CO2, Good or Bad?

Guest essay by Andy May

This version corrects an error in the average concentration of water vapor in the atmosphere.

The Earth’s dry atmosphere is 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen and 0.9% argon. These are not greenhouse gases and they total 99.9%, leaving little space for the greenhouse gases methane, carbon dioxide and water vapor. The amount of water vapor in the atmosphere varies a lot with altitude and temperature. At low altitude and high temperatures (greater than 30°C or 86°F), over the ocean, it can reach 4.3% or more of the atmosphere and is less dense than dry air, causing it to rise. It will rise until the temperature is low enough for it to condense to a liquid or solid state and form clouds, rain or snow.

The amount of water vapor in the air drops to very close to zero when temperatures are below -10.0°C. Thus, the average volume of water vapor in the total atmosphere is variable and usually between 1% and 2%. So, excluding nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor and argon, we are left with 0.1% for everything else. Water vapor is a powerful radiative greenhouse gas and where the concentration is high, over the tropical oceans, it has a large radiative greenhouse effect. But, over land and in the cooler high latitudes, there is not enough of it to have a significant effect.

Carbon dioxide makes up 0.04% of the Earth’s atmosphere and is more evenly distributed than water vapor. Nearly all of the radiative greenhouse effect in dryer areas is due to carbon dioxide, with a small contribution from methane. Methane makes up about 0.00018% of the atmosphere on average, it is distributed unevenly like water vapor. Over swampy areas with a lot of vegetation or over farms it can be high. Over most of the Earth it is essentially zero. Methane is very reactive and is removed from the atmosphere quickly after it is released.

Carbon dioxide, water vapor and methane are the main radiative greenhouse trace gases in the atmosphere. There are some other trace gases, like neon, krypton and xenon, but they are not greenhouse gases. The IPCC (WG1 AR5) likes to add N2O (nitrous oxide or laughing gas) to the greenhouse list. It is a gas emitted from oceans, soils, fertilizer and burning biomass. It is present in the atmosphere in very low concentrations (0.000032%) and is very reactive. It is a rocket fuel and a race car gasoline additive, after all. This volatility results in a very short atmospheric lifetime, so it is hard to understand how it could have much of a greenhouse effect. The gas is so safe it is approved as a food additive and as a propellant for whipped cream! Further, even the IPCC admits on page 468 of WG1 AR5, the added nitrogen increases natural CO2 sinks (basically increases plant growth) so the net effect of nitrous oxide may be to reduce the greenhouse effect. This post will focus on CO2.

Carbon dioxide is emitted when animals and some microbes breathe, from the oceans (which contain 93% of the carbon dioxide on Earth) and when plants or fossil fuels are burned. In the 1990’s fossil fuel emissions were about 3% of the carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere according to the EPA. About half of the fossil fuel emissions were absorbed by the environment. Mostly the CO2 emissions were absorbed by the oceans, land plants, and marine algae. Additional carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a powerful fertilizer, for a dramatic illustration of the effect, see this short youtube video. Figure 1 shows the impact of additional carbon dioxide on pine trees under controlled conditions. The four CO2 levels tested are, from left to right, 385 ppm, 535 ppm, 685 ppm, and 835 ppm.

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Figure 1 (Pine trees grown at ambient CO2 and three higher CO2 concentrations under controlled conditions, source)

Additional carbon dioxide causes plants to produce fewer stomatal pores per unit of leaf area. Stomatal pores (or stomates) are how plants breathe in carbon dioxide and lose water and oxygen to the air. Fewer stomates mean less water loss due to evaporation, lower sensitivity to pollution, and more resistance to heat and cold. There is compelling evidence that the rising carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is a primary cause of observed recent greening of the Earth. Satellite data shows that the Earth is greener now than in the 1980’s by 6 to 13%. Dr. Ranga Myneni (Boston University) estimates a 14% increase in ecosystem productivity in the past 30 years. The IPCC WG1 AR5 Report discusses the CO2 fertilization effect on page 502. They estimate a greening of the Earth, due to warming and CO2, of 6%.  This is at the low end of published estimates.  On the same page of the report, they say:

“Thus, with high confidence, the CO2 fertilization effect will lead to enhanced NPP [net primary plant productivity], but significant uncertainties remain on the magnitude of this effect…”

Forests have expanded worldwide (Phillips, et al. 1998), due in part, to increased CO2. Figure 2 shows the rainforest growth rates for dryer and wetter areas in Australia’s Kakadu National Park.

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Figure 2 (Craig Idso)

Figure 2 is from Banfai and Bowman (2006). Their aerial study of Australia’s Kakadu National Park found that the rainforest expanded 28.8% between 1960 and 2004. This expansion was mainly due to additional rainfall. But, more importantly they found that the dryer areas of the park increased 42%, whereas the wetter areas increased only 13%. The dryer area’s increase was consistent with the overall increase in CO2.

Figure 3 shows the greening of the African Sahel from 1982 to 2003.

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Figure 3 (Craig Idso)

The NDVI values mapped in figure 3 are the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index. It was computed by Herrmann, et al. (2005) and they found that:

“…rainfall emerges as the dominant causative factor in the dynamics of vegetation greenness in the Sahel … [but] the vegetation greenness [was] beyond what would be expected from the recovery of rainfall conditions alone.”

The warming we have seen over the last 130 years or so has also had a positive effect on plant life. The warming of the planet allows plants to move farther north and south, expanding the vegetated area. The fact that plants grow more efficiently, are more resistant to temperature extremes, and with less water; allows them to encroach into areas that were previously unproductive deserts. There are numerous peer-reviewed studies supporting the greening of the Earth due to increasing carbon dioxide and warmer temperatures. You can find a good bibliography and a discussion of the literature in Dr. Craig Idso’s excellent online book The State of Earth’s Terrestrial Biosphere. Figure 4 illustrates the effect of additional CO2 and warmer temperatures on big tooth aspen leaves.

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Figure 4 (Craig Idso, from Jurik et al. 1984)

In figure 4 notice that the peak productivity temperature increases from 25°C to 36°C at the higher CO2 concentration. As noted above, the additional CO2 means fewer stomates in the leaf and a greater resistance to drought and temperature extremes. One of the reasons global warming is unlikely to reduce plant productivity is that plant productivity rises with increased CO2 and the optimum productivity temperature increases as well. One critical fact that Dr. Idso discusses is that:

“Earth’s land surfaces were a net source of CO2-carbon to the atmosphere until about 1940. From 1940 onward, however, the terrestrial biosphere has become, in the mean, an increasingly greater sink for CO2-carbon. Over the past 50 years, global carbon uptake has doubled from 2.4±0.8 billion tons in 1960 to 5.0±0.9 billion tons in 2010.”

This is also acknowledged by the IPCC in WG1 AR5 on page 486, table 6.1.  But, the IPCC reports much lower figures (2.7 billion tons for 2011) for the land biota CO2 sink.  Even the lower number is important because it shows that CO2 absorption, by plants, is increasing as the available CO2 increases. As the book and the references show, the greening of the planet is due, in part, to increasing CO2 and warmer temperatures. In fact, it can be shown that increased CO2 and global warming have benefited the world and mankind. This net benefit may continue until 2080, even using the worst-case IPCC global warming scenario.

According to the IPCC WG1 AR5 Report (page 472), on average, CO2 molecules are exchanged between the atmosphere and surface every few years. Only a tiny fraction (2%) of the total CO2 on Earth is in the atmosphere. Most is stored in the oceans (93%) or in the soil and land plants (5%). So, the fact that both the land and the oceans are now absorbing more CO2 than in the past is important. Perhaps land and ocean uptake of CO2 will slow in the future, as the IPCC suggests, but this has not been demonstrated or observed to date except when vital nutrients are in short supply.

The IPCC WG1 AR5 later declares, alarmingly, on the same page (472), that removal of all human-emitted CO2 will take a few hundred thousand years. This assertion is only supported by geological evidence from the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum event 55 million years ago, when the average surface temperature was 22°C and the average CO2 atmospheric concentration was 800-1000 ppm. Their logic is convoluted and difficult to follow, but they seem to be saying that the CO2 is not gone until it is taken up by rocks. They completely ignore the likely increase in ocean and land biota that will occur due to extra CO2. Further, why do they assume that carbon dioxide removed from the air and stored in plants is still a problem? This is not explained and I find their arguments unconvincing.

In conclusion, additional CO2 has benefits that have not been fully considered by the IPCC. In doing any analysis of the impact of global warming due to man’s fossil fuel emissions, both the estimated benefits of additional CO2 and the estimated problems need to be accounted for. CO2 is a greenhouse gas, but its net effect on global temperatures and mankind is unknown. CO2 has increased at a much higher rate in this century than in the latter part of the previous century. So far this century it has increased 2.1 ppm/year versus 1.5 ppm/year previously (see the slopes in figure 5, which are in ppm/year) yet temperatures have risen more slowly in this century (.0165°C/year now versus .0188 °C/year previously, figure 6). Figure 5 plots the yearly average carbon dioxide readings from the Mauna Loa Observatory, data is from NOAA here.

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Figure 5 (source of data)

Figure 6 shows the yearly HADCrut 4.5 global ensemble median temperature anomalies, the data is from here. I deliberately included 2016 through October to capture the recent El Nino, since the trend for the previous century includes the 1998 El Nino. One must ask, if CO2 is the dominant driver of global warming, why does the rate of temperature increase go down when the rate of CO2 increase is rising?

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Figure 6 (source of data)

Comparing two back-to-back 17-year trends is not, strictly speaking, comparing two climatic trends, the period is too short. But, there is certainly no compelling reason to spend billions of dollars in a futile attempt to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions based on the evidence before us today.

229 thoughts on “CO2, Good or Bad?

    • I might believe some of this CO2/global warming/we’re all going to diecrap….if they could just answer two questions?
      When CO2 levels were in the thousands it dropped…why are those sinks full now?
      What is the highest temp CO2 can make the planet?

      ….they can’t, and if they don’t know that…

      • @Latitude.

        Easy……a trace element called Tax. It affects all life on the planet.

        The other trace element, usually ignored, is Death.

        The only two certainties in life.

