CO2, destroyer of entire continents at the touch of a knob

CO2_knobFrom the University of New Hampshire  and the department of “CO2 controls everything with a single big red knob” (as stated in the article) comes this modeling inanity. Never mind that after the continental breakup the continent of Antarctica is now on the bottom of the world and gets dark for months and super cold, nooooo, it’s CO2 wot dun it. Climate models can’t even get the present right,  so I have serious doubts they’ll get 34 million years ago, where we have far less data, right either.

Antarctic ice sheet is result of CO2 decrease, not continental breakup

DURHAM, N.H. – Climate modelers from the University of New Hampshire have shown that the most likely explanation for the initiation of Antarctic glaciation during a major climate shift 34 million years ago was decreased carbon dioxide (CO2) levels. The finding counters a 40-year-old theory suggesting massive rearrangements of Earth’s continents caused global cooling and the abrupt formation of the Antarctic ice sheet. It will provide scientists insight into the climate change implications of current rising global CO2 levels.

In a paper published today in Nature, Matthew Huber of the UNH Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space and department of Earth sciences provides evidence that the long-held, prevailing theory known as “Southern Ocean gateway opening” is not the best explanation for the climate shift that occurred during the Eocene-Oligocene transition when Earth’s polar regions were ice-free.

“The Eocene-Oligocene transition was a major event in the history of the planet and our results really flip the whole story on its head,” says Huber. “The textbook version has been that gateway opening, in which Australia pulled away from Antarctica, isolated the polar continent from warm tropical currents, and changed temperature gradients and circulation patterns in the ocean around Antarctica, which in turn began to generate the ice sheet. We’ve shown that, instead, CO2-driven cooling initiated the ice sheet and that this altered ocean circulation.”

Huber adds that the gateway theory has been supported by a specific, unique piece of evidence—a “fingerprint” gleaned from oxygen isotope records derived from deep-sea sediments. These sedimentary records have been used to map out gradient changes associated with ocean circulation shifts that were thought to bear the imprint of changes in ocean gateways.

Although declining atmospheric levels of CO2 has been the other main hypothesis used to explain the Eocene-Oligocene transition, previous modeling efforts were unsuccessful at bearing this out because the CO2 drawdown does not by itself match the isotopic fingerprint. It occurred to Huber’s team that the fingerprint might not be so unique and that it might also have been caused indirectly from CO2 drawdown through feedbacks between the growing Antarctic ice sheet and the ocean.

Says Huber, “One of the things we were always missing with our CO2 studies, and it had been missing in everybody’s work, is if conditions are such to make an ice sheet form, perhaps the ice sheet itself is affecting ocean currents and the climate system—that once you start getting an ice sheet to form, maybe it becomes a really active part of the climate system and not just a passive player.”

For their study, Huber and colleagues used brute force to generate results: they simply modeled the Eocene-Oligocene world as if it contained an Antarctic ice sheet of near-modern size and shape and explored the results within the same kind of coupled ocean-atmosphere model used to project future climate change and across a range of CO2 values that are likely to occur in the next 100 years (560 to 1200 parts per million).

“It should be clear that resolving these two very different conceptual models for what caused this huge transformation of the Earth’s surface is really important because today as a global society we are, as I refer to it, dialing up the big red knob of carbon dioxide but we’re not moving continents around.”

Just what caused the sharp drawdown of CO2 is unknown, but Huber points out that having now resolved whether gateway opening or CO2 decline initiated glaciation, more pointed scientific inquiry can be focused on answering that question.

Huber notes that despite his team’s finding, the gateway opening theory won’t now be shelved, for that massive continental reorganization may have contributed to the CO2 drawdown by changing ocean circulation patterns that created huge upwellings of nutrient-rich waters containing plankton that, upon dying and sinking, took vast loads of carbon with them to the bottom of the sea.


The article is available to download here:


Gotta love the “brute force” quote in bold. Translation: we pushed the model in the direction we believed it should go.

