# Dallas Cowboys Stadium Seating and Atmospheric CO2

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.

Each seat represents one molecule of gas in our atmosphere.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

[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

## 341 thoughts on “Dallas Cowboys Stadium Seating and Atmospheric CO2”

1. Richard Sharpe says:

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

2. rgbatduke says:

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

3. mike fowle says:

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.

4. Kelvin Vaughan says:

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

5. davidmhoffer says:

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

6. Dell from Michigan says:

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

7. timc says:

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.

8. 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…

9. R. de Haan says:

10. Willis Eschenbach says:

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.

11. 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

12. Martin says:

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

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.

14. Realist says:

“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.

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.

16. richardscourtney says:

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

17. NotTheAussiePhilM says:

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

18. Joel O'Bryan says:

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.

19. Box of Rocks says:

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.

20. 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.

21. glenncz says:

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.

22. Box of Rocks says:

R. de Haan says:
January 27, 2014 at 10:58 am

What is football?

23. 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!

24. Ralph Tittley says:

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.

25. Joel O'Bryan says:

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.

26. Michael S-H says:

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.

27. glenncz says:

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

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.

And here is Murry Salby who has youtube video’s discussing the same topic.

28. Pat Frank says:

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?

29. Stephen Richards says:

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.

30. oldgamer56 says:

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.

31. Doug Proctor says:

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.

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

33. Jeff Westcott says:

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.

34. @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.

35. pokerguy says:

“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.

36. richardscourtney says:

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

37. chris y says:

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.
:-)

38. Gary D. says:

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?

39. disappointed says:

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.

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?

41. Dr Burns says:

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

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

43. 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.

44. Chris4692 says:

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.

45. 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.

46. Roy UK says:

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 ;)

47. JohnWho says:

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?

48. 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.

Eric

49. Steve (Paris) says:

This long lousy winter is grating on the nerves isn’t it? I think we all need to say that’s a neat little story, maybe not quite right but neat all the same. No need for verbal fireworks.

50. Jimbo says:

Ryan Scott Welch makes a very important point about many people’s UNDERSTANDING about the percentage of ALL co2 in our atmosphere. If it is the case that most people tell him somewhere between 30% and 70% then right there is on of the problems fighting against CAGW alarmistm

Ryan, also point out what the IPCC says is the most important greenhouse gas.

Also point out when our planet had 10 TIMES MORE CO2 in the atmosphere.

Also point out that greenhouse growers regularly pump in over 800ppm.

Pointing these things out does not make you right and does not disprove catastrophic warming in the pipeline, it makes THEM think hard and maybe investigate the issues. That’s all.

51. Janice says:

Willis Eschenbach says: “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 …”

Just to be stubborn . . . If, 50 years ago, you have a salary of, let’s say, \$1,000,000/year. You decide to put into a savings account 3ppm of that salary, which is \$3. Now, just the accumulated \$3 per year, for 50 years, is \$150 dollars. But if you get a guaranteed interest rate of 5% per year, it compounds to be \$694 in 50 years. That, of course, is not adjusting for inflation and such, so it is just an intellectual exercise.

Now, I may just be in a state of non-comprehension, but it seems to me that if the amount contributed by humans is about the same percent (3%) every year, and there are other sources in nature contributing the rest (97%) every year, why would the human-contribution build up any more than the nature-contribution? That is, can a tree (or grass or corn plant) tell the difference between a human-created-carbon-dioxide versus a nature-created-carbon-dioxide? Does one tree tell another tree “Don’t use that particular carbon dioxide molecule. You don’t know where it’s been”.

Then, when I look at the Keeling Curve, I see that we have gained about 75 ppm of carbon dioxide in the last 50 years. If I calculate 3% of 75 ppm, I get a little over 2 ppm. Let us even be generous, and say that in the last 50 years, humans have contributed about 3 ppm of the total increase of carbon dioxide. I have a hard time believing that a human-generated 3 ppm out of a total 75 ppm is going to break the bank. In addition, if this amount accumulates because trees and bushes won’t have anything to do with human-generated carbon dioxide, then why hasn’t carbon dioxide accumulated faster? If we are assuming a static-condition on earth, where carbon dioxide (especially man-made stuff) just hangs around forever, shouldn’t we have added an additional 150 ppm over those 50 years, above and beyond what nature is contributing?

Obviously there is some flaw in my logic, so please feel free to beat me up on this.

52. Sabertooth says:

Cheerleader is hot, now I am too.

WUWT?

53. Steve from Rockwood says:

What if the atmosphere was suddenly twice as dense. Twice the N, O, Ar and trace gases like CO2, but at the same relative concentration (same ppm). Would global temperatures increase?

And why so much Argon?

richardscourtney says:
What is football?
It is the game which Americans call “soccer”.

Aah, metric football.

55. Great Greyhounds says:

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

The group is commonly known as the DCC, aka the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.
:-)

So, it’s the DCC causing Global Warming? Who Knew?

56. “but over time that addition builds up”
I’ll let my plants know that they are not doing their job!
Dissolution of CO2 into the oceans has been happening for as long as the earth has existed

When you visit the IPCC supporters web sites they never talk about the pencil on the foot ball field, they always talk about gigatonnes of carbon per year (Gt/y), small wonder the “layman” thinks that one gas needs to be regulated. (Thanks EPA, could you restrict the SOTU speeches by 60% to reduce the CO2 out of that mans mounth?)

57. Somebody says:

I see that rgbatduke thinks that CO2 molecules are labeled as ‘human produced’ and ‘non human produced’, and that he thinks that Nature treats the ones with the ‘human produced’ label differently than the other ones, only those that have ‘human produced’ on them will stay – all of them – in the atmosphere. Right.

58. rogerknights says:

The analogy I’ve read on WUWT that I like is that five reams of copy paper contain 500 sheets apiece, or 2500 total. CO2’s proportion of atmospheric gas is one sheet in that stack. Manmade CO2 is one-third of that page. The US’s proportion of that strip is about 20% of that 1/3, or 1/15th of the total CO2.

59. David L. says:

Willis Eschenbach says:
January 27, 2014 at 10:59 am

…”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.”
————————————————–

You bring up the concept of the LD50, the dose at which 50% of the recipients die upon exposure. All drugs have an LD50, even aspirin and caffeine. I wonder what the analogous LD50 of CO2 in the environment would be, if there even is an analogy in there. I guess it would be the concentration of CO2 that would cause 50% of the planets exposed to that level to burn up in thermal Armageddon.

60. I don’t think the human contribtion to CO2 is .5 seats per year. According to the Mauna Loa record, atmospheric CO2 rose from 394.28 ppm in December 2012, to 396.81 ppm in December 2013, and increase of 2.53 ppm in a year. If the human contribibution was to atmospheric CO2 is 3% of the yearly output, then 3% of 2.53 ppm is 0.0759 ppm.

61. Box of Rocks says:

Great Greyhounds says:
January 27, 2014 at 12:17 pm

They do tend to warms things up…

62. brantc says:

If the earth as as a system has regulated CO2 from 2000 ppm down to 200 ppm with out the help of humans, the what makes CO2 accumulate??

63. I submit that most of the rise in atmospheric CO2 is from oceanic outgassing as the earth has warmed from the last Ice Age and the LIA. As the eath warms CO2 rises regardless of any human factor.

64. richardscourtney says:

JohnWho:

You raise an important issue with your question at January 27, 2014 at 12:04 pm, but before addressing your question I list the issues raised in this thread by the above article.

1.
CO2 is an atmospheric trace gas and the proportion of the atmosphere is hard to visualise.
The above article by Ryan Scott Welch uses seating in a stadium as an analogy to help the visualisation. The analogy seems to be effective but there is dispute as to whether the article ‘goes too far’ in its claims about the amount of CO2 in the air from human activities.
2.
CO2 is a greenhouse gas (GHG) in the atmosphere so warms the Earth’s surface.
Those who understand radiative physics do not dispute that CO2 is a GHG so warms the Earth’s surface. But the effect of additional CO2 in the air is undecided. The climate system responds to any change, and it may enhance (positive feedback) or reduce (negative feedback) any warming from additional CO2 in the air. Available evidence suggests that additional CO2 in the air will induce such trivially small warming that the warming will be indiscernible, but it is possible that the warming could be so great as to be catastrophic. Some people assert that the suggestion from the available evidence is so strong that the possibility of catastrophic warming can be ignored. A few others try to claim that CO2 does not act as a GHG although this contradicts radiative physics.
3.
The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere from human activities is disputed.
This goes to the heart of most objections to the analogy provided in the above article by Ryan Scott Welch. And it is directly addressed by your question; viz.

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?

Some (e.g. the IPCC, Engelbeen, etc.) assert that the carbon cycle is failing to sequester all of the anthropogenic (i.e. man made) emission of CO2. Hence, about half of the anthropogenic emission is accumulating in the atmosphere to cause all of the observed rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration. Some others (e.g. Bart, Salby, etc.) claim the carbon cycle can sequester all of the total CO2 emission (both natural AND anthropogenic) but is adjusting to changed global temperature with a result being the observed rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration which is entirely natural. And some others (e.g. me and two co-authors, etc.) assess that available data does not indicate if the cause of the observed rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration is entirely natural, or entirely anthropogenic, or some combination of natural and anthropogenic causes.

I hope these responses to issues raised in the thread is helpful to the discussion.

Richard

65. Sweet Old Bob says:

Re: Janice at 12:11pm
And of those \$694 government(s) [plants] want about 50% ….leaving 347 ish left…8D>

66. Pablo an ex Pat says:

Roy UK says:
January 27, 2014 at 12:01 pm

“Please do not get me started on the “World” series of baseball where only teams from the USA can play….”

Oh no the USA must have annexed Toronto, which is going to be news to the Canadians : )

67. Gail Combs says:

Realist says: @ January 27, 2014 at 11:04 am
Try these two peer reviewed papers:

Because the intensities of the 397 ka BP and present insolation minima are very similar, we conclude that under natural boundary conditions the present insolation minimum holds the potential to terminate the Holocene interglacial. Our findings support the Ruddiman hypothesis [Ruddiman, W., 2003.]…”

…although it has been unclear whether the subdued current summer insolation minimum (479 W m−2 ), the lowest of the last 800 kyr, would be sufficient to lead to glaciation (e.g. Crucifix, 2011). Comparison with MIS 19c, a close astronomical analogue characterized by an equally weak summer insolation minimum (474 W m−2 ) and a smaller overall decrease from maximum summer solstice insolation values, suggests that glacial inception is possible despite the subdued insolation forcing, if CO2 concentrations were 240 ± 5 ppmv (Tzedakis et al., 2012).

That paper goes on to say
” … thus, the first major reactivation of the bipolar seesaw would probably constitute an indication that the transition to a glacial state had already taken place….”
The bipolar seesaw is the melting of the arctic and the ice building in the Antarctica that we have been seeing for the last couple of decades just in case you did not know.

This paper also gives the solar insolation and CO2 for termination of several interglacials. Current values are
Holocene: insolation = 474 and CO2 = 400 ppmv

MIS 7e – insolation = 463 W m−2, CO2 = 256 ppmv
MIS 11c – insolation = 466 W m−2, CO2 = 259-265 ppmv
MIS 13a – insolation = 500 W m−2, CO2 = 225 ppmv
MIS 15a – insolation = 480 W m−2, CO2 = 240 ppmv
MIS 17 – insolation = 477 W m−2, CO2 = 240 ppmv

It is a good way to remind people we may be at the tail end of the Holocene GRAPH and that is where attention should focus. Are we headed into glaciation? Who the heck knows the battle is still raging. But I some times wonder what the real thought of world leaders are on the subject.

68. Box of Rocks says:

richardscourtney says:
January 27, 2014 at 12:41 pm
“…
CO2 is a greenhouse gas (GHG) in the atmosphere so warms the Earth’s surface.
…”

No, the last time I checked, the only thingie that warms the surface of the earth is the sun.

CO2 can not warm anything, it can transfer energy and slow the rate of a heat transfer but warm?

Nah.

69. rogerknights says:

richardscourtney says:
January 27, 2014 at 11:37 am

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.

Despite that, football players don’t avoid getting hurt. Their rate of severe injuries, especially from concussions, is notorious and likely considerably exceeds that of rugby players’. Their shoulder pads and helmets allow them to attack more aggressively and also to inflict more damage from such a hard shell.

70. Of the human produced CO2 that is retained in the atmosphere, how much of that retention is due to ocean warming?
That is, if the ocean is exuding more CO2 than it is absorbing, would that cause a ‘back up’ of anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere relative to the case if the absorption/emission of CO2 were in equilibrium?

71. Mike H says:

Yes, the cyanide example is true. I’ve heard the same thing about ricin. Two points and they have already been made in bits above. (1). CO2 is not ricin or cyanide. While that example may point out small doses of things can cause great pain, each has to be analyzed on its own merits. It is the quintessential apples and oranges comparison. (2) Those levels, especially on an essential gas for life on earth, should immediately set off the B.S. detector and warrant greater inspection. Which, upon examples of historical CO2 levels alone, strongly suggest the risk of CAGW is extremely low and the idea of tremendously expensive mitigation investment is not worth pursuing.

The above example can also be shown well by creating a 100 x 100 spreadsheet, making the columns a rows small enough to fit on one 8.5×11 then coloring in 4 dots. I’ve used it as a starter for people to get people to start to question the rhetoric. I then encouraged them to do their own research. Be a skeptic for 1 month then come back and try to convince me I’m off side. I’ve had full believers come back as full skeptics. The worst I’ve had is somebody come back to me and say, “i see your point, but I still think it is a problem”. (At least they get that 97% of scientists claim . . . b.s. out of their head). Then we look at the economics, and how putting resources into that crap takes resources away from TRUE environmental problems and by the end of the process, I’ve never had a non-convert.. I honestly believe, it is through the TRUE environmentalists, as I’m sure many people on this site are, will we get the charlatans move along to their next scam. The problem is so many people are so invested in being “right” instead of “learning”, they are very afraid/ashamed to admit they are wrong.

One other thing, the immediate feedback about the underestimation of human induced contribution and how it was immediately refuted by people who fully fall into the “hated by Mann” club, is one reason why this sight is excellent. The pursuit of truth, not dogma.

72. Go Whitecaps!! says:

Roy UK.

Thanks for the slight, cousin, but Canadians have been playing football for over a hundred years. We also play soccer.

73. Jeff L says:

I have to chime in & concur with those who have pointed out concentration is irrelevant. This is a generally reasonable presentation that we have filled perhaps up to 15 seats ( or less – I won’t debate the merits of that) and that may help the lay person visually understand the concentration but it also would leave the lay person with the impression that because the concentration is small that perhaps it doesn’t matter We all certainly can come up with analogs where concentration and effect are not proportional and by implying that it does only gives ammunition to CAGW supporters who view skeptics as ignorant & unknowledgeable on the subject matter.

What we really need is a simple lay person explanation for climate sensitivity to CO2 and the range of uncertainty and effects of said sensitivity or perhaps a lay person explanation for what weather looked like in the past & what it looks like today & how weather hasn’t fundamentally changed (say over the last 100 yrs) and that the whole concept of a global average temperature is really nothing more than an academic curiosity compared to local / regional variations in weather we actually experience.

74. Dave_G says:

Examples of the horrors of CO2 are always expressed in the largest numerical form that is available i.e. “hundreds of billions of tonnes are emitted annually”. Big numbers make for big impressions. But when expressed as a percentage the ‘horror’ becomes a ‘say-what?’ event. Billions of tonnes suddenly become fractions of a single percentage point. Sadly most people are at home with ‘billions’ (or millions or whatever) but are unable to appreciate a mathematical function like percentage. An article like this goes a long way towards explaining it to these people but you can also see why the protagonists offer up their statistics in BIG scary numbers instead of small ‘say-what?’ percentages.

75. Leon Brozyna says:

From reading the piece, I get the impression that it’s been edited to correct some readers’ concerns:

And since humans only contribute 3% of all CO2 emitted into the atmosphere each year

Other than that … this is just an illustration for the layman to help him grasp the complexities in crude, simple, approximate terms … which means it will be wrong.

Don’t be overthinking the presentation … it’s not meant to be science, just a simple graphics aid.

76. hunter says:

The worse analogy is the one the fear mongers use, comparing CO2 in the atmospehre to cyanide or otherpoisons in the body.
The physics are clear that CO2 is a ghg, but it is not clear at all it will lead to some sort of catastrophic outcome at current or likely future levels. CO2 has not caused catastrophe in the past, it is not doing so now, and it is increasingly clear it is not likely to cause some sort of catastrophe anytime soon.

77. GoneWithTheWind says:

The simple fact is we have no clue how much of the increased CO2 in the atmosphere is CO2 added by humans. Nature adds most of the CO2 to the atmosphere and nature removes most of the CO2 from the atmosphere. It is clearly possible for the human contribution of CO2 to the atmosphere to double while at the same time the total CO2 in the atmosphere could be reduced. The opposite is equally true and in fact is likely what we are seeing. That is a general warming trend after the mini ice age has forced the oceans to release CO2 and at the same time reduced their ability to absorb more CO2 and in fact 99.99% of all the increased CO2 in the atmosphere may well be from this phenomena alone and not from human created CO2.

The next confounding factor is with CO2 having such a small effect on global warming (both the actual measurable effect and the computed effect based on theories) it is impossible to know if CO2 has warmed our atmosphere at all. That is CO2 may indeed create a tiny warmng effect based on it’s 1% or so ability to affect global warming while at the same time it would be possible and even likely that water vapor with it’s 97% effect might cool the atmosphere by more then the CO2 would warm it.

The third factor that cannot be ignored is, thanks to those who knowingly have exaggarated CO2′ s ability to warm the atmosphere the fact that temperatures have not increased in 17 years while at the same time CO2 has increased proves beyond a doubt they are wrong. Simple as that! You can claim that CO2 increases global warming all you want to you can make your computer models and predict the future but when facts prove you to be wrong then you are wrong and the theory is wrong and CO2 is NOT the amazing heat storing/reflecting all powerful force it is claimed to be. Atmospheric CO2 increased; global warming did not, hmmmmmm!!

78. Tom in Florida says:

I think the point is that most people do not know what percentage of the atmosphere is CO2. I have asked that question to AGW believers many times and I usually get the 20-25 % answer.

As Welch says in his article :
“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.”

He does not say anthing about warming, but rather produces a more simple way for simple people to get an idea of what .04% is.

I myself prefer to illustrate this by taking a sheet of paper and marking off 1 inch increments from 0-10. This would represent 1,000,000 parts. (ya’ll know where this is going but just in case I will continue). Each inch would then represent 100,000 parts of the million. Divide the first inch into 10 equal segments, each segment being 1/10 of an inch and representing 10,000 parts of the million. Divide each 1/10 of an inch into 10 equal segments each segment being 1/100 of an inch and representing 1,000 parts of the million. Divide the 1/100th of an inch into 10 equal segments each segment being 1/1000th of an inch and representing 100 parts of the million. Now color the first 400 parts per million (if you can see it ), that’s what .04% is. No comment on warming/cooling, no claim of what CO2 does or doesn’t do, just a simple way to realize how small .04% is.

79. Would not the increase in Co2 only be 12 seats? not 15? (280 to 400).

But yea, I sure would hate to be that less than half a person filling that seat!

80. Tom J says:

I think it might be interesting to measure what the CO2 concentration is in the air in Dallas Cowboy’s Stadium when its seats are fully occupied by 100,000 people viewing a game. I would assume a portion of the CO2 they emit with each and every breath they take will pool for a while in the semi-enclosed bowl of the stadium. Thus the CO2 levels are likely to be higher than the air surrounding the stadium. My understanding is that CO2 levels in a home are about twice what they are outside. It would be interesting then to see what people would think about a scientific discipline that considered the very act of life itself to be a pollutant.

81. philjourdan says:
January 27, 2014 at 12:56 pm

But yea, I sure would hate to be that less than half a person filling that seat!

This is a Globe Warming Seat – You MUST use averages over the entire game (er, year) to feel meaningful results. It is not 1/2 of a seat being feeled up (er, filled) but represeats two people sitting in one seat: That one exsex Cheerleader is obviously sitting in your lap, thereby raising everyone’s temperature, pressure, and humility (er, humidity).

82. Gail Combs says:

Lots of assumptions.

We know the Team has fudge, manipulated and down right lied about temperature data, so why does every one just go along with the CO2 data and all there assumptions and interpretations?

THE ACQUITTAL OF CARBON DIOXIDE by Jeffrey A. Glassman, PhD

ON WHY CO2 IS KNOWN NOT TO HAVE ACCUMULATED IN THE ATMOSPHERE & WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH CO2 IN THE MODERN ERA by Jeffrey A. Glassman, PhD

I am sure Ferdinand Engelbeen will be along in just a minute to draw the curtain closed once again.

83. Upon reading the title and first paragraph, I thought this story was going to an entirely different place:

By the 4th quarter of a football game, what is the average CO2 concentration measured in prime seats on the 50 yard line?

84. richardscourtney says:

Friends:

The American sense of humour continues to bemuse me.

Several Americans failed to get any laughs from Brad Keyes and took him seriously!

The question from R. de Haan asking “What’s a Cowboys Stadium?” was a joke.
The reply from Box of Rocks asking “What is football?” continued the joke.
My answer to Box of Rocks which defined “football” continued the joke.
And Colorado Wellington assessed by answer saying “Aah, metric football” continued the joke.

Those who have taken any of these comments seriously are spoiling continuation of the joke. OK?

Richard

85. GLEFAVE says:

I think that this analogy would be improved if the fans in those 40 chairs were scattered around the stadium holding up 1’x1′ space blankets, to keep the rest of the 999,960 fans toasty warm.

86. Matt Schilling says:

Willis has often insisted people actually quote him when addressing his articles and comments. Yet, he didn’t quote Mr. Welch in his reply at 10:59AM, in which he states “Your argument seems to be, CO2 is only a trivially small part of the atmosphere, so we can ignore it.”

That’s fine; I’m not finding fault. I just don’t think Willis could’ve quoted the author to back his contention that Mr. Welch was arguing we can ignore our trivially small portion of atmospheric CO2. Perhaps I missed it, but I don’t see where Mr. Welch broached that topic at all. It seems to me Mr. Welch was merely, and graphically, showing the disconnect between the common misconception about atmospheric CO2 vs. the reality.

As for Willis comparing CO2 to cyanide, I get his point: Something can have an effect all out of proportion to its concentration. But, is cyanide a fair comparison? Isn’t adding cyanide like throwing the proverbial monkey wrench into the wheels of life? Cyanide has such a powerfully disruptive effect only a little is needed. But CO2 is nothing like that at all. Rather, CO2 is essential to life on earth. Therefore, it seems to me quite likely you’d have to add a massive amount of it to the atmosphere before it finally becomes “too much of a good thing”. In other words, it is more like drinking water vs. ingesting cyanide. Obviously, there is a point where drinking too much water is detrimental, even life threatening. But adding an extra drop to your glass is utterly meaningless.

If I can stay with my water analogy for a little longer – wouldn’t it be fair to say our planet has actually been thirsty for CO2 for quite some time? I think the biosphere appreciates that we’ve increased its miserly ration.

87. I think the author was trying to present to the layman simply what .04% or what 400 ppm represents. If the general populace thinks that CO2 represents 30 – 70% of the atmosphere, I think that this is a good exercise since the general populace is much more interested in football than CO2 or “climate change”. I agree that the last part goes off the rails, but I get what the author was trying to do. I don’t think the nitpicking by RGB and others is helpful.
It might be better to suggest another analogy to show a better example for the layman.
If you have \$25 in pennies 400 ppm = 1 penny
or
.04% = 1/2500th of the total
or
in a 2,500 seat stadium it would represent 1 seat
etc.
someone here might come up with a better example for the layman…

I think the 3% contribution by humans is too much for the layman who thinks that CO2 represents 30 – 70% of the atmosphere to get excited about, and kind of muddies the water. Better left for a separate discussion.

The point that .04% of a 100,000 seat stadium = 40 seats, – 40 seats seem like a lot to the football layman.

88. milodonharlani says:

Tom in Florida says:
January 27, 2014 at 12:55 pm

I use a one pound bag of long grain white rice, which contains about 29,000 grains. I take about a third of the bag and add three grains to represent pre-industrial CO2, then drop in a fourth to get the level up to now. To show the Cambrian, add 70 more “CO2” grains.

Leave the 7800 nitrogen grains white, dye the 2100 oxygen red, the 90 Ar yellow & four CO2 black, then dump 300 blue H2O grains on top of them.

89. David L. says:

hunter says:
January 27, 2014 at 12:53 pm
The worse analogy is the one the fear mongers use, comparing CO2 in the atmospehre to cyanide or otherpoisons in the body.
The physics are clear that CO2 is a ghg, but it is not clear at all it will lead to some sort of catastrophic outcome at current or likely future levels. CO2 has not caused catastrophe in the past, it is not doing so now, and it is increasingly clear it is not likely to cause some sort of catastrophe anytime soon.

__________________________________
Agreed. It’s a question of concentration and it’s effect. As I posted above there is an LD50 (or LC50) for exposure of chemicals to biological systems that will cause death. Every chemical has a point at which it will disrupt the biologic system to cause death, but there’s also range in which the chemical may have a therapeutic effect. This is called the therapeutic window. As you increase the dosage the therapeutic effect goes up but so does adverse effects such as death. The dose has to be high enough to provide therapy but not so high to cause too many adversse effects.

For fun I looked up the LD50 (rats) of a couple compounds: The LD50 is expressed as mg of chemical per kg of body weight (1 mg/kg=1ppm)

Aspirin 1.5g/kg (1500 ppm)
Caffeine 355mg/kg (355 ppm)
Potassium Cyanide 10mg/kg (10 ppm)
Heroin 21mg/kg (21 ppm)

90. Man Bearpig says:

Kelvin Vaughan says:
January 27, 2014 at 10:51 am

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

Yep .. and the other 99,999.55 seats do absolutely nothing. Or to be more precise, diddly squat.

91. ossqss says:

It is not about the ppm. It is as described by many about the unknown forcings and feedbacks.

What is CO2’s dissapation rate anyhow? How long will the additional man made stuff hang around in varied scenarios?

I have not viewed a definitive provable answer to that question to date.