    • the CO2 is not gone until it is taken up by rocks…

      ..and yet they haul up thousands of ocean sediment cores…and never figure out where the calcium carbon-ate came from

  1. So, the higher CO2 causes less water to be evaporated into the atmosphere.
    If only there were billions of trees out there, this could act like a negative feedback on water vapor.

    Oh wait. There are.

      • best biomass is from swamp trees in high water environment.they are planted, grow fast and are cut.

        that is not the problem. clearing rainforest to plant crops is

      • Fugacity is the technical term that explains why there’s less water vapor in the atmosphere as CO2 increases, george.

        As far as how CO2 impacts plant transpiration, it is well known that as CO2 increases, stomata on leaves don’t need to open as wide to get the CO2 the plant needs and in the process less water is lost to the atmosphere. And there are enough leaves out there to make an impact.

      • So where do you get less atmospheric water from with more CO2 ??

        george e. smith, …… it is NOT less water in the atmosphere, ….. it is less water being emitted into the atmosphere via (from) the stomata of the green-growing biomass.

  2. My first reaction to the pictures was a big “Huh?”. I think you need to make it clearer that the 150, 300, etc. CO2 stuff is added CO2 to the ambient. 150 is really ~550 ppm, etc.

    • Up above the picture was this : ” The four CO2 levels tested are, from left to right, 385 ppm, 535 ppm, 685 ppm, and 835 ppm.”…..

      • It is clear from the photos that there is an inverse correlation berween the level of CO2 and the height of the man holding the sign. The trend suggests that by the time CO2 hits 1000ppm he will be less than 12″ tall. Oh my!

        This catastrophic effect must be better understood before it is too late. Please donate now as more study is needed.

  3. “The amount of water vapor in the air drops to very close to zero when temperatures are below 0°C”

    — Is that true? Certainly, it is lower that at a balmy 70F, but vapor pressure drops to ~25% at 32F vs 70F. That’s low, but not close to zero. There is a reason why ice often sublimates rather than melts.

    When we get to much lower pressures in the upper atmosphere, I would think it could be quite a bit higher as a percentage. It seems like there is often enough water to form clouds.

    • I guess “close to zero” is a matter of opinion. If you prefer, substitute -20C where the absolute humidity is very low. The point is the same.

      • ” So, excluding nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor and argon, we are left with 0.1% for everything else.”

        Not so. Since you were talking about 100% of the atmosphere, and Dry air, once you add the moisture vapour, you have more than 100%. Arguably, there is no limit to the amount of water vapour that can be added, and it DOES NOT crowd out anything else as its partial pressure is determined by temperature rather than volume, as in the case of the nearly un-condensable other gases.

      • George Hebbard wrote:

        Arguably, there is no limit to the amount of water vapour that can be added

        I’m happy to argue with that.
        Once you get to 100% relative humidity, you can supersaturate air up quite a ways longer in clean air, but if you’re near the ground you get dew or frost, and if you have cloud condensation nuclei, you get clouds.

        These are limits you can see almost every day in most corners of the world.

      • @ George Hebbard – December 5, 2016 at 7:25 pm

        Arguably, there is no limit to the amount of water vapour that can be added (to-the-atmosphere), and it DOES NOT crowd out anything else

        George, George, George, George, …… best you take a couple deep breaths, …… sit down ….. and then ponder what you stated above.

        The water (H2O) vapor molecule is a pretty big feller compared to the other atmospheric gasses ……. and even though it is a “light-weight” molecule, ……. it is still also a “bully” and will crowd out other gasses as its atmospheric ppm quantity increases.

        In meteorological discussions, that “crowding out” effect caused by the influx of water (H2O) vapor molecules is referred to as a “low pressure area”.

    • He said below -10 deg. C; NOT below 0 deg. C.

      How on earth did you cut and paste what you quoted and get the wrong number ??

      G

    • An online calculator gives these results:
      At 68F 100%RH 1ATM, absolute humidity = 103 grains H2O per 1 lb air, and
      at -20F 100%RH 1ATM, absolute humidity = 2.44 grains H2O per 1 lb air.

      Amazingly: Take a desert at 105F 10%RH 1ATM, absolute humidity = 22.8 gr/lb

  4. Are there any plants which react negatively to higher CO2 levels?
    Are there any plants which react positively but not as strongly so as other plants and thus may get out-competed by those other plants and become endangered?
    Major changes in plant growth imply changes to entire ecosystems, with some plants/animals being more fit for these changes than others, and unclear consequences. Some might thrive, some might struggle. How does one evaluate whether it is good or bad overall?

    • In General C3 type plants LUV CO2 and most react with strong growth

      C4 type plants ( which developed an extra internal process to cope with the very low CO2 over the past 100,000 or so years) don’t respond as rapidly.

      CO2, H2O and solar type energy provide for ALL LIFE ON EARTH (except some cyanobacteria)

      • Andy,

        There also the CAM plants. CAM has evolved convergently many times. It occurs in at least 16,000 species (about seven percent of plants), belonging to over 300 genera in around 40 families. This is likely a considerable underestimate. It is found in quillworts (relatives of club mosses), ferns and in Gnetopsida (a division of gymnosperms), but the great majority of plants using CAM are angiosperms (flowering plants).

        The first C4 plants evolved from C3 plants about 30 million years ago, during the Oligocene Epoch, when increasingly cool, dry weather challenged the survival of many plants. C4 plants became ecologically significant about six million years ago, during the Miocene Epoch, when drier climate reduced forests and their under-canopy shaded environment, thus driving many grasses into more open habitats.

        Genetic analysis of C4 plants shows their characteristic pathways and leaf anatomy changes evolved independently on up to 40 different occasions in different families of C3 plants, facilitated by the fact that many of such alterations weren’t directly related to photosynthesis and involved variations in already-existing pathways.

        The evolutionary pressure to conserve water was (and still is) tremendous. For instance, related C3 and C4 grasses have very different water losses, with C3 grasses losing about 800 molecules of water per each CO2 molecule fixed, versus less than 300 for C4 grasses. In other words, by conserving water, C4 grasses can grow for longer periods in drier environments.

        In fact, despite their recent convergent evolution, C4 plants represent about five percent of the planet’s plant biomass, while constituting only three percent of the plant species. All of them are angiosperms, and most are monocotyledons. And yet, despite their relative scarcity, C4 plants account for about 30% of terrestrial carbon fixation.

      • BTW, I vote CO2 good.

        Four hundred ppm is good; 800 would be better and 1200 ppm best of all, for plants and other living things.

      • However, regrettably, we probably won’t be able to reach a mere 600 ppm over the next century, if ever in the lifetime of our species.

        Actual greenhouse levels of 1000 to 1300 would be ideal.

      • However, regrettably, we probably won’t be able to reach a mere 600 ppm over the next century, if ever in the lifetime of our species.

        600 ppm is available right now under a forest canopy. — Hadi Dowlatabadi in an hour-long debate with Richard Lindzen.

        Watch 22-24:30 min, (2 1/2 minutes)
        Canadian debate: The Agenda with Steve Paikin: Climate I: Is The Debate Over?

    • I should have mentioned that Sherwood Idso and Keith Idso also work on the database at CO2Science.com. Their publications on the site are excellent and well researched as well.

      • And it should be further noted that back in 1992, Al Gore blew off all of Sherwood Idso’s work and insinuated that anything he said was lies bought & paid for by the fossil fuel industry (screencapture here http://gelbspanfiles.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/92-Hearing-WFA-Idso.jpg ). Which brings us through 20+ years of “the science is settled; don’t listen to skeptics, they’re crooks”, right up to today’s event of Trump meeting with Al Gore, where sound advise from particular members of Trump’s transition people may have led Trump to tell Gore, “you better figure out what your exit strategy is, pal.”

    • Q1, no.
      Q2, yes, but mainly not by ecosystem so not a major concern about potential ecological imbalances. About 95 % of all plant species use C3 photosynthesis. These are the ones that benefit most from elevated CO2. That includes virtually all trees and shrubs so virtually all forest ecosystems of all types. ~5% of plant species have evolved the more ‘CO2 efficient’ C4 photosynthesis. C4 plant species do still benefit from higher CO2, but not nearly as much as C3 species–in greenhouse experiments and in Texas rangeland analyzed by USFS (maise v. mesquite), less than half in terms of biomass. About 60% of these ~8100 C4 species are ‘grasses’. The only four C4 ‘grassy’ crop plants are maize, sugarcane, sorghum, and millet. The last two are basic staple crops in Africa’s Sahel. Ditto maize in places like Kenya, although the MAM rain there is still very suboptimal. The evolutionary C4 benefit is mainly in semiarid grassland ecosystems of which the Sahel is an example. The greening of the Sahel is because C3 woody shrubs are now better able to coexist with the C4 grasses. Interestingly, this provides net more food, fodder and fuel for Sahel inhabitants so is a clear net benefit. Sahel famines have by and large vanished; they were a major concern in the 1980’s. Essay Carbon Pollution in my ebook Blowing Smoke has a lot more detail, examples, and reference footnotes should you want to dig further.
      Bottom line, greening is good. Period.

    • TDBraun,

      For ANY change in conditions there are always winners and losers in the natural world.

      The question is how it affects overall. And the answer is that it increases net ecosystem productivity. There is more energy flowing through the ecosystem and that as a result increases both plant and animal biomass.

      An example. Over Europe, besides the trend in CO2 increase there has been a trend in farm abandonment. Both trends have helped produce a big increase in forest mass. Coincidentally, over Europe there has been an increase in birds. Not all groups of birds have been affected equally. Forest birds have increased the most, while mixed habitat birds also increasing. However farmland birds have decreased. Another question is migration. Resident birds and short distant migrant birds (within European borders) have increased a lot, while long distance migrant birds are crashing. This is due to environmental concerns in the places where they migrate, in Africa and Asia.

      While I was a kid there were huge flocks of birds in the sky. As I grew up they almost disappeared, and only a few birds would be seen at any time. In the last two decades there has been a come back, and now medium sized flocks can be seen again from time to time.