It should be noted that this is version 2.0 of this meme. Huber also had a paper in 2011 saying basically the same thing:

Pagani, M., Huber, M., Liu, Z., Bohaty, S.M., Henderiks, J., Sijp, W., Krishnan, S. & DeConto, R.M. (2011): The Role of Carbon Dioxide During the Onset of Antarctic Glaciation. Science, 334, 1261-1264


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… and they call this scientific research ?

Jimmy Haigh.

I wonder how they managed to get funding for this?


… how many academics does it take to “monster” the past climate? Answer, 8.


July 30, 2014 at 7:53 pm | Jimmy Haigh. says:

I wonder how they managed to get funding for this?

They’re part of the cartel, Jimmy.

clyde william

Some sort of intellectual version of the Keystone Cops…?


Climate-modelers are the new scientific crack-addicts. Evidence? nah! we have a computer.
Mind, they did not just use any model, but one to which “brute force” is applied
“For their study, Huber and colleagues used brute force to generate results”
Sounds to me like they figuratively banged on the the code until it gave them the answer they wanted.
and this is in Nature. I used to think of that publication as the ultimate in prestigious. Apparently the crap has floated to the top. I mean I could be wrong but .. wow.


It appears that in the last 18 years, all this additional CO2 we are putting into the atmosphere is making the sea ice surrounding the Antarctic to grow. Has anyone looked into that possible scenario, in that CO2 may actually be causing more cooling?


A long time ago I put it to Gavin Schmidt over at RC that modelling was becoming the science. He assured me it wasn’t. He was wrong.


It does not have to make sense if someone is ready to fund it.

Mike from Carson Valley a particularly cold place that could benefit from some warming

Sure the atmosphere drives the oceans, I get it. What’s not to like ? We have our ultimate culprit, a small trace gas with reach beyond reason. Yet they still can’t predict a hurricane movement beyond 10 days. So some brute force in the Southern North Atlantic seems to be needed.

Huber is on the right track. Brute force climate modeling and data adjustments are the new way.

Ken L.

The red knob gave me a tech idea that Jeremy Rifkin would love. All devices that emit CO2 would have emission thermostats networked to a central server( or servers) with a program to maintain optimum world temperature. Think about the implications for political parties – there could be an Arctic Party, a Tropical Party, a Temperate party, etc. Such an idea might actually become feasible long before we develop new energy sources at current rates!


I don’t often refer to research as ‘weapons grade stupid’ but, I am ‘brute forced’ to make an exception.
Where would they get the idea that CO2 levels might be 1200 ppm within the next 100 years?
How exactly do you draw a conclusion that the initiation of glaciation was caused by the interaction of the already formed ice sheet and CO2 levels? And they used unvalidated models to boot.

that once you start getting an ice sheet to form, maybe it becomes a really active part of the climate system and not just a passive player.”
Well if that be the case, we had best start pumping CO2 into the atmosphere as fast as we can to fight the monster. Considering how much we’ve pumped into the atmosphere in the last 34 years or so, it looks like the monster is unaffected and just continues to grow:
We’re in a war with the ice sheet and we’re losing! It is worse than we thought!


These people are desperately scraping the bottom of the barrel in order to concoct data to prop up the IPCC’s shaky supposition that CO2 emitted from human activities is causing catastrophic global warming and is the key driver of climate change.
Its bull!


The only thing that comes between this claim and world fame is a hint of truth. They seem well suited to their day job and should keep them because that way we’re always only one election away from defunding the morons.

Bill Illis

I have the biggest database of paleoclimate Temperature and CO2 estimates of anyone I guess. 17,000 individual temperature estimates going back 2.4 billion years and 2600 CO2 estimates going back 750 million years.
This is the last 40 million years of both (with CO2 represented as 3.0C per doubling). Sorry, CO2 did not fall until 2.5 million years after the initial glaciation of Antarctica (actually the fourth initial glaciation since Antarctica has has the unfortunate fortune of being placed at the south pole by continental drift at least 3 other times previously when it became fully glaciated).
A chart showing some of the important geographic and temperature changes over the last 45 million years.
Antarctica glaciates over, no change in CO2. Then CO2 finally falls below 280 ppm for perhaps the very first time in history and Antarctica promptly unglaciates. CO2 stays flat for another 13 million years while Antarctica is only half glaciated. Then 14 million years ago, the glaciers advance and CO2 does not change. etc. etc. CO2 has nothing to do with it. It is whether the Antarctic Circumpolar Current is fully operating or not. And that is determined by continental drift and whether individual continental landmasses or even small cratons between South America and Antarctica are blocking it.
Climate scientists cannot be objective it seems.