Just my take,,,,,,,

92. Hoser says:

Yes, the atmospheric CO2 concentration has risen for 150 years. Why should we assume the 15 seats representing the increase is do to human emissions? Regarding the balance of uptake and release of CO2 in nature, people seem to have a problem differentiating between rate constants and rates. The slight increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration might easily be swallowed up because the rate constant for uptake would not necessarily change. The rate is the product of the rate constant and the concentration of CO2 in the atm in a simple model, or the product with the sum of various rate constants in a more complex model. The equilibrium might shift slightly, because there is the equivalent of a new source of CO2 having a new rate adding to total CO2. The yearly addition of hCO2 is depleted over another period of years ( with slightly over a 5yr half life by 14C bomb data). With a constant new supply of hCO2, the equilibrium CO2 level would increase to a new steady-state level about 7x higher than the yearly amount. However, the yearly amount has increased exponentially since 1751 (and probably before that), The CO2 increase measured at Mauna Loa has a shape that cannot be accounted for by anthropogenic emissions alone. The curve can’t be fit with any reasonable choices of historical atm CO2 level and rates of hCO2 emission and uptake without also including very substantial natural CO2 increases.

93. Tom in Florida says:

Willis Eschenbach says:
January 27, 2014 at 10:59 am
…”However, compare it with something like say cyanide. …”

I think a better analogy would be prescription medications. These drugs all produce side effects that are not good for humans. However, as all descriptions say, your doctor has determined that the benefits outweigh the side effects when prescribing the drugs. I take methotrexate for RA , 15 mg/wk. This produces the desired effect of reducing the pain and deterioration of my joints while keeping the side effects to a minimum. Previous dosage of 20mg/week produced no better benefit but did increase the side effects to an uncomfortable level. 10/mg per week had very little side effects but also very little benefit. It’s like the Goldilocks syndrome; some is too little, some is too much, and some is just right. When it comes to atmospheric CO2 and life I believe we know what is too little (5000 ppm). So the debate simply comes down to “What are the just right conditions for the Earth and how much CO2 will give us that”. Of course, the debate should first be “What are the just right conditions for the Earth”. My guess is that as long as there are more than two people there will be two or more opinions on that.

94. Gail Combs says:

Stephen Rasey says: @ January 27, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Upon reading the title and first paragraph, I thought this story was going to an entirely different place:

By the 4th quarter of a football game, what is the average CO2 concentration measured in prime seats on the 50 yard line?
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
That was exactly what I thought. Someone managed to measure the CO2 levels with all those people breathing hard and shouting.

95. Mike Bromley the Kurd says:

rgbatduke says:
January 27, 2014 at 10:46 am

“At the moment, however, we have no reliable way to partition natural warming from human induced warming.”

And there’s the rub. While I may agree that there is a tad of an obfuscation in the half-seat analogy, climate science has pretended for some time now to have successfully separated the fly sh*t from the black pepper. It hasn’t, in reality. And what’s more, It CAN’T, because the thing being measured can’t be separated. There is no magical Blue Heat and Red Head to separate from the Purple Heat.

96. Tom in Florida says:

Missing a sentnce in my last post.:

Should be “we know what is too little (5000 ppm)

97. Tom in Florida says:

OK I see what happened, I was using less than and greater than signs causing the error.
The sentence missing is:
“we know what is too little (less than 150 ppm) and what is too much (greater than 5000 ppm).

98. Pathway says:

If CO2 is such a powerful agent in the atmosphere, how could the surface of the earth froze solid at the end of the Ordovician when CO2 levels were an order of magnitude higher than today? The earth with its atmosphere has never been static, but rather constantly changing due to the existence of life.

99. JBJ says:

richardscourtney says:
January 27, 2014 at 1:04 pm

You wouldn’t be able to sort out the gas molecules in an English stadium … they would be too busy fighting with each other :)

100. Merrick says:

Roy UK:

Just because you and others in Engliand don’t undersand English isn’t the fault of Americans…

From the Oxford English Dictionary:
Soccer
NOUN
a form of football played by two teams of eleven players with a round ball which may not be handled during play except by the goalkeepers. Also called football and Association football.
Origin
late 19th century: shortening of Assoc. + 4) in Oxford Dictionaries (British & World English)”>-er.

Soccer is NOT a word invented by Americans, but by the English.

Roy UK says:

What is football?

… the lack of balls require the use of complete body armour (armor), and oxygen after 15 seconds on the field.

On the other hand, these ballsy performers don’t wear body armor but they should be given oxygen to revive normal brain functions:

BTW, Go Spurs!

• @Colorado Wellington – Go Spurs??? You do realize they are just a boot attachment on a cowboy? ;-)

102. Abby Klein is hot, the globe not so much, though we’re having a wonderful respite here in Alaska. Reminds me of when I was a kid in the 70’s when snowmachine races were cancelled several years in a row or as they called it back then the coming ice age.

103. The stadium seat comparison and the 100 yard football field CO2 analysis more so shows the left wrongly picked CO2 for political purposes as there simply is not enough concentration in the atmosphere to have any affect on warming or cooling the planet. That’s why they had to use propaganda, manipulated and cherry picked data to HIDE THE DECLINE in temperature. And to this day still lie through their teeth in defending the scam.

104. charles nelson says:

I always clobber Warmists with the old…if the entire Earth’s atmosphere was \$1000 how much would be CO2. I love that look they get on their faces when I tell them!

105. Gail Combs says:

ossqss says: @ January 27, 2014 at 1:13 pm
What is CO2′s dissapation rate anyhow? How long will the additional man made stuff hang around in varied scenarios?
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
If it is any where near plants it is GONE.

…The CO2 concentration at 2 m above the crop was found to be fairly constant during the daylight hours on single days or from day-to-day throughout the growing season ranging from about 310 to 320 p.p.m. Nocturnal values were more variable and were between 10 and 200 p.p.m. higher than the daytime values.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0002157173900034

…Plants use all of the CO2 around their leaves within a few minutes leaving the air around them CO2 deficient, so air circulation is important. As CO2 is a critical component of growth, plants in environments with inadequate CO2 levels of below 200 ppm will generally cease to grow or produce… http://www.thehydroponicsshop.com.au/article_info.php?articles_id=27

Plant photosynthetic activity can reduce the CO2 within the plant canopy to between 200 and 250 ppm… I observed a 50 ppm drop in within a tomato plant canopy just a few minutes after direct sunlight at dawn entered a green house (Harper et al 1979) … photosynthesis can be halted when CO2 concentration aproaches 200 ppm… (Morgan 2003) Carbon dioxide is heavier than air and does not easily mix into the greenhouse atmosphere by diffusion… Source

Randall J. Donohue et. al. – 31 May, 2013
Abstract
CO2 fertilisation has increased maximum foliage cover across the globe’s warm, arid environments

[1] Satellite observations reveal a greening of the globe over recent decades. The role in this greening of the ‘CO2 fertilization’ effect – the enhancement of photosynthesis due to rising CO2 levels – is yet to be established. The direct CO2 effect on vegetation should be most clearly expressed in warm, arid environments where water is the dominant limit to vegetation growth. Using gas exchange theory, we predict that the 14% increase in atmospheric CO2 (1982–2010) led to a 5 to 10% increase in green foliage cover in warm, arid environments. Satellite observations, analysed to remove the effect of variations in rainfall, show that cover across these environments has increased by 11%. Our results confirm that the anticipated CO2 fertilization effect is occurring alongside ongoing anthropogenic perturbations to the carbon cycle and that the fertilisation effect is now a significant land surface process.
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/grl.50563/abstract

Oh and just incase you wondered, here is what AIRS itself is saying about the ‘Well Mixed” assumption:

Significant Findings from AIRS Data
1. ‘Carbon dioxide is not homogeneous in the mid-troposphere; previously it was thought to be well-mixed
2. ‘The distribution of carbon dioxide in the mid-troposphere is strongly influenced by large-scale circulations such as the mid-latitude jet streams and by synoptic weather systems, most notably in the summer hemisphere
3. ‘There are significant differences between simulated and observed CO2 abundance outside of the tropics, raising questions about the transport pathways between the lower and upper troposphere in current models
4. ‘Zonal transport in the southern hemisphere shows the complexity of its carbon cycle and needs further study

That statement may have been ‘disappeared’ by now.

106. richardscourtney says:

JBJ:

At January 27, 2014 at 1:30 pm you say to me

You wouldn’t be able to sort out the gas molecules in an English stadium … they would be too busy fighting with each other :)

Possibly, but they would generate a lot of heat and would not need body armour :-)

Richard

107. John West says:

rgbatduke says:
”simple fact that the GHE is real and that the 0.04% atmospheric concentration contributes a lot more than 0.04% of it”

But it has been estimated that a doubling of CO2 enhances the GHE “backradiation” (the mechanism by which cooling is slowed) by 3.7 W/m^2 and it has also been estimated that the total GHE “backradiation” is around 333 W/m^2. Therefore 2XCO2 represents a whopping 1% increase in GHE. Even if one assumes all the fantasy positive feedbacks materialized and produced a 20 W/m^2 increase in GHE, we’re still talking about a mere 6% increase in GHE. An effect that supposedly boosts Earth’s temperature by about 30 degrees Celsius so we’re talking 0.3 degrees Celsius or at the off chance that the fantasy feedbacks that have yet to be observed magically materialize and further boost the GHE we’re still talking 1.8 degrees Celsius, safely below the arbitrary 2 degree safety limit.

108. jones says:

Oh my God…It’s worse then?

109. old44 says:

Try explaining it this way,
You are driving from the centre of Perth to the GPO in Melbourne, a distance of 3,451km,
Day 1: an easy drive of 721km to Norseman – 8 hours
Day 2: a long drive of 1,200km to Ceduna – 12 hours and [watch] the roos.
Day 3: another short days drive of 846km through Port Augusta and Adelaide to Murray Bridge – 9 hours.
Day 4: a short but slow drive of 664km to Melbourne – 8 hours.
As you leave the Western Hwy, turn right onto the Ring Rd, left onto the Westgate Freeway, over the Westgate Bridge and when you reach the corner of Spencer and Collins St you have entered the 1.345km killing zone of CO2.

I hope this simplifies it.

110. Gail Combs says:

richardscourtney says: @ January 27, 2014 at 1:38 pm

..Possibly, but they would generate a lot of heat and would not need body armour :-)
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Only mad dogs and Englishmen are found on English football fields.

My Hubby has a classmate still playing at age 70. He is in the mad dog category.

111. Michael D says:

;)

112. eyesonu says:

richardscourtney says:
January 27, 2014 at 12:41 pm

===========

113. Richard Day says:

I, as a lifelong Cowboys fan, am willing to call the CAGW crowd the equivalent of the Cowboys defence in 2013. [for those non-football fans, the defence was an absolute disaster, the worst in Cowboys history and one of the worst in NFL history]

114. Hot under the collar says:

Sorry, I thought I had stumbled upon page 3 in a UK tabloid.
Now I understand it was intended as a visual analogy of CO2 percentage for the layman so
absolute data accuracy was not entirely relevant.

I do have one concern. If the ‘tabloid’ layman was looking at this in visual terms would they not consider that if the ‘CO2’ half seat was occupied by the cheerleader it is likely to get hotter?

115. Willis Eschenbach says:

phillipbratby says:
January 27, 2014 at 11:50 am

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

Other than your scorn, what’s wrong with the cyanide analogy? The author is arguing that because something is tiny we can afford to ignore it … cyanide proves him wrong.

Are you actually agreeing with his premise, that we can safely ignore the small stuff just because it is small?

If you want a proper big-versus-small comparison, you have to compare effects. Here’s one for you.

As a global 24/7 average, total downwelling radiation at the tropopause is just under half a kilowatt per square metre. It’s about 340 W/m2 of solar and 150 W/m2 of longwave.

A doubling of CO2 is slated to increase that by something like 3.7 W/m2 … which is well under 1%.

Note that I am not comparing abundance, I’m comparing effects, W/m2 to W/m2.

This makes CO2 what I call a “third order” factor. A first order factor is a variable that can change something by more than 10%. So, for example clouds are a first-order factor in the amount of instantaneous sunlight hitting the earth, they change it by much more than 10%.

A second-order factor is one that can change something by between one and ten percent. In terms of total 24/7 downwelling radiation (not just solar), clouds have a net effect on the order of 20 W/m2 of cooling, or about 4% of the total downwelling radiation. Second order.

But a doubling of CO2? At 0.8% of the game, they are a third order factor …

That’s the proper way to compare. Not by abundance, but by effect.

All the best,

w.

116. glenncz says:

The real number is 1 in 20,000. That is the 50 ppm (50/1,000,000) increase in CO2 that occurred during the great warming from 1977 through 1998. And what about the other 19,999 parts? Well about 400 of those parts are made up of water vapor, which is the main greenhouse gas. Well, what would happen if water vapor increased by 1% and instead of 400 parts we would have 404 parts, that is not even measurable because water vapor is not well-mixed and concentration varies enormously geographically. The entire theory is made up of assumptions, esp the carbon cycle.
http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch7s7-3.html#7-3-1
And every assumption is made to “fit the theory”.

117. Man Bearpig says:

I have a question … Temperatures are given as anomalies over a given base period. Are there any anomaly charts or any other trend analyses done on CO2.

118. milodonharlani says:

Pathway says:
January 27, 2014 at 1:28 pm

The whole earth didn’t freeze solid during the Ordovician. That happened (if it did) in the Pre-Cambrian, repeatedly. But there was an extensive if relatively brief glaciation during the Ordovician with CO2 at over 4000 ppm. How much over is subject to debate.

119. Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7 says:

I was doing fine with this analogy until I got to the “half a seat” part. With the picture at the top of the post showing a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader stuck in my mind, I naturally thought about sharing the other half of my seat. If the author meant to convince me that occupying just a half-seat in a football stadium couldn’t cause any warming, he failed completely.

120. richardscourtney says:

John West:

re your post at January 27, 2014 at 1:39 pm.

Yes, I made the same argument to a troll on another thread two days ago.
Indeed, it is one of the major reasons why I said in my summary in this thread at January 27, 2014 at 12:41 pmhere

Available evidence suggests that additional CO2 in the air will induce such trivially small warming that the warming will be indiscernible, but it is possible that the warming could be so great as to be catastrophic. Some people assert that the suggestion from the available evidence is so strong that the possibility of catastrophic warming can be ignored.

I did not mention that I am among those who think the probability of catastrophic warming is vanishingly small. I was making a summary of existing knowledge and so was trying to be dispassionate.

I don’t think effect of AGW will become sufficiently large as to be discernible from natural climate variability so will not be “catastrophic”, and I am as certain about this as anyone can reasonably be about the future.

However, as Robert Brown said, the possibility of catastrophic warming does exist. Nobody knows all the possible feedbacks which could ‘kick in’, and it is a falsehood to claim knowledge we do not have. That claim of false knowledge is what warmunists have done to get us into the present scientific and political mess which is the AGW issue.

We need to be completely clear about what we know and what we do not know if we are to obtain a path out of the mess. And if the public is to follow us out of the mess then we need to increase credibility for what we say. Anything any of us does which allows us to be ‘tarred with the same brush’ as warmunists inhibits us from correcting the AGW-scare (incidentally, this goes to the crux of a recent scandal).

Richard

121. Chuck says:

I have a much better analogy to help people understand what 400 ppm is.
..
Take a 12 x 10 foot room with an 8 foot ceiling.
Seal it so there is virtually no air exchanged with the outside world.
Get a pack of cigarettes and enter the room.
Burn one cigarette.
Can you see and smell the smoke?

Now burn nine more cigarettes.
The smoke in the room is roughly 400 ppm.

The weight of 960 cubic feet of air is 72 lbs, or 1152 ounces.
The weight of 20 cigarettes is one ounce.
10 cigarettes is half an ounce and 0.5 / 1152 = 0.000435

Granted some of the cigarette burns to CO2 and H20, but if you argue that, just burn two or three more cigarettes to make up for it.

This example is good because many people are familiar with smoke filled bars, etc.

122. Willis Eschenbach says:

January 27, 2014 at 1:58 pm

“Other than your scorn, what’s wrong with the cyanide analogy? The author is arguing that because something is tiny we can afford to ignore it … cyanide proves him wrong.”

Actually Willis at certain levels everything is benificial to life, even cyanide, and everything is a poisen at certain levels, the only question is at what point does the harm outweigh the benifits.

The alchemist Paracelsus wrote that “all things are poison and nothing is without poison, only the dose makes something nota poison”.

http://www.grc.nia.nih.gov/branches/lns/BestinSmallDoses.pdf

123. Mike M says:

Michael Crichton used a foot ball field analogy in “State of Fear”:

“Imagine the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere as a football field. Most of the atmosphere is nitrogen. So, starting from the goal line, nitrogen takes you all the way to the 78 yard line. And most of what’s left is oxygen. Oxygen takes you to the 99 yard line. Most of what remains is the inert gas argon. Argon bring you within 3 1/2 inches of the goal line. That’s pretty much the thickness of the chalk stripe. And how much of the remaining three inches is carbon dioxide? One inch.

“You are told carbon dioxide has increased in the last 50 years. Do you know how much it has increased, on our football field? Three eighths of an inch — less than the thickness of a pencil. Yet you are asked to believe that this tiny change has driven the entire planet into a dangerous warming pattern.”

124. MrX says:

To all those that are complaining about the analogy not taking into account the cumulative amounts from humans, note that it’s 4% TOTAL from humans. So it’s 1.5 seats TOTAL. The reason is that the half life of man-made CO2 is 4 years. After 4 years, half of it is gone. So man-made CO2 can’t do anything on a global scale.

As a side-note, the amount of CO2 increase we’ve seen indicates an average halflife of 30+ years minimum. Humans can’t produce CO2 with that kind of half life.

125. Box of Rocks says:

If there are cowboys, are there still indians?

• @Box of Rocks – who do you think the “Redskins” are? (their most hated rival in the league). ;-)

126. charles nelson says:

This ‘poison’ thing really amuses me. Warmists always try it on.
What if it were 400ppm of arsenic?…You’d be dead etc etc.
Well I reckon if I was going about my business quite happily with 350ppm of ‘poison’ in me, that gradually increasing it to 400ppm probably wouldn’t do me much harm!

Box of Rocks says:
January 27, 2014 at 2:40 pm
If there are cowboys, are there still indians?

Yes, in Cleveland, but they could not beat the Cowboys in football even with their 2013 defense.

128. Box of Rocks says:

Chuck says:
January 27, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Except CO2 is colorless and odorless among other things.

129. richardscourtney says:

MrX:

At January 27, 2014 at 2:25 pm you say

To all those that are complaining about the analogy not taking into account the cumulative amounts from humans, note that it’s 4% TOTAL from humans. So it’s 1.5 seats TOTAL. The reason is that the half life of man-made CO2 is 4 years. After 4 years, half of it is gone. So man-made CO2 can’t do anything on a global scale.

As a side-note, the amount of CO2 increase we’ve seen indicates an average halflife of 30+ years minimum. Humans can’t produce CO2 with that kind of half life.

Sorry, but No.
You are confusing half life with residence time. They are not the same thing.

Residence time is a function of the mixing rate in and out of the air but half-life (and e-folding time) is almost independent of mixing rate. I explain this as follows.

(a) CO2 residence time is an indication of how long an average CO2 molecule put into the atmosphere stays in the atmosphere (it is about 5 years as determined from isotope studies following nuclear bomb tests).
and
(b) half-life (and e-folding time) is an indication of how the carbon cycle responds to an addition of CO2 into the atmosphere. Estimates are so course that half life and e-folding time are often used interchangeably although they are not the same. (The IPCC seems to use a half life of ~230 years as determined by back-calculation from the Bern Model by me. I estimate it to be ~24 years which is similar to your 30 years).

I explain this as follows.

CO2 is cycled in and out of the atmosphere from several sources notably the oceans. Each year the oceans ‘breath’ CO2 out and in: this is part of what is called the ‘seasonal variation’ in atmospheric CO2 concentration. This ‘breathing’ is very large: each year the oceans emit an order of magnitude more CO2 than all human activity. And each year the oceans sequester a very similar amount of CO2 from the air. But they don’t emit and sequester the same molecules (they emit and sequester a similar number of molecules) each year.

Therefore, a CO2 molecule has a probability of being sequestered as part of that cycling. The residence time of a molecule in the atmosphere is ~5 years. This indicates that it has a ~1:5 chance of being sequestered each year. Put another way, ~1/5 of the CO2 in the air is cycled in and out of the atmosphere as the seasonal variation. Importantly,
RESIDENCE TIME IS A FUNCTION OF THE RATE OF MIXING OF CO2 IN AND OUT OF THE AIR.

So,
~20% of the CO2 in the atmosphere enters the atmosphere each year
and
~20% of the CO2 in the atmosphere leaves the atmosphere each year.
and
these percentages would not change if there were no annual increase to atmospheric CO2 concentration.

But there is an observed annual increase to atmospheric CO2 concentration. In a typical recent year, about 2% of the CO2 emitted to the air (from oceans, biosphere, human activities, etc.) does not return to e.g. the oceans. Put another way the annual CO2 rise is the residual of an inequality in the seasonal variation of the year.

Any annual CO2 rise will affect the annual emission and sequestration of the following year.

For example, if there is more CO2 in the air then that will increase the sequestration of CO2 into the oceans in the following year. The total effect will be a combination of the activities of several interactive mechanisms.

Therefore, the carbon cycle adjusts in response to any change (e.g. temperature rise, the anthropogenic emission, etc.).

The initial effect is an increase (or a decrease) to the CO2 in the air. And this will not make much difference to the proportion of CO2 cycled in and out of the air as the seasonal variation. Therefore, an annual increase (or decrease) to the CO2 in the air makes negligible difference to the CO2 residence time. The residence time is a function of mixing rate so an increase to atmospheric CO2 concentration of 2% only affects mixing rate by ~2%.

But the increase (or decrease) to CO2 in the air alters all the interactive mechanisms which emit CO2 to the air and sequester CO2 from the air.

For purpose of illustration and purely hypothetically, assume the annual rise of one year changed the carbon cycle such that the CO2 in the air was fixed at the new CO2 concentration. Then residence time would still be ~5 years (because mixing rate does not change) but half-life would be infinite (because the new atmospheric CO2 level never falls).
HALF-LIFE (AND e-FOLDING TIME) IS ALMOST INDEPENDENT OF MIXING RATE.
IT IS A FUNCTION OF HOW THE CARBON CYCLE RESPONDS TO A CHANGE.

The half-life is a function of how the carbon cycle responds to a change. And nobody knows how the carbon cycle actually responds to a change so there are many possible responses that can be imagined and modeled. Hence, the great difference between the IPCc estimate of ~230 years and my estimate of ~24 years).

n.b. the numbers are simplified for clarity in the above illustration.

I hope this explanation is adequate and sufficiently clear.

Richard

130. redress says:

Jimbo @12.11

“Also point out that greenhouse growers regularly pump in over 800ppm.”

The level to which the CO2 concentration should be raised depends on the crop, light intensity, temperature, ventilation, stage of the crop growth and the economics of the crop. For most crops the saturation point will be reached at about 1,000–1,300 ppm under ideal circumstances.

Liquid carbon dioxide has become popular for many growers [ as opposed to natural gas and propane] even though it is usually more expensive. The main advantages of using liquid CO2 include purity of product, no concerns about crop damage, nor heat or moisture production, better control of CO2 levels and the flexibility to introduce the CO2 within the plant canopy at any time.

When natural gas, propane or kerosene is burned, not only CO2 is produced, but also heat is generated that can supplement the normal heating system. The relative humidity will increase by about 3%–6% when using natural gas provided the greenhouse temperature is not affected from the heat generated by the burners. Typically, when the temperature is raised by 1°C there is no effect on the relative humidity……………….This does not happen with liquid carbon dioxide!!

And it is important to have an adequate distribution system. The distribution of CO2 depends mainly on air movement within the greenhouse(s), as CO2 does not travel very far through diffusion. For instance, when a single source of CO2 is used for a large surface area or several connecting greenhouses, a distribution system must be installed, to evenly distribute the CO2 in the greenhouse especially when flue gas CO2 or liquid CO2 is used.

Huge parallels here with the earths natural system methinks.

131. Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7 says:

Box of Rocks says:
January 27, 2014 at 2:40 pm

If there are cowboys, are there still indians?

Yes, but not much longer if the legion of the perpetually offended get their way.

132. Jimbo says:

Let’s all reconcile and be friends again.

Reconciling Late Ordovician (440 Ma) glaciation with very high (14X) CO2 levels
JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH, VOL. 100, NO. D1, P. 1093, 1995
http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/1995/94JD02521.shtml

It’s a funny and uncertain world we live in. Climate sensitivity is worse than we thought. Water vapour will go viral any time soon.

WUWT – September 26, 2013
Study: The Late Cretaceous Period was likely ice-free
……“Currently, carbon dioxide levels are just above 400 parts per million (ppm), up approximately 120 ppm in the last 150 years and rising about 2 ppm each year,” said Ken MacLeod, a professor of geological sciences at MU. “In our study, we found that during the Late Cretaceous Period, when carbon dioxide levels were around 1,000 ppm, there were no continental ice sheets on earth. So, if carbon dioxide levels continue to rise, the earth will be ice-free once the climate comes into balance with the higher levels.”……

….“We know that the carbon dioxide (CO2) levels are rising currently and are at the highest they have been in millions of years. We have records of how conditions have changed as CO2 levels have risen from 280 to 400 ppm, but I believe it also is important to know what could happen when those levels reach 600 to 1000 ppm,” MacLeod said. “At the rate that carbon dioxide levels are rising, we will reach 600 ppm around the end of this century. At that level of CO2, will ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica be stable? If not, how will their melting affect the planet?”

Previously, many scientists have thought that doubling CO2 levels would cause earth’s temperature to increase as much as 3 degrees Celsius, or approximately 6 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the temperatures MacLeod believes existed in Tanzania 90 million years ago are more consistent with predictions that a doubling of CO2 levels would cause the earth’s temperature could rise an average of 6 degrees Celsius, or approximately 11 degrees Fahrenheit.
https://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/09/26/study-the-late-cretaceous-period-was-likely-ice-free/

133. London247 says:

The analogy I like to use is. I have borrowed one million dollars from you. I offer to pay back 400 dollars. Would you be happy with this deal? If not, why not? Is 400 dollars an insignficant amount to the total?

134. aGrimm says:

Though RGB and others are correct in their critiques of the article, I feel they are missing the bigger point – the poor scientific knowledge in the better part of society. Yes, the issue of AGW is very complex and which is the precisely the problem when trying to explain the issue to the less scientifically literate. Without a foundation of simple knowledge, complex issues are won more frequently upon emotion. I ran into this problem when publically speaking on radiation issues. It is a huge problem. The only way the ignorance can be overcome is to explain things in simplistic, 8th grade terms. The issue, in this case CO2, has to be explained in simplistic terms. If one’s explanation gets too complex and much further beyond an 8th grade explanation, the average person’s eyes will glaze over and the explanation will be lost. People are not stupid (as a rule), but once the explanation is lost to them, they will revert to an emotional response instead of an intellectual response. The alarmists are far better at evoking that emotional response. I would not hesitate to employ the analogies in this article when talking to a science illiterate plus I would add some emotional facts to counter the alarmists’ emotional facts.