      So in answering your question the increase in CO2 is having an important net beneficial effect on ecosystems, and it can be seen in any study that is done in places where environmental degradation has been contained. Ecosystem biologists tend to focus on the overall situation of the ecosystem, as there are always winners and losers in the natural world. Conservationists however tend to focus on a single species and think that no amount of resources is too much to expend on saving an endemic rodent that lives on a sand bar. I am very disappointed at conservation groups that have lost the focus and instead of fighting human caused environmental degradation, the biggest danger to wildlife on the planet, they have embarked on a fight against climate change, lured by the money.

  5. “Thus, the average volume of water vapor in the total atmosphere is very low, roughly 0.001% according to the USGS. “

    No, roughly 0.001% of all the water in the world is in the atmosphere (as opposed to places like rivers, ground water, oceans & ice caps). http://water.usgs.gov/edu/watercycleatmosphere.html

    Water itself makes up about 1% of the atmosphere.

    • Oops, thanks for the correction. I guess the other percentages must of the dry atmosphere. I’ll check it out in more detail and make a correction.

      • According to wikipedia (composition of air): ‘Air also contains a variable amount of water vapor, on average around 1% at sea level, and 0.4% over the entire atmosphere’.

        It is a serious error Andy, as the the increase of 0.01% in CO2 in the last 50 years must be seen in context of there generally being 0.4%-0.5% of water vapor around you in the atmosphere.

  6. It makes me wonder why those who oppose CO2 are called “greens”. Perhaps they should be called “browns”.

  7. 60 years ago when climate change began, we were feeding 3 billion people with a great deal of famine.

    Today we are feeding 7 billion people with very little famine. That is the legacy of global warming and climate change.

    People believe climate change is a problem because they believe population is a problem.

    • Yet Greenpeace oppose almost all major agricultural advances that have occurred, they oppose increased atmospheric CO2, they continue to oppose technologies that will likely lead to further benefits.

      In fact, it is difficult to think of genuine advances that Greenpeace don’t oppose. But people still keep giving them shed loads of money, and the BBC keeps giving them free air-time to screech their worthless opinions. It is a sad world that allows them to still be classified as a “charity”.

    • People believe climate change is a problem because they believe population is a problem.

      Population is a problem nevertheless. Natural spaces have crashed and wildlife populations have crashed as a result of human expansion. It is called resources appropriation. As we grow a lot less is available for the rest of the species in the planet. It is called LIMITS.

  8. The gas percentages at the front of the artical are for dry air and not the Earth’s atmosphere which contains on average 1 to 2 % H2O. Most of the gas in the Earth’s atmosphere is well above 0 degrees C. H2O will sublime from ice to the atmosphere at temperatures above -40 degrees F so there is still H2O in air below 0 degrees C. As far as so called greenhouse gases go, H2O is so dominant that the other gases matter very little.

    The reality is that the climate change we are experiencing today is caused by the sun and the oceans over which Mankind has no control. Despite the hype, there is no real evidence that CO2 has any effect on climate. There is no such evidence in the paleoclimate record. There is evidence that warmer temperatures result in more CO2 in the atmosphere and it is well known that warmer oceans cannot hold as much CO2 as cooler oceans. There is no evidence that the additional CO2 causes any additinal warming. There is plenty of scientific reasoning to support the idea that the climate sensivity of CO2 is really zero. If CO2 really affected climate then one would expect that the increase in CO2 over the past 30 years would have caused an increase in the dry lapse rate in the troposphere but such has not happened.

    The AGW conjecture depends upon the existance of a radiant greenhouse effect caused by so called greenhouse gases with LWIR absorption bands like CO2 and H2O. A real greenhouse does not stay warm because of the action of heat trapping gases. A real greenhouse stays warm because the glass reduces cooling by convection. There is no evidence of a radiant greenhouse effect in a real greenhouse. So too on Earth. The surface of the Earth is 33 degrees C warmer than it would be without an atmosphere because gravity limits cooling by convection. It is a convective greenhouse effect and has been observed on all planets in the solar system with thick atmospheres. As derived from first principals, the convective greenhouse effect accounts for all 33 degrees C that has been observed. There is no additional radiant greenhouse effect on Earth, Venus, nor anywhere in the solar system. Because the radiant greenhouse effect does not exist, the AGW conjecture is nothing but fiction.

      • L, regards. The better argument against warmunists than all or nothing CO2 warming is in my opinion the following:
        Sure, we can prove in the lab that CO2 is a GHG.
        A bit less sure, but still pretty solid science, we can show that absent feedbacks a doubling produces 1.1 (AR4) to 1.2 (Lindzen) or ‘exactly’ 1.16C warming (Monckton calculation using accepted values at precious WUWT post) warming. Nothing to worry about.
        The alarm comes from positive feedbacks. Ah, those are VERY uncertain. The difference between model ECS (3.2, Bode f 0.65) and observational ECS based on IPCC AR5 (Lewis and Curry 2014) ~1.6 is ~ 2x. And we know for other additional reasons that the models cannot be right, and why (see other comments elsewhere re convection cells, model computational constraints, parameterization, and parameter tuning–this gets tedious).
        So cancel the alarm, and enjoy the greening.

      • Ristvan,

        Could hardly agree more, except that the science is so unsettled that it’s possible the net feedbacks are negative, so that instead of 1.2 degrees C per doubling of CO2, the effective effect could be from 0.0 to 1.0 degrees C.

      • Chimp, regards. While I cannot prove you wrong, the weight of observational evidence says ECS is ~1.6, (or, with Stevens most recent aerosol constraints, perhaps 1.5). Not lower than 1 ther fore below ~1.2C absent feedbacks.
        The definition of negative feedback involves the first derivative rate of change in feedback, not the feedback function absolute magnitude (which must be negative or we would not be here having this exchange). A mistake Monckton has also made. A weaker negative absolute change with rising CO2 is a positive climate ‘feedback’. See other comments elsewhere for details.
        in my opinion, always go with unassailable arguments that win the CAGW debate. ECS 1.6 means no C in CAGW. WIN! Yours is easily assailable. Bode net f is likely ~0.25-0.3, still positive but hardly unstable. Highly unlikely that it is below 1.0. Many reasons. Perhaps a separate post. Or, read my last two ebooks. Also, note Monckton disengaged me on this basic math issue after his third most recent post. See that comment thread for details.

      • Ristvan,

        You may well be right.

        However, IMO the concept of a single ECS is difficult to defend. Setting aside the different situations in previous ages, epochs, eras and eons, IMO just the level of CO2 itself affects the temperature response. Not to mention local conditions. IMO additional CO2 under already warm, moist tropical conditions might well lead to local cooling rather than warming.

        IMO in the actual climate system rather than lab conditions, the response to a doubling from 100 ppm to 200 ppm might well be, perhaps would have to be, different from the climatic effects of 200 to 400 ppm. Setting aside effects from local conditions.

        But I could be wrong. That surprising result has been known to have happened, totally unaccountably.

      • ristvan. It has been shown that the calculations of the Plank effect climate sensivity of CO2 is off by a factor of over 20 to great because the calculations neglected that doubling CO2 will slightly decrease the dry lapse rate in the troposphere which is a cooling effects. For the climate to have been as stable as it has been for life to evolve the feed backs have to be negative. H2O is not only a so called greenhouse gas with LWIR absorbtion bands but also a major coolant in the Earth’s atmosphere moving heat energy from the Earth’s surface, which is mostly some form of H2O, to where clouds form via the heat of vaporization. According to energy balance models, more heat energy is moved by H2O via the heat of vaporization then by both LWIR absorption band radiation and convection combined. The fact that the wet lapse rate is signiicantly less than the dry lapse rate is evicence of H2O’s cooling effect. Including negative feedback drives the climate sensivity of CO2 to very close to zero. But one must also consider that there is no real evidence that a radiant greenhouse effect caused by LWIR absorption by so called greenhouse gases even exists.

      • Sensitivity to CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere cannot be determined by laboratory tests. It can only be determined by observational evidence.

        The paleo record does not support any significant sensitivity to CO2.

        There is quite a bit of evidence to suggest that today’s temperatures are no warmer than they were in the late 1930s/early 1940s. It is only the result of endless adjustments during the past 25 years that have resulted in a lowering of the 1930s/early1940s temperatures, and a flattening of the drop in temperatures between 1940 and early 1970s.

        If the globe is no warmer today than it was in the early 1940s then it would mean that during the period in which 95% of all manmade CO2 emissions have taken place there has been essentially no warming at all.

      • Willhaas,

        In the old engineer’s definition of feedback, any positive feedback doesn’t induce a runaway condition as long as the feedback is not > 1. As the effect of CO2 on temperature is small (about 1.2°C for 2xCO2) and the opposite effect is small too (~16 ppmv/°C), the positive feedback is far too small to have a catastrophic runaway effect.

        Does that mean that there is zero effect? As the lapse rate is extremely variable with weather and latitude, its effect is probably unmeasurable. What is measurable and is measured is that GHGs in their bands emit less IR to space – in part redistributed over other wavelengths by a warmer earth – and that backradiation IR in the CO2 and other GHG bands (water) increased over time. Not much, but as long as no energy can be destroyed, that adds to the earth’s energy budget, whatever the other mechanisms.

        As Ristvan already said, taking extreme views doesn’t help you in discussions with extreme warmistas and will convince nobody. Taking moderate viewpoints based on all what is known and unknown will be picked up by listeners who are searching for the truth…

      • Ferdinand Engelbeen The positive feedback I am talking about causes positive exponentials to appear in the transiient response which is unstable. The idea has been that added CO2 causes warming which in turn causes more H2O to enter the atmosphere which causes more waming because H2O is also a greenhouse gas with LWIR absorption bands. The additional waming then causes even more H2O to enter the atmosphere which causes more warming which causes more H2O to enter the atmosphere and so on. Actually an increase in CO2 is not required to set this off. An increase in H2O itself which happens all the time would set off the chain reaction. If this really happened we would not be here. The reality is that H2O is really a coolant so adding H2O to the atmosphere lowers and not raises temperatures. This is evidenced by the fact that the wet lapse rate is less than the dry lapse rate allowing more heat eneregy to be transfered higher up in the atmosphere where it is radiated away from the Earth. There is also the issue of heat transport by phase change and the cooling effect of clouds. If more CO2 did actaully increase the insulating effects of the atmosphere then one would expect that the increase in CO2 over the past 30 years would have caused at least a measureable increase in the dry lapse rate in the troposphere but such has not happened. The dry lapse rate is a function of the heat capacity of the atmosphere and the pressure gradient and has nothing to do with the LWIR absorption properties of so called greenhouse gases.