Bill Illis says:
July 30, 2014 at 9:11 pm
Aww, gee Bill. You had to muddle up the discussion with the facts. Here I was trying to convince everyone that the paper was right and the ice monster was coming after us. Everyone do your part, leave your SUV idling all night!
Seriously thanks. I was about to embark on a research mission to see if glaciation correlated with CO2. You’ve saved me hours and hours and hours.


……;;;the most likely explanation for the initiation of Antarctic glaciation during a major climate shift 34 million years ago was decreased carbon dioxide (CO2) levels. ….. It will provide scientists insight into the climate change implications of current rising global CO2 levels.
Now hang on a tick chaps. We know that temp changes preceded CO2 variation. So to assume the reverse happened 34 million years ago just follows the fanciful upside-down Gore “theory”. So how is this going to provide “insight” to determine how CO2 would determine temps in the future?
How do these dingbats get away with this nonsense?


TobiasN says:
July 30, 2014 at 8:07 pm
. . . and this is in Nature. I used to think of that publication as the ultimate in prestigious. Apparently the crap has floated to the top.

Actually it was in Science. Neither of them was that great. Here’s a quote from a NYTBR of Nobel prize-winner (for the polymerase chain reaction) Kary Mullis’s autobiography:

Mullis submitted his paper to the two most prestigious science journals in the world, Science and Nature. Both rejected it.

Bill Illis

The most detailed representation of Antarctica continental drift (and especially all the small cratons which form west Antarctica and inhabit (have inhabited) the Drake Passage between South America and Antarctica. From the University of Texas plates project (a Microsoft PowerPoint animation of every million years over the last 200 million years).
This is what the Ocean currents were like 45 million years ago before there was enough deep water separation between Antarctica and Australia and South America . Basically subtropical Gyres kept Antarctica warm enough so that continental glaciers did not develop. It was still brutally cold in the winter and in the 6 months of darkness in the winter but the snow melted in the summer.
And then some of the issues which occured in the Drake Passage as the small cratons between South America and Antarctica were jostled around, Think the Antarctic Peninsula and South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands cratons.

Andrew N

I just love the way that in these models the Earth’s temperature is reduced to a single variable equation. That is, carbon dioxide and carbon dioxide alone is the only variable that has any effect. Nothing else matters, continental positions, ocean currents, ocean volume, solar intensity, axial tilt, rotation rate, tides caused by the Moon being closer. There are a myriad other variables that were different 34 Ma ago. It all distills down to one single trace gas.
Computer models can only predict what you program into them. They cannot come up with alternative hypotheses or results.


Science is beautiful and terrible. Just check in on Lubos Motl’s blog to see that. It’s a fine balance forevermore between dumb logic and empiricism. As if art itself isn’t good enough, or music, some buffoons must push for an alternative to old religious books in physics. But the only alternative is in CHEMISTRY, baby!

Lance Wallace

Bill Illis says:
July 30, 2014 at 9:11 pm
Bill, are your data available? Sounds like a useful resource.

Bill Illis says:
July 30, 2014 at 9:11 pm
Bill, in the first link, I am baffled by what the orange line represents. At first glance, I thought it was simply CO2 concentration anomalies. But on closer inspection, it seems to be some sort of quantification of warming due to CO2 based on a sensitivity of 3.0 degrees C per doubling. Can you expand on this? As written, it makes little sense.

Mickey Reno

And yet another “scientist” climbs out of the climate science clown car.