135. markx says:

I am in complete agreement that the 3% step was a step too far in the picture …. according to current theory.

However, it seems rather interesting that a system which remained in balance at a very precise level for many hundred thousand years is completely unable to cope with an additional 3% loading per year ….. the balance must have been delicate indeed …. or, there is a lot more going on than simple addition.

136. Jimbo says:

Gail Combs says:
January 27, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Lots of assumptions.

We know the Team has fudge, manipulated and down right lied about temperature data, so why does every one just go along with the CO2 data and all there assumptions and interpretations?

Monday, January 27, 2014
New paper finds adjusted temperature data in China has significantly exaggerated warming
………The paper corroborates the prior work of Anthony Watts, Joseph D’Aleo, et al, finding leading meteorological institutions in the USA and around the world have so systematically tampered with instrumental temperature data that it cannot be safely said that there has been any significant net “global warming” in the 20th century……

We are about to destroy our biosphere with co2 fertilization. A greening planet does not take up co2. Arid areas are indeed getting drygreen. We are doomed.

137. John F. Hultquist says:

glenncz says:
January 27, 2014 at 11:22 am
“. . . the 400-150=250 ppm . . .

The 150 used seems to be your personal choice for the concentration of CO2 in the pre-industrial atmosphere. Many think this should be about 280. Others think it was quite variable, maybe 320. At the following link, see the table and ref. #6.
http://cdiac.ornl.gov/pns/current_ghg.html

I realize the choice of numbers in your equation have nothing to do with the issue you raise but many plants perform poorly at around 220 and 150 appears to be near the minimum needed for survival. So I’ve read.

138. Gary Pearse says:

Willis Eschenbach says:
January 27, 2014 at 10:59 am

“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.”

Interestingly, this suggests to me a case that could have been made against the EPA’s CO2 toxic pollutant finding. One breath of air is ~ l litre which weighs 1.2 grams and contains ~ 0.5mg of CO2 and presumably we breath it mostly all back out again. A green mamba bite has ~100mg of venom in one shot. Mortality is high but some figures put mortality without treatment at 80%. Cyanide, arsenic and the rest are of similar toxic levels. I think if the court had been presented with these comparisons the legal support for the EPA’s position would have fallen apart.

139. David Riser says:

I would say that the Author is in the ballpark with the right numbers, even the half a ppm bit. I would like to point out that it is generally considered that CO2 is fairly well mixed, but the total amount varies at different points of the year. On average it goes down for five months then up for seven months with a net of 2PPM increase a year at Mauna Loa observatory which has the longest record of measurements. So the fact that it actually goes down says that the system is capable of absorbing all the CO2 produced for a set period of time, but not all the time. The swing (around 8PPM with a 2PPM residual per year for the recent bit of the pause) . During this time our generation of CO2(from breathing to driving) is fairly constant, it certainly doesn’t decrease for 5 months out of the year. The authors reasoning is valid because we think that the Anthropogenic output of CO2 is small compared to the natural sources, if it wasn’t, there would be a steady clime in the atmospheric CO2 concentration. AGW folks include in their Anthropogenic calculations such things as domesticated animals including cows which I feel is a bit of a stretch since there would likely be more animals about if we weren’t here to add to the mess as well as more insects. But anyways excellent post!

140. Thank you for your response at:

richardscourtney says:

January 27, 2014 at 12:41 pm

You cover most of what I question.

From the OP:

“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.”

Weren’t we at about 250 ppm at the end of the LIA?

Did the increase from that level only begin (and be directly related to) anthropogenic emissions?

Wasn’t some of the increase natural even before we humans began contributing measurably?

Around 1955 the CO2 level was about 310 ppm. If we are supposedly contributing measurably to the increase since then, 400 – 310 = 90 ppm (9 seats in the example), so at most we could be responsible for 3% of 9, or .27 of a seat (assuming responsibility of the entire 90 ppm).

It’s even less worse than we thought.

:)

A thought which I didn’t see from other commenters on this thread:
A rough estimate of the air volume inside Cowboy Stadium is: 200 m long x 150 m wide x 50 m high = 1,500,000 m3. At .0004 concentration, that includes 600 m3 (600,000 liters) of CO2.
A rough estimate of the amount of CO2 exhaled during a 3-hour game by each person is 180 grams (21,600 respirations/day @ .045 CO2 @ 750 ml/breath ~ 90 liters CO2 content, per person, during the game.; x 100,000 persons = 9,000,000 liters = 9,000 m3. If all that CO2 stays in the stadium (conceivable, since it’s heavier than air), we now have 9,600 m3/1,500,000 m3 = 0.0064 concentration of CO2.

Even if these back-of-the-envelope calculations are off by an order of magnitude – why doesn’t the stadium burn up during a game, just from all those people there? Explain that, CAGW freakos.

142. richardscourtney says:
January 27, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Ah, yes. Metric football.
Must have been invented by the French and regulated by the EU. (Claims to be a sport, but there is no contact, the rules make no sense but it is highly regulated, and there’s a lot of running around but not much scoring…)

143. disappointed says:
January 27, 2014 at 11:42 am
In my mind it had better be removed.
———————————————–
I see several others who voice a similar thought, but doesn’t the great comment section rectify the need for removal with it,s diverse and open conversation that sheds light on reasons pro and con as to the value of the post?

144. Jimbo says:

Matt Schilling says:
January 27, 2014 at 1:08 pm

Willis has often insisted people actually quote him when addressing his articles and comments. Yet, he didn’t quote Mr. Welch in his reply at 10:59AM, in which he states “Your argument seems to be, CO2 is only a trivially small part of the atmosphere, so we can ignore it.”

I noticed that too.

I suspect that the author was just trying to point out how small a percentage co2 is compared to peoples’ beliefs. This is a crucial point. You will not believe me when I tell you that people have told me that co2 is the most important greenhouse gas!

Guardian
…. whether by replacing fossil fuel with renewable energy or by capturing CO2 (most important greenhouse gas) and storing it……
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/sep/24/lord-stern-climate-change-sceptics-irrational#comment-27343086

The IPCC says no.

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. “

145. R. Shearer says:

You just don’t want to sit in front of the guy who ate the Nachos El Grande and drank a few beers (or behind him for that matter).

146. Richard G says:

rgbatduke says:January 27, 2014 at 10:46 am
Willis Eschenbach says:January 27, 2014 at 10:59 am
et al

Forget about the 1/2 seat for a moment.
Suppose the CO2 content goes from 40 to 50 seats per 100,000. Field experiments and lab experiments have shown that biomass and crop production goes up 25% to 30% as a direct response to CO2 enrichment.
Conclusion: there will be 25% more pop corn!!!!

147. Jimbo says:

Regarding Ryan Scott Welch half seat comparison, so what??? It is irrelevant. We are at about 400ppm with 16 years of a surface temperature standstill;. How much ‘dangerous warming’ will we have at 800ppm??? Is it possible it would be beneficial warming???? Where is the evidence that 800ppm has resulted in net damage to the planet?

I suspect that by the end of this century our main worry will not be about co2 but aging populations, fertility rates and production / pensions. Our other worry after the end of this century could be about falling global population. Check out the fertility rates of Latin American countries, the EU, etc. Co2 insanity, the real worry will be carried out by our children and grandchildren. I hope I’m wrong.

148. richardscourtney says:

JohnWho:

re your question at January 27, 2014 at 3:37 pm.

I am openly stating that I am avoiding your question because I don’t want to side-track the thread, but I will summarise my view and suggest how to find what you really want.

I am certain that the “accumulation” argument is wrong because it is refuted by the dynamics of atmospheric CO2, and I accept the indication from stomata data that atmospheric CO2 concentration variation was similar to now in pre-industrial atmospheric times. But that does NOT mean I think the recent CO2 rise is anthropogenic or is natural in part or in whole. The recent rise is probably adjustment of the carbon cycle system towards an altered equilibrium. But the cause of that change to the equilibrium state of the carbon cycle is not known: the cause is probably natural but it could be addition of the anthropogenic emission.

That is an introduction to my views.

For a more full answer to your question please use the WUWT Search facility and search for Salby. Read the threads of the searched articles taking especial note of comments by Ferdinand Engelbeen, Bart and me. Between the three of us you will get the full range of views.

And that is all I am willing to say on the matter in this thread. Sorry.

Richard

149. Pippen Kool says:

CO2 is not alone in having dramatic effects at low concentrations. Compare to the level of it’s sister molecule, carbon monoxide, which kills in the 600 ppm level and at the present levels of CO2, if it doesn’t kill you, it gives you a hell of headache.

150. richardscourtney says:

RACookPE1978:

Thanks for your comment to me at January 27, 2014 at 3:46 pm.

Brilliant! Thankyou! That is the best and most enjoyable post in the thread by far.

Richard

151. RoHa says:

“something that nearly every person” in the USA ” has seen, a football stadium.”

Do you know there are people living outside America?

152. Marc says:

Thanks to RGB, had exactly the same thought. We must adhere to assiduous accuracy.

This is sloppy, potentially misleading, and easily assailable by hyper-warmists — close to an own goal.

153. Richard G says:

A question for all you physicists who fixate over down welling radiation and temperature: How many watts of down welling radiation are contained in a tablespoon of popcorn? And what is the temperature of that popcorn?
There is a lot of ‘latent’ heat bound up in chemical bonds produced by plant from sunlight.

154. Mike Jonas says:

Willis Eschenbach Jan 27 1:58pm says “The author is arguing that because something is tiny we can afford to ignore it“. Rubbish. The author says no such thing. If you disagree with something the author said, please quote the author’s exact words, and then explain why you think they are wrong.

155. Pippen Kool says:

“CO2 is not alone in having dramatic effects at low concentrations…”&blah, blah, etc.

Mr Kool is about as unscientific as any other climate alarmist. He seems to actually believe that one molecule acts the same as a different molecule.

No wonder Pippen Kool is so confused.

156. Jimbo says:

aGrimm says:
January 27, 2014 at 3:13 pm

Though RGB and others are correct in their critiques of the article, I feel they are missing the bigger point – the poor scientific knowledge in the better part of society……….

BINGO! And I got the main point immediately due to my prior interactions on other websites. Sceptics can make great headway if we stop assuming that people know better, most don’t. Imagine the simple gains of pointing out ppm, water vapour etc? It may seem obvious to many here but we are missing a big opportunity. Stop assuming.

157. richardscourtney says:

P1ppen K00l:

re your post at January 27, 2014 at 4:27 pm.

As I told you on the other thread where you provided the identical post.

It seems the voices are commanding you to make identical posts on different threads within minutes of each other. For your own sake, get treatment to be rid of the voices.

Richard

158. Merrick says:

Anthony and all moderators…
Accidentally mistyped my name up there a ways (Merick instead of Merrick).
I wouldn’t want to [be] accused of using multiple personalities on the board (or having them, for that matter!). Could someone fix that, or at least note it?

Thanks!

159. Jimbo says:

Pippen Kool says:
January 27, 2014 at 4:27 pm

CO2 is not alone in having dramatic effects at low concentrations. Compare to the level of it’s sister molecule, carbon monoxide, which kills in the 600 ppm level and at the present levels of CO2, if it doesn’t kill you, it gives you a hell of headache.

But co2 is what provides you with food. Without co2 you will kick the bucket. Low co2 nearly led to the end of life on Earth. Let’s stop these toxic games.

http://www.astrobio.net/pressrelease/5669/hydrogen-cyanide-and-lifes-origin

160. The real question is, “How much of that less than ½ seat of CO2 originated in the United States?” The next question why should we impose regulations on United States citizens that inflate energy costs for no definable change in CO2 only a significant increase in the misery effect of high energy costs during a bad economy?

161. Jimbo says:

Pippen Kool says:
January 27, 2014 at 4:27 pm

CO2 is not alone in having dramatic effects at low concentrations. Compare to the level of it’s sister molecule, carbon monoxide, which kills in the 600 ppm level and at the present levels of CO2, if it doesn’t kill you, it gives you a hell of headache.

I’m getting a bloody blinding green headache. How can I stop this destruction of my world view.

STRIKE ONE.

Abstract – 31 May, 2013
CO2 fertilisation has increased maximum foliage cover across the globe’s warm, arid environments

[1] Satellite observations reveal a greening of the globe over recent decades. …….Using gas exchange theory, we predict that the 14% increase in atmospheric CO2 (1982–2010) led to a 5 to 10% increase in green foliage cover in warm, arid environments. Satellite observations, analysed to remove the effect of variations in rainfall, show that cover across these environments has increased by 11%.…..
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/grl.50563/abstract
_____________________________

Abstract – May 2013
A Global Assessment of Long-Term Greening and Browning Trends in Pasture Lands Using the GIMMS LAI3g Dataset

Our results suggest that degradation of pasture lands is not a globally widespread phenomenon and, consistent with much of the terrestrial biosphere, there have been widespread increases in pasture productivity over the last 30 years.
http://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/5/5/2492
_____________________________

Abstract – 10 April 2013
Analysis of trends in fused AVHRR and MODIS NDVI data for 1982–2006: Indication for a CO2 fertilization effect in global vegetation

…..The effect of climate variations and CO2 fertilization on the land CO2 sink, as manifested in the RVI, is explored with the Carnegie Ames Stanford Assimilation (CASA) model. Climate (temperature and precipitation) and CO2 fertilization each explain approximately 40% of the observed global trend in NDVI for 1982–2006……
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/gbc.20027/abstract
_____________________________

Abstract – May 2013
The causes, effects and challenges of Sahelian droughts: a critical review
…….However, this study hypothesizes that the increase in CO2 might be responsible for the increase in greening and rainfall observed. This can be explained by an increased aerial fertilization effect of CO2 that triggers plant productivity and water management efficiency through reduced transpiration. Also, the increase greening can be attributed to rural–urban migration which reduces the pressure of the population on the land…….
doi: 10.1007/s10113-013-0473-z
_____________________________

Abstract – 2013
P. B. Holden et. al.
A model-based constraint on CO2 fertilisation
Using output from a 671-member ensemble of transient GENIE simulations, we build an emulator of the change in atmospheric CO2 concentration change since the preindustrial period. We use this emulator to sample the 28-dimensional input parameter space. A Bayesian calibration of the emulator output suggests that the increase in gross primary productivity (GPP) in response to a doubling of CO2 from preindustrial values is very likely (90% confidence) to exceed 20%, with a most likely value of 40–60%. It is important to note that we do not represent all of the possible contributing mechanisms to the terrestrial sink. The missing processes are subsumed into our calibration of CO2 fertilisation, which therefore represents the combined effect of CO2 fertilisation and additional missing processes.
doi:10.5194/bg-10-339-2013

162. Jimbo says:

Pippen Kool
STRIKE TWO:

April 2013
Abstract
Terrestrial satellite records for climate studies: how long is long enough? A test case for the Sahel

As an example, the Sahelian drought and the subsequent recovery in precipitation and vegetation will be analyzed in detail using observations of precipitation, surface albedo, vegetation index, as well as ocean indices.

163. Jimbo says:

Pippen Kool says:
January 27, 2014 at 4:27 pm

CO2 is not alone in having dramatic effects at low concentrations. Compare to the level of it’s sister molecule, carbon monoxide, which kills in the 600 ppm level and at the present levels of CO2, if it doesn’t kill you, it gives you a hell of headache.

600ppm of co2 will give you a headache! Where is your peer reviewed evidence? The non-peer reviewed submariners are screaming for Anadin.

164. milodonharlani says:

GISS’ thoroughly cooked to a crisp books show a spurious increase in global temperature of less than 0.7 degrees C since 1960, despite a gain in beneficial CO2 of supposedly about 80 ppm. So, worst case, adding another 160 ppm over the next 80 years or so could increase T by 1.4 degree C, were the relationship linear, which of course it isn’t. It’s logarithmic, so the first 44 years will have a much greater effect than the next 44 years or the final 36 years.

CACA is hoist by its own petard, even with all the blatant rigging of the “adjusted data”.

Not to mention that from the 1940s to 1970s the world cooled amid rising CO2 levels, & had warmed in previous decades without benefit of higher CO2.

CACA was born falsified.

165. Jimbo says:

Marc says:
January 27, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Thanks to RGB, had exactly the same thought. We must adhere to assiduous accuracy.

This is sloppy, potentially misleading, and easily assailable by hyper-warmists — close to an own goal.

So you disagree with ALL of the post???? Do you agree with the first three paragraphs? If no then what about the first 2 paragraphs? I only ask because I too believe in adhering to accuracy.

Get a grip sunshine, you are against dishonest forces, don’t gnaw off your own tail, just nibble. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

166. Doug says:

I have to agree with Willis. The greenhouse properties of CO2 are well known and quantified. Due to the logarithmic nature of the effect, most of the effect comes from a very low concentration. The effect on overall climate is very poorly understood. The fact that the effect requires few molecules is of no consequence. This little game with stadium seats accomplishes nothing except to bring the discussion down to the level of the scientifically illiterate.

If you want to explain something to the masses, perhaps the paint analogy is more valid. A thin coat of black paint could turn the whole stadium black, and with just a few molecules cause it to absorb more heat. The second coat would make it blacker, but the tenth coat would have no effect at all.

167. milodonharlani says:

PS: My arithmetic also assumes that any & all increase in air temperature since 1960 is due to CO2.

Clearly, if the models modeled reality, there should have been a lot more manmade global warming by now.

168. John West says:

@ richardscourtney

I didn’t intend to imply 100% surety that catastrophic warming won’t happen. Similarly I can’t say for absolutely sure that there isn’t a massive negative feedback to warming that causes super cooling. Robert Brown correctly made the point that the increase in CO2 had a greater percentage effect on the greenhouse effect than the increase in concentration. I just put some numbers around the concept with the added benefit of illustrating the small nature of the much touted “enhancement” of the GHE by doubling atmospheric CO2 with the proper comparison of change in heat flux instead of concentration. While I certainly can’t rule out catastrophic warming the available evidence (including paleo-climatological) strongly suggests that the likelihood is so small it is nearly indistinguishable from zero, orders of magnitude less than relatively mild warming. Of course “catastrophic” is also somewhat relative, if one considers any change catastrophic then they’ll certainly see CAGW in the coming decades. In the future I’ll be more careful to caveat my comments appropriately, thank you for you sage advice.

169. I know this thread is about concentration, but The Git is having trouble concentrating. He’s trying to reconcile the picture of the “cowboy” at the top with pictures he’s seen of that other cowboy: w. e.

RoHa says:
January 27, 2014 at 4:33 pm

“something that nearly every person” in the USA ” has seen, a football stadium.”

Do you know there are people living outside America?

Yes, we do! They seem to be everywhere!

We are regularly shown great congregations of them on TV as they assemble in large stadiums watching metric football. American TV didn’t use to carry that kind of football so Americans in those days didn’t see many foreigners. Today, we are mainly puzzled by the seating numbers in these venues. It seems that only the Bukit Jalil National Stadium in Kuala Lumpur has a proper metric capacity of exactly 100,000 seats and is therefore usable for atmospheric concentration analogies and other science.

171. P.D. Caldwell says:

This is precisely the kind of metaphor WUWT, and any one trying to explain atmospheric physics in this case or any science for that matter, should disavow. It is so blatantly simplistic as to be irrelevant to the proposition being explained.

172. Jeff Alberts says:

GO HAWKS!!!

;)

173. Gail Combs says:

Tom in Florida says: @ January 27, 2014 at 1:25 pm
… “we know what is too little (less than 150 ppm)…
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Actually too little is less that ~ 350 ppm. In a field the plants (wheat) consistently sucked the CO2 down to 310 to 320 ppm during the growing season at 2 meters above the crop. Tomatoes sucked the CO2 in a green house down to between 200 and 250 ppm.“… photosynthesis can be halted when CO2 concentration approaches 200 ppm… (Morgan 2003)” So the idea is to be well above the point where photosynthesis stops. You want the plant healthy enough to reproduce and it will not flower and produce viable seed if half starved.

Given that they found CO2 starvation in trees from the Wisconsin glaciation, I would be much much happier with a nice comfortable safety margin like 1000 ppm.

174. 1.5 parts in 10,000 assumes that all the incremental nastygas is human. Debatable, but let’s just call that the outside limit. Water vapor averages 1 part in 40. By that ratio, nastygas is less than 2% of the greenhouse gasses and on a linear basis would contribute no more than 2% of the greenhouse effect, the human component being (generously) 1/3 of that.

However, the effect is by no means linear. Nastygas absorbs at a low energy part of the spectrum, while water vapor has absorbtion bands in the higher wattage near infrared part of the spectrum. The high energy water bands are not saturated so they can absorb reflected light. The nastygas bands are saturated by incoming light. They are already flinging all the photons they can.

http://geosciencebigpicture.com/2014/01/13/carbon-dioxide-the-wimp/

Cyanide? Gimme a break. Cyanide you exhale with every breath.

175. Gail Combs says:

Pippen Kool says:@ January 27, 2014 at 4:27 pm

CO2 is not alone in having dramatic effects at low concentrations. Compare to the level of it’s sister molecule, carbon monoxide, which kills in the 600 ppm level and at the present levels of CO2, if it doesn’t kill you, it gives you a hell of headache.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
What utter trash.
Random of the net:

I just got a co2 monitor/controler it is a titan atlas1 before setting it up I pluged it in and set the elevation level to the proper setting and pluged in a test light to see if the co2 outlet would come on when needed. To my surprise the co2 in my house without any suplement was reading around 1200ppm. I know little about this and did try to find answers to my question before posting but didint find the answers. I did read that a occupied environment acualt will have a higher co2 level then outside. Out side my meter reads 400ppm so the metter is working correctly. I also have natural gas heat/funace, hotwater, stove. There is 2 adults and a child and a dog living in the home.

Now they have people all worried about the amount of CO2 in their homes.

Carbon monoxide is dangerous because it binds with the blood instead of oxygen and will not turn loose, Carbon dioxide is needed by humans to keep us from hyperventilating and to regulate blood pH. Mom hyperventilated and the doctors had her breath into a paper bag to increase the CO2.

176. Will Nelson says:

richardscourtney says:
January 27, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Friends:

The American sense of humour continues to bemuse me.

Several Americans failed to get any laughs from Brad Keyes and took him seriously!

The question from R. de Haan asking “What’s a Cowboys Stadium?” was a joke.
The reply from Box of Rocks asking “What is football?” continued the joke.
My answer to Box of Rocks which defined “football” continued the joke.
And Colorado Wellington assessed by answer saying “Aah, metric football” continued the joke.

Those who have taken any of these comments seriously are spoiling continuation of the joke. OK?

Richard
**************************************************
Thank-you, finally, for calling the meeting to order.

While it may be true American (and Canadian… regards) Football is Rugby in a more civilized form, it is evident Soccer (pardon) is just an excuse for fans to riot.

177. Hoser says:

richardscourtney says:
January 27, 2014 at 2:58 pm
You are confusing half life with residence time. They are not the same thing.

Your definition is a perhaps correct in this particular context through (mis)-use by the community. However, “half-life” according to your usage is pretty much meaningless. Half-life is ordinarily used in more meaningful ways, such as the decay of isotopes. For example, does it make any sense to talk about the half-life of potassium as a mixture of natural isotopes? No. Half-life is far more meaningful when describing only the portion of 40K alone in a mixture with non-radioactive potassium. Yet apparently, for CO2, you (and others?) use half-life to describe a comparable process when the mixture returns to equilibrium.

It would be better to describe the time taken to return to equilibrium conditions after a perturbation as the relaxation time. Half-life describes the loss of a specific cohort in the mixture, e.g. 14C loss in the atmosphere following the bomb testing, and by extension the loss of any human CO2 injected into the atmosphere. What happens to the total concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is another matter depending on the total off rate (loss) and the on rate (gain) of CO2 in the atmosphere.

After the 14C experiment, we know half of the story, the off rate deduced from the rate constant. My calculations indicate the on rate changes cannot be accounted for using only human CO2 (hCO2) emissions. In other words, the Mauna Loa CO2 curve cannot be reconstructed from any reasonable choices of preindustrial CO2 level, known emissions of hCO2, and off rates. Therefore, there must be very substantial natural increases in CO2 responsible for the observed rise in atmospheric CO2.

178. Bill H says:

IF the 1/2 life is as short as just 20-30 years, then the human contribution will rapidly dissipate and the CO2 hypothesis will fail. IMHO it already has as plant life increases so does degrading/decomposing material which in turn increases the amount of CO2. When man emits this its a one time shot where plant life then takes over. Once cooling begins it wont matter how much CO2 we put in the air.

Once we place CO2 in the context of hundreds of thousands of years it becomes apparent that high levels or low levels mean very little. There are other drivers which trump it and a simple look at the past shows it.

I believe that a much more reserved control of particulates is the proper approach which we in the US do already. CO2 control has always been about people control…

179. oMan says:

The graphic would work better if you take away the colors from the seating chart and then add colors signifying the different gases. Also no need (and confusing/misleading) to mix a stock ( % gas at a given time) with a flow (% of gas being added per year by humans). The visual that all human activity over the past 200 or so years has filled 15 seats in a stadium of 100,000 seats is plenty strong enough.

180. Willis Eschenbach says:

Matt Schilling says:
January 27, 2014 at 1:08 pm

Willis has often insisted people actually quote him when addressing his articles and comments. Yet, he didn’t quote Mr. Welch in his reply at 10:59AM, in which he states

“Your argument seems to be, CO2 is only a trivially small part of the atmosphere, so we can ignore it.”

That’s fine; I’m not finding fault. I just don’t think Willis could’ve quoted the author to back his contention that Mr. Welch was arguing we can ignore our trivially small portion of atmospheric CO2.

Matt, he laid out what is like one of Aesop’s Fables … except he didn’t spell out the moral of the story. He never said directly what his whole stadium analogy means. Which is why I said to him “your argument SEEMS TO BE” …

Now, if you think that the overall thrust of his post was different from what it seemed to me like he was saying, you are certainly free to put forward what you think the point of the author’s analogy might be.

Seems to me that the whole point of his analogy with the seats is that since the humans (in his calculations) are only responsible for half of one seat out of a thousand, we don’t need to be concerned about it.

But if you don’t think that’s what he meant, then what do you think the point of his entire analogy might be?

w.