      • Willhaas,

        There is no runaway for a small positive feedback at all. All what happens is that the end temperature and CO2 level after a small positive feedback is slightly higher than without a feedback. In both cases plotted with a lag for CO2 after a temperature increase:

        The dry lapse rate is a function of the heat capacity of the atmosphere and the pressure gradient and has nothing to do with the LWIR absorption properties of so called greenhouse gases.

        If I may interpretate that sentence:
        The theory is from a very long time ago for me, but if that is true, then the small change in CO2 doesn’t give a measurable change in heat capacity or pressure gradient. It does warm the surface by back radiation and it does warm – in small part – the lower troposphere by collissions, thus increasing the temperature of the full column (up to a few km), even if that is mainly from more convection…

        The lapse rate itself then doesn’t make any difference in temperature trends, as there are (near) zero changes in heat capacity or pressure gradients over longer periods. The only changes in temperature then are from GHGs, solar, ocean currents,…

      • Ferdinand,
        ” CO2 doesn’t give a measurable change in heat capacity or pressure gradient. It does warm the surface by back radiation and it does warm – in small part – the lower troposphere by collisions”

        CO2 is said to have extremely low (10^-3) emissivity. This can be thought of as the tendency to emit a photon (both back and forth) after it has absorbed one. This low emissivity argues that kinetic interactions are the dominant mode of energy transfer between CO2 and the mass of the atmosphere.

        Modtran considers the emissivity of the planet surface to be .98, nearly a perfect blackbody. Looking down in a tropical atmosphere Modtran sees the atmosphere also radiating as a blackbody decreasing in temperature by the lapse rate, a brick if you will, from half a meter to 400 meters. One can think of this first 400 meters as essentially an extension of the surface.

        At 400 meters you begin to see the first distortion of the down looking (upward radiating) blackbody curve in the CO2 fundamental bands.

        This is the first altitude where there is any indication of specific absorption by any greenhouse gas reducing the transmission of radiation upwards.

        The blue curve is looking up from the same elevation, and very surprisingly this view shows very intense absorption of back radiation in the same bands.

        According to Kirchhoff and its emissivity, CO2 radiation(in all directions)=absorption x 10^-3. Combine this thought with the nearly complete absorption of the 667.4 CO2 fundamental bend and its rotational henchmen within 1 meter at 400 ppm:

        You can get the impression that the first 400 meters of the atmosphere is a brick warmed by CO2 absorption of upwelling predominantly in the first meter above the surface. The surface radiation is extinguished in these bands and only 10^-3 of it is passed upwards and outwards and downward as radiation. The rest is dissipated kinetically.

        However reasonable it may be to accept ~1 degree sensitivity in discussions with alarmists, we must guard against “politicized” science writ skeptical. Real science demands a look at the physical mechanisms. They don’t look promising for high sensitivity.

      • Ferdinand Engelbeen A measure of how effective an insulator is, is how the insulator affects the temperature profile. The environmental or natural lapse rate is a measure of the insulating effects of the atmosphere. The increase in CO2 over the past 30 years has had no measureable effect on the lapse rate in the troposphere and hence no effect on the insulating effects of the troposphere. CO2 does not create heat energy so the only way it can affect climate is by changing the insulating effects of the atmosphere. Since that change has been zero the affects the changes in CO2 over the past 30 years on climate have been zero.

      • Gymnosperm,

        Thanks for the update for my long time ago knowledge of radiation physics… Seems that in the discussions here is rather much controversy between distribution of the absorbed energy by collissions and re-emitting radiation… I suppose that it is a matter of probability of collisions in the time span before re-emission of a photon and the former is the dominant way at the higher pressure in the lower troposphere, while re-radiation gets more and more influence higher up…

        Willhaas,

        I don’t understand what you mean: if CO2 doesn’t measurably change the density or heat capacity of the atmosphere, it has no direct effect on the lapse rate, but as it heats up the (lower) atmosphere, it shifts the original temperature profile to a higher altitude. With a constant lapse rate the temperature of the surface then must go up…
        Don’t you take the “insulation” by GHGs too literally?

        Of course, temperature differences may increase convection and that can act as a negative feedback as warm air is ascending faster and thus radiate heat faster to space, and cloud formation also may help…

    • As derived from first principals, the convective greenhouse effect accounts for all 33 degrees C
      ====================
      lapse rate = 6.5C/km
      effective height of atmosphere = 5km

      6.5C/km X 5km = 32.5C

      with rounding 33C

    • Willhaas,

      There is no reason to use false arguments against the warmista’s: no warmista says that the effect of GHG’s in the atmosphere is the same as what happens in a real greenhouse, they use that only for comparison.

      The radiant greenhouse effect on earth was really measured in two ways:

      – Satellites measured a drop in outgoing radiation in the absorption band of CO2 (and CH4):
      http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.131.3867&rep=rep1&type=pdf

      – The increase of downwelling radiation by the increase of CO2 was measured in two places:
      Was here on WUWT, but don’t find it back.

      – The radiant effect was measured line by line in extreme detail for air with different mixtures of GHG’s in laboratories. I used the same principle to detect traces of chlorine in a process exhaust…

      Any absorption of IR radiation means a temperature increase of that gas – giving it enough time to collide with other -non-GHG- molecules before re-emitting a photon.

      – Gravity as static element and convection as dynamic element do account for a part of the extra warming at ground level but GHGs add to that effect, as part of the absorbed IR energy is redistributed over the other molecules, thus increasing the local temperature and thus increasing the average convection. Or you are destroying energy…

      • You cannot duplicate radiation absorption effects in the atmosphere in any laboratory.

        For starters, there is no laboratory on earth, save the earth itself, that is large enough to duplicate radiative absorption and re-emission, as it occurs in the atmosphere.

        Lab measurements usually do simple one dimensional absorption measurements, whereas in the atmosphere the processes are three dimensional.

        Satellite measurements of GHG bands show net transmission; they do not measure absorption.

        G

      • The energy represented by a photon coming in from the Sun, spends time in 8 billion different surface and atmospheric molecules before it escapes back to space.

        And there is 16,029,162,711,741,600,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 of those solar photons come in from the Sun every day.

        And there is 80,145,813,558,708,100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.00 IR photons get released by the Earth each day back to space (yes there are more of them).

        8 billion molecules times the above numbers calculated over 86,400,000,000 microseconds which is how fast these reactions take and …

        Well the computer model that is able to calculate that would have to be very, very good as in.

        Which is why everything is still based on James Hansen’s assumptions about how all the feedbacks magically take the initial incalculable warming and transforms it into another incalculable solution of +3.0C per doubling no matter how the climate scientists make up new formulations of it.

      • A good absorber is also a good radiator. At the Earth’s surface at 15 microns, on average a CO2 molecule will held an absorbed LWIR photon an average of.2 seconds before radiating it away. During that time that same molecule will interact with other molecules around a billion times, sharing energy with each encounter. In the Trosphere heat transport by conduction and convection dominate over heat energy transport by LWIR absorption band radiation. Detecting that certain gases absorb in the IR in certain bands is no real evidence that a radiant greenhouse effect exists. If adding CO2 did increase the insulating properties of the atmospheree then adding CO2 should cause an increase in the dry lapse rate but such is not the case.

      • “Satellite measurements of GHG bands show net transmission”

        It depends on your definition of net transmission. If you mean photons that pass directly from the surface to space, then no. If you include photons re-emitted by GHG’s high enough in the atmosphere that they were not absorbed by another GHG, then yes, but this is also measuring an indirect effect of absorption, which is re-emission and it’s significant.

        When you do line by line Hitran line by line simulations, the primary product of the math is the optical depth per species.

        nit.colorado.edu/atoc5560/week4.pdf

        All of the absorption lines whose optical depth suggests that the probability of a photon passing from the surface to space is nearly 0 show significant energy in those absorption bands, indicating that those emissions happened higher up in the atmosphere. The attenuation is only more than 3db in the peak of the CO2/H2O lines around 15u, but even there, it’s only a little bit more, indicating that nearly half of what there would be without GHG absorption is still ultimately being emitted by the planet. Since this effect is seen in the clear sky and N2/O2 can’t emit photons in LWIR bands, the only place these photons can be coming from are the re-emissions of GHG molecules high up in the atmosphere after either colliding with other molecules or absorbing another photon.
        .

      • Willhas,

        “During that time that same molecule will interact with other molecules around a billion times, sharing energy with each encounter.”

        This is incorrect. The mechanism you are describing is prohibited by Schrödinger’s wave equation which requires energy to be added to or removed from the state of an electron shell in indivisible bundles called quanta and the size of a quanta is the energy of an absorbed/emitted photon.

        There’s little, if any NET energy, transferred from an energized GHG molecule and the non GHG molecules in the atmosphere. The mechanism by which energy is ‘shared’ is just as likely to add energy as it is to remove energy and every time energy is shared by a collision, a photon is emitted and only a tiny fraction of the captured energy is ‘shared’. If it removes kinetic energy (cools), the photon will be a little higher than the frequency absorbed, while if it adds kinetic energy (warms), the photon frequency will be a little lower than the one absorbed. The basic mechanism is called collisional broadening and also works in the reverse, where a collision coincident with a photon can move the capture frequency up or down a small amount and a photon that otherwise would not be captured will be.

        You can think of is as a collision distorting the E-fields of the shared electrons in the CO2 molecule that can move the resonant frequency of the absorption band on either side of center depending on the relative orientation of the collision.

      • Willhaas:

        Detecting that certain gases absorb in the IR in certain bands is no real evidence that a radiant greenhouse effect exists.

        I don’t see any difference between what happens in the atmosphere and what happens in a CO2 laser. Energy in certain wavelengths is absorbed and re-emitted, enough to melt steel in the case of a laser and enough to warm the earth a little bit in the case of the atmosphere… Of course at the outer side of the atmosphere there are no mirrors to send the IR back, but the balance is a little more backradiation and a little less outgoing IR in the CO2 bands…

      • co2isnotevil The primary energy tranafer when molecules at different temperatures collide is through conduction.

      • willhass,

        “The primary energy tranafer when molecules at different temperatures collide is through conduction.”

        Correct. This happens by sharing translational momentum, but. the energization of a GHG molecule does not add to it’s translational momentum. Quantum mechanics can be tricky and is not always intuitive, but the bottom line is that the energy of a quantum state change must be absorbed or released all at once, not a little bit at a time. When the wave function describing the electrons of a GHG molecule change state by absorbing and releasing photons, it’s a quantum state change.

      • Willhaas,

        The Earth’s atmosphere is not configured as a CO2 laser.

        Indeed, as I said, there are no mirrors in the outer atmosphere to send IR back to earth, but the principle is the same: excitation and re-emitting. The point is that slightly more is emitted back to earth in the lowest air layers than is emitted to space in the upper part of the troposphere and higher. That is measured, thus adds to the other forces that gives us a livable temperature range… So you can’t say that such effect doesn’t exist or is (near) zero, only that it is small, much smaller than the climate models calculate…

      • Ferdinand
        Indeed, as I said, there are no mirrors in the outer atmosphere to send IR back to earth

        henry says
        there is a mirror that sends back IR to earth: the moon

        take some time to read the Turnbull paper to understand that the CO2 is [also] cooling the atmosphere by mirroring radiation from the sun back to space,

      • co2isnotevil If cooler CO2 molecules mix with a body of warmer non-greenhouse gas molecules the CO2 molecules will warm up due to the interation with the warmer molecules. The warmer molecules will radiate more in the IR than the cooler molecules. Yes, the radiation is quantisied as are electron states, and motion states such as rotation and vibration. Guantization effects are most important when there are relatively few gas molecules but in the troposphere there are always relatively many molecules.

      • co2isnotevil December 5, 2016 at 7:24 pm
        Willhas,

        “During that time that same molecule will interact with other molecules around a billion times, sharing energy with each encounter.”

        This is incorrect. The mechanism you are describing is prohibited by Schrödinger’s wave equation which requires energy to be added to or removed from the state of an electron shell in indivisible bundles called quanta and the size of a quanta is the energy of an absorbed/emitted photon.

        Not true, collisional quenching is the major mechanism for deactivation of the excited state of CO2 in the lower troposphere. The excited state is a ro-vibronic one where the excitation energy matches the energy of the exciting photon. There are many closely spaced rotational levels between that level and the ground state and the many collisions that occur during the radiative lifetime to the excited state certainly do chip away at that energy and transfer it to other molecules (O2 is a very effective quencher). In my experiments on the Laser Induced Fluorescence of OH I would often get only 1% of the absorbed energy back as signal, the higher the pressure of the gas the worse it got! Check out collisional quenching, Stern-Volmer equation etc.

      • Phil,

        “There are many closely spaced rotational levels between that level and the ground state and the many collisions that occur during the radiative lifetime to the excited state certainly do chip away at that energy and transfer it to other molecules”

        The conversion to rotational states (microwave) spreads out the higher energy absorption line (LWIR) on either side of resonance, thus acts in both directions where energy can be added to or removed from rotational states and in symmetrically equal amounts. Keep in mind that kinetic rotational degrees of freedom per the kinetic theory of gases will equalize independent of whether molecules are energized and even when in the ‘ground state’, a molecule can be physically rotating. This kind of rotation is physically different from an EM rotation imposed on a molecules electron cloud after the electron cloud absorbs energy, where the protons and neutrons remain stationary as the electron clouds spins around it. Even in vibrational states, the individual nuclei move 1000’s of times less than the electron cloud owing to the relative mass differences between the nuclei and electrons.

        Another thing to keep in mind is that the more energy gets ‘chipped’ away from an energized CO2 molecule, the further away it gets from the center of a specific absorption line and the more likely a spontaneous or collision induced photon emission will result, albeit at a frequency on one side or another of resonance.

        If collisional quenching were significant, we would see little energy in absorption bands from space, yet measurements show attenuation in absorption bands of only about 3db when nearly 100% of the photons emitted by the surface at a specific frequency will be absorbed by the atmosphere. This is consistent with half of the absorbed energy ending up emitted to space and the other half returning to the surface. There is a slightly larger attenuation in the 15u CO2/H20 bands and this could be the result of collisional quenching, but it doesn’t seem significant based on the entirety of the emitted spectrum.

      • co2isnotevil CO2 can be warmed by a net absorbing electromagnetic radiation or by contact with warmer substances through thermal conduction. CO2 can also be cooled by a net radiation of electromagnet radiation or by contact with cooler substances through thermal conduction. It happens. CO2 is not inert to heat transfer by conduction. Warmer CO2 will radiate more no matter how it becomes warmer.

      • “Warmer CO2 will radiate more no matter how it becomes warmer.”

        Not exactly. Warmed CO2 molecules will radiate photons only if they are energized out of the ground state. Otherwise, they just bounce around with the other gas molecules and share energy according to the bulk rules describing the kinetic theory of gases. The two energy storage mechanisms that manifest temperature, one as E=1/2mv^2 (v=velocity) and the other as E=hv (v=frequency) are relatively orthogonal to each other even as photons and collisions can affect a temperature sensor equally. If the kinetic temperature (velocity) gets high enough, collisions can energize a CO2 molecule, but the translational kinetic energy must be many times larger than the excitation energy for this to have a significant probability of occurring.

        In the Earth atmosphere, the translational kinetic energy of CO2 molecules is about the same as the energy of an LWIR photon, so the kinetic energy isn’t large enough to cause significant vibrational state transitions. The colliding molecule would need to slow down to zero, or even less than zero, to provide enough energy to excite a CO2 molecule. This process is potentially reversible, but again only becomes a significant factor at energies beyond those ordinarily found in the atmosphere. The same is true for collisional broadening and dynamic quenching. The energies of atmospheric gas molecules are not high enough for these effects to be significant.

      • Ferdinand Engelbeen on December 5, 2016 at 3:36 pm

        – The increase of downwelling radiation by the increase of CO2 was measured in two places:
        Was here on WUWT, but don’t find it back.

        Maybe you mean this 11 year experiment in Oklahoma and Alaska?

        First Direct Observation of Carbon Dioxides Increasing Greenhouse Effect at the Earths Surface
        Dan Krotz • February 25, 2015

        http://newscenter.lbl.gov/2015/02/25/co2-greenhouse-effect-increase/

      • About 0.2 W/m2/decade? How’s does this seemingly small amount of forcing compare to changes in convection? There is no need for sceptics to agree among themselves to counteract CAGW. To force each other to believe the same counter argument seems as unscientific as the warmist need to have 97% toting the party line. This has been probably the most enjoyable and interesting thread I have read on WUWT, a scientific debate not a sycophantic support group.

  9. CO2 is an essential trace gas in the atmosphere on which all life depends. So it must be good. Unless you’re one of the left wing global warming alarmists, then it’s pollution and the devil gas.

    • Decades ago, we had only primitive monitors displaying only in black and white. Then they moved up to 16 grey shades, then up to 256 colours, and today most of them operate with over 16 M of them.

      Maybe some day you manage at least to differentiate your meaning from black and white up to a grey scale.

  10. Thanks for this analysis but I am confused as I am certain I have read on this site articles suggesting water vapour averages about 1% of the atmosphere whereas Andy May says it averages 0.001% less than CO2 at 0.04%
    Second query following the above
    The theory of enhanced global warming suggests increasing atmospheric temperatures claimed to be forced by increased atmospheric CO2 enables the atmosphere to hold more water vapour which as a significant GHG gives a feedback effect multiplying atmospheric warming
    My query is if water vapour is only at 0.001% globally of the atmosphere how would say a 10% increase in that low percentage have any discernable effect on global temperatures?
    Any explanations would be appreciated

    • Thomho. google up the word ” clouds “.

      Increased atmospheric water results in cooling, NOT warming.

      G

      • Thanks George
        Two points in reply
        My basic question was on the right track as Andy conceded his 0.001% for atmospheric water vapour was wrong and he has since corrected it.
        Second my point about effect of supposed increased wv is just an iteration of the standard global warming line as a means of testing Andy’s initial figure for atmospheric wv
        But re clouds what I have read is whether they warm or cool depends on height of the clouds
        The agw meme supposed warming from wv thus acting as positive feedback to the initial forcing from increased CO2 The IPCC AR5 has some unsatisfactoryly contradictory remarks about the effects of clouds along the lines that overall they act to reinforce initial increases in warming,although the effect of low level clouds is uncertain.
        This leaves me asking how could the IPCC be so certain about the overall warming impact of all clouds given they were uncertain about the impact of some part of the whole ie low level clouds?

  11. The effects of CO2 are an example of just how cost-benefit calculations can be skewed in the climate debate. If one decrees that only the potential negative effects are to be counted, one gets the position of the current US EPA. That sort of special pleading is politics all the way down.

  12. Quote: Carbon dioxide makes up 0.04% of the Earth’s atmosphere and is more evenly distributed than water vapor.

    I know it is not the main point of the article, but how even is the distribution of CO2? For example if it is around 400ppm at Mauna Loa, what is the levels at Los Angeles and Antartica?

    • Forrest,

      Between Barrow, Alaska, near the North Pole and the measurements at the South Pole is the difference less than 10 ppmv, including a +/- 8 ppmv change at Barrow due to seasonal changes. In La Jolla Pier, near San Diego where Scripps measures since long, similar levels are found, but midst LA you can find 600 ppmv and more during rush hour… That is only in the first few hundred meters over land where cars, factories and vegetation have a huge impact. Higher over land and everywhere over the oceans, the distribution is within +/- 2% of full scale, which is quite nice, as one need to take into account that some 20% of all CO2 in the atmosphere is going in and out over the seasons…

      Lots of data of CO2 and other gases for a lot of stations at:
      http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/iadv/

      • Much obliged Ferdinand.

        I’ve got to say that if human processes dominate the production of CO2 then I find the even distribution surprising. I would have expected, for example, that CO2 levels in the northern hemisphere would be higher than in the southern hemisphere.

        I would have expected level to be higher in say China and Europe than in Antarctica and the Arctic too.

        I live and learn (slowly).

      • CO2 appears fairly well mixed at high altitudes, but poorly mixed at low altitude.

        So that begs a number of questions:
        At what altitude does the majority of the DWLWIR come from?
        Can we detect more DWLWIR in areas where CO2 is locally measured at say 600ppm compared to an area which has CO2 at say 400ppm?
        Can we detect this extra DWLWIR actually warming something, eg in two adjacent areas one which has CO2 locally measured at 400 ppm and the other adjacent area say at 600ppm?

        Where is the experimental evidence?

      • Forrest,

        You are welcome… If you measure CO2 locally over land, you can find a lot of increase at night under an inversion layer without much wind: CO2 from soil/plant respiration gives a spectacular (500-600 ppmv and higher) increase that is not mixed with the rest of the atmosphere. Add to that the early morning traffic and you have a second peak. See Fig.12 from Diekirch, Luxemburg:
        http://meteo.lcd.lu/papers/co2_patterns/co2_patterns.html

        During the day, photosynthesis starts to work and CO2 levels drop, but less than what can be expected as at the same time the warming soil gives more turbulence in the atmosphere and more air from the “bulk” atmosphere is mixing in.

        CO2 levels in the NH are indeed higher in the NH:

        It takes time to mix any extra CO2 into higher altitudes and travelling from the NH to the SH is an extra hindrance…

        Total human production remaining in the atmosphere is about 2 ppmv/year or 0.01 ppmv/day. Even with the best satellites it will be a hell of a job to detect that in only the main industrial areas…

      • richard verney,

        You can use Modtran for a theoretical view. I have done that with 1000 ppmv CO2 up to 1000 meter high. The net – theoretical – result is an increase of less than 0.1°C. Thus simply undetectable for -much- lower concentrations below 1000 meter… You need the full 70 km air column to have any measurable – theoretical – effect: ~1.2°C for an increase from 280 to 560 ppmv…

  13. The article is well-intentioned.

    There is a basic mistake in the text that should be corrected.

    “The Earth’s atmosphere is 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen and 0.9% argon. These are not greenhouse gases and they total 99.9%, leaving little space for the greenhouse gases methane, carbon dioxide and water vapor.”

    Those numbers refer to the dry atmosphere not the atmosphere as it is. Water vapour on average is 0.4% of the total volume on a ppm (volumetric) basis: 4,000 ppm(v). H2O vapour is 1% (10,000 ppm) at low altitude where we live. That is why the GHG effect of water vapour is so strong.

    The atmosphere is 0.04% CO2 and 1% H2O at sea level, on average, with the H2O going as high as 4% ‘locally’ (40,000 ppm). This makes very wet air significantly lighter than dry air so it rises vertically without having to be warmer.because of the buoyancy effect.

    When the water vapour content rises obviously it dilutes the other gases which remain in the same relative proportions. Locally, CO2 from combustion may rise above 1100 ppm, for example, during winter in a city sited in a valley in a cold climate experiencing an inversion (which can happen daily in such circumstances).

    Apart from being a far more powerful GHG than CO2, water vapour also occurs in far greater concentrations.

    • “So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant emit di-hydrogen monoxide, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”
      – source: 2008 POTUS candidate Obama
      ———————-
      In this case, his ignorance is our bliss.

  14. The real elephant is the unspoken property CO2, CH4, H2O O3, all share with each other: they are thermoelectric. Not only are they GHGs but they generate electricity from their thermal vibrational behaviour with a device called a thermopile. Is this a coincidence? No, this is a major mistake in science. There has been a major oversight – the greatest in the history of science – and when I get round to it, I will write it up in full ( I have already made a start, but I keep adding to it; it will mean radiation theory (emissivity) will have to go). It is as if we are colour blind to non thermoelectric radiation. O2 and N2 are non thermoelectric, that’s what makes them special, they don’t show, but they do vibrate, they have quantum predicted spectra lines (at 1556 and 2340cm) and they too have an instrument that detects their vibrational behaviour, it’s called Raman spectroscopy. If N2 didn’t vibrate at 2340 the CO2 laser would not operate (as the N2 is excited or heated to pump the CO2’s 2349cm band) By the way,CO2, CH4, H2O O3 all have Raman spectra lines too, that’s why NASA use Raman spectrometers on their space probes and LIDAR instruments. If you don’t believe me, check my claims, its all out there.

  15. In figure 4 notice that the peak productivity temperature increases from 25°C to 36°C at the higher CO2 concentration.

    Based on Jurik’s paper this is only true for exceptionally high pCO2 (~1900ppm), at more modest pCO2 (600ppm) the peak productivity is about the same as for pCO2 ~330ppm. Interestingly Idso chose to leave out the intermediate level curve that shows that. 36ºC would be a very high optimum for a C3 plant at more normal pCO2 levels.

    • Perhaps so, but 1900 ppm is not really exceptional in Earth’s history. Roughly 2,000 ppm or even higher was the norm until the end of the Cretaceous 65 million years ago. The point of the figure was to show that plants are remarkably adaptable and likely to flourish at higher temperatures with more carbon dioxide. The IPCC, for whatever reason, does not consider adaptation.

      • The reason pCO2 went down was because of the evolution of plants, flowering plants appeared about 200million years ago and the CO2 decreased as a result, the evolution of C4 plants such as grasses about 40 million years ago took it down still further. The main point I was making is that Idso has altered Jurik’s figure in such a way as to make it appear that there is a linear increase in optimum temperature with CO2. In fact Jurik showed no increase in T opt with an increase in pCO2 up to 600+, perhaps even a slight drop.

      • Phil,

        CO2 fell from the mid-Devonian Period to the mid-Permian because of the evolution of forests, which pulled the gas out of the air. Most of this happened during the Carboniferous Period, named for its coal swamps.

        Earth suffered an ice age in the Late Carboniferous to Early Permian, due to plate tectonics, not the falling CO2, although the cold caused a further drop, down to around today’s levels. It recovered during the Late Permian, which after the Mother of All Mass Extinction Events at the Permian/Triassic boundary, continued in the Mesozoic Era, especially shooting up in the Jurassic Period.

        The time when flowering plants first appeared is controversial, but they only became common in the Cretaceous, so might well have contributed to a further decline in CO2. The cooler climate from the PETM onwards, at the boundary between the Paleocene and Eocene Epochs of our current Cenozoic Era, driven by tectonic forces, also naturally put downward pressure on CO2.

      • It is the invention of wood (essentially the discovery of lignin by plants) about 380 million years ago, and the lag in the appearance of lignin-rotting microorganisms that is thought to have caused the big drop in CO2 levels of the Late Devonian-Carboniferous. Part of that CO2 preserved as coal is what we are now returning to the atmosphere to do its magic.

      • The reason pCO2 went down was because of the evolution of plants, flowering plants appeared about 200million years ago and the CO2 decreased as a result

        Hmm, no. The reason was the invention of wood (specially lignin) by plants 380 million years ago. There was a lag in the appearance of lignin-rotting microorganisms, and that is thought to have caused most of the fall in CO2 levels in the Late Devonian-Carboniferous period. We are now burning the coal produced then, and returning that CO2 to the atmosphere.

  16. Let’s not forget our friend Bill McKibben. He was, of course, on the verge of a massive stroke just thinking of CO2 reaching 350 ppm. Hence 350.org. Now that we’re around 400+ppm he must be filling his Depends with great frequency. It’s surprising that nothing at 400 ppm has happened after all, because Bill, being an English major from Harvard, is the most authoritative source in the world for atmospheric science.

  17. This version corrects an error in the average concentration of water vapor in the atmosphere.

    A correction rather than an adjustment.
    Refreshing.

  18. That video showing two cowpea plants reaching different sizes under lesser and greater amounts of CO2 WAS JUST A CHEAP TRICK!!!!

    Obviously the cowpea that grew less was a GIRL PLANT and the one that grew more was a BOY PLANT. Just stick your head out your window and look at the human population for verification.

    MORE DENIALIST SCIENCE DEBUNKED!!!!!!!!!!

    Eugene WR Gallun

  19. What the heck is a “dry” rainforest?

    I must be dense as a rainforest as I could not find the definition of “dry rainforest” in Dr. Idso’s paper, and I, for some reason, thought dryness and rainforests were mutually exclusive.

    • A dry rainforest is what ordinary people call a forest. At some stage some people apparently just completely lost the ability to write the word forest without attaching the prefix rain.

  20. The most important question for humans and the planet is how can we increase atmospheric CO2 levels more quickly?

  21. There will come a time when the designation of CO2 as a “pollutant” and dangerous will be regarded as a crime against the biosphere and humanity.

  22. One must ask, if CO2 is the dominant driver of global warming, why does the rate of temperature increase go down when the rate of CO2 increase is rising?

    The relation between CO2 and temperature is logarithmic if you ignore feedbacks. Each additional CO2 molecule has less heating effect than the previous molecules. link

  23. Unless I missed it, there is no reference early in the article that Carbon Dioxide is NOT pollution. I think if you polled the general global population and asked this question:
    “Is CO2 (carbon dioxide) pollution?”
    Or even:
    “Is CO2 (carbon dioxide) from burning fossil fuels pollution?”
    I would bet that 30% – 50% + would say yes, it’s pollution.

    Just thought that in an article titled CO2, Good or Bad, should mention this early on…
    If CO2 was pollution, this would Bad.
    Really Great Article though regarding CO2 and plants, etc.

  24. If Nitrogen, Oxygen and Argon are 99.9% of the atmosphere, how is there still room for water vapor to be between 1% and 2%?

    • Those percentages are measured for dry air, same as for CO2.

      H2O isn’t included because it varies so much, from 40,000 ppm over the moist tropics to perhaps as low as 400 ppm over the poles in winter, ie from as low as CO2 concentration to 100 times as much.

      IMO the average global level is more like three percent than one of two.

      • Chimp, I researched this for my last ebook. Global surface average is between 1.5 and 2 % specific humidity depending on season. Range is from near zero (south pole winter) to 4.2 %(equator over Amazon rain forest). Taking humidity altitude lapse rate into consideration, the atmosphere total is ~1%. And, surface SH over ocean (not land) does closely follow Clausius-Clapeyron equation prediction. Not over land (drier).

      • Ristvan,

        For the whole atmosphere, no doubt you’re right. But for the troposphere, IMO it would be higher.

        In winter at the poles, the stratosphere essentially comes down near or to the surface of the earth.

      • It is not specific but absolute humidity what counts for radiative effects. The saturation point changes with temperature, but for radiation every molecule counts.

      • Ristvan

        There are two ways to calculate this: the volume-density-weighted water concentration (better to use ppm(v) in all cases, BTW) and the ‘average’ based on the total water vapour in the total atmosphere. You get my drift?

        If you have a total water vapour mass (and if you like, a total water mass of water/ice particles, not vapour) you have one numerator. The total (wet) atmosphere is the denominator. That is a fair way to report it, but it might be very misleading when you want to calculate the effect of something taking place say in the bottom 3 km of the atmosphere.

        The other way is the take the concentration in an equal mass regardless of volume and calculate an average water vapour concentration. This is the volume-density-weighted calculation which attempts to report some useful ‘average’. The bottom line is to produce some number that is the ‘average concentration’, say 4000 ppm, or the typical concentration you will encounter, say 10,000 ppm.

        It is a pretty big difference. The average of 1,000,000 readings of humidity taken evenly within the total atmosphere, or the average readings in 1,000,000 equal masses of air taken within the total atmosphere. Any equal mass of upper air will have a really low reading compared with the surface.

        It is my understanding that this accounts for the two cited figures for the ‘average’: 10,000 and 4,000 ppm.

    • That is for the …… DRY …… atmosphere.

      there’s some Krypton and Xenon in the remainder.

      g

    • The nitrogen, oxygen and argon percentages are of the dry atmosphere with water vapor removed. I had the same problem in the original version. You need to know what the percentage of water vapor is to compute percentages of the actual atmosphere and it varies, thus the problem.

  25. “The amount of water vapor in the air drops to very close to zero when temperatures are below -10.0°C. ”

    A little off-topic, but this made me wonder how climate alarmists explain the higher rates of warming in polar regions, when the alleged water-vapor feedbacks are taken out of the picture because of the cold temps there, and thus the near-zero atmospheric humidity. I know that the majority of warming is supposed to be due to water vapor feedbacks, but shouldn’t that mean that the polar regions would warm more slowly, and the tropical regions warm much faster? In reality, the opposite is the case. Doesn’t that by itself undermine the claims of that warming is driven by high water-vapor feedbacks? Or has there been a significant increase in water vapor in the polar regions?

    • Yogi,

      Maybe they argue that a fourth molecule of CO2 per 10,000 dry air molecules, up from three, warms the air at the poles, possibly also increasing water vapor from three to four molecules.

      But of course, if the ice is still frozen, the extra water won’t appear in the insignificantly warmer air.

      • I don’t doubt that increased CO2 will produce warming due to radiative effects. of the order of 1C/doubling. The problem is the claims about huge water vapor feedbacks that account for most of the catastrophist claims of 3C+/doubling. If there is so little water vapor in the arctic, there should be an absence of water vapor feedbacks to amplify the direct radiative effects. Hence, not as much change in warming as in the tropics. But all the temp records including satellites show the opposite. How do the alarmists explain that? Can anyone?

    • You have the yogi before the broken.

      It is NOT that the polar regions are WARMING faster.

      What is going on is that they are COOLING slower.

      Total BB radiation = sigma T^4 ; where sigma is the Stefan-Boltzmann constant.

      The polar regions are totally worthless at cooling the planet. They cool at only about 1/12 of the cooling rate for the North African dry hot deserts (and Arabian), well that’s at the extreme coldest spots like the Antarctic highlands.

      G

      • Why they are “COOLING” slower?
        By how much?
        If we were to assume no change in “COOLING” (or heating) anywhere else, would this slower “COOLING” imbalance in the Arctic have any affect to the global thermometer or is it as you say totally worthless?

    • brokenyogi,

      how climate alarmists explain the higher rates of warming in polar regions, when the alleged water-vapor feedbacks are taken out of the picture because of the cold temps there, and thus the near-zero atmospheric humidity.

      It is scientists and not climate alarmists who point to the Arctic amplification mechanism, precisely based in part on the low water content of the air there.

      The explanation is very simple. Water absorbance overlaps CO2 absorbance, so CO2 increase has lesser effect the more water there is in the air. And conversely CO2 increase will have the highest effect in very dry air.

      Further confirmation comes from the 5000 year unprecedented retreat in glaciers and small permanent ice patches. The air above glaciers is very cold and dry, and therefore the CO2 effect is maximal there.

      Cryologists have little doubt that CO2 is warming the planet because they are seeing it in what they study.

    • Thanks, co2islife, I’ve not seen that before. Nice description of the EPA “window insurance” involvement at 46:30

  26. Figure 2 is from Banfai and Bowman (2006). Their aerial study of Australia’s Kakadu National Park found that the rainforest expanded 28.8% between 1960 and 2004.

    More trees and rain forests mean more atmospheric CO2. Trees through transpiration create huge amounts of atmospheric H2O. If CO2 does cause global warming, it is done through more trees, not trapping IR between 13 and 18µ. The “smoke” in the Smoky Mountains is transpiration from trees, and the release of VOCs.
    http://www.visitmysmokies.com/blog/smoky-mountains/what-makes-the-smoky-mountains-smoky/

    • Actually, cloud nucleating VOCs cause the Great Smokey ‘smoke’ ( low cloud/fog). In pine forests, turpenes. In deciduous and tropical forests, isoprenes. In huge amounts. Beautiful picture of Nature’s own isoprene generated Great Smokey result.

  27. We live in the worst of only two CO2 crashes in earth’s history. Life relentlessly removed CO2 from the environment, by making fossil fuels but mostly by making limestone, until it was nearly gone. Man to the rescue by burning fossil fuels. It almost makes one believe in divine guidance.

  28. “At low altitude and high temperatures (greater than 30°C or 86°F), over the ocean, it can reach 4.3% or more of the atmosphere.”

    I think this is not correct. Water vapor content over ground never exceeds about 3%.

    “The highest dew point temperature on record occurred in July of 2003 at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia which reported a dew point of 35°C (95°F) with a coincident dry bulb of 42°F (108°F) (Burt 2004). These conditions equate to an atmospheric water vapor content of 3.3%.”

    http://www.meefog.com/wp-content/uploads/Gas-Turbine-Inlet-Air-Fogging-for-Humid-Climates-FINAL.pdf

    To get 4.3% water vapor one would need fully saturated air at 38°C or 50°C air at 55% relative humidity. I don’t think such conditions ever occur in nature on planet earth.

      • > Fully saturated air at 100 degrees F is normal.

        I’m having trouble finding records of dew point extremes.

        https://www.wunderground.com/blog/weatherhistorian/record-dew-point-temperatures says:

        The absolute highest dew point recorded in the region and therefore the world (of which I am aware) was 95° at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia at 3 p.m. on July 8, 2003. The dry bulb temperature stood at 108° at the time, so theoretically the heat index was 176°. Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) apparently once recorded a dew point of 93.2° (date unknown) according to ‘Weather Climate Extremes’ Army Corps of Engineers TEC-0099 report.

        Note that this wasn’t saturated air, however, the wet bulb temperature should be around 104°, so I’m sure it was plenty unpleasant.

        Note it says “extremely rare.” I can’t find a reference for your claim, please provide examples.

      • Chimp, I’ve been to the tropics many times. I also studied the climate of the tropics. 100 °F and saturated never occurs in nature.

        Ric W., The paper I linked to (my paper, by the way) also references Burt. But it goes on to say, “Such records should not be taken as fact since numerous human-caused and natural factors can cause the microclimate around a particular weather station to result in readings that are not representative of the climatology of a region (for examples see http://www.surfacestations.org).”

        My understanding is that super-saturation occurs only when the atmosphere is very clean with few cloud nucleating particles. That’s normally at high altitudes, which means the temperature is very cold, so moisture content would be low even if there were a high-degree of over saturation.

      • Thomas, I guess I better read your paper tonight. I trust I’ll get flamed if I use it as an example or burning water. :-)

        The two main instances of supersaturation I’m aware of are 1) high altitude areas, where a passing jet can leaves a contrail that grows instead of evaporating. I always check out contrails to see how humid the higher troposphere is. And 2) Svensmark’s hypothesis of cosmic ray triggered clouds refer to lowish maritime air that has been washed free of cloud condensation nuclei so that supersaturation occurs. Cosmic rays make muons, muons reach the ground (below ground!) but ionize air molecules on the way and cause clumping of dimethyl sulfide molecules that grow large enough to be cloud condensation nuclei. Or something like that. These make a cloud layer that reflects enough sunlight to make measurable cooling, according to the hypothesis.

    • Thomas

      “To get 4.3% water vapor one would need fully saturated air at 38°C or 50°C air at 55% relative humidity. ”

      It is routinely above 40C in Jakarta, Indonesia and raining (>100% RH).

      In India the same occurs in multiple places. Vietnam, Thailand, the list goes on.

      I have no problem believing that the H2O vapour content is above 40,000 ppm in Jakarta. It is one of the worst places I have been for heat and humidity, and I get around. I hear from someone in the family that in Qatar the combination of 40-something temperatures and rain is not unknown. There is one reference I have which says the water temperature in that area is over 40C and there are corals that live at that temp.

      Jakarta’s weather varies from ‘very humid’ to ‘muggy’. That is the annual range.
      http://www.jakarta.climatemps.com/humidity.php

      Believe it or not, Singapore is even worse. Very humid all year, hot and often pouring with rain. But my personal experience of Jakarta tops SG. It can be absolutely unbearable downtown.

      • Andy May: The highest dew point in Saudi Arabia was measured on 8 July 2003 at the King Abdulaziz Air Base at 13:00 hrs. and again at 16:00 hrs. I think these are an anomalous readings caused by an unusual micro climate near the sensor, perhaps due to jet exhaust, which can have up to 8% water vapor content because H2O is product of combustion of jet hydrocarbon fuels.

        I don’t think the measurements are representative of the climatology of the area. For example, the highest dew point the day before was 81 °F and the day after it was 73 °F.

        There can be isolated pockets of air that have very high moisture content but not region has a climate with 4% water vapor content occurring on a regular basis.

        Crispin: I have visited to Jakarta, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, etc. probably more than 50 times in the past 25 years. It is a very hot and humid region but total water content is higher in the humid deserts of the Saudi peninsula. This is due to the fact that the surrounding seas are shallow so they heat up quickly and the fact that the temperature is higher than in the tropic, which are cooled by convention.

        “It is routinely above 40C in Jakarta, Indonesia and raining (>100% RH).”

        Rain showers usually reduce the ambient humidity because air from higher altitudes is brought down with the rain. The higher-altitude air may have been at 100% relative humidity when it was at altitude but it’s cold so it’s total moisture content is low. When it mixes with near-ground air, the result is lower humidity.

        >100% RH would be super saturation and that occurs only in very clean, usual high-altitude air, that lacks cloud nucleating particles.

        I’ve seen conditions in New Orleans where the sun baked the asphalt streets then a rain shower blew over. When the rain contacted the hot asphalt, a fog of “steam” formed. The vapor content of that air was probably very high, but again, it’s not representative of the regional climate.

      • > It is routinely above 40C in Jakarta, Indonesia and raining (>100% RH).

        I concur with Thomas. From my weather station, large raindrop storms (especially thunderstorms), the rain starts cold enough and falls fast enough to reach the ground before saturating the low-level air. On radar images the echoes match the surface rain. The radars miss 1-2 thousand feet overhead due to distance and topography.

        On the other hand, snow falls so slowly and has such a large surface area that it rarely reaches the ground before the air saturates. The low water vapor pressure at low temperatures means that not much evaporation has to happen. I can generally tell from graphs of air temp and dewpoint when a snow storm started. Meanwhile, the radar images often show snow overhead for half an hour or so before I see it at ground level.

        I like to pass on snow starting events to the NWS people at Gray Maine and TV mets at NECN to give them a good idea of the dry edge width on the ground. It’s well appreciated ground truth information.

  29. Climate radicals have indicated a desire to turn the clock back to 1750, when CO2 emissions were of course much lower.

    An inconvenient fact is that earth’s population in 1750 was less than a billion. If we (now SEVEN billion strong) were to live as they did in 1750 (burning wood to stay warm, cook), any guess as to what CO2 levels would be today?

    • Van Baker on December 5, 2016 at 8:08 pm

      If we … were to live AS THEY DID in 1750 (burning wood to stay warm, cook), any guess as to what CO2 levels would be today?

      Well Van Baker… I think there is some simple answer to your question, by depicting some aspects of the pre-industrial era:
      – no electricity plants of 1GWel level;
      – no big global industry, no cement plants;
      – no goods transport all around the world;
      – no motor driven cars, no big trucks, no trains, no motor driven ships, no airplanes.

      My guess you certainly won’t accept: about 280 ppm.

      That doesn’t mean I would “desire to turn the clock back to 1750”. Not at all !!!

  30. re: “In the 1990’s fossil fuel emissions were about 3% of the carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere according to the EPA. ”

    True, but misleading.

    The natural emissions are balanced by natural absorption. The anthropogenic emissions were about 50% absorbed, increasing the ocean’s acidity, and the land biosphere’s carbon, and about 50% not absorbed, increasing the atmospheric concentration of CO2.

    • What you say is true. The point of the article is, why is that a problem? Where is the evidence (excepting computer models that have yet to be validated) that increasing CO2 is a problem? It does have many benefits.

  31. References:

    Trenberth et al 2011jcli24

    This popular balance graphic and assorted variations are based on a power flux, W/m^2. A W is not energy, but energy over time, i.e. 3.4 Btu/eng h or 3.6 kJ/SI h. The 342 W/m^2 ISR is determined by spreading the average 1,368 W/m^2 solar irradiance/constant over the spherical ToA surface area. (1,368/4 =342) There is no consideration of the elliptical orbit or day or night or seasons or tropospheric thickness, etc. This popular balance models the earth as a ball suspended in a hot fluid with heat/energy/power entering evenly over the entire ToA spherical surface. This is not even close to how the real earth energy balance works. Everybody uses it. Everybody should know better.

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=7373

    “Technically, there is no absolute dividing line between the Earth’s atmosphere and space, but for scientists studying the balance of incoming and outgoing energy on the Earth, it is conceptually useful to think of the altitude at about 100 kilometers above the Earth as the “top of the atmosphere.” The top of the atmosphere is the bottom line of Earth’s energy budget, the Grand Central Station of radiation. It is the place where solar energy (mostly visible light) enters the Earth system and where both reflected light and invisible, thermal radiation from the Sun-warmed Earth exit. The balance between incoming and outgoing energy at the top of the atmosphere determines the Earth’s average temperature. The ability of greenhouses gases to change the balance by reducing how much thermal energy exits is what global warming is all about.”

    ToA is 100 km or 62 miles. It is 68 miles between Denver and Colorado Springs. That’s not just thin, that’s ludicrous thin.

    The GHE/GHG loop as shown on Trenberth et. al. is made up of three main components: upwelling of 396 W/m^2 which has two parts: 63 W/m^2 and 333 W/m^2 and downwelling of 333 W/m^2.

    The 396 W/m^2 is determined by inserting 16 C or 279K in the S-B BB equation. This result produces 55 W/m^2 of power flux more than ISR entering ToA, an obvious violation of conservation of energy out of nothing. That should have been a warning.

    341 W/m^2 enter ToA, 102 W/m^2 are reflected by the albedo, leaving a net 239 W/m^2 for ToA. 78 W/m^2 are absorbed by the atmosphere leaving 161 W/m^2 for the surface. To maintain the balance 160 W/m^2 rise from the surface (0.9 residual in ground) as 17 W/m^2 convection, 80 W/m^2 latent and 63 W/m^2 LWIR = 160 W/m^2. All power fluxes are now present and accounted for. The remaining 333 W/m^2 are the spontaneous creation of an inappropriate application of the S-B BB equation violating conservation of energy.

    The 333 W/m^2 upwelling/downwelling constitutes a 100% perpetual energy loop violating thermodynamics. There is no net energy left at the surface to warm the earth, there is no net energy left in the troposphere to impact radiative balance at ToA.

    The 333 W/m^2, 97% of ISR, upwells into the troposphere where it is absorbed/trapped/blocked by 0.04% of the atmosphere. That’s a significant heat load for that tiny share of atmospheric molecules and they should all be hotter than two dollar pistols.

    Except they aren’t. The troposphere is cold, -40 C at 30,000 ft, 9km, <-60C at ToA. Depending on how one models the troposphere, average or variable density from surface to ToA, the S-B BB equation for tropospheric temperatures ranges from 150 to 250 W/m^2. A considerable way from 333.

    But wait! The GHGs reradiate in all directions not just back to the surface. Say a statistical 33% makes it back to the surface that means 50 to 80 W/m^2. A long way from 333.

    But wait! Because the troposphere is not ideal the S-B equation must consider emissivity. Nasif Nahle suggests CO2 emissivity could be around 0.1 or 5 to 8 W/m^2 re-radiated back to the surface. Light years from 333.

    But wait! All of the above really doesn’t even matter since there is no net connection or influence between the 333 W/m^2 thermodynamically impossible loop and the radiative balance at ToA. Just erase this loop from the graphic and nothing else about the balance changes.

    BTW 7 of the 8 reanalyzed (water board the data till it gives up the right answer) data sets/models show more power flux leaving OLR than entering ASR ToA or atmospheric cooling. Trenberth was not happy. Obviously, those data sets/models have it completely wrong because there can’t be any flaw in the GHE theory.

    The GHE greenhouse analogy not only doesn’t apply to the atmosphere, it doesn’t even apply to warming a real greenhouse. It’s the physical barrier that traps convective heat, not some kind of handwavium thermal diode.

    The surface of the earth is warm for the same reason a heated house is warm in the winter: Q = U * A * dT, the energy flow/heat resisting blanket of the insulated walls. The composite thermal conductivity of that paper thin atmosphere, conduction, convection, latent, LWIR, resists the flow of energy, i.e. heat, from surface to ToA and that requires a temperature differential, 213 K ToA and 288 K surface = 75 C.

    The flow through a fluid heat exchanger requires a pressure drop. A voltage differential is needed to push current through a resistor. Same for the atmospheric blanket. A blanket works by Q = U * A * dT, not S-B BB.

    Open for rebuttal. If you can explain how this upwelling/downwelling/”back” radiation actually works be certain to copy Jennifer Marohasy.

    • Nicholas,

      “This result produces 55 W/m^2 of power flux more than ISR entering ToA, an obvious violation of conservation of energy out of nothing. That should have been a warning.”

      Yes, there’s a problem, but COE is not violated since the origin of this extra flux is prior surface emissions which were captured and temporarily stored in the atmosphere by GHG’s and clouds only to be returned to the surface at a later time. The problem is lumping in energy transported by matter with energy transported by photons. The 396 W/m^2 of ‘upwelling’ are the photon emissions of the surface consequential to its temperature. The ‘downwelling’ includes the return of latent heat and thermals that also enter the atmosphere and this is energy transported by matter, which can’t otherwise escape the planet. The only effect these have is on the surface temperature, but the effect of this is already accounted for by the 396 W/m^2 of surface emissions, thus these components must have a net zero energy influence at the surface and no impact on the radiative balance. Many are confused by this level of obfuscation. The other thing Trenberth does is significantly underestimate the amount of energy that passes through the atmosphere without being absorbed by either GHG’s or clouds.

  32. The relationship between atmospheric CO2 photosynthesis, in consequence also a bio-sinks, in the paper cited in reports IPCC is linear: rectilinear, exponential or logarithmic. Always, however, bio-sