of CO2 in unimportant, as there is a point where extra CO2 does not create any additional warming.

Doug Proctor

In the Big Bang Theory with Stephen Hawking, this is just a “boner”, not an attempt to misrepresent, methinks.
Out of 100,000 “seats” of atmosphere, 400 ppm represents 40. Humans have contributed 15 of the 40 by burning fossil fuels (and wood). Each year we contribute 2 ppm, or 0.20 seats.
An irrelevant comparison anyway, I’m afraid. If you remember the old movie, “2 Minute Warming”, in which a sniper hid in a tower above the stadium football crowd, it doesn’t even take one legitimate seat, if occupied by the right guy, to control the outcome of the game.
A fun stat, though.

” The physics of this is quite clear.” yes, the physics is that the greenhouse effect, as defined by the IPCC, is not real.

Jeff Westcott

Half a seat may be a too low estimate, but I don’t think that I’ve seen a convincing argument for what is the right estimate for cumulative human sourced CO2. I do see that the Hawaiian CO2 growth looks linear while the human contribution growth looks exponential, and I suppose that’s why it’s not obvious what the answer is.

@rgbatduke: Did I misunderstand the article or your response. It appears that someone came up with another, easily visual, way to explain ppm. In the explanation, it was indicated that the anthropogenic portion of CO2 was miniscule and likely not to be a significant contributor.
Your response said it didn’t include cumulative anthropogenic CO2, I assume that CO2 not absorbed or used. It’s a very complex matter, and most of the estimates I’ve seen go on assumptions that can better be classified as glittering generalizations.
You also asserted that CO2 can cause catastrophic global warming with the caveat that the system is complex. Did you mean 400 ppm CO2? If not, what concentration? . I haven’t seen a scenario that appears to give that tipping point at any reasonable, or likely concentration. Don’t the mass of GCM’s assume some forcing for CO2 and have any of them come close to accurately predicting the climate. If we understood the simple physics that well, maybe we could control the climate as the warmists suggest.

pokerguy

“I don’t think it does the search for truth any favors if you present the 0.04% in such a way that you leave people with the impression that CO_2 couldn’t produce catastrophic warming.”
Right on brother. Why do we persist in making stupid arguments when we have plenty of strong ones within easy reach.. The “how can a trace gas necessary for life possibly do any harm?” is a terrible “common sense” based argument that only hurts our credibility.

richardscourtney

Box of Rocks:
At January 27, 2014 at 11:13 am you ask

What is football?

It is the game which Americans call “soccer”.
They do this to avoid confusion because they play a game which they call “football” but is really a tame version of rugby in which the participants wear body armour to avoid getting hurt.
Richard

chris y

There is one particular group of people that has attended every home game since 1961.
Much like CO2 concentrations, this unique group has grown in numbers over the years:
11 in 1963
15 in 1973
35 in 1983
34 in 1993
36 in 2003
39 in 2013
Note that these numbers can be expressed in parts per million by multiplying by 10.
For example, the stadium concentration of this group was 390 ppm in 2013.
It is highly plausible that this unique group of people has caused a measurable temperature increase in the stadium, although it may not be sensible heat.
The group is commonly known as the DCC, aka the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.
🙂

Gary D.

If I am understanding the analogy correctly 15 seat to 1/2 transition seems to be implying that the resident time of human produced CO2 (whatever that is) in the atmosphere is 30 years and that 1/2 seat is added every year and 1/2 seat goes away every year. Is that correct? Why 30 years?

disappointed

Well and how much arsenic will kill a human being as a percentage of its weight ? How much beta blockers will regulate/deregulate her/his blood pressure ?
Apart from the obvious mistake of not cumulating the human contribution over the years, I think that this post is just deceiving and far below the standards of most of the material one can find here. In my mind it had better be removed.

Jimbo

Here is the other dangerous greenhouse gas.

IPCC – Climate Change 2007: Working Group I
Water vapour is the most important greenhouse gas, and carbon dioxide (CO2) is the second-most important one. “

Charles Wadsack

And if you equate the “noisiness” of each fan occupying those 40 seats to c02’s warming effect, is it not true that the last 38 fans collectively don’t make as much noise as the first 2?

Dr Burns

Just wait for the “… but one drop of cyanide will kill a 100kg man” from the peanut gallery.

Dr Burns: Willis has already tried the cyanide analogy! It hardly explains the physics.

Willis Eschenbach says:
January 27, 2014 at 10:59 am
I agree with Robert Brown. You were doing great until you got to the end. Yes, humans only contribute a small percentage PER YEAR, but over time that addition builds up. For an illustrative example, if you were to save a small percentage of your salary every year, soon it would end up as a large percentage of your savings …
Second, I don’t see the point of the analogy. Your argument seems to be, CO2 is only a trivially small part of the atmosphere, so we can ignore it.
However, compare it with something like say cyanide. The percentage of cyanide that someone slips into their business partner’s breakfast may be as small as the percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere … but the reality of the world is, some things have effects that go far, far beyond their level of concentration.
*********************************************************************************************************************
And this gentlemen is why the bad guys win and the good guys lose. Willis the atmosphere is NOT the human body. The human body is made up of 10,000+ chemicals so there fore a small amount of almost anything will disrupt the workings. The Human body is a chemically active piece of machinery. The atmosphere is chemically inert with 2 major components and the the rest very minor. The amount of CO2 is so small it is worthless even talking about. The analogy is a good one.
Also to RGB time may add about half a seat. Yeah that will kill us.

Chris4692

chris y says:
January 27, 2014 at 11:38 am

The group is commonly known as the DCC, aka the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.
🙂

Needs pictures.

Thank you all for the feedback as I was curious what flaws there might be in my reasoning. Most of the criticism seems to come from CO2 dwell time which I understand is unknown, but since 98% of all CO2 emitted into the atmosphere each year is reabsorbed by the oceans and plants I don’t see that it matters. It does not matter where the CO2 comes from, just how much CO2 there is at any point in time. The sun does not prefer one CO2 molecule over another.

Roy UK

Box of Rocks:
At January 27, 2014 at 11:13 am you ask
What is football?
Football is a game played worldwide (except USA) where a spherical ball is kicked with ones foot. Hence: “Football”. Commonly referenced as “Soccer” in the USA.
Football is also a game played in the USA, where the players pass the ball from hand to hand. Hence it is called “Football” because of the lack of use of feet and balls. Thats why the lack of balls require the use of complete body armour (armor), and oxygen after 15 seconds on the field.
Please do not get me started on the “World” series of baseball where only teams from the USA can play….
BTW GO Seahawks 😉

JohnWho

Question for all:
Prior to mid-1900, atmospheric CO2 was increasing at a certain rate of ppm per year and it continues to do that at a slightly higher rate since then. Why then would we say that all of the increase is anthropogenic?

rgbatduke on January 27, 2014 at 10:46 am said: “The ***evidence*** for some human-linked warming is moderately strong.”
Let me propose a theory regarding the evidence you seem unable to provide. Consider the .45 seat and the lead-in picture… That Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader would take about .45 of a seat in the stadium and is smoking hot. I have a 97% confidence that she would raise the temperature in the stadium by at least .7 degrees F.
Please post your evidence and we will compare. 8D
Eric