181. rogerknights says:

Pippen Kool says:
January 27, 2014 at 4:27 pm

CO2 is not alone in having dramatic effects at low concentrations. Compare to the level of it’s sister molecule, carbon monoxide, which kills in the 600 ppm level and at the present levels of CO2, if it doesn’t kill you, it gives you a hell of headache.

But CO2 is chemically inert, unlike CO.

182. Box of Rocks says:

Personally I like the idea that football be called – gridiron.

While it true that football evolved from rugby football it turns out that most thingies that were British with time bastardized by us Yanks always turn out better.

So if we have cowboys, where are the indians and where is their stadium?

Or, do we still play cowboys and indians?

183. Association Football, meh. Lots and lots of games end in a tie, quite a few 0-0 which they seem to want to call Nil-Nil, and everyone says what a great game it was, can’t wait for the next one.

I am over it with the comedians on here, supposedly a science blog, the best on the Net. Tell your wife your amazing and clever joke, say something interesting at WUWT…

184. Or your husband, sorry Gail and Janice!

185. Patrick says:

“Pippen Kool says:

January 27, 2014 at 4:27 pm”

CO2 at ~600ppm gives you a headache? We exhale at 40,000ppm, standard submarine operation is ~8500ppm, upper limit not to exceed 2% concentration. Did you source that bit of CO2 information from SkS?

186. Patrick says:

This analogy also don’t work for me, just not into ball games of any kind. The graph paper/rice analogies do.

With regards to the term “soccer”, I believe that term was derived from “Football Association”. The first and only “football” game I attended as a spectator was a “Rules” game (Australian Rules Football, or “footy” or “rules”) at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) in 1999. There didn’t appear to be any rules applied to the players and game. But I didin’t care too much sitting in an airconditioned corporate box with free beer and food.

187. Mike M says:

Gail Combs says: January 27, 2014 at 6:10 pm “Given that they found CO2 starvation in trees from the Wisconsin glaciation, I would be much much happier with a nice comfortable safety margin like 1000 ppm.”

Me too but the idea is forbidden at 1000.org

188. Jimbo says:
January 27, 2014 at 4:58 pm

Pippen Kool says:
January 27, 2014 at 4:27 pm
—————————————-
Maybe Pippen is saying that if you had as co as co2, then the 400 ppm of co would give you a heck of a headache.

189. The upper comment should have been stated ” it you had as much co as co2……”.

190. Sorry, second misplaced comment today. I have been herding cats and working to save 2 who took sick.

191. correction on the correction, it was the right spot afterall

192. Brian R says:

Not trying to slam rgbatduke, but if the physics of CO2 in the atmosphere are quite clear, then the climate models wouldn’t be so wrong. I agree that we know how CO2 reacts with both short wave and long wave IR. But would disagree that we understand how CO2 reacts within the atmosphere system.

193. Patrick says:

“goldminor says:

January 27, 2014 at 8:53 pm”

I didn’t read it that way. He said;

“Pippen Kool says:
January 27, 2014 at 4:27 pm

CO2 is not alone in having dramatic effects at low concentrations. Compare to the level of it’s sister molecule, carbon monoxide, which kills in the 600 ppm level and at the present levels of CO2, if it doesn’t kill you, it gives you a hell of headache.”

Talks of “dramatic effects at low concentrations” (CO2). Concetrations of ~1000 – ~1500ppm in comercial greenhouses, ~800ppm in your own home with windows closed, ~2500ppm in some offices, ~8500ppm in submarines and no adverse effects. We exhale at ~40,000ppm. Apollo 13 got to about 1.5%, or ~15,000ppm with symptoms begining to show. But it’s not only concenrataion, it’s length time of exposure too. All the available information about CO concentrations and it’s effects on humans is typically after being exposed for an hour or more. Most CO meters alarm at between 40 and 100ppm.

Dramatic effects of CO2 do happen at low concentrations, plants start to die off below ~150ppm.

194. Here is a summation of my responses to the various criticisms of the article:

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.

I don’t think the human contribution to CO2 is .45 seats per year. According to the Mauna Loa record, atmospheric CO2 rose from 394.28 ppm in December 2012, to 396.81 ppm in December 2013, and increase of 2.53 ppm in a year. If the human contribution to atmospheric CO2 is 3% of the yearly output, then 3% of 2.53 ppm is 0.0759 ppm.

http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/

If you wrongly assume that the human contribution to CO2 is .5 ppm per year then since the year 1850 the human contribution would be 81.5 ppm out of the total rise of CO2 over that period of 150 ppm, which would make the human contribution of the rise at 54.33%. How could a human contribution of 3% of the yearly CO2 output become 54% of the increase? Why does nature prefer the human 3% over nature’s 97%. Besides, in 1951 we can hardly assume that humans contributed 3% of CO2, but rather it started out at tenths or hundredths of a percent and gradually rose to the 3-4% we see today.

As far as the “poison” argument is concerned I posted this:
At certain levels everything is beneficial to life, even cyanide, and everything is a poison at certain levels, the only question is at what point does the harm outweigh the benefits?

The alchemist Paracelsus wrote that “all things are poison and nothing is without poison, only the dose makes something not a poison”.

http://www.grc.nia.nih.gov/branches/lns/BestinSmallDoses.pdf

The aim of this article was to show two things, first, the percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere compared to other gasses, and second the human contribution of CO2 in the atmosphere; nothing more or less.

Finally, living in America as I do I use a football stadium for my example (considering my audience). If I had lived in another country I’m sure I would use another term. I assumed that everyone reading this article would just think about another venue of similar size.

195. Carbon500 says:

Willis Eschenbach says “… 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.”
Willis, this is not comparing like with like. I worked in a laboratory for many years, and rest assured that below a certain concentration many substances are totally unreactive – and the molecular reasons for such unreactivity vary. Unless proven otherwise, I think it’s fair to comment on the low concentration of CO2 in this way. And here’s an important point. As I never cease to point out, why hasn’t anyone in ‘climate science’ conducted an experiment (a real one, not a computer calculation) to show the effects of CO2 at varying concentrations in the presence of water (also at varying concentrations) and other atmospheric gases? Yes, it’s not the real world, but at least there would be some verifiable experimental data to show that ‘x’ amount of CO2 causes ‘x’ amount of warming under controlled conditions. Also, has anyone examined what actually happens in the atmosphere at the molecular level? To me, it’s not inconceivable that there’s some interaction between CO2 and water vapour.

196. Matt says:

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

This seems to be very difficult for many people. Water is not a gas, ok?

I have several editions of a pilot’s manual, now close to edition 30 (sic!) — and in the old as in the new editions, they keep refering to water vapor as ‘gas’. This happens a lot in other, even scientific-minded writings.

Water is not a gas in the atmosphere. The states of water are defined by it’s boiling and freezing points (obviously). So at normal pressure, if your water, or atmosphere, is above freezing, but below boiling, water is liquid, i.e. the water in the atmosphere is liquid, not gaseous. Hence they call it ‘vapor’.

And so the contribution of water to the amosphere as a gas is 0%, not 0.9% – which is why Argon is 0.9% and H2O is not on the chart at all.

197. Barry Sheridan says:

An interesting way of trying to convey numbers, although as others have latched onto this does not provide an understanding of the role of CO2, though I feel the author had no such intention. As is widely understood on this site the role of carbon dioxide is complex, all the more so from not being linear, what more of it will do remains uncertain and not truly predictable at the moment.

198. Sasha says:

Water vapor, the most significant Greenhouse gas of all, comes from natural sources and is responsible for about 95% of the “Greenhouse effect.” This is common knowledge amongst real scientists, but is ignored by all those with financial interests, certain governmental groups and so-called news reporters, especially in the BBC. Conceding that it is “a little misleading” to leave water vapor out of their pronunciations, they defend their practice by saying that it’s “customary” to do so. So that’s all right then. The BBC might as well issue this statement: “We, at the BBC, will continue to deliberately mislead, deceive and lie to you about real climate science because it is ‘customary’ practice.”

Much of the scientific establishment and all the green “activists” have forgotten their elementary school biology about photosynthesis and the carbon cycle. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has declared carbon dioxide to be a “dangerous pollutant” under the Clean Air Act. That’s how insane they are. The other thing they “forget” to mention is that carbon dioxide has a half-life of just five years*, which means that nearly all the CO2 produced over five years ago has long disappeared into the sea and the Earth’s biosphere. Those talking about how the West’s developed economies have been wrecking the atmosphere “for centuries” are either ignorant of that simple scientific fact or lying.

*IPCC reports in 1995 and 2001 revised the lower limit of the lifetime estimate down to only five years. The 2007 IPCC report removed the table from the “Policymaker Summary,” and added in the “Executive Summary” of Chapter 7 on the carbon cycle: “About half of a CO2 pulse to the atmosphere is removed over a timescale of 30 years; a further 30% is removed within a few centuries; and the remaining 20% will typically stay in the atmosphere for many thousands of years” (Denman et al 2007, page 501). Some climate models calculate CO2 remaining in the atmosphere 1,000 years and others put it at 20,000 years, which only goes to show how useless all the climate models are.

In addition to being a massive distraction as to the enormous advantages an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide bestows upon the Earth, the rate at which CO2 is absorbed back into the biosphere, whether it be 14 months, five years or 20,000 years, is irrelevant in any case. Many have tried to tag carbon dioxide as a pollutant simply because it is a product of fossil fuel combustion. But carbon dioxide is also a product of respiration, fermentation and putrefaction. Carbon dioxide released by the combustion of fossil fuels had previously been taken from the atmosphere by photosynthetic organisms and converted into organic compounds to be used in their metabolic functions as structures for reproduction, etc. When those photosynthetic organisms later died, their remains were subjected to geological processes that converted the organic matter into oil, coal and methane. Those products are the fossil fuels that we use today to power our industries and vehicles; therefore, we are only returning carbon dioxide to the place it once occupied during the Carboniferous Period. Carbon dioxide cannot then be considered a pollutant just because it is released back into the atmosphere by the combustion of organic fuels and from many other natural processes unrelated with life.

Politicians and so-called “green” activists write about “carbon” (because they seemingly can’t manage the whole phrase ‘carbon dioxide’) as though it is something alien to this planet and the life-forms which inhabit it. May I take this opportunity to inform You, that you, along with nearly every living thing on Earth, are a carbon-based life-form, and all the food you ever eat during your life is composed of and based on carbon. And what made all this possible? The vector gas known as carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide’s “residence time” can be as little as ten minutes, or several years, depending on whether there is plant life nearby to absorb the gas, and animals or insects nearby to consume that plant growth. It is all a bit more complex than most imagine, but that is the case.

Idiots who claim that we must reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere are wholly ignorant of the life processes which depend upon this rare gas, the reasons why its concentration varies over time irrespective of the actions of the planet’s inhabitants, and the effects of its varying concentration levels in the atmosphere over time.

The plain truth is that whatever the climate is doing it is neither caused by or can be influenced by any so-called “remedial action” by humans. “Fighting climate change” is probably the stupidest phrase in the English language, and is only used by those with a financial or other interest in perpetuating the biggest fraud in history. The “fighting climate change” business generates about \$600 billion annually worldwide.

Six bosses at the British Government’s Green Investment Bank receive higher salaries than the Prime Minister (£142,500). The Cabinet Office’s list of high-earning public officials and civil servants shows five of the seven highest paid are employed by the Bank, each earning between £275,000 and £335,000.

As required by law, the White House delivered to Congress a report stating in Fiscal Year 2013, which ended on September 30, the US government spent \$22,195,000,000 on climate change matters. The main categories are: US Global Change Research Program \$2.463 Billion; Clean Energy Technologies \$5.783 Billion, International Assistance \$797 Million; Natural Resources Adaptation \$95 Million; Energy Tax Provisions That May Reduce Greenhouse Gases \$4.999 Billion; Energy Payments in Lieu of Tax Provisions \$8.080 Billion. The \$8.080 Billion buys a lot of lobbying power for the wind and solar industries.

These expenditures further support SEPP’s earlier estimates that since 1993, the US has spent over \$150 Billion on climate change. The updated figure is over \$165 Billion. The climate establishment is well funded, but it still cannot provide an accurate answer to the critical question of how sensitive is the planet to a doubling of atmospheric CO2.

The deeper issue here is not that the political action now strangling western economies is politically motivated, but that accepting the arguments for seeing global warming alarmism as sheer political fraud means accepting that the talking heads citing science to sell it to the masses are either deluded or dishonest – but because no wolf today doesn’t mean no wolf tomorrow, it also means that the politicization and corruption of the research process has destroyed the credibility of all involved, and thus as having greatly weakened the world’s ability to recognize and respond to a real threat should one now materialize.

199. Otteryd says:

I always thought World Series was about rounders. Must be another one.

200. Matt,

For all practical purposes, water vapor is an atmospheric gas. It can exist as liquid water droplets, or as a gas. A single molecule of H2O acts as a gas, just like a molecule of CO2.

The amount of water vapor in the atmosphere varies, from ≈1% – 4%. It emits and absorbs solar energy, just like CO2 and other gases do.

201. richardscourtney says:

Hoser:

Thankyou for your point to me at January 27, 2014 at 7:01 pm.

I refer you to the post of Bill Bill H which answers your point. It is at January 27, 2014 at 7:04 pm here

The half-life of atmospheric CO2 is at least as important as climate sensitivity and we have estimates of its value with a range which is nearly two orders of magnitude.

Richard

202. Well, I have missed most of the discussion, as I was absent yesterday… But let’s look at the facts.

Robert Brown’s comment and additional comments by WUWT regulars like Willis and others have already pointed to the main flaw in the last part, but the early parts are quite interesting to give people a comparison of the quantities involved, be it that that doesn’t give any idea about its effects…

To begin with, here a comparison between the accumulated emissions from humans since ~1900 and the accumulation in the atmosphere:

where the CO2 values before 1960 are from ice cores and from 1960 on from Mauna Loa, human emissions are from fossil fuel sales (taxes!) and burning efficiency of the different fuels.
There is an almost perfect correlation between human emissions and the increase in the atmosphere:

Far less impressive for temperature and CO2 accumulation:

As usual there is a lot of confusion between the “only 3% per year” and the accumulation in the atmosphere. As about half the quantity (not the original molecules) of the human addition is removed per year, the real accumulation is:
~160 GtC/year in (97% natural, 3% human) – ~155 GtC/year out (whatever the natural/human composition) = ~5 GtC/year (~2.5 ppmv/year) increase in the atmosphere.
Simply said, the combined input is larger than the natural output. The latter is increased, compared to the past, because of the increased CO2 pressure in the atmosphere over the past 50/160 years. 160 years ago there was little change in CO2, according to high resolution (~ a decade) ice cores. Even the MWP-LIA transition of ~0.8°C only caused ~6 ppmv change over a period of ~200 years with a lag of ~50 years after the temperature drop:

Thus the current increase of ~0.6°C is only good for a ~5 ppmv increase in CO2 from the 110 ppmv increase since 1850…

The current decay rate of CO2 in the atmosphere is ~50 years:
we are 232 GtC (110 ppmv) above the pre-industrial equilibrium. That causes an extra removal of ~4.5 GtC/year (2.15 ppmv/year) of CO2 somewhere in nature. That gives an e-fold decay rate for the extra CO2 of:
232 GtC / 4.5 GtC/year = ~52 years. Or a half life time of ~40 years.
That is too slow to remove all human CO2 every year, but more than fast enough to keep CO2 on track after the historical temperature changes over the many millennia of the past few million years of these glacials/interglacials period.

What about the effect of the increase? As far as seen in the past, the effect of more CO2 on the earth’s temperature / heat balance is very modest and very modest in modern times: the current standstill in temperature is performed with record emissions and levels of CO2. That means that, if natural oscillations (ocean currents?) can stop the warming by the extra CO2, natural oscillations also can be responsible for (most of) the warming in the previous period…

203. mikerossander says:

Several people (including the author of the original post) still seem to be confused by the criticisms of that final jump from 15 seats to 0.45 seats. Willis got close with his analogy to savings but I think not close enough. A better analogy would be to talk about your household income. Say that you earned \$97 per year. Your budget was on average perfectly balanced, spending that same \$97 each year. There was some variation within the year but your savings went up and down by very little each year. The residence time of an individual dollar in your savings account is irrelevant. If you start with a large balance, the calculated residence time of a bill in the bank could be years. If you have no savings, that dollar could circulate out of your bank account in days. It doesn’t matter, though, because your budget is in balance. For the sake of argument, let’s start our saving account with a balance of \$280.

Now you get a \$3 raise. But being a good saver (and in our fictitious world with no taxes), your spending stays at \$97 per year. Your savings will start to go up by \$3 per year and ALL of that increase is a consequence of your one raise. This will remain true even though the dollars from that incremental \$3 still circulate through your account almost exactly as fast as they did before the raise and even though the individual dollars can not be distinguished by their source.

The more recent comments (which get to an annual contribution of 0.0759 ppm) compound the error by reducing the anthropogenic contribution by 97% a second time. You don’t get to divide the number twice. That would be like saying that the \$3 per year raise would only increase your savings by \$0.09 per year. It confuses the incremental savings with the total household budget.

204. dave ward says:

JoNova (I think it was) had this simple analogy posted a couple of years ago:

Imagine 1 kilometre of atmosphere and we want to get rid of the carbon pollution in it created by human activity.

Let’s go for a walk along it.

The first 770 metres are Nitrogen.

The next 210 metres are Oxygen.

That’s 980 metres of the 1 kilometre. 20 metres to go.

The next 10 metres are water vapour. 10 metres left.

9 metres are argon. Just 1 more metre.

A few gases make up the first bit of that last metre.

The last 38 centimetres of the kilometre – that’s carbon dioxide. A bit over one foot.

97% of that is produced by Mother Nature. It’s natural.

Out of our journey of one kilometre, there are just 12 millimetres left. Just over a centimetre – about half an inch.

That’s the amount of carbon dioxide that global human activity puts into the atmosphere.

205. richardscourtney says:

Brian R:

Your post at January 27, 2014 at 9:42 pm says in total

Not trying to slam rgbatduke, but if the physics of CO2 in the atmosphere are quite clear, then the climate models wouldn’t be so wrong. I agree that we know how CO2 reacts with both short wave and long wave IR. But would disagree that we understand how CO2 reacts within the atmosphere system.

Not trying to slam you but your two points contradict each other.

As rgbatduke says, the physics of CO2 in the atmosphere are quite clear.
This does NOT mean “the climate models wouldn’t be so wrong”
because
we do NOT understand how CO2 reacts within the atmosphere system or – to be precise – what the atmosphere does when the physics of increased CO2 operate.

Richard

206. milodonharlani says:

mikerossander says:
January 28, 2014 at 2:56 am

You overlook the complicating factor that warming oceans naturally release more CO2 to the air, so the unchanging \$97 spent annually in your analogy doesn’t hold.

The problem is that no one knows how much CO2 would be in the air at present T without human contribution, so dwell time of natural & human gas does matter very much.

207. Carbon500 says:
January 27, 2014 at 10:51 pm

As I never cease to point out, why hasn’t anyone in ‘climate science’ conducted an experiment (a real one, not a computer calculation) to show the effects of CO2 at varying concentrations in the presence of water (also at varying concentrations) and other atmospheric gases?

As far as I know, there is no reaction between CO2 as gas and water as vapour, or hardly of interest. Of course, some CO2 will dissolve in water drops when water condenses out in clouds and rain, but that are very low concentrations, just over a mg/kg at the low CO2 partial pressure in the atmosphere and hardly changes the levels in the atmosphere at the clouds level or the surface where the rain falls down.

But about the effect: much is known of what happens to absorbance/emissitivity of any mixture of CO2, water vapour and methane in the atmosphere from laboratory measurements: HITRAN of the military produced line by line transmission/absorbance effects of such mixtures at many atmospheric pressure levels, which can calculate the total absorbance/transmission over any layer of the atmosphere.
Less accurate, but also less calculation intensive is MODTRAN, which calculates the same for less resolution. That is even on line and can be used to experiment with the effect (before any feeedbacks) of CO2 on temperature, be it that it seems to be off-line for the moment.
The Modtran calculation model was verified by satellite measurements of outgoing IR radiation:
http://climatemodels.uchicago.edu/modtran/modtran.doc.html

Anyway, CO2 is mainly active in the bandwidth where water vapour is not active…

But the main problem, as usual, is the behaviour of clouds on the whole IR budget.

208. milodonharlani says:
January 28, 2014 at 3:12 am

You overlook the complicating factor that warming oceans naturally release more CO2 to the air, so the unchanging \$97 spent annually in your analogy doesn’t hold.

We know perfectly well how much CO2 will get in the atmosphere from warming oceans: 17 ppmv/°C, according to Henry’s Law:

That is the dynamic increase of CO2 caused by an initial jump in temperature: more CO2 release in the tropics, less uptake near the poles. But the resulting increase of CO2 in the atmosphere has the opposite effect, until at 17 ppmv extra CO2 in the atmosphere the whole dynamic process is again in equilibrium.

But as biolife acts the other way out (increasing temperature = increasing uptake), the real world effect is 4-5 ppmv/°C short term (seasonal, 2-3 years variability) up to 8 ppmv very long term (decades to multi-millennia), here for the Vostok ice core (420,000 years):

It would be very remarkable to find a natural process that:
1) mimics the human emissions at the exactly the same ratio and timing.
2) results in the same changes of 13C/12C and 14C/12C ratio’s
3) increases the CO2 levels with over 100 ppmv/°C
4) that does INcrease the residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere over the past 50 years

Any substantial increase of CO2 emissions from the oceans will violate points 2 and 4 and is near impossible for point 3.

209. Mack says:

Ryan………….a good way to get a visual perspective of the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is to make up a thousand piece jigsaw. I think the amount is less than 1/2 of one piece.

210. richardscourtney says:

Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
January 28, 2014 at 3:43 am

Ferdinand, it is reasonable for you to have summarised your view because I did the same so that ballance is appropriate in this thread.

But I strongly commend everybody to avoid side-tracking this thread with discussion of the carbon cycle.

That communication requires accuracy, humour and honesty. It is important.

Richard

211. milodonharlani says:

Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
January 28, 2014 at 3:22 am

Please tell me where I’m wrong, but this appears to show about 57% overlap between water vapor & CO2 IR absorption (sorry about table formatting):

http://irina.eas.gatech.edu/EAS8803_Fall2009/Lec6.pdf

Table 6.3 Main Visible and near-IR absorption bands of atmospheric gases
Gas Center
ν (cm-1) (λ(µm))
Band interval
(cm-1)
H2O 3703 (2.7)
5348 (1.87)
7246 (1.38)
9090 (1.1)
10638 (0.94)
12195 (0.82)
13888 (0.72)
visible
2500-4500
4800-6200
6400-7600
8200-9400
10100-11300
11700-12700
13400-14600
15000-22600
CO2 2526 (4.3)
3703 (2.7)
5000 (2.0)
6250 (1.6)
7143 (1.4)
2000-2400
3400-3850
4700-5200
6100-6450
6850-7000

That’s without taking into consideration strength of absorption or the most frequent radiating temperatures of the earth.

212. Mack says:

Sorry that jigsaws are a bit more boring than the footy,

213. Matt says:

dbstealey,

that is nonsense. A single molecule of CO2 in the atmosphere does not behave like a gas because of it’s microscopic makeup as a single molecule, it behaves like a gas because it is !! a gas at any relevant temperature.

A single molecule of solid CO2 does not become gaseous only because it is single.

Likewise, who says that water water in the atmosphere consists of individual molecules? It is vapor.
Why would they show 1% of Argon but not 4% of water? Because it is about gases. It it weren’t about gases, why not include soot, dust etc as well?

214. milodonharlani says:

Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
January 28, 2014 at 3:43 am

I don’t suppose that all or even most of the alleged roughly 120 ppm increase in CO2 since c. 1850 is attributable to humans. As in prior discussions with you, I’m willing at least for purposes of discussion to go with 100 ppm, although actual anthro component might be less than that.

You are quite sure of the natural releases & sinks, but IMO science can’t be certain yet even to have discovered all the sinks.

215. milodonharlani says:

Matt says:
January 28, 2014 at 4:19 am

Water vapor is a gas. CO2 concentration is reported for dry air because water vapor content of the atmosphere varies so much, from over 4% in the tropics to very little at the poles.

216. milodonharlani says:
January 28, 2014 at 4:10 am

Please tell me where I’m wrong, but this appears to show about 57% overlap between water vapor & CO2 IR absorption (sorry about table formatting)

The figures you give ar for visible and near IR, which are important for incoming sunlight, where water vapour is active and completely overlaps the few CO2 bands. But the GHG effect is in the outgoing farther IR bands…

A nice overview of absorption bands is here, from slide 21 on, including the theoretical background for the greenhouse gases active in the outgoing IR bands:
http://ist-socrates.berkeley.edu/~budker/Physics138/Alyssa%20Atwood%20Atm%20Spec5.ppt

The main CO2 absorption band is at 660 cm-1 (15 μm), where water is not active.
But even so, in dry circumstances (polar, desert) other bands may become important.

217. Matt Schilling says:

Willis, I did state what I thought the point of Mr. Welch’s article. Quoting myself: “It seems to me Mr. Welch was merely, and graphically, showing the disconnect between the common misconception about atmospheric CO2 vs. the reality.” My main reason for replying to your reply was to push back against your cyanide analogy.

Of course, I think you are using valid and sound reasoning when you seem to be considering Mr. Welch’s full motivation. I have often used an imagined pay stub to demonstrate just how little CO2 is actually in the air. “The median weekly pay check is something like \$1,000. If there was a ‘carbon tax’ in there that equaled the percentage of CO2 that’s in the air, it would only be 40 cents!” I’ve never broken the 40 cents down further, though. So, when someone else does, it seems obvious they are attempting to make a further point.

And, I guess that means I’m now walking back the word “merely” in my original reply!

218. milodonharlani says:

Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
January 28, 2014 at 4:53 am

Thanks.

Clearly CO2 is relatively more important at the poles, so impoverished of water vapor.

219. dave ward says:
January 28, 2014 at 3:10 am

97% of that is produced by Mother Nature. It’s natural.

And there you go wrong: many forget that 98.5% of the mix is removed by Mother Nature in the same year. That makes that 1.5% is accumulating in the atmosphere… Humans are contributing 3% to the input, while the removal of the human-natural mix is 1.5% per year (of which currently some 10% or 0.15% is of human origin). Thus make the correct sums.