Lil Fella from OZ

And what does this achieve?


“brute force”?
Do they even KNOW what that means in CS (Computer Science), in cryptology?
Why don’t they lookup “brute force attack”. It simply means: enumerates all possible inputs until you obtain the desired output. As in: in order to solve “x is a 3 letters string, md5(x) = 900150983CD24FB0D6963F7D28E17F72”, you enumerate all 3 letters string, until you find x = “abc”. You can brute force a DES key.
In order to brute force something, you need to know the cypher, or hash, used. In order to brute force nature, you would need to know the correct equation (not poor models) and the exact final state.
Silly, just silly…

James Bull

“If in doubt give it a clout. If at first you don’t succeed get a bigger hammer”
I thought my motto for fixing things mechanical wouldn’t work for computers but they seem to have managed it They hammered it until it fitted with there first thought. It reminds me of Stan Laurel doing a jigsaw(I can’t find the clip) but he is using a hammer!
James Bull


I’m actually delighted and amused when I see such absurd peer-reviewed papers being passed off as real scientific inquiry….
Fatuous peer-reviewed papers like this one that Nature has the audacity to publish in their once prestigious magazine just shows how far the “science” of climatology has descended; they’re bordering on the 8th circle of Dante’s hell (fraud) and slowly making their way into the 9th ring (treachery/treason).
“Abandon hope all ye who enter here.” ~Dante’s Devine Comedy…
This is the sign that should hang above the doors to Nature’s headquarters…..
I just can’t comprehend how scientists outside the climatology cult can allow scientific integrity to be so disparaged. Their silence is deafening.
Can’t other scientists appreciate the blowback that is coming against science in general once the CAGW hypothesis is officially thrown on the trash heap of failed ideas???
Do they really hope to escape unscathed after the world has wasted $TRILLIONS on this CAGW scam??
When will it end?
When will more scientists with integrity and a conscience start making a stand against this CAGW madness?

John Edmondson

Much more likely the Antarctic ice sheet formed when Australia broke away from Antarctica, then the CO2 dropped in response to the much colder climate.

Greg Goodman

Once again they confuse cause and effect. Like Al Gore’s ice core trick, where he forgets to point out that CO2 is a RESULT of temperature change.
Of course there will be a positive feedback ( amplifying effect ) from CO2 when there is dramatic cooling, that does not replace the gateway theory, it is simply amplifies the change making it more rapid.
Unlike the current situation where CO2 warming effects are very nearly saturated going the other way once they get a lot lower they will much more important. Contrary to what they suggest, that makes no difference to the current climate and near saturated CO2 effects.
We already know that the climate models they are using are too sensitive to changes in radiative forcing, so if they run them back to conditions where CO2 is much lower and the CO2 would really be more significant, the results may well be more dramatic.
That this contradicts other paleo evidence is yet further proof that the models are exaggerating CO2 forcing,
Thanks you Dr Huber, yet more proof the models are of little use.

This is BS!!
It’s just the simple fact of having land in polar regions and the elevation of that land. The higher elevation and closeness to North/South pole the colder. CO2 has nothing to do with it.


“When will more scientists with integrity and a conscience start making a stand against this CAGW madness?”
Many scientists are very Sheldon Cooper-y. They can’t believe scientivists can lie.


James Bull says:
July 30, 2014 at 11:33 pm
“If in doubt give it a clout. If at first you don’t succeed get a bigger hammer”
If the hammer doesn’t fix it the problem is likely electrical. 🙂


Mars and Venus are still there with ~95% CO2!!

William Astley

Huber does not understand any of the knobs. It is astonishing how many new knobs are about to be discovered and the implication to humanity and to fundamental science that will result due to what has started to happen and will happen.
The drop in atmospheric CO2 occurred millions of years after the Antarctic ice sheet started to form. CO2 is not the knob that causes the ice epoches. It is a fact that the planet has been warm (no ice sheets) when atmospheric CO2 levels where roughly (300 pm) and the planet has been cold (ice sheets) when atmospheric CO2 levels were 1000 pm. The ice epoches (the planetary temperature changes) do not correlate with CO2 changes. That is a paradox (an observation which is not possible based on the AGW theory and modeling.)
The CO2 mechanism saturates due to the fact that there is free charge in the upper atmosphere. This fact explains why the CO2 AGW theory’s predicted tropical tropospheric hot spot at roughly 8km was not been observed.
Observations rather than thoughtful discussion is going to end the climate wars. Unfortunately the reason for the majority of the warming in the last 50 years is over. We are going to experience significant unequivocal global cooling. The warmists have ignored record sea ice in the Antarctic they will not be able to ignore record sea ice in the Arctic, dropping high latitude average temperatures both hemispheres.

richard verney

davidmhoffer says:
July 30, 2014 at 10:16 pm
I am pleased to note that I am not the only one who was somewhat confused about this data set. About 2 weeks ago, Bill posted some of his data in response to a comment of mine.
His data seems not simply extensive, but also very interesting, but it is important to know precisely what it is setting out.
I share the view expressed by Lance Wallace (at July 30, 2014 at 10:13 pm) that it would be very useful if Bill would be prepared to share his data (which must have invoolved much time and effort to compile) and provide a link to it. And I share your view, that it would be useful if Bill would clarify precisely what the data is dealing with.
That said, the thrust of Bill’s comments set out above seem correct, so too the observation by Andrew N (at July 30, 2014 at 9:54 pm). albeit I am not sure that differences in the rotation, length of day and distance from the moon were that significant when going back just 34 to 45 million years (on longer timescales they are, and I am unsure to what extent full account of these factors is taken into account in the so called weak sun paradox).


A red button? Is that not what Hillary Clinton used to “re-set” the diplomatic “climate” between the USA and The USSR? Just a few short years ago?. How can these guys be called scientists or intelligent for that matter.

“How do these dingbats get away with this nonsense?”
The dingbats are giving the politicians what they want; reason to control and tax everyone’s activities. Hence they have the ear of the rulers and the rulers return the favor by lavishly supporting their efforts.
The dingbats are giving the mainstream media want they want. The media loves high drama and stories of our needing to avoid catastrophe. Plus, the media is the propaganda arm of the governmental/industrial complex.
The dingbats are giving industry want they want to boot. This may seem counter-intuitive but in a corporatist economy such as ours, the favored large industries love regulation as it keeps out competitors and strengthens their position. (see “regulatory capture” for example)
And finally today, let us not forget that the real dingbats are the left-wing do-gooders who want to “save the world” using other people’s money. They claim to want to help the poor and the working class as they promote policies that do the very opposite.
There are more players, and one could say more about the above listed players in this game of de-industrialize the West, but that is enough to answer the question I think.


“they simply modeled ”
Enough said

sleepingbear dunes

Once you have CO2 on the brain how is it possible to think of anything else. It may be time for the psychiatrists to investigate a linkage between higher levels of CO2 and mental illness. At least they would have a new Federal agency as a source for all sorts of interesting studies.
Seriously, isn’t this obsession with CO2 denigrating the scientific inquiry process that has been the cornerstone of science for centuries? A true mental block.

Stephen Skinner

“Antarctic ice sheet is result of CO2 decrease,”
And the ice sheets on Mars?


When they get their hands on data, they play good climate scientist – bad climate scientist with it until the data confesses.
Oh and only hit the data with telephone books; that way you leave no traces.


CO2 drawdown? How much? If it needs be down to about 150 ppm or so, there should have been a great extinction at the time since plants don’t grow well, or at all, at or below that level. I do not believe there is any evidence for an extinction event 35M years ago.

Climate modelers
That is all the refutation the dreck requires.


Ah, models! Is there anything they can’t do?

Ralph Kramden

I think this is another case of “say anything for a government grant”.

Bill Illis

I put these databases up online once, it is linked to all the original data sources and simple enough to understand. But not.a single person downloaded it afterward. I suppose I should do it again, but it will take a little cleaning up and re-checking the source data links.