I think that most housewives have no problem with knowing what contributes to the increase of their household budget, if that happens in the same way as the above ins and outs…

220. Box of Rocks says:

richardscourtney says:
January 28, 2014 at 3:11 am
Brian R:

Your post at January 27, 2014 at 9:42 pm says in total

Not trying to slam rgbatduke, but if the physics of CO2 in the atmosphere are quite clear, then the climate models wouldn’t be so wrong. I agree that we know how CO2 reacts with both short wave and long wave IR. But would disagree that we understand how CO2 reacts within the atmosphere system.

Not trying to slam you but your two points contradict each other.

As rgbatduke says, the physics of CO2 in the atmosphere are quite clear.
This does NOT mean “the climate models wouldn’t be so wrong”
because
we do NOT understand how CO2 reacts within the atmosphere system or – to be precise – what the atmosphere does when the physics of increased CO2 operate.

Richard
**************************************************************
**IF***
The physics of CO2 in the atmosphere are quite clear then give me a calculation that I can use that shows the CO2 can warm a control volume of 1 cubic foot of air 1 degree F. in 60 seconds

It is that simple …

That is the GHG theory right? GHG warm the atmosphere, right. Should be a simple thermodynamic calc an entry level Mech Eng can do.

Last time I counted there were 40 cheerleaders on the squad, so CO2 is about as rare in the air as a Dallas cheerleader in a full stadium.

222. Box of Rocks says:
January 28, 2014 at 5:24 am

The physics of CO2 in the atmosphere are quite clear then give me a calculation that I can use that shows the CO2 can warm a control volume of 1 cubic foot of air 1 degree F. in 60 seconds

The first observations were made by John Tyndall in 1859 who could show the increased effect of IR radiation by adding CO2 above a flame.
And have a look at a modern equivalent: CO2 lasers, quite effective in using its excitation energy to beam a lot of energy into a small bundle:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dioxide_laser

The greenhouse effect of CO2 is rather weak: a 70 km column of air increasing its CO2 level from 290 to 580 ppmv will absorb 4.7 W/m2 more IR. To bring the outgoing radiation back to the same value, you need to increase the earth’s temperature some 0.9°C. All the rest is hype: positive feedback in the models increase that to 1.5-4.5°C, but these are the models that all fail to explain the current “pauze”…

223. richardscourtney says:

Box of Rocks:

re your request for clarification from me which you provide at January 28, 2014 at 5:24 am.

Sorry I was not sufficiently clear. I will try again.

The radiative physics which provides the greenhouse effect (GHE) is clear and understood.
BUT the complex Earth’s climate system is little understood.

We know as certain fact that adding CO2 to the atmosphere will increase the GHE to raise global temperature ALL OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL. But all other things are not equal in the complex Earth’s climate system: any change to one thing can change everything else.

So, the direct raise to global temperature from doubling atmospheric CO2 from present level would be about ~1.2°C if all other things remained unchanged. But things will change in the climate system and that may increase the raise in temperature (positive feedback) or lower the raise in temperature (negative feedback).

I think the feedbacks are negative so the raise to global temperature from doubling atmospheric CO2 from present level would be less than 1.2°C.

The IPCC thinks the feedbacks are positive so the raise to global temperature from doubling atmospheric CO2 from present level would be more than 1.2°C.

Nobody knows the truth of this but there is much evidence to support my view (some is stated above in this thread). I COULD BE WRONG.

As temperature rises then some change may occur to the climate system that provides a very, very large positive feedback which would provide a very, very large increase to global temperature. This is not likely but it is possible because the complex Earth’s climate system is little understood.

Please note that Willis Eschenbach makes a similar point about emergent properties (e.g. storm formation) to argue that as temperature rises then some change may occur to the climate system that provides a very, very large negative feedback which would provide a very, very small increase to global temperature.

When something is very unlikely that is not the same as it being impossible. For example, the Sun is very likely to rise tomorrow but it cannot be said that the Sun is certain to rise tomorrow because the world may end tonight.

Richard

224. michael hart says:

need a bigger photograph :)

225. The Vostok ice cores show an approximate 800 year lag time between warming and CO2 increases/decreases with temperature always leading. If that is true, how do we know that the rise in CO2 is not caused by natural post ice age warming from 800 years ago? Secondly, we also know from satellite observations that the earth has a dynamic ability to uptake CO2. The more that CO2 is available the vigorous the plant growth, and new plant growth is able to uptake an increasing amount CO2.

Assuming that the respiration cycle of CO2 by the earth recycles about 20% of the CO2 in the atmosphere each year, and that the respiration of CO2 in that cycle by the oceans and plants is approximately 98% of all CO2 emitted into the atmosphere each year, how can we know that humans contribute more than 50% of the increase of CO2 since the start of the industrial revolution, while only emitting 3% of CO2 now, and a small fraction of a percentage of CO2 at the beginning of the industrial revolution?

If we look at the human factor, the human contribution alone, humans clearly did not produce the same amount of CO2 in 1850, as we do now in 2014. So the 3-4% of human contributed CO2 today would have been 0.001 (or something like that) in 1850. If that is true, which seems logical, then how can we say that human activity is the cause of 82 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere (of the 150 ppm increase) which is more than 50% of the increase, when humans are only now at 3-4% CO2 contribution range? That does not seem logical.

I submit that the human contribution to atmospheric CO2 is small, probably around 4 ppm, that the earth has the ability to recycle 100% of CO2 in a temperature neutral state, and that the increase of atmospheric CO2 is from oceanic outgassing caused by natural warming of the oceans from about 800 years ago, not by the tiny human contribution.

226. Jenn Oates says:

This will be very useful in my classroom in a few weeks, when we do atmosphere. Many thanks!

227. John Tillman says:

Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
January 28, 2014 at 4:53 am

Thanks for the slide show link.

It seems CO2 must work its magic mainly in the stratosphere, since the troposphere is rarely above -80 C., if I’ve done the Planck arithmetic for 15 microns correctly.

228. eyesonu says:

Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
January 28, 2014 at 2:54 am

=========

Thank you for joining this discussion and for you comments.

229. Ryan Scott Welch says:
January 28, 2014 at 7:09 am

The lag of CO2 after temperature changes is quite variable: 800 +/- 600 years during a glacial-interglacial transition, several thousands (up to 5000) years for the reverse transition, 50 years for the MWP-LIA transition, halve a year for the short term variability (2-3 years) and a few months for the seasons. That is because a lot of different processes all with their own time frame are involved. The longest time frame is the deep ocean circulation and the area occupied by ice sheets or vegetation, the shortest by the formation of new leaves in spring and their death in fall.

how can we know that humans contribute more than 50% of the increase of CO2 since the start of the industrial revolution

Because humans emitted twice the amount of CO2 per year as the measured increase in the atmosphere, each year of the past at least 50 years. For the period before 1960, we only have ice cores with a resolution (filtering) of about a decade, but that too shows an about twice amount of CO2 emitted by humans compared to the increase in the atmosphere:

BTW: made a mistake, the accumulated human emissions didn’t start at zero in 1900, neither did the accumulation in the atmosphere. That would cause a small upward shift of both curves, more for the emissions than for the increase in the atmosphere…

Anyway, here the detailed accumulation/sink rates for the past 50+ years of accurate measurements:

The variability around the trend is caused by short term temperature variability (El Niño, Pinatubo) and is a modulation of the sink capacity of nature for the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. The trend is from human emissions…

230. milodonharlani says:

michael hart says:
January 28, 2014 at 6:49 am

231. Box of Rocks says:

richardscourtney says:
January 28, 2014 at 6:07 am
Box of Rocks:

What I am looking for is a calculation that show that the amount of energy lost by a control volume (c.v.) of 1 cubic foot to it’s surroundings can be returned to the c.v. by the CO2 molecules in the c.v.. Nothing more, nothing less.

The GHG theory postulates that When the c.v. cools – it losses energy and that the CO2 molecules with in the cv can convert enough of the earths outgoing radiation to usable energy to either maintains the c.v.’s temperature or raise it.

So there should be an equation or mathematical model that will allow some one to calculate the required energy conversion that the CO2 molecule must do to for the theory to work.

That way, the left side can equal the right side and voila an answer…

232. JimS says:

Half a seat, eh? Perfect for a person who is half-assed.

233. rgbatduke says:

please show me thermodynamically how t.hat 0.04% can contribute more than 0.04% of the GHE backed up with calculations.

Well, I could — pretty easily, in fact, since CO_2 is a lot more than 0.04% of the GREENHOUSE GASES that absorb significant amounts of LWIR AT ALL, because O_2 and N_2 simply don’t, much. Or, you could invest \$25 or whatever and purchase Grant Petty’s “A First Course in Atmospheric Radiation”, which I’m looking at as I type, and save me from retyping it into this itty-bitty window. Or I could refer you to the numerous places where this has been discussed and gone over on WUWT and elsewhere — the issue isn’t the absolute concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere, the issue is the mean free path of photons in the LWIR bands that those molecules strongly absorb and emit in. Of course then I’d have to teach you enough quantum theory to understand the idea of a molecular cross-section, and that’s pretty difficult.

It’s a shame that your eyes don’t see using LWIR, as if they did we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. The reason that we are is that you look out your window on a fine, sunny day or clear, starry night, and — you can see straight through that atmosphere “to infinity”! It is transparent! On a low humidity night, you can see detailed features of the moon almost as if there is nothing in between the moon and you! And this is for the whole atmosphere, all the oxygen, nitrogen, and everything else (but water vapor and sometimes particulate smoke and smog and so on, which can actually attenuate even visible light pretty strongly).

You look through this clear atmosphere and say to yourself gee, if I can see through the whole thing like it wasn’t even there, how could a gas at a concentration of 0.04% possibly matter?

If you saw in LWIR, however, it would be a completely different story. The mean free path of LWIR light varies with wavelength, but in the strong CO_2 absorption bands it is order of 1 to 10 meters. That means that photons here only go distances ranging from tens of centimeters to tens of meters before being absorbed by a CO_2 molecule. That’s quite similar to trying to see through a fog in the visible bands — you can easily see things 1-10 meters away, but as you get further than that, fewer and fewer photons reach your eye directly from the object you are looking at — most of them are diffusively scattered along the way. No matter which way you look, you see a nearly uniform grey once you try to look farther than photons can travel without a near-certainty of being scattered multiple times. You only see these scattered photons.

This isn’t precisely what happens with CO_2, because in a fog the light is scattering more or less elastically off of tiny water droplets, not inelastically off of molecules, but again, that has little effect on what you “see”. If your eyes were sensitive to the entire LWIR blackbody band (and indeed, saw it in different colors across its spectrum) you’d see even relatively distant objects in certain colors in the “transmission windows” where no atmospheric molecules have a particularly strong cross-section, but other colors would be absorbed almost immediately — “white” objects up close would become colored as you look at them far away not unlike the way our own atmosphere reddens distant objects via Rayleigh scattering. And in the strongly absorbed CO_2 wavelengths the atmosphere would be completely, totally, opaque, 0.04% or not.

What goes on then is complicated — basically most of the absorbed energy is transferred to surrounding air molecules, but in local equilibrium the CO_2 eventually absorbs and reradiates equal amounts of radiation in these bands effectively diffusing the radiation into all directions in rough thermal equilibrium with the temperature at their height. Even this is more complicated than the simple picture suggests, as the absolute density of molecules decreases with height, so even at a constant concentration the mean free path grows as photons diffuse upwards. Eventually the photons reach a height where the probability of a photon emitted in the upward direction reaching “infinity” (escaping the atmosphere) is no longer essentially zero and the energy that is being transported is lost.

But a significant fraction of the energy being given off as radiative loss by the surface of the Earth is returned to the surface of the Earth in the strongly absorbed bands. This isn’t really subject to much argument — while your eyes cannot see it (leading you to commit the sin of saying silly things) it is easy to measure it and photograph it. Indeed, people who are trying to measure things like atmospheric water vapor concentration — where water vapor is transparent, or nearly so, in the visible bands — have to look for it in its strongly absorbing bands as those are precisely the strongly emissive bands (Kirchoff’s law). However, those bands overlap with the bands associated with CO_2 and so one has to perform subtractions of CO_2-linked downwelling radiation in order to extract pictures of overhead not-yet-clouds.

This is straightforward technology, and is an important aspect of predicting the weather. It is a key part of what satellites have to do in order to measure things like atmospheric temperatures from the top of the atmospheres and do things like take those nifty LWIR photographs of weather patterns you can easily find on lots of weather sites — a good way of tracking weather fronts at night when one cannot see them, a good way of measuring the temperatures of the higher clouds in those fronts at the same time. In CO_2 absorbed bands, overhead satellites pretty much cannot see the ground. The atmosphere in these bands is opaque and all that one picks up is diffusively multiply scattered, re-thermalized radiation from the upper part of the troposphere where photons finally start to escape. This radiation is correlated with ground features, but only on a very long lateral length scale — nobody is going to e.g. pick up the localized heat signature of individual humans in these bands.

http://www.coe.montana.edu/ee/jshaw/publications/Physics_IRCloudImaging_EJP2013.pdf

which is a very interesting, completely global-warming-neutral paper that describes a lot of the physics and of course has many photographs taken in the LWIR bands. Figures 9 and 10, for example, are very illuminating. This isn’t controversial — it is straight up engineering. If you want to take pictures of stuff in the LWIR, you have to explicitly deal with the fact that the atmosphere is not at all transparent in much of the LWIR band associated with the Planck curve for temperatures around 288 K plus or minus 30 K.

The other thing you should really do is work through the single-slab atmospheric model. Willis presented it as the “steel greenhouse”, but it is a common example and a very good version of it is given in Petty (one with user-variable shortwave/visible and longwave/IR absorption coefficients). When one makes the atmosphere perfectly transparent to short wave radiation, and perfectly absorbing/re-emitting of long wave radiation, one gets the steel greenhouse limit of greenhouse warming of 1.2 x T_{gb}, 1.2 times the greybody temperature that the planet would have with no greenhouse effect at all and perfect absorptivity. Real planets will be strictly less than this — the Earth is closer to 1.1 times the greybody temperature.

As Willis points out, the real issue isn’t “a trace gas cannot produce significant greenhouse warming” — that argument is long since lost to direct observations, to photographs and spectrographs of downwelling radiation and upwelling radiation that clearly show the enormous impact of the gases in between the surface and infinity on the transmission of radiation — it is that the Earth’s atmosphere is a complex nonlinear system with multiple feedbacks that lead to a more or less stable mean temperature — there is no pathway to runaway warming visible in the geological record, and while there are indeed pathways to runaway cooling, even that is apparently limited by sufficiently powerful constraints that glacial eras are not “permanent”. It is by no means clear that the simple linear assumption of more CO_2 equals more warming PLUS POSITIVE feedbacks from things like water vapor are correct. It is absolutely unclear that we know how to disentangle the natural variation in the climate record from human effects, as well. Nonlinear open systems mix everything up and are often highly oscillatory around their local quasi-equilibrium (stuff having to do with attractors in high dimensional spaces).

In the end, though, articles like the top article do the skeptical argument no favors. By their nature they promote an argument that is utterly false, and easily demonstrated to BE false by direct spectrographic photographic evidence. Hard to be falser than that — directly falsified by evidence. That just gives those that think that they understand this to the point where they overstate the argument for warming, also in the teeth of contrary evidence, an easy way to promote a logical fallacy that is nevertheless highly persuasive, that if SOME people on your “side” promote one idiotic argument, the entire argument being promoted is wrong. Logical fallacy or not, why give them this sort of free shot?

BEFORE posting things that are simply wrong or almost deliberately misleading, why not take the time to learn some of the physics? And I mean learn it, not mouth words that you do not understand that you’ve heard somewhere that others have told you “refute” the GHE itself.

Hard to “refute” a photograph, at least in my opinion.

rgb

234. An Inquirer says:

The arsenic analogy is a favorite of alarmists, but it is a fallacious argument. If the body could handle .035% arsenic concentration, then it probably could handle .04%. All substances — even water — becomes “poisonous” at some level of concentration. CO2 at .035% is not poisonous and it is not poisonous at .04%, nor at .05%, nor at .06%, nor at anything remortely close to .07%.
Arsenic is not like CO2 or water. Arsenic does not have a beneficial service to the body. However, water and CO2 do have a beneficial service to the ecosystem, and it is most likely that a CO2 concentration of .04% is more beneficial to the human race than .035%. If crop production went down by 20%, would you want to make the decision on who does not get food?

235. charplum says:

I have very rarely offered a comment on this site. I am trying to absorb and learn. I don’t want to get into the argument over the number of seats. Pick your number; I think it is small.

When I read the article I could not help but think about an older article that covered the subject of “categorical thinking.” When nature produces CO2 that is OK but when man produces it that is bad.

It got me to thinking about the concerns expressed about bovine flatulence. Bovine flatulence is bad because the herds are for human consumption. If such herds were produced by nature no one would express concern.

After reading some of the comments I see the linkage between categorical thinking and CO2. Only the CO2 molecules produced by man are bad because there is nothing we can do about the other. Is it the tail wagging the dog?

236. Box of Rocks says:

rgbatduke says:
January 28, 2014 at 8:29 am

Did not ask for a discourse.

But a significant fraction of the energy being given off as radiative loss by the surface of the Earth is returned to the surface of the Earth in the strongly absorbed bands. This isn’t really subject to much argument — while your eyes cannot see it (leading you to commit the sin of saying silly things) it is easy to measure it and photograph it. Indeed, people who are trying to measure things like atmospheric water vapor concentration — where water vapor is transparent, or nearly so, in the visible bands — have to look for it in its strongly absorbing bands as those are precisely the strongly emissive bands (Kirchoff’s law). However, those bands overlap with the bands associated with CO_2 and so one has to perform subtractions of CO_2-linked downwelling radiation in order to extract pictures of overhead not-yet-clouds. ”

A simple equation err mathematical model that ‘predicts’ that the CO2 molecules in a control volume of 1 cubic feet can do what you wrote will suffice.

I know that IF I take 1 cubic feet of methane and oxide it at a given rate that a quantifiable amount of energy will be released.

What is the equation that converts your outgoing radiation to downwelling radiation so as an energy budget can be developed?
I am looking for a rate

The earth at it surface emitts say ‘x’ amount of energy. CO2 molecules then take .1x of the energy that is radiated from the surface of the earth and convert it to energy which then can do work err heat the surrounding atmosphere.

It is that simple – right? Mathematically express what you wrote above. Prove what you said above – mathematically.

That is all I am asking…

philjourdan says:

@Colorado Wellington – Go Spurs??? You do realize they are just a boot attachment on a cowboy? ;-)

Watch out, Phil! One more joke about football and we will all be sent to the principal’s office.

238. NotTheAussiePhilM says:

@RGB
Well done for trying to be a voice of reason in this intellectual desert!

The skeptic cause is not helped by the nonsense of the OP, and by the ridiculous rants by 90% of the respondents here, who have clearly not the slightest interest in understanding even the most basic physical principles pertaining to the GHE, CO2 absorption spectra etc.

To the 90% in the idiots camp, I say do yourself a favor, and at least try to come up to speed on the basics before filling this site up with so much crud.

239. When I asked “how can we know that humans contribute more than 50% of the increase of CO2 since the start of the industrial revolution?”

Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
January 28, 2014 at 7:43 am

“Because humans emitted twice the amount of CO2 per year as the measured increase in the atmosphere, each year of the past at least 50 years”.

If we take that as fact, then last year atmospheric CO2 rose by 2.53 ppm (DEC 2012-DEC 2013)and 2 times that is 5.06 ppm CO2 for the man made 3%. If nature emits 97% of all CO2 yearly then according to your statement, nature emitted 163.64 ppm CO2 last year. Why does such a small amout, 3% cause 50% of the increase? To believe this you must assume that there is a global CO2 equilibrium but there is no CO2 balance in biomass input/output. CO2 is locked up and released at varying rates throughout the geological record so there is no dynamic equilibrium. In the geological record CO2 concentrations were as high as 7000ppm and it has been falling since plant life cycles sequestered CO2 under the oceans and under the crust. But even that general trend has reversals (some quite large) over the geological record. Thus there is no balance! CO2, like temperature is constantly changing and the human contribution to that change is minute.

240. 1 of the idiots in the idiots camp says:

NotTheAussiePhilM says:
January 28, 2014 at 9:29 am

So, NotTheAussiePhilM you can take the post – rgbatduke says: January 28, 2014 at 8:29 am
and take it one step further and condense it and show us 90% in the idiots camp, the calculation that shows how much of the outgoing radiation is converted to down welling radiation, and then the calculation that shows how much of this converted radiation is converted to heat, right?

From what I read – Box of Rocks seems to grasp the concept of how GHGs work, so rgbatduke’s post adds nothing to the desert.

What he seems to be asking is that he be shown the how the magic works out using math.

Show us the math so we can no longer be idiots.

241. Ed, Mr. Jones says:

Would it be more effective to use a computer-screen PIXEL coloration app. to convey the CO2 concentration? I am in the process of random;ly adding 400 colored dots to an area of one million dots, appropriately colored to reflect Nitrogen, Oxygen, “trace Gases”, and CO2 . . . .

Here’s a thought on the whole Climate System: Attempting to impose order on Chaos is a fun and interesting Fool’s Errand (:- o .

242. richardscourtney says:

Box of Rocks:

At January 28, 2014 at 8:11 am you say to me

What I am looking for is a calculation that show that the amount of energy lost by a control volume (c.v.) of 1 cubic foot to it’s surroundings can be returned to the c.v. by the CO2 molecules in the c.v.. Nothing more, nothing less.

Roger Brown has told you where and how to find out. I cannot do your education for you.

Saying you don’t understand it does not mean it does not happen. It only means you have not studied it sufficiently to understand it.

Richard

243. Tom O says:

I’d like to show my incredible level of ignorance here, if you don’t mind. I gather that the “warming” contribution of CO2 is that it reflects the long wave radiation that is emitted by the Earth back towards it. If that were the case, then wouldn’t it not also reflect the long wave radiation that is emitted by the Sun and travels to the Earth back into space? Certainly the solar energy is not all in short wave lengths, thus it would seem reasonable that CO2 is reflecting heat back into space that would otherwise penetrate through the atmosphere. If that were the case, then isn’t it likely that greater concentrations of CO2 would reflect move heat back into space from the Sun that it does back to the Earth? I would think, over time, that a build up of CO2 would, then, cause cooling rather than heating, especially in a low solar activity period. Any ideas what the CO2 level concentrations were just prior to the onset of an iceage?

244. Box of Rocks says:

Richard Courtney –

You miss the point.

The whole theory behind green house gases is that the earth is warmed by the sun and emits radiation. Then the emitted radiation is ‘captured’ by a CO2 molecule and thus pushes the CO2 molecule into a higher level of energy. The CO2 molecule can either then release sensible heat or emit a photon.

It is the released photon that is the heart of the GHG/AGW debate. What does it do?? is the million dollar question. But more importantly — HOW MUCH– is produced.

Given a radiative flux, a probability of either producing sensible heat or a photon and maybe a few variable I miss calculate the amount of a) sensible heat produced by the CO2 molecule, b) the amount of energy produced as photons or down welling radiation and c) (best guess) the amount lost to internal inefficiencies.

I have yet to find an equation that shows the above mathematical relationship and quantifies the amount of energy in joules that a CO2 molecule is capable of dealing with.

Once we solve that issue then maybe we can broaden our discussion.

245. “57% overlap absorption between between CO2 and water vapor”
Ah yes, and effective sequestration in that 57 per cent. When you have one molecule at one part in 40 and another at one part in 2500, which one will absorb the photons?

246. Ryan Scott Welch says:
January 28, 2014 at 9:57 am

If nature emits 97% of all CO2 yearly then according to your statement, nature emitted 163.64 ppm CO2 last year.

You can’t spike me on the 97%, as that isn’t my figure. The seasonal/yearly back and forth natural fluxes are ~90 GtC (~45 ppmv CO2) between the oceans and the atmosphere and ~60 GtC (~30 ppmv CO2) between the biosphere and the atmosphere. See e.g.:
http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/CarbonCycle/
The 60 GtC respiration and halve the plant photosynthesis don’t count in the yearly averages, as that is a 24-hour cycle, largely filtered out over a year. The 60 GtC soil respiration does count as that is even happening in deep winter under a snowdeck, while there is no plant photosynthesis by a lot of plants. That influences the seasonal cycle, but even that gives moderate changes over a year.

Thus the overall exchange between atmosphere and other reservoirs is about 150 GtC/year, of which plants and oceans are in countercurrent with each other for the same seasonal temperature swings. That is also the base for the ~20% exchange rate of all CO2 in the atmosphere with CO2 from the other reservoirs. Which gives a residence time of about 5 years.

But that doesn’t change any bit in the total mass of CO2 after a full year, as long as the inputs equal the outputs, no matter if that is 150 GtC or 1500 or 15 GtC in and out, continuous or seasonal. Only the difference between the inputs and outputs matter. And that difference nowadays is near 10 GtC extra human CO2 in and some 5 GtC extra CO2 mix out. Net result: an increase of 5 GtC/year (roughly 2.5 ppmv CO2/year) in the atmosphere. Practically independent of the natural circulation, which hardly changed over the past 50 years and a natural variability of not more than halve the human contribution.

You can’t compare the CO2 levels of 60-120 million years ago with the CO2 levels of today. Most of that CO2 now is buried in the white cliffs of Dover with large parts of South England and a lot of other places on earth. But over the past few million years, there was a rather stable temperature/CO2 ratio, which was only disturbed some 160 years ago with the use of fossil fuels. See the CO2 levels in several ice cores over the past 10,000 years:

But indeed, over the pre-industrial past at least 800,000 years, CO2 simply followed temperature levels at a rather constant rate of ~8 ppmv/°C with a variable lag.

247. Tom O says:
January 28, 2014 at 11:05 am

I’d like to show my incredible level of ignorance here, if you don’t mind. I gather that the “warming” contribution of CO2 is that it reflects the long wave radiation that is emitted by the Earth back towards it. If that were the case, then wouldn’t it not also reflect the long wave radiation that is emitted by the Sun and travels to the Earth back into space?

There is only a small overlap between the incoming IR radiation of the sun and the outgoing IR radiation from the earth. CO2 has a band in the incoming radiation, but water vapour is already the large absorber in that range. Another band of CO2 is in the near-zero energy overlap band of incoming and outgoing radiation, so that doesn’t have much influence. The curves can be seen in the .ppt show at slide 25 in:
http://ist-socrates.berkeley.edu/~budker/Physics138/Alyssa%20Atwood%20Atm%20Spec5.ppt

The main absorber of incoming visible light is water vapour, CO2 hardly plays a role. And clouds are the main reflectors, both upward (sunlight) and downward (IR)…

248. richardscourtney says:

Box of Rocks:

At January 28, 2014 at 11:21 am you suggest “we can broaden our discussion”.

OK. I will try to get the discussion back within reasonable bounds.

In what way and how would equations of radiative physics assist provision of information about AGW to the general public in a form which the public will find both interesting and comprehensible?

Perhaps if you can answer that question then we can continue the discussion.

Richard

249. Charles says:

I quite like these analogies, as they tend to give a sense of the idea that is being put forward, however, some of the comments here are also quite disappointing in my view. To infer that the physical properties of all molecules is the same is quite ridiculous, which is where those who say a small amount if cyanide can kill a person is the same as saying a small amount of carbon dioxide is the same physical process are evidentially quite wrong.

If you dropped a hundred dumbells on your foot and then a hundred feathers, do you think you might notice the difference? Not all molecules have the same properties which is where the cyanide example falls down.

In saying that though I actually prefer closer analogies and the one I commonly use is the greenhouse or glasshouse version. If you had a greenhouse that was 35m long by 80 m wide (slightly more than an acre for those using older measurement systems), and if the roof was composed of (~ 2500) glass panels which were 1 m x 1m in dimension, then CO2 would represent just 1 panel. The human component of that CO2 panel would be approximately two hand prints on that one panel of glass.

So, the question is can one pane of glass in a large greenhouse exert a greenhouse effect? Probably not in my view, but what this example and also the one by the author does, is give some perspective on the issue which judging by the output of climate scientists and some of those here, is one thing which is badly missing in this whole discussion

250. Brian H says:

rgb;
Since 100.00% of the warming since the onset of the LIA is easily encompassed in known natural variation, where is this “moderately strong” evidence of human contribution? Badly extrapolated 100+-yr old lab studies don’t cut it. Fail. The Null Hypothesis is that it’s both insignificant and undetectable. The Null stands, not having been refuted at any level of confidence.

251. Willis Eschenbach says:

Steve B says:
January 27, 2014 at 12:00 pm

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.

Interesting, Steve. So am I correct in saying that according to your theory that the amount of CO2 is so small it’s not worth discussing, it wouldn’t make any difference to the climate if there were no CO2 in the atmosphere?

A simple yes or no will suffice, but explanation is fine too.

w.

252. milodonharlani says:

Charles says:
January 28, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Dealing just with the GHGs in the atmosphere, the CO2 panel would be one out of about 80.

The main GHG, water vapor, has an average global concentration of about 30,000 ppm. CO2 at around 400 ppm is 1/76 of the combined 30,400 ppm for these two main gases. Methane & other GHGs are at even lower concentrations.

The three single-element main gases which make up over 99% of dry air–N2, O2 & Ar–aren’t much in the greenhouse department.

So a smaller glasshouse would still make your point.

253. Willis Eschenbach says:

Charles says:
January 28, 2014 at 12:20 pm

I quite like these analogies, as they tend to give a sense of the idea that is being put forward, however, some of the comments here are also quite disappointing in my view. To infer that the physical properties of all molecules is the same is quite ridiculous, which is where those who say a small amount if cyanide can kill a person is the same as saying a small amount of carbon dioxide is the same physical process are evidentially quite wrong.

Charles, it appears I didn’t make my argument clear. Let me try again.

My argument is that the EFFECT of a substance is in no way correlated with the ABUNDANCE of a substance. Period.

Some things that are abundant have little effect, like perhaps argon in the atmosphere. It’s an inert gas, it doesn’t absorb or radiate in the thermal infrared range at all, plants don’t use it, nothing. There’s much more of it than there is CO2 … but it doesn’t do a dang thing. Abundance is not related to effect.

Other things that are not abundant at all can have huge effect. Much of the tropical ocean, for example, is pretty much a watery desert, nothing grows there. Why? Iron. You add the tinest amount of iron to the ocean mix and life springs up immediately all around you. Once again, abundance is not related to effect, this time in the other direction.

Therefore, you cannot argue that simply because the ABUNDANCE of something is small, that its EFFECT is small. We have a host of counter-examples in both directions to show that that is a logical fallacy.

I mean, if somebody puts a tiny derringer in your face and says “give me your money”, are you going to say “Oh, that gun’s too small to make any difference”. In other words, what I’m saying is size is not related to effect … and that’s what I keep telling my wife …

w.

254. Mickey Reno says:

Seats in Cowboy Stadium are fine, but how many Hiroshima’s is this?

255. Willis Eschenbach says:

Mickey Reno says:
January 28, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Seats in Cowboy Stadium are fine, but how many Hiroshima’s is this?

Six Manhattan Islands worth …

w.

256. Box of Rocks says:
January 28, 2014 at 11:21 am

It is the released photon that is the heart of the GHG/AGW debate. What does it do?? is the million dollar question. But more importantly — HOW MUCH– is produced.

Simplified expression, used in the IPCC 1990 report:
ΔF = 5.35*ln(C/Cinitial)
where ΔF is the increase in downwelling radiation as W/m2 for a 70 km column of air at the CO2 concentration; C the ppmv level of CO2 of interest and Cinitial the ppmv level at pre-industrial times. See Myhre e.a. 1998:

257. Mike Rossander says:

milodonharlani and Ferdinand Engelbeen are of course correct in their criticism of my simplifying assumption (in the household budget analogy above) that the \$97 of expenses stay constant. mildonharlani notes that warming oceans naturally release more CO2 and Ferdinand points out that the biosphere responds to directly to increasing CO2 by increasing the uptake rate. Both can be modeled in the household budget analogy (Ferdinand’s incremental bio-uptake by a tax on the \$3 raise and mildonharlani’s incremental oceanic release by interest for the savings account, for example).

I took those out because they added a lot of complexity to the analogy without adding much new insight. Perhaps that was a mistake. More importantly, however, I left those complicating factors out of the analogy because that was not the mechanism being argued in the original post’s final step from 15 seats to 0.45 seats (or in the later stepdown to 0.0759 ppm). The 3% annual increment is what CAUSES the current balance to have increased by 15 seats. There is no mathematically valid reason to multiply those 15 seats by 0.03 again.

258. Increasing Atmospheric CO2: Manmade…or Natural?
January 21st, 2009 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

I’ve usually accepted the premise that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are due to the burning of fossil fuels by humans. After all, human emissions average around twice that which is needed to explain the observed rate of increase in the atmosphere. In other words, mankind emits more than enough CO2 to explain the observed increase in the atmosphere.

Furthermore, the ratio of the C13 isotope of carbon to the normal C12 form in atmospheric CO2 has been observed to be decreasing at the same time CO2 has been increasing. Since CO2 produced by fossil fuel burning is depleted in C13 (so the argument goes) this also suggests a manmade source.

But when we start examining the details, an anthropogenic explanation for increasing atmospheric CO2 becomes less obvious.

For example, a decrease in the relative amount of C13 in the atmosphere is also consistent with other biological sources. And since most of the cycling of CO2 between the ocean, land, and atmosphere is due to biological processes, this alone does not make a decreasing C13/C12 ratio a unique marker of an anthropogenic source.

This is shown in the following figure, which I put together based upon my analysis of C13 data from a variety of monitoring stations from the Arctic to the Antarctic. I isolated the seasonal cycle, interannual (year-to-year) variability, and trend signals in the C13 data.

The seasonal cycle clearly shows a terrestrial biomass (vegetation) source, as we expect from the seasonal cycle in Northern Hemispheric vegetation growth. The interannual variability looks more like it is driven by the oceans. The trends, however, are weaker than we would expect from either of these sources or from fossil fuels (which have a C13 signature similar to vegetation).

C13/C12 isotope ratios measured at various latitudes show that CO2 trends are not necessarily from fossil fuel burning.

Secondly, the year-to-year increase in atmospheric CO2 does not look very much like the yearly rate of manmade CO2 emissions. The following figure, a version of which appears in the IPCC’s 2007 report, clearly shows that nature has a huge influence over the amount of CO2 that accumulates in the atmosphere every year.

The yearly increase of CO2 measured at Mauna Loa shows huge natural fluctuations which are caused by temperature changes.

In fact, it turns out that these large year-to-year fluctuations in the rate of atmospheric accumulation are tied to temperature changes, which are in turn due mostly to El Nino, La Nina, and volcanic eruptions. And as shown in the next figure, the CO2 changes tend to follow the temperature changes, by an average of 9 months. This is opposite to the direction of causation presumed to be occurring with manmade global warming, where increasing CO2 is followed by warming.

Year to year CO2 fluctuations at Mauna Loa show that the temperature changes tend to precede the CO2 changes.

If temperature is indeed forcing CO2 changes, either directly or indirectly, then there should be a maximum correlation at zero months lag for the change of CO2 with time versus temperature (dCO2/dt = a + b*T would be the basic rate equation). And as can be seen in the above graph, the peak correlation between these two variables does indeed occur close to zero months.

And this raises an intriguing question:

If natural temperature changes can drive natural CO2 changes (directly or indirectly) on a year-to-year basis, is it possible that some portion of the long term upward trend (that is always attributed to fossil fuel burning) is ALSO due to a natural source?

After all, we already know that the rate of human emissions is very small in magnitude compared to the average rate of CO2 exchange between the atmosphere and the surface (land + ocean): somewhere in the 5% to 10% range. But it has always been assumed that these huge natural yearly exchanges between the surface and atmosphere have been in a long term balance. In that view, the natural balance has only been disrupted in the last 100 years or so as humans started consuming fossil fuel, thus causing the observed long-term increase.

But since the natural fluxes in and out of the atmosphere are so huge, this means that a small natural imbalance between them can rival in magnitude the human CO2 input. And this clearly happens, as is obvious from the second plot shown above!

So, the question is, does long-term warming also cause a CO2 increase, like that we see on in the short term?

Let’s look more closely at just how large these natural, year-to-year changes in CO2 are. Specifically, how much CO2 is emitted for a certain amount of warming? This can be estimated by detrending both the temperature and CO2 accumulation rate data, and comparing the resulting year-to-year fluctuations (see figure below).

Although there is considerable scatter in the above figure, we see an average relationship of 1.71 ppm/yr for every 1 deg C. change in temperature. So, how does this compare to the same relationship for the long-term trends? This is shown in the next figure, where we see a 1.98 ppm/yr for every 1 deg. C of temperature change.

This means that most (1.71/1.98 = 86%) of the upward trend in carbon dioxide since CO2 monitoring began at Mauna Loa 50 years ago could indeed be explained as a result of the warming, rather than the other way around.

So, there is at least empirical evidence that increasing temperatures are causing some portion of the recent rise in atmospheric CO2, in which case CO2 is not the only cause of the warming.

Now, the experts will claim that this is all bogus, because they have computer models of the carbon budget that can explain all of long term rise in CO2 as a result of fossil fuel burning alone.

But, is that the ONLY possible model explanation? Or just the one they wanted their models to support? Did they investigate other model configurations that allowed nature to play a role in long term CO2 increase? Or did those model simulations show that nature couldn’t have played a role?

This is the trouble with model simulations. The ones that get published are usually the ones that support the modeler’s preconceived notions, while alternative model solutions are ignored.

259. Gail Combs says:

Ryan Scott Welch says: @ January 28, 2014 at 2:26 pm

…Furthermore, the ratio of the C13 isotope of carbon to the normal C12 form in atmospheric CO2 has been observed to be decreasing at the same time CO2 has been increasing….
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>..
The Trouble With C12 C13 Ratios

260. Box of Rocks says:

Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
January 28, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Think energy …. British Thermal Units
or more importantly electronvolts.

watts/m^2 –>electronvolts then back to watts/m^2….

Not looking for a ΔF which I take as the change in the field strength.

I could give a rat’s a** about a change in w/m^2 or the change in the strength of the radiative field.

All y’all are saying that CO2 can create a radiative field when it emits photons and that is what I am after.
No one has produced a set of equations centered around CO2 that step through the thermodynamic process of converting one type of radiation to another with a given amount of CO2 in a given volume.

This equation ΔF = 5.35*ln(C/Cinitial) certainty does not do it..

I guess I am barking up the wrong tree and need to visit the local Nuclear Eng Dept. I am sure they have solved a problem similar

261. Box of Rocks says:

Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
January 28, 2014 at 11:27 am

How much carbon is lost to the sea floor in the form of limestone?

262. c1ue says:

I think it would be far more useful to sample the CO2 levels inside the stadium during a game. Wonder if it is anywhere near “equilibrium” with so many humans breathing?

263. Ryan Scott Welch says:
January 28, 2014 at 2:26 pm

January 21st, 2009 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

Please don’t cite the whole article, a simple link and a few highlights will do…
But here a link to the mail I sent to Dr. Spencer:
http://www.drroyspencer.com/2009/01/the-origin-of-increasing-atmospheric-co2-a-response-from-ferdinand-engelbeen/

Further:
This is shown in the next figure, where we see a 1.98 ppm/yr for every 1 deg. C of temperature change.

Here Dr. Spencer translates the short-term variation to a long-term trend, but he doesn’t take into account that a limited increase in temperature gives a limited increase in CO2: that is the result of Henry’s law, which shows that for any temperature an equilibrium can be reached between a gas in the atmosphere and in a liquid. That equilibrium only shifts with 17 ppmv/°C for seawater. In real life the increase is maximum 8 ppmv/°C, because the biosphere absorbs more CO2 at higher temperatures…

The short-term reaction of CO2 on temperature is 4-5 ppmv/°C, the long-term reaction is 8 ppmv/°C over the past 800,000 years. Not the over 100 ppmv/°C we see in the past 50+ years…

264. NotTheAussiePhilM says:

Just to point out to those that don’t realise yet, the reason that the ‘CO2 is just a trace gas’ argument is irrelevant is that N2, O2 and Argon are transparent to IR Radiation.

It’s only the GHGs that contribute to the GHE..
– and without these gases (mainly CO2 & H2O), the earth would be about 35C cooler

– but the rest of the lecture course is probably worth watching for anyone not up to speed yet…

265. Box of Rocks says:
January 28, 2014 at 3:07 pm

How much carbon is lost to the sea floor in the form of limestone?

According to the estimates of the carbon cycle, some total 2 GtC/year, but that includes organic carbon too. Much of what sinks as carbonate in the deep oceans is dissolved again before reaching the full depth (the carbonate “horizon”) and resurfaces at the upwelling places. Carbonate sediments are only increasing in more shallow oceans. If I remember well, that is above 2000 meter depth.
Besides that, you have coral growth…

266. milodonharlani says:

NotTheAussiePhilM says:
January 28, 2014 at 3:45 pm

The estimate I see most often is 33 degrees C, from 255 to 288 kelvin.

But even among GHGs CO2 is a distant second (four per 10,000 dry air molecules v. ~300 average for H2O), & the human contribution less, esp when considering the log effect.

Without assumed positive feedbacks not in evidence (indeed contrary to all observations), CACA can’t happen.

267. richardscourtney says:

Ryan Scott Welch:

Your post at January 28, 2014 at 2:26 pm poses these questions.

But, is that the ONLY possible model explanation? Or just the one they wanted their models to support? Did they investigate other model configurations that allowed nature to play a role in long term CO2 increase? Or did those model simulations show that nature couldn’t have played a role?

In one of our 2005 papers
(ref. Rorsch A, Courtney RS & Thoenes D, ‘The Interaction of Climate Change and the Carbon Dioxide Cycle’ E&E v16no2 (2005) )
we published 6 models with three emulating a natural cause and the other three assuming an anthropogenic cause of the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration as recorded at Mauna Loa since 1958.

Each of the models in that paper matches the available empirical data without use of any ‘fiddle-factor’ such as the ‘5-year smoothing’ the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) uses to get its model to agree with the empirical data.

So, if one of the six models of that paper is adopted then there is a 5:1 probability that the choice is wrong. And other models are probably also possible. And the six models each give a different indication of future atmospheric CO2 concentration for the same future anthropogenic emission of carbon dioxide.

Data that fits all the possible causes is not evidence for the true cause. Data that only fits the true cause would be evidence of the true cause. But these findings demonstrate that there is no data that only fits either an anthropogenic or a natural cause of the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration. Hence, the only factual statements that can be made on the true cause of the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration are

(a) the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration may have an anthropogenic cause, or a natural cause, or some combination of anthropogenic and natural causes,

but

(b) there is no evidence that the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration has a mostly anthropogenic cause or a mostly natural cause.

Hence, using the available data it cannot be known what if any effect altering the anthropogenic emission of CO2 will have on the future atmospheric CO2 concentration. This finding agrees with the statement in Chapter 2 from Working Group 3 in the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report (2001) that says;

no systematic analysis has published on the relationship between mitigation and baseline scenarios.

Richard

268. NotTheAussiePhilM says:

milodonharlani says:
January 28, 2014 at 4:05 pm

The estimate I see most often is 33 degrees C, from 255 to 288 kelvin.

But even among GHGs CO2 is a distant second (four per 10,000 dry air molecules v. ~300 average for H2O), & the human contribution less, esp when considering the log effect.

– right – none of which is relevant to the OP’s post ….

Just to clarify, though, H2O’s GHE is only about 4x CO2’s GHE
– and yes, the important thing is the AGW debate is the size (and sign) of the feedback …
– but my original point still stands
– the OP is irrelevant and misleading ..

269. curious says:

Nitrogen, pure 100% N2, has non-zero heat capacity. I can find its specific heat from many sources. How can that be, if it is not a greenhouse gas?

270. Box of Rocks says:

NotTheAussiePhilM says:
January 28, 2014 at 3:45 pm
@ 33:07

“holding the heat in..”

Really? The only thingie that the GHGs do is slow the rate of heat transfer from the surface of the earth to space.

Is this all the better Yale can do?

They need to take the calcs one step further…

No wonder kids are idiots these days.

271. Ferdinand, Myhre e.a. is nothing but model. Nobody measured anything. More arm waving than geology…

272. “Just to clarify, though, H2O’s GHE is only about 4x CO2′s GHE”

Just guessing you’ve garnered this tidbit from a model?

273. richardscourtney says:
January 28, 2014 at 6:07 am

Box of Rocks:
When something is very unlikely that is not the same as it being impossible. For example, the Sun is very likely to rise tomorrow but it cannot be said that the Sun is certain to rise tomorrow because the world may end tonight.
———————————————
You are scaring some of us with talk like that. How am I going to get to sleep tonight after reading about the possible demise of the world?

274. richardscourtney says:

curious:

At January 28, 2014 at 9:21 pm you ask

Nitrogen, pure 100% N2, has non-zero heat capacity. I can find its specific heat from many sources. How can that be, if it is not a greenhouse gas?

Oh Dear!
Heat and energy are different things.

It is precisely because of ignorance such as I quote here that we have to be careful when informing the general public.

In hope of avoiding yet another side-track of the thread, I will answer the question.

Not all energy is in the form of heat.

The heat of a gas is expressed by its temperature which is an indication of the average speed (actually RMS speed) of the gas molecules. Increase the average speed of the molecules and the gas gets hotter. Decrease the average speed of the molecules and the gas gets cooler.

A photon is a quantum of electromagnetic (EM) radiation which has a wavelength related to the energy it carries. When it is absorbed by a greenhouse gas (GHG) molecule then it either increases the vibrational or the rotational energy of the molecule.

A GHG molecule gains energy but does not get hotter when it gets excited by absorbing a photon: it is raised to a higher quantum level (by increasing the vibrational or rotational energy of the molecule). Simply, the energy from the photon is stored in the GHG molecule and the GHG molecule does not change its speed.

The effects are quantised by the shape of the molecule and its bonds. Hence, vibrational absorbtion is possible for a CO2 molecule
C – O – C
Because the ‘angle’ between the C atoms attached to the O atom can change to provide the vibration.
But such vibrational excitation cannot occur to an N2 molecule (or an O2 molecule)
N – N
because the molecule has no ‘angle’ to change.

If the stored vibrational or rotational energy of a CO2 molecule is supplied by a collision to e.g. a nitrogen molecule then the nitrogen molecule is accelerated: the energy that was stored in the GHG molecule becomes kinetic energy in the nitrogen molecule so the gas gets hotter.

Similarly, if a collision causes kinetic energy of a nitrogen molecule to be transferred to be stored in a GHG molecule then the gas is cooled because the nitrogen molecule is decelerated but the GHG molecule is not accelerated. However, this very rarely happens because the collision would have to occur such as to transfer the energy into a vibrational mode only: most of the collisions would provide translational energy, fewer provide rotational, and least of all vibrational energy.

GHG molecules can lose their vibrational or rotational energy by emitting a photon.

Collisional deactivation dominates in the atmosphere near the Earth’s surface where the atmosphere is dense so many collisions occur. Near the Earth’s surface the average time for an emission of a photon (of the 15µ band of CO2) is milliseconds but the collisions occur about 10 times per nanosecond.

Radiative deactivation dominates in the upper atmosphere where the density is lower so collisions are less frequent and this gives more time for a molecule to release a photon.

Richard

275. richardscourtney says:
January 28, 2014 at 4:17 pm

Each of the models in that paper matches the available empirical data without use of any ‘fiddle-factor’ such as the ‘5-year smoothing’ the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) uses to get its model to agree with the empirical data.

Richard, as you know, I disagree on this, because only one “model” fits all available data: human emissions. All other models fail one or more observations…

The total biosphere is a net absorber of CO2:
http://www.bowdoin.edu/~mbattle/papers_posters_and_talks/BenderGBC2005.pdf
The oxygen balance shows that the whole biosphere is a net producer of oxygen, thus a net absorber of CO2 and preferential 12CO2, leaving relative more 13CO2 behind. But there is a sharp decrease in 13C/12C ratio in the atmosphere, not seen in the past 800,000 years in ice cores.
Here over the past 600 years in shallow oceans (coralline sponges) and the atmosphere (ice cores, firn and direct measurements):

The 13C/12C ratio changed about 0.2 per mil over a glacial-interglacial transition (ice cores) and varied not more than +/- 0.2 per mil over the Holocene (ice cores) and the period of 600-160 years ago. The latter in the ocean surface, which follows the atmosphere with a 2-3 years lag (coralline sponges, resolution 2-4 years). Since about 1850, the 13C/12C ratio dropped with 1.6 per mil, completely in parallel with human emissions.

Of course, the human “fingerprint” is diluted by the 20% CO2 exchange per year with CO2 of other reservoirs, but that only leads to a less rapid decrease of the 13C/12C ratio. If the oceans were the main source of the increase in the atmosphere, then the 13C/12C ratio should have increased, not decreased…

That effectively excludes the oceans and the biosphere (land and sea plants, microbes, insects, animals,…) as main causes of the increase in the atmosphere. Other sources (volcanoes, rock weathering,…) are too small or too slow to be the cause…

276. richardscourtney says:

Ferdinand Engelbeen:

At January 29, 2014 at 1:26 am you say to me

Richard, as you know, I disagree on this, because only one “model” fits all available data: human emissions. All other models fail one or more observations…

Ferdinand, as you know, it is not true that “only one “model” fits all available data: human emissions” …

Richard

277. richardscourtney says:

Ferdinand:

OK, I was too abrupt in my post addressed to you at January 29, 2014 at 2:00 am .

We have been over this many times including on WUWT and up-thread I commended that people read each of our arguments and said how to do that. But you turn up and try to revisit all that yet again.

There is NO clear evidence that determines the cause of the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration. If there were then I would accept it. Indeed, I want it.

You admit the isotope ratio data does NOT agree with a purely anthropogenic accumulation of CO2 causing the rise. However, you say that is because the ratio is “diluted”. Perhaps you are right, and perhaps you are wrong. But your ability to find an explanation for the disagreement with the isotope data at most indicates that the isotope data does not disprove an anthropogenic cause of the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration. Your possible explanation of the disagreement of the isotope data with an anthropogenic cause of the rise certainly does NOT support your contention that the cause is anthropogenic.

The oxygen balance and rates of volcanism, limestone formation, etc. indicate NOTHING so are not relevant.

Each year the oceans alone pump more than an order of magnitude more CO2 in and out of the air than the anthropogenic CO2 emission. A changing equilibrium of the carbon cycle would alter the equilibrium between atmospheric CO2 and the ocean. This would not involve saturation of CO2 sinks with resulting accumulation of CO2 in the air. And the dynamics of the seasonal variation in atmospheric CO2 refutes that such saturation occurs.

This is the Mauna Loa data
http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/weekly.html
The annual CO2 rise is the residual of the seasonal fluctuation of the CO2 variation throughout a year.

The seasonal fluctuation is a saw-tooth. The CO2 rises rapidly at near constant rate then reverses and falls rapidly at near constant rate, then reverses … This is NOT consistent with the sinks saturating. The rate of change should reduce as the sinks ‘fill up’ while approaching saturation. It does not.

It is consistent with altering equilibrium. The seasonal rise is a response to temperature through the year while the minimum (before reversal) of a year is the minimum set by the quasi equilibrium of that year as the carbon cycle system adjusts to an altered equilibrium state.

So, Ferdinand, your assertion of CO2 accumulation in the air is falsified by these observations of system dynamics.

The anthropogenic CO2 emission may have caused the alteration to carbon cycle equilibrium or something else may have caused it. The temperature rise from the LIA is the most likely cause, but available evidence does not enable determination of the true cause.

Richard

278. gymnosperm says:
January 28, 2014 at 9:47 pm

Ferdinand, Myhre e.a. is nothing but model. Nobody measured anything. More arm waving than geology…

Gymno, there are models and models…
The basic calculation model is Modtran and that is based on real laboratory measurements of line by line absorptions measured for different concentrations of GHG’s at different air pressures, independtly confirmed by outgoing radiation measurements by satellites. The formula Myhre showed is a simple curve fitting calculation, but the curve is what Modtran shows. Thus the simplified formula is indirectly based on measurements…

279. richardscourtney says:

Ferdinand Engelbeen:

You make a good point when at January 29, 2014 at 2:45 am you say

Gymno, there are models and models…
The basic calculation model is Modtran and that is based on real laboratory measurements of line by line absorptions measured for different concentrations of GHG’s at different air pressures, independtly confirmed by outgoing radiation measurements by satellites. The formula Myhre showed is a simple curve fitting calculation, but the curve is what Modtran shows. Thus the simplified formula is indirectly based on measurements…

Yes, a nothing is directly measured.

A mercury in glass thermometer does not measure temperature. It indicates the difference in thermal expansion between the mercury and the glass. And a model – based on calibration – is used to interpret that indication as being measurement of temperature(s).

As you say, “there are models and models”. Of importance is whether the model is valid, adequate and reliable.

Richard

280. richardscourtney says:
January 29, 2014 at 2:39 am

As said many times before, but for any new readers:

The oxygen balance and rates of volcanism, limestone formation, etc. indicate NOTHING so are not relevant.

The oxygen balance does prove that the whole biosphere is a net sink for CO2 of about 1 GtC/year. That is rock solid, no way that the biosphere could be a net source after a full seasonal cycle.
All other possible sources have a too high 13C/12C ratio. That includes (deep) oceans, most volcanoes, rock weathering and carbonate deposit/dissolution.

But your ability to find an explanation for the disagreement with the isotope data at most indicates that the isotope data does not disprove an anthropogenic cause of the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration.

There are only two posibilities for the isotopic dilution: a simple exchange or an addition.

A simple exchange doesn’t alter the total amount in the atmosphere, only dilutes the human “fingerprint”. The exchange with the biosphere and the ocean surface is quite rapid and these simply follow the changes in the atmosphere. Only the deep oceans have a very long lag (~1000 years) between the isotopic composition of today’s atmosphere which is going into the deep ocean near the poles and the isotopic composition of what is released from the upwelling zones, mostly in the Pacific equatorial area. One can use the dilution effect to calculate the mass exchange between deep oceans and atmosphere:

That gives a nice fit over the past decades at an exchange rate of ~40 GtC/year between deep oceans and atmosphere. The discrepancy in the earlier years is probably caused by an imbalance of the biosphere.

A similar 40 GtC/year exchange with the deep oceans could be deduced from the 14CO2 removal rate of the 14CO2 peak caused by the atomic bomb tests in the 1950’s.

If the deep oceans releases were additional, then the increase in the atmosphere would need to be a fourfold of the human emissions, thus currently some 40 GtC/year (~20 ppmv/year). Which of course is not what is observed.
Moreover, even if the increase of deep ocean CO2 emissions is absorbed somewhere else (wherever that may be, certainly not the biosphere), the increase in throughput would be visible in a reduction of the residence time, but we see a slight increase in residence time if one compares the later estimates with the earlier estimates, which is consistent with the increase of total CO2 mass in the atmosphere and a relative constant throughput…

281. NotTheAussiePhilM says:

Box of Rocks says:
-Really? The only thingie that the GHGs do is slow the rate of heat transfer from the surface of -the earth to space.
– “Venus has the grand daddy…”
– Is this all the better Yale can do?
– They need to take the calcs one step further…

– there was a good series of lectures from Stanford I saw on Youtube a few years ago that went through the theory of AGW from the first principles (i.e. starting from the quantum physics of heat)
– sorry, but I couldn’t find it yesterday when I was looking
– so this one from Yale was the closest I could find last night,
– it’s a long series (20+ lectures) so I’m sure the information you require is in there
– or just keep searching/googling for other, better explanations.

282. richardscourtney says:

Ferdinand Engelbeen:

As you admit, we have been through all this before, and I have advised those interested to refer to our past discussions on WUWT.

I write merely to refute the three points in your post at January 29, 2014 at 3:18 am, and I will not reply further because this side-track is disruptive of this thread.

You say

The oxygen balance does prove that the whole biosphere is a net sink for CO2 of about 1 GtC/year.

Possibly. It can be argued. But if you are right, then so what?
As I said, it is irrelevant.

At issue is why and how the entire carbon cycle system is changing, and not what any individual part of the system is doing.

When considering the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 it would be useful to discuss individual parts of the carbon cycle if we knew all the individual parts, how they operate, and how they interact. WE DON’T.

And you assert

There are only two posibilities for the isotopic dilution: a simple exchange or an addition.

Ah, a classic circular argument. Ferdinand, you are known for them.

In this case you assume “dilution” then use that assumption to prove itself.

The isotope ratio changes in the direction which would exist if the atmospheric CO2 rise were accumulation of the anthropogenic emission. But there is a 50:50 change that it would be in that direction or the other.

And the magnitude of the isotope change differs by a factor of 3 from expectation if it results from accumulation of the anthropogenic CO2 emission. The direct indication of this difference is that the isotope change is NOT a result from accumulation of the anthropogenic CO2 emission. However, you show that the direct indication may be false because the large magnitude difference may be an outcome of “dilution”. But if almost all of the change is from assumed diluent(s) then all of it could be from the diluent(s).

As I said

your ability to find an explanation for the disagreement with the isotope data at most indicates that the isotope data does not disprove an anthropogenic cause of the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration.

If the deep oceans releases were additional, …

is a Red Herring.

As I said, the oceans pump CO2 in and out of the air all the time. A slight reduction to oceanic sequestration would NOT provide additional oceanic source.

Ferdinand, there is nothing in this post which you and I have not discussed on WUWT before. Yet another reprise of these matters is pointless.

DATA DOES NOT EXIST WHICH COULD RESOLVE THE CAUSE OF THE RECENT RISE IN ATMOSPHERIC CO2 CONCENTRATION.

Richard

283. Mike Jonas says:

Willis Eschenbach Jan 28 12:57pm says “you cannot argue that simply because the ABUNDANCE of something is small, that its EFFECT is small“.

So, it was quite incorrect for Willis E Jan 27 10:59am to say “[Ryan Scott Welch’s] argument seems to be, CO2 is only a trivially small part of the atmosphere, so we can ignore it.“, RSW was simply using an analogy to help people understand the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. RSW’s article had absolutely nothing to do with the effect of the CO2, so the idea that the CO2’s effect can be ignored is Willis’s only – not RSW’s – and Willis himself points out that just because an abundance of sonething is small that doesn’t mean its effect is small.

Willis, you demand high standards of others, you haven’t adhered to them yourself in this instance.
—–
RSW Jan 27 10:43pm asks “How could a human contribution of 3% of the yearly CO2 output become 54% of the increase?“. The answer is that you are looking only at one side of the equation. You have ignored a similarly large absorption of CO2 of which 0% is human.

284. richardscourtney says:

Mike Jonas:

At January 29, 2014 at 5:23 am you say

“How could a human contribution of 3% of the yearly CO2 output become 54% of the increase?“.
The answer is that you are looking only at one side of the equation. You have ignored a similarly large absorption of CO2 of which 0% is human.

No, that is NOT “the answer”.
You are applying a simple mass balance and adopting the assumption that the anthropogenic emission is the only – or by far the most significant – variation to the inputs and outputs because the carbon cycle system is not changing significantly.

There is no reason to assume that, and there are good reasons to reject it. For example, the rise in atmospheric CO2 is about the same as HALF the anthropogenic emission, so the system IS changing otherwise ALL of the anthropogenic emission would remain in the atmosphere.

At issue is whether the anthropogenic emission is the major cause of the carbon cycle system changing or if something else is the major cause. Or, to put that in the form of a question,
What would the atmospheric CO2 concentration be in the absence of the anthropogenic CO2 emission, and if the concentration were different then by how much?

Nobody knows the answer to that question because there is no data which provides an answer, but some people think they know the answer.

Richard

285. rogerknights says:

NFL vs. Rugby hits:

286. richardscourtney says:
January 29, 2014 at 5:55 am

What would the atmospheric CO2 concentration be in the absence of the anthropogenic CO2 emission, and if the concentration were different then by how much?

The answer is quite simple: about 290 ppmv for the current temperature.
Over the past 800,000 years, there was a direct ratio of about 8 ppmv/°C with a variable lag. That is visible in ice cores with high accuracy (+/- 1.2 ppmv within one core – +/- 5 ppmv between different cores) and variable resolution (the highest accumulation cores less than a decade).
The high resolution ice cores even have an overlap of 20 years (1960-1980) with the direct measurements at Mauna Loa and the South Pole.

Only in the past 160 years there is a clear deviation from the historical ratio, as well as for CO2 levels, 13C/12C ratio and methane levels:
CO2 levels:

13C/12C ratio:

CH4 levels:

Stomata data (with a lot of caveats):

If these changes are non-human, why they never happened in the past 800,000 years (the resolution of ~560 years of the Dome C ice core is sufficient to detect a similar change like over the past 160 years). And what kind of natural process would mimic the human emissions at exactly the same rate and timing?

287. NotTheAussiePhilM says:

Here was the lecture series I was think about
– it turns out if was from Chicago, not Stanford….

Here is lecture 6

Feels free to jump around the lecture series to find any info you want

Or just start at the beginning, and just work your way through it (as I did)
– after you’ve done that, you’ll understand why the OP was wasting everybody’s time

Quick summary
– the effect of CO2 on the atmosphere is well known & understood
– the size & nature of the feedbacks are more difficult to quantify!

288. richardscourtney says:
January 29, 2014 at 5:55 am

For example, the rise in atmospheric CO2 is about the same as HALF the anthropogenic emission, so the system IS changing otherwise ALL of the anthropogenic emission would remain in the atmosphere.

Of course, the system is changing, it was a system in equilibrium with only small year by year changes over the past 800,000 years, with one driver: temperature. If such a system is disturbed by adding an extra amount of one of the components, then the system will respond by changing the equilibrium in a direction opposite to the disturbance. That is Le Châtelier’s principle. In this case by reducing its inputs (from the oceans) and increasing its outputs (into the oceans and vegetation). Both oceans (in and out) and vegetation (output) are atmospheric CO2 pressure dependent.

But the cause of the extra uptake/less release is the increase in the atmosphere, which is caused by human emissions…

289. Carbon500 says:

Ferdinand Engelbeen: Thank you for your response to my post of January 27th, and also the link to the MODTRAN model, which because it is interactive is proving to be interesting and enjoyable.

290. Box of Rocks says:

NotTheAussiePhilM says:
January 29, 2014 at 3:46 am

Yes really!

Same warmed over falsehoods. Carl Sagan wrong, very wrong and it appears that idiots still perpetuate his bad science.

In the Yale presentation there is presented a discrepancy on the theoretical value of the earth temperature and the actual.

How about doing a simple energy balance at that point and showing that the energy that can be absorbed and re-radiated can in fact account for the additional temperature. But of course one would have to go through the steps that convert the radiation ( potential energy) into something useful! And that step is never shown.

Or, maybe some of there assumptions are just wrong.

The lecture is a good first step in explaining he GHG phenomenon, But one thing that graduate level engineering classes have taught is that the equations that one needs while rooted in F = MA are several steps away generally in the same form.

We have a long way to go …. and we have yet to scratch the thermodynamics of the atmosphere. It is all about energy.

291. richardscourtney says:

Ferdinand:

I write to say I am withdrawing from the carbon cycle debate and, thus, leaving you with the last word in that debate.

I do this because I see no purpose in yet another reprise of arguments which people who want to see them can find using the WUWT Search facility, I am content for people to assess the overviews of our arguments which we have presented here, and we are side-tracking this thread.

Richard

292. An Inquirer says:

The arsenic analogy is a favorite of alarmists, but it is a fallacious argument. If the body could handle .035% arsenic concentration, then it probably could handle .04%. All substances — even water — become “poisonous” at some level of concentration. CO2 at .035% is not poisonous, and it is not poisonous at .04%, nor at .05%, nor at .06%, nor at anything remotely close to .07%.
Arsenic is not like CO2 or water. Arsenic does not have a beneficial service to the body. However, water and CO2 do have a beneficial service to the ecosystem, and it is most likely that a CO2 concentration of .04% is more beneficial to the human race than .035%. If crop production went down by 20%, would you want to make the decision on who does not get food?

293. Matt says:

“that is nonsense. A single molecule of CO2 in the atmosphere does not behave like a gas because of it’s microscopic makeup as a single molecule…”&etc.

And:

“A single molecule of solid CO2 does not become gaseous only because it is single.”

As a matter of fact, it does. A single molecule of CO2 in the atmosphere is a gas.

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

philjourdan says:

“matt – Chemistry 101 – Definition of MOLECULE 1 : the smallest particle of a substance that retains all the properties of the substance and is composed of one or more atoms

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/molecule

“See the bolded part? You are wrong.”

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

Matt, what is your point? You started out arguing about water vapor, which is a gas. You say it is not a gas. Others disagree:

Water vapor is found throughout our lower atmosphere. It is a gas just like nitrogen and oxygen.

What point are you trying to make? Water vapor is a so-called ‘greenhouse’ gas. That is a scientific fact. Asserting otherwise is not a good argument.

294. An Inquirer said @ January 29, 2014 at 8:52 am

Arsenic does not have a beneficial service to the body.

If there is, we don’t yet know what that is. Rats’ life expectancy is increased by including extra arsenic in their diet. Extra because there’s arsenic in most foods. If you want to eliminate arsenic from your diet you’ll need to stop eating.

295. Floyd Doughty says:

Forget about the human contribution to CO2. The main point is how to help non-scientists to visualize what a very small contribution CO2 actually makes to the overall atmosphere. Over the last 10 years, I’ve used two different analogies to help put the actual concentration into perspective for those who are not accustomed to thinking about such things:

If the atmosphere is represented by one hundred US dollars, the total CO2 in the atmosphere will amount to less than four pennies (4 cents).

Or alternatively, considering that the total atmospheric makeup may be represented by a 100 story building, the total amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is then only about 6 inches of that building (whereby I hold up one hand with my thumb and pinky fingers stretched apart).

296. Mike Jonas says:

richardscourtney Jan 29 5:55am – you say “No, that is NOT “the answer”“. Ferdinand Engelbeen explains why it is. Yes there are things we don’t know, so that getting exact numbers is maybe not possible, but the overall picture is clear enough to explain the ‘54%’.

297. Willis Eschenbach says:

Floyd Doughty says:
January 29, 2014 at 1:17 pm

… If the atmosphere is represented by one hundred US dollars, the total CO2 in the atmosphere will amount to less than four pennies (4 cents).

Who cares how much there is of something? The question is, what can it do?

If the weight of your possessions is represented by \$100, the weight of your gold ring is less than four pennies … but THAT DOESN’T MEAN IT IS WORTH FOUR PENNIES!

Here’s the thing, Floyd The amount of a substance doesn’t matter. The effect of the substance is what we are trying to figure out, and for that, the absolute amount doesn’t help us in the slightest, Small things can have big effects, and vice versa.

w.

298. Willis Eschenbach says:

The Pompous Git says:
January 29, 2014 at 10:25 am

An Inquirer said @ January 29, 2014 at 8:52 am

Arsenic does not have a beneficial service to the body.

If there is, we don’t yet know what that is. Rats’ life expectancy is increased by including extra arsenic in their diet. Extra because there’s arsenic in most foods. If you want to eliminate arsenic from your diet you’ll need to stop eating.

Git, you should know better than to post something controversial like that without a citation. I take no position on the question. However, I do find this, which says absolutely no increase in life expectancy from very low doses of arsenic in rats, only a slight (non-significant) decrease … however, it did find a decrease in the lifespan of mice fed arsenic.

So … you feelin’ lucky?

w.

299. richardscourtney says:

Mike Jonas:

Your post provides the same response as Ferdinand; i.e.
the rise in atmospheric CO2 is anthropogenic because I say so.

I accept the empirical data and there is no data – none, zilch, nada – which provides a clear indication that you are right or you are wrong.

But there is very clear evidence that the rise is NOT accumulation of part of the anthropogenic emission which is what your ‘mass balance’ argument assumes and I refuted. This is the dynamics of the seasonal cycle, and I explained this with a link in this thread here so you can see for yourself.

Richard

300. richardscourtney says:
January 29, 2014 at 3:01 pm

But there is very clear evidence that the rise is NOT accumulation of part of the anthropogenic emission which is what your ‘mass balance’ argument assumes and I refuted.

Come on Richard, the decline in 13C/12C ratio is 1/3rd of what can be expected if all human emissions remained in the atmosphere. As the main other source or sink of low 13C is the biosphere and that is a proven sink for preferably 12CO2, the only cause of the 13C/12C ratio decline are the human emissions.

Thus at least 1/3rd of all human emissions remain in the atmosphere. As the increase of CO2 is about halve the mass of the emissions, 66% of the increase is directly from human emissions, despite the dilution caused by the CO2 exchanges with other reservoirs.
Including the 40 GtC/year exchanges with the deep oceans, the real contribution by humans is over 90% and less than 10% is caused by the temperature increase over the past 160 years.

• charplum says:

I really can’t be of that much help here but I do recall a presentation by Dr. Salby that seemed to address the carbon ratio and it seemed to refute the idea that the decline in the ratio was due to human activity.
I am just sincerely trying to help. I am still learning from all these posts but I do read much of this and I do recall it being addressed by Dr. Salby. I can only hope this will help.

301. Floyd Doughty says:

@ Willis Eschenbach, Jan. 29, 2014

That wasn’t my point, Willis. I would never argue that it is strictly the amount of a substance that causes an observed effect. That would be an insane argument, and I am not insane (though other geophysicists who know me might disagree). The effect of a substance is obviously a function of its physical and chemical nature AS WELL AS the quantity of the substance available to react. I thought the main point of the article was simply a suggestion regarding how to describe very low concentrations to laymen, to help improve understanding. I was merely suggesting two different analogies.

But, now that you bring it up, I wonder, indeed, if the total number of CO2 molecules in the earth’s atmosphere would be capable of absorbing and re-radiating enough energy in the CO2 infra-red absorption wavelengths to sufficiently raise the surface temperature to a level that water vapor in the atmosphere is actually increased through evaporation to cause, in turn, the global temperature increases that are predicted by the warmists. Sorry for the run-on sentence. Of course, we are talking only of the small amount of infra-red energy at the CO2 absorption wavelengths that remain after the original atmospheric water vapor – especially over the oceans – is finished having it’s way with the available radiation within the CO2 absorption bands. I suspect that the effect of an additional 400 ppm of CO2, or so, on the temperature of the troposphere might be analogous to one spreading a few tons of magnesium chloride on a glacier in order to melt it. One of these days when I have time, I should do the analysis to find out.

Well wishes to you,
Floyd

302. Mike Jonas says:

richardscourtney – The original question was “How could a human contribution of 3% of the yearly CO2 output become 54% of the increase?“. NB. “How could”, not “How does”. I answered that question. I happen to think that it is a likely answer to the “How does” question, and I have examined evidence and done calculations which led to that thinking, and am trying to get them published. In the meantime maybe we can just agree to disagree.

I looked at the link you provided, and if I’m reading it correctly, it addresses only the seasonal changes. The original question, while referring to the seasonal changes, was addressed at multi-annual changes. Here, Ferdinand and I come at it from different angles, but with similar conclusions. And no, I don’t assume “that the anthropogenic emission is the only – or by far the most significant – variation to the inputs and outputs“, I look at all the inputs and outputs that I can find or think of.

303. Ken says:

RE: ” I came upon the idea of relating a sample of the atmosphere to something that nearly every person has seen, a football stadium”

BS.

That idea has been propounded by others in this and other blogs & elsewhere–though usually using Michigan’s “Big House” stadium. And usually by those presenting it “tongue-in-cheek” or ou of woeful ignorance.

Further, the analogy is fundamentally flawed in any practical application:

Implicit, and wrongly implicit, in the analogy is that all of the 100,000 molecules represented by game attendees are the same size — they are not! The differences are huge and their effect on the energy (e.g. Infrared) passing thru is dramatic.

The Stadium analogy presents a grossly fictitious impression: a human-eye-view of the attendees yields the impression that any handful of CO2, as represented by 40-some attendees, has imperceptible effect on anything. However, in a real-world sample space defined by 100,000 molecules of ‘air’ those 40-some carbon-dioxide molecules have a distinct and significant effect on the transit, or blockage, of infrared energy; especially thru an air mass as thick as it is in reality (i.e. thru a series of thousands of attendees representing thousands of stadiums).

To present this stadium analogy as an original thought is hard to believe (though it is possible the author had this as an independent, but parallel & not “original,” idea).

To present the stadium analogy as if it had any real relevance to any real-world process is ignorant or deceptive. Clearly, there is no “critical thinking” moderating the postings on this website, otherwise this would have been presented with the proper caveats. This was an almost childish posting…presumably because the conclusion was appealing it was mindlessly accepted?

One can search for Burt Rutan’s analysis and learn the same thing — that human-generated CO2 is a fraction of the total — and much more information — and in proper context (such as here: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/01/03/aviation-pioneer-and-master-engineer-burt-rutan-on-global-warming/).

304. Willis Eschenbach says:

Floyd Doughty says:
January 29, 2014 at 3:31 pm

… I thought the main point of the article was simply a suggestion regarding how to describe very low concentrations to laymen, to help improve understanding. I was merely suggesting two different analogies.

Thanks, Floyd, that’s interesting.
I had a whole different take. I thought he was describing how low the human annual contribution is to show that humans couldn’t be making more than a trivial difference … which is why I objected to the simile.

w.

305. Willis Eschenbach is wrong about the point of this presentation and/or my possible motive, which is unfortunate because I am a huge fan of his writings and his shine has been tarnished in my mind. My point, as I have repeatedly stated was to demonstrate the ratio of CO2 in the atmopshere compared to the rest of the other atmospheric gasses, and then to show what I believed to be the human contribution.

When I posted this article I did have questions as to the amount of human contribution, but in spite of Ferdinand Engelbeen’s best efforts I feel better about this presentation now than I did when I posted it, being that he has not convincingly proved that the earth’s increse in CO2 is primarity human and not other natural processes like oceanic outgassing from a warming world.

Thank you all who have defended me and my motives! Adios!!

306. Willis Eschenbach says:

Ryan Scott Welch says:
January 29, 2014 at 5:05 pm

Willis Eschenbach is wrong about the point of this presentation and/or my possible motive, which is unfortunate because I am a huge fan of his writings and his shine has been tarnished in my mind. My point, as I have repeatedly stated was to demonstrate the ratio of CO2 in the atmopshere compared to the rest of the other atmospheric gasses, and then to show what I believed to be the human contribution.

Thanks for that, Ryan, but that doesn’t answer the question. You say that your point was to show “what show what I believed to be the human contribution.” And I agree with that.

But WHY did you want to show how tiny the human contribution was? I said that it appears that you went through the whole exercise to show why you think humans make little difference to the climate … if I’m wrong (and I certainly may be), then why did you go through the whole exercise?

When I posted this article I did have questions as to the amount of human contribution, but in spite of Ferdinand Engelbeen’s best efforts I feel better about this presentation now than I did when I posted it, being that he has not convincingly proved that the earth’s increse in CO2 is primarity human and not other natural processes like oceanic outgassing from a warming world.

That seems … well, kinda rash, given all of the evidence. Ferdinand did his best and has my thanks, but there is a lot of evidence that the rise in CO2 is from humans. You might start with my post on the subject here where I discuss some of the issues and questions …

Thank you all who have defended me and my motives! Adios!!

Ryan, the fact that your motives were brought into play at all is a measure of how poorly the piece was written. Since you didn’t make your point clear about WHY we should follow your metaphor, or what it might show us, people were left to speculate about your motives for telling the story. Me, I hate doing that, motive is not something I like discussing … but when you tell an allegorical story with no motive we’re left with “why did he tell us that?

As to whether people are defending your motives, or defending you … that’s not the point, that’s not the issue, and that’s not what happens here. Either your science is worth defending or it isn’t, regardless of you and your motives. In this case, since you entirely left out any analysis of the cumulative effect of the human contribution in a quasi-equilibrium situation, your science isn’t worth defending …

My best to you,

w.

PS—I do love folks like you who say that they’re a big fan of mine … until I disagree with their scientific claims.

Then, instead of entertaining the possibility that their claims might be wrong, far too often their conclusion is that somehow I’ve lost my shine, that I’m not as smart as they thought I was …

I assure you, Ryan, I’m no dumber now than when you thought I was smart.

307. Box of Rocks says:

Willis Eschenbach says:
January 29, 2014 at 2:46 pm
“….

Here’s the thing, Floyd The amount of a substance doesn’t matter. The effect of the substance is what we are trying to figure out, and for that, the absolute amount doesn’t help us in the slightest, Small things can have big effects, and vice versa.
….”

No Willis you are wrong.

The amount of substance does matter.

You can’;t get 100 pounds of sh*t out of a 10 pound sack.

Though a lot of people try to get 100 pounds of sh*t into a 10 pound sack.

A CO2 or methane molecule can only re-emitt so much energy.

308. Mike Jonas says:

Ken Jan 29 3:56pm – When you say “a human-eye-view of the attendees yields the impression that any handful of CO2, as represented by 40-some attendees, has imperceptible effect on anything“, that idea is yours and yours alone. The writer never touched on that idea. As he has confirmed in a more recent comment Jan 29 5:05pm.

309. Willis, the only reason that it seems to you that the human concentration of atmospheric CO2 in my presentation is tiny is because I used a sample of 100,000 instead of the normative 1,000,000 and as I said repeatedly before I used a football stadium as an example because it is something people who I live around and talk to here in Texas (where American football is king) are all very familiar with. Nearly everyone I know can easily picture a football stadium, and can picture a 40 seat section, thus the example choice.

Now you can disagree with my number for the human contribution and as I am obviously not a climate scientist, nor an expert on atmospheric gas, and there is every possibility of me being wrong. But I do read, and generally can comprehend what I read, and have since 2008 read wattsupwiththat.com nearly daily, so I am not completely ignorant, and this presentation was based on my understanding.

Now you accuse me of purposefully misrepresenting our atmosphere and nothing could be further from the truth. I gave, in my mind, a very generous amount of human contribution to CO2. I could have, for example, said that the starting atmospheric CO2 amount was 290 ppm as many scientists believe instead of the 250 I used in my presentation. I could have also figured that the human contribution of atmospheric CO2 started out as 0.001% in 1850 and rose to the 3% we see today, which in my mind is more likely that a straight 3-4% human contribution of CO2 every year since 1850, but I did not.

Thus I never knowingly attempted to deceive or mislead anyone as you allude that I have, and so Willis, you are wrong.

310. Mike Jonas says:

Ryan Scott Welch – Your analogy is excellent, and as far as I can tell you have correctly interpreted the figures you are working from in order to work them into the analogy. I think it is an excellent analogy, and one that nearly everyone will understand. I happen to think that one of the figures you are working from is not in fact correct, but that is a separate matter which has been debated at some length in the comments, and anyway you are completely open about the figures so everyone can see for themselves where they come from. I am very disappointed in the commenters who unjustifiably accuse you of their own interpretation of your analysis (that the number is so small that we can ignore it). I suppose it’s a case of ‘welcome to the insane world of climate science’. Hopefully it won’t put you off contributing again one day.

311. Willis Eschenbach said @ January 29, 2014 at 2:59 pm

The Pompous Git says:
January 29, 2014 at 10:25 am

An Inquirer said @ January 29, 2014 at 8:52 am

“Arsenic does not have a beneficial service to the body.”

If there is, we don’t yet know what that is. Rats’ life expectancy is increased by including extra arsenic in their diet. Extra because there’s arsenic in most foods. If you want to eliminate arsenic from your diet you’ll need to stop eating.

Git, you should know better than to post something controversial like that without a citation. I take no position on the question. However, I do find this, which says absolutely no increase in life expectancy from very low doses of arsenic in rats, only a slight (non-significant) decrease … however, it did find a decrease in the lifespan of mice fed arsenic.

So … you feelin’ lucky?

w.

Found this:

The possibility that arsenic is an essential nutrient has received some research attention, especially in the 1970s and 1980s, although some interest extends into the present day (Uthus, 1992, 2003). In 1988, the U.S. EPA convened a scientific panel to specifically evaluate the potential essentiality of arsenic (U.S. EPA, 1988). Based on an extensive review of the literature, this panel concluded, “information from experimental studies with rats, chicks, minipigs, and goats demonstrates the plausibility that arsenic, at least in inorganic form, is an essential nutrient.” Since 1988, very little new research on the essentiality of arsenic has been conducted. In 1999, a National Research Council report stated that essentiality of arsenic in humans had not been tested to date and there was no known biochemical process for which arsenic was essential (NRC, 1999). Later, an EPA arsenic science advisory panel cited similar arsenic essentiality evidence as the 1988 panel and determined that arsenic essentiality is in “need of further research” (U.S. EPA, 2007).

From that, I might have had it arse-about. From the above, a deficiency of arsenic reduces lifespan in rats. OTOH I may have recalled a study in which the rats were deficient in arsenic and so responded positively.

Also worthy quoting:

Molybdenum, nickel, arsenic, cadmium, and vanadium are essential for animals. Primary deficiency of ultra trace elements need not be reckoned with in animals since feedstuffs contain sufficient amounts of them. The problems of detecting the essentiality of these inorganic components result from the necessity of composing highly nutritious semi-synthetic rations, of repeating the experiments at least five times, of taking the antagonistic effect of several elements into consideration and of registering the deficiency effects as comprehensively as possible. The application of reliable results from animal experiments to humans is possible.

Unfortunately the eBook is \$69.99 so I’m not springing for that. You can find it here: http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-4-431-68120-5_48

My interest in this area stems from being invited to present a poster on cadmium contamination of sheep offal to a nutritionists’ conference in Hobart back in the 1990s. The papers from that conference are long gone.

312. richardscourtney says:

Ferdinand Engelbeen:

I note your post at January 29, 2014 at 3:26 pm and others will note that you made it earlier and I refuted it upthread here

Richard

313. nick says:

I Like to use this analogy take a stack of 100 pennies now take 1 penny and slice it into 10 slices through the edge, now take 1 slice and slice that one in 1/2 and the amount % of co2 is still a little less than that tiny slice

314. richardscourtney says:

Mike Jonas:

Your post at January 29, 2014 at 3:39 pm begins saying

richardscourtney – The original question was “How could a human contribution of 3% of the yearly CO2 output become 54% of the increase?“. NB. “How could”, not “How does”. I answered that question. I happen to think that it is a likely answer to the “How does” question, and I have examined evidence and done calculations which led to that thinking, and am trying to get them published. In the meantime maybe we can just agree to disagree.

No. My disagreement is of no value. The data says you are wrong, and that is important.

As you say, the question was “How could?” Well, of course, fairies “could” have done it, but if the answer is bounded by reality as indicated by empirical data then your answer cannot be right.

As I explained, the dynamics of the sequestration demonstrate that your answer is WRONG. It does not apply to only the seasonal variation: it is an indication of the seasonal cycle.

The sinks for CO2 are not saturating and, therefore, the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration is NOT CO2 accumulating in the atmosphere because the sinks cannot sequester it (they can).

Sorry if your paper fails to consider this data, but I do.

Richard

315. charplum says:
January 29, 2014 at 4:39 pm

I really can’t be of that much help here but I do recall a presentation by Dr. Salby that seemed to address the carbon ratio and it seemed to refute the idea that the decline in the ratio was due to human activity.

Dr. Salby did look at the possibility that the biosphere may be the cause of the decline in 13C/12C ratio. That may be, as when CO2 is captured by plants, the biological preference is for 12CO2 over 13CO2. That makes that in plants and all their users (microbes, insects, animals), there is less 13CO2 than 12CO2 than in the atmosphere. When plants are decaying (a lot of leaves in fall, more from stems and wood over the years) or eaten, CO2 is formed and released that contains less 13CO2 than what is found in the atmosphere.

The 13C/12C ratio is expressed in per mil, based on a standard (in earlier days Pee Dee Belmnite, a carbonate mineral, now a theoretical standard, agreed in Vienna – VPDB). The formula is:
(13C/12C)sampled – (13C/12C)standard
——————————––––––––––––––– x 1.000
(13C/12C)standard

The atmosphere was pre-industrial at -6.4 per mil over the Holocene, rapidely declining since ~1850 and is now below – 8 per mil.
Different biological processes give different discrimination levels for 13C vs. 12C
C3 plants (most trees and lots of small vegetation) are around -24 per mil
C4 plants (some grasses, corn,…) are around -15 per mil

Fossil fuels like coal were once C3 plants thus are also around -24 per mil
Others like oil and especially natural gas can go down to -40 per mil and even (much) lower…

The problem, as Dr. Salby said, is that it is impossible to distinguish between releases from fossil fuels and CO2 releases from decaying or eaten plant food.

But there is a solution: fossil fuel use is quite accurately known, because of taxes on sales, even maybe underestimated (because of the human nature to avoid taxes…). The oxygen use by burning fossil fuels can be calculated and the oxygen decline in the atmosphere is measured since ~1990. That revealed that slightly less oxygen was used than calculated from fossil fuel use.

Thus the whole biosphere is a net producer of oxygen since at least 1990, that shows that more CO2 is absorbed by plants that is used to destroy the plants, no matter in what way. The earth is greening…
But as more CO2 is taken by the biosphere than released, that is preferentially more 12CO2 than 13CO2, thus leaving relative more 13CO2 behind in the atmosphere.
That excludes the biosphere as the source of the 13CO2 decline in the atmosphere…
Thus Dr. Salby is wrong on this point. See for details:
http://www.bowdoin.edu/~mbattle/papers_posters_and_talks/BenderGBC2005.pdf

Almost all other sources of CO2 (oceans, volcanoes, rock weathering,…) are too high in 13C/12C ratio, thus any huge release of these sources would INcrease the 13C/12C ratio, not the firm DEcrease we see in the atmosphere… Thus forget the oceans as the main source of the increase…

316. richardscourtney says:
January 30, 2014 at 12:29 am

The sinks for CO2 are not saturating and, therefore, the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration is NOT CO2 accumulating in the atmosphere because the sinks cannot sequester it (they can).

The main problem with this reasoning is that this is only valid if all the CO2 sequestering and release was caused by one and the same process. It is not.

Some 120 GtC goes in and out in vegetation. that is a 24-hour process for 60 GtC respiration and photosynthesis, which largely cancels out within 24 hour or more days/weeks during the growing season.
Some 60 GtC goes extra out by photosynthesis during the growing season and some 60 GtC is released over the full year (some more in summer, but still a lot in winter) by vegetation decay and feed/food.
The net result of the second one can be seen in the seasonal variation in CO2 levels as well as in the 13C/12C variations and oxygen variations.
The overall effect at the end of the year is ~1 GtC/year more sink than source, based on the oxygen balance.
As the main effect is the rapid growth and decay of leaves, most of this process is fast, but limited in capacity. The long term effect of the 30% increase in CO2 level is only 1 GtC/year extra uptake. Probably because CO2 is not the only limiting factor in nature compared to greenhouse tests where all other factors are sufficiently provided.

The ocean surface simply follows temperature which gives some 50 GtC release with warmer waters and 50 GtC uptake in colder waters.
The long term effect of any CO2 change in the atmosphere gives a similar but limited (10%) change in the surface: the 30% increase in the atmosphere only shows up as a 3% increase (30 GtC) in the ocean surface, due to the buffer/Revelle factor. An increase of 5 GtC (2.5 ppmv) per year thus only gives an increase of 0.5 GtC/year in the ocean surface.

The deep oceans circulate a near continuous stream of ~40 GtC CO2 between the equatorial upwelling places and the polar sink places. As other possible sinks are either too small or too slow, that gives that the deep oceans do get the remainder of the ~5 GtC sink capacity necessary to remove halve the quantity of the human emissions per year. That is about 3.5 GtC/year, even if we have a 30% increase of the CO2 pressure in the atmosphere.

Thus despite the huge quantities involved over a seasonal cycle, the quantities that are really sequestered after a full cycle are very limited. Nature simply can’t cope with the human releases, because the removal of any extra shot out of the atmosphere is a (partial) pressure dependent process, while the seasonal cycle is a temperature dependent process. And the long term effect of temperature is very limited (8 ppmv/°C).

About saturation: the ocean surface is easely saturated within 2-3 years while neither the deep oceans nor vegetation show any sign of saturation, but both are limited in yearly uptake capacity.

317. Mike Jonas says:

richardscourtney – you say “The sinks for CO2 are not saturating and, therefore, the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration is NOT CO2 accumulating in the atmosphere because the sinks cannot sequester it (they can).“. I agree that they are not saturating, the data does indicate that. But your “therefore” is incorrect because you haven’t allowed for the time that the process takes. There are actually a number of separate processes. The main ones, on timescales up to decades at least, are:
1. Land biosphere take-up and release.
The land biosphere is fast-acting, giving the high seasonal variation, though there is a modest net take-up over time (the planet is growing more plants than the de-foresters are removing).
2. Ocean-atmosphere interface.
At the ocean-atmosphere interface, a CO2 partial pressure imbalance has a half-life of about 13 years, but the movement towards equilibrium takes place on both sides – with excess atmospheric CO2 the atmospheric CO2 partial pressure decreases while the sea surface CO2 partial pressure increases. NB. It isn’t simple, because of chemical changes in the ocean.
3. Ocean surface layer / deeper ocean. Over time, excess C in the sea surface layer moves to the deeper ocean.

However, while all of this is going on, there is a bit more man-made CO2 being added to the atmosphere. The overall rate of net absorption is currently running at around half of the man-made additions. There’s nothing magical about the “around half”, that just happens to be where it is. As other things change, the proportion may change. The IPCC claim that the rate of net absorption is slowing down (panic! panic!) but it isn’t.

318. Ferdinand Engelbeen:

I said I would give you the ‘last word’ in our conversation.
Subsequently, I replied to a post to me from Mike Jonas, and you have responded to that in your post at January 30, 2014 at 2:56 am.

OK, I will stick to having given you the ‘last word’ by citing – indeed copying – an explanation I provided to you upthread.

In my post to Mike Jonas at January 30, 2014 at 12:29 am I wrote

The sinks for CO2 are not saturating and, therefore, the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration is NOT CO2 accumulating in the atmosphere because the sinks cannot sequester it (they can).

And you have responded beginning by saying

The main problem with this reasoning is that this is only valid if all the CO2 sequestering and release was caused by one and the same process. It is not.

Bollocks! I am citing an empirical fact and I am NOT providing “reasoning”. You are trying to pretend the empirical fact does not exist by using “reasoning” which does not mention the empirical fact.

I cited, linked to and explained the empirical fact in my post upthread which was addressed to you at January 29, 2014 at 2:39 am. Simply, it explains that the sinks do NOT fill up so they are NOT saturated. I copy the pertinent part of it to here to save you needing to find it.

Each year the oceans alone pump more than an order of magnitude more CO2 in and out of the air than the anthropogenic CO2 emission. A changing equilibrium of the carbon cycle would alter the equilibrium between atmospheric CO2 and the ocean. This would not involve saturation of CO2 sinks with resulting accumulation of CO2 in the air. And the dynamics of the seasonal variation in atmospheric CO2 refutes that such saturation occurs.

This is the Mauna Loa data
http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/weekly.html
The annual CO2 rise is the residual of the seasonal fluctuation of the CO2 variation throughout a year.

The seasonal fluctuation is a saw-tooth. The CO2 rises rapidly at near constant rate then reverses and falls rapidly at near constant rate, then reverses … This is NOT consistent with the sinks saturating. The rate of change should reduce as the sinks ‘fill up’ while approaching saturation. It does not.

It is consistent with altering equilibrium. The seasonal rise is a response to temperature through the year while the minimum (before reversal) of a year is the minimum set by the quasi equilibrium of that year as the carbon cycle system adjusts to an altered equilibrium state.

So, Ferdinand, your assertion of CO2 accumulation in the air is falsified by these observations of system dynamics.”

Richard

319. richardscourtney says:

Mike Jonas:

I apologise to you, Ferdinand and the mods for having posted the mess at January 30, 2014 at 3:42 am which I have asked the mods to delete. Sorry for that error.

Thankyou for your reply to me at January 30, 2014 at 3:22 am. It begins saying

richardscourtney – you say

“The sinks for CO2 are not saturating and, therefore, the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration is NOT CO2 accumulating in the atmosphere because the sinks cannot sequester it (they can).“.

I agree that they are not saturating, the data does indicate that. But your “therefore” is incorrect because you haven’t allowed for the time that the process takes.

Thankyou for your agreement of the lack of sink saturation.

But your point about the time for the process is NOT pertinent.

Firstly, you (and Ferdinand) are claiming the ‘mass balance argument’. Simply, you say the anthropogenic emission is filling the sinks and the excess then accumulates. But, as you agree, the sinks are NOT filling.

Secondly, the natural fluctuation of the excess sequestration is at least 6 ppmv (which corresponds to 12 GtC) in 4 months. This is more than 100 times the yearly increase of anthropogenic CO2 emission, which strongly that the dynamics of the carbon cycle system can cope easily with the human production of CO2. A serious disruption of the system may be expected when the rate of increase of the anthropogenic emissions becomes larger than the natural variations of CO2. But our analysis indicated this is not possible.

The observations are completely explicable as being effect of the carbon cycle system slowly adjusting to a new equilibrium. Some processes of the system are very slow with rate constants of years and decades. Hence, the system takes decades to fully adjust to the new equilibrium. The issue is WHY the equilibrium has changed. The anthropogenic emission may be the cause but other causes are possible and the temperature rise from the LIA seems most likely.

Richard

PS If you want me to then I could copy the list of processes which we considered and it is much longer than yours but I see no relevance.

320. “Who cares how much there is of something? The question is, what can it do?”

We don’t know what it can do outside of a jar. If we had “thousands of line by line measurements” between the surface and various altitudes controlled for GHG’s, we would not need any model. What we have are measurements from the surface and from space.

Scale is important. A molecule that must energize 2500 of its closest friends to raise the temperature of the whole has a lot of work to do. To turn Willis’ argument on its head, just because it could, does not mean that it does.

The planet is doing our measurements for us, clearly showing what it cannot do over the last 17 years.

The analogy of this post was carried a bit beyond where it can stand in its own merits. The last bit requires technical issues discussed above likely lost on most football fans. Yet the final conclusion is, IMO, not far from the truth.

321. richardscourtney says:
January 30, 2014 at 3:24 am

Let us try it in another way:

– The seasonal changes show a global change of about 5 ppmv for a global change of about 1°C, where the hemispheres are opposite to each other and the NH vegetation is dominant.
Oceans and extra-tropical vegetation are the main players, working in opposite direction with temperature: higher temperature: more release from the oceans, more uptake by the biosphere.
Total in/out flows 90 GtC ocean-atmosphere-ocean, 60 GtC biosphere-atmosphere-biosphere.
Net effect: near zero in the pre-industrial past, but currently ~1 GtC extra uptake in the biosphere, ~0.5 GtC extra uptake in the ocean surface layer and ~3.5 GtC extra uptake in the deep oceans.

– The intra annual variability (over 2-3 years) also is caused by temperature changes, mainly ENSO and volcanic related and the tropical vegetation is dominant.
Oceans and tropical vegetation are the main players, working in parallel, where an increased temperature gives more releases of CO2 from the oceans but also from the tropical forests by changed rain patterns.
Total in/outflows: a few GtC extra release from oceans and tropical vegetation.
Net effect: ~10 GtC/°C (~5 ppmv/°C) in the first year after a temperature change, dying out within 2-3 years.

– The (very) long term changes in CO2 were also caused by temperature changes, where the deep oceans are dominant.
Oceans and vegetation again are the main players, working in opposite direction with temperature: higher temperature: more release from the oceans, more uptake by the biosphere, mainly a matter of ocean currents and changed land ice / vegetation area.
Net effect: ~16 GtC/°C (~8 ppmv/°C) spread over decades to many millennia.

So where does the human emissions fit?
Human CO2 is a direct injection of extra CO2 in the atmosphere. That increases the partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) in the atmosphere. The first two processes (seasonal and intra annual) are temperature dependent and hardly influenced by pCO2: even with a 30% increase in pCO2, there is only 1 GtC/year extra uptake of CO2 in vegetation. Neither are the short term tropical forest releases/uptake influenced. The ocean surface is in equilibrium with the atmosphere within a few years and currently has a ~3% more CO2 in the mixed layer.

The main direct influence of an increased pCO2 is on the deep ocean uptake/release.
A temperature increase of 1°C only gives an increase of 17 ppmv in the atmosphere, per Henry’s law, without taking into account the extra uptake by the biosphere for the same increase in temperature. Taking the latter into account, the maximum increase is 8 ppmv/°C or some 5 ppmv since the Mauna Loa measurements started in 1959.

Human emissions today are near 10 GtC/year (5 ppmv/year). Only 2 years of the current human emissions equals the effect of an increase of 1°C in global temperature. Thus approximately the whole increase of CO2 is caused by human emissions.

The observations are completely explicable as being effect of the carbon cycle system slowly adjusting to a new equilibrium.

There is no natural reason for a change in equilibrium, except a temperature change. That is hardly of effect in the past decades or millennium (the MWP-LIA difference is only 6 ppmv). The equilibrium level of CO2 at the current temperature still is around 290 ppmv. That we are far above that equilibrium is caused by the human emissions.

This is NOT consistent with the sinks saturating. The rate of change should reduce as the sinks ‘fill up’ while approaching saturation. It does not.

As the seasonal exchanges are not pressure dependent, they don’t help to remove any buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere. Only the much slower processes of sequestering extra CO2 in more permanent vegetation and the deep oceans are of interest. Both still are not limited in current or future capacity, only limited in speed.

322. richardscourtney says:

Ferdinand:

Thankyou for “trying another way” but I said I would ‘give you the last word’ and I have provided my evidence and argument so people can assess that against your evidence and argument.

As I see it, the difference between our positions is demonstrated by your statement saying

“There is no natural reason for a change in equilibrium, except a temperature change. That is hardly of effect in the past decades or millennium (the MWP-LIA difference is only 6 ppmv). The equilibrium level of CO2 at the current temperature still is around 290 ppmv. That we are far above that equilibrium is caused by the human emissions.”

Whereas I say

There is no KNOWN reason for THE change in equilibrium, IT MAY BE THE temperature change FROM THE LIA. That is NOT ASSESSABLE FOR past decades or millennium (the SMOOTHED ICE CORE DATA INDICATES MWP-LIA difference is only 6 ppmv BUT THE STOMATA DATA SHOWS MUCH HIGHER CHANGE). The equilibrium level of CO2 at the current temperature still is NOT KNOWN. That we are far above that equilibrium is IS SUGGESTED BY SOME.

Richard

323. Willis Eschenbach says:

Ryan Scott Welch says:
January 29, 2014 at 6:53 pm

Willis, the only reason that it seems to you that the human concentration of atmospheric CO2 in my presentation is tiny is because I used a sample of 100,000 instead of the normative 1,000,000 and as I said repeatedly before I used a football stadium as an example because it is something people who I live around and talk to here in Texas (where American football is king) are all very familiar with. Nearly everyone I know can easily picture a football stadium, and can picture a 40 seat section, thus the example choice.

No, that’s not the only reason that it seems to you that the human concentration of atmospheric CO2 in my presentation is tiny. I understand your post. You’ve picked a metaphor for how much CO2 humans are responsible for in the air, and an easily understood one. The reason your answer of the human contribution so tiny is that it is WRONG. It has nothing to do with 100,000 versus a million.

Now you can disagree with my number for the human contribution and as I am obviously not a climate scientist, nor an expert on atmospheric gas, and there is every possibility of me being wrong. But I do read, and generally can comprehend what I read, and have since 2008 read wattsupwiththat.com nearly daily, so I am not completely ignorant, and this presentation was based on my understanding.

OK, fair enough. However, you still made a huge mistake, one that totally negated your interesting metaphor.

Now you accuse me of purposefully misrepresenting our atmosphere and nothing could be further from the truth.

BZZZZZT!!! If you’ve been reading WUWT daily, you should know better than to make some kind of bogus handwaving accusation against me without quoting my words. I just checked. I do not find any example of me saying that you purposely misrepresenting anything …

Thus I never knowingly attempted to deceive or mislead anyone as you allude that I have, and so Willis, you are wrong.

Take a deep breath, my friend, I said no such thing. This is why I ask very forcefully for people to QUOTE MY WORDS, to avoid just this kind of misunderstanding.

w.

324. Willis Eschenbach says:

The Pompous Git says:
January 29, 2014 at 10:56 pm

… Found this:

The possibility that arsenic is an essential nutrient has received some research attention, especially in the 1970s and 1980s, although some interest extends into the present day (Uthus, 1992, 2003). In 1988, the U.S. EPA convened a scientific panel to specifically evaluate the potential essentiality of arsenic (U.S. EPA, 1988). Based on an extensive review of the literature, this panel concluded, “information from experimental studies with rats, chicks, minipigs, and goats demonstrates the plausibility that arsenic, at least in inorganic form, is an essential nutrient.” …

Thanks for tracking that down, Git, very interesting stuff. Looks like I should stick to cyanide in the future …

w.

325. richardscourtney says:
January 30, 2014 at 10:26 am

That we are far above that equilibrium is IS SUGGESTED BY SOME.

If the CO2 level in the atmosphere wasn’t above the equilibrium, there was no reason for the natural carbon cycle to remove more CO2 than it releases…

326. richardscourtney says:

Ferdinand:

I said I would give you the last word and I meant it. I write to point out that you need to explain and to justify your assertion in your post at January 30, 2014 at 11:30 am when you are responding to my suggestion that the equilibrium is changing.

Richard

327. Willis Eschenbach said @ January 30, 2014 at 10:36 am

Thanks for tracking that down, Git, very interesting stuff. Looks like I should stick to cyanide in the future …

You don’t have a lot of choice — there’s arsenic wherever you look hence my original comment: “If you want to eliminate arsenic from your diet you’ll need to stop eating.” Just as with climate, alarmism is rampant in the nutrition industry. From Consumer Reports:

Arsenic not only is a potent human carcinogen but also can set up children for other health problems in later life.

Following our January investigation, “Arsenic in Your Juice,” which found arsenic in apple and grape juices, we recently tested more than 200 samples of a host of rice products. They included iconic labels and store brands, organic products and conventional ones; some were aimed at the booming gluten-free market.

The results of our tests were even more troubling in some ways than our findings for juice. In virtually every product tested, we found measurable amounts of total arsenic in its two forms. We found significant levels of inorganic arsenic, which is a carcinogen, in almost every product category, along with organic arsenic, which is less toxic but still of concern. Moreover, the foods we checked are popular staples, eaten by adults and children alike. See the chart summarizing results of our tests for arsenic in rice or rice products.

Though rice isn’t the only dietary source of arsenic—some vegetables, fruits, and even water can harbor it—the Environmental Protection Agency assumes there is actually no “safe” level of exposure to inorganic arsenic.

[Emphasis mine]
Source: http://consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2012/11/arsenic-in-your-food/index.htm

Notice that the above says “some vegetables and fruits”. They are completely silent on vegetables and fruits that are arsenic-free and there’s a very good reason for that. They are unlikely to exist. Most of our food is grown in soil containing arsenic that plants readily take up. Every fertiliser analysis I’ve seen that includes the arsenic level contains arsenic. Hence hydroponic food isn’t going to “help” here.

Looking through the available literature intended for consumption by the hoi poloi online, I could not find a single mention of the fact that arsenic is an essential nutrient. The parallel with the CO2 harum scarum is glaring. So it goes…

And thanks for keeping me in check :-)

328. richardscourtney says:
January 30, 2014 at 11:37 am

I write to point out that you need to explain and to justify your assertion in your post at January 30, 2014 at 11:30 am when you are responding to my suggestion that the equilibrium is changing.

Richard, if the equilibrium is changing to a higher level, for whatever reason, most probably temperature, then the overall release of CO2 by all natural causes should be higher than the overall uptake by all natural sinks, regardless of the human emissions.

But we see the reverse: the overall natural uptake is larger than the overall natural release. Thus either the equilibrium setpoint is going down, or the human releases cause a disequilibrium above the temperature controlled equilibrium…

That nature is a net sink for CO2 is anyway true for the past 50+ years of accurate measurements:

329. richardscourtney says:

Ferdinand:

Thankyou for spelling out your argument. I leave others to consider it for themselves, as I said I would.

Richard

330. Mike Jonas says:

richardscourtney – In my comment of Jan 30 3L22am there is a clue to the process which perhaps I should have highlighted a bit more: “At the ocean-atmosphere interface, a CO2 partial pressure imbalance has a half-life of about 13 years, but the movement towards equilibrium takes place on both sides – with excess atmospheric CO2 the atmospheric CO2 partial pressure decreases while the sea surface CO2 partial pressure increases. “.This is because the sea surface layer is absorbing CO2 faster than it is transferring it to the deeper ocean. But this is not ocean saturation and it does not support the IPCC (AR4 Ch.7 Exec Summary) saying “Models indicate that the fraction of fossil fuel and cement emissions of CO2 taken up by the ocean will decline if atmospheric CO2 continues to increase.“. This is not happening now and the rest is just a model prediction which looks unlikely to happen. [Think of the ocean surface layer as a CO2 conduit to the deeper ocean. As input pressure increases, flow increases.].

re your statement “The anthropogenic emission may be the cause but other causes are possible and the temperature rise from the LIA seems most likely.“: I agree that other causes are possible. My calculations indicate strongly to me that anthropogenic emission is the major cause and that temperature rise from the LIA is a minor cause – but of course I always have to be prepared to be proved wrong.

331. richardscourtney says:

Mike Jonas:

Thankyou for your clarification in your post addressed to me at January 30, 2014 at 1:32 pm.

Let me know if I can help with getting your paper published.

Richard

332. Rick S says:

What you fail to realize is that the true threat to global climate is not CO2 but the insane hotness of the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. The young lady pictured for the article has, without question, contributed at least a 1 degree rise in global temperatures on her own and is, therefore, the cause of more melting of polar ice caps than all the man-made CO2 since the industrial revolution. Ban NFL cheerleaders and all our problems will be solved (or we will be thrust into a global ice age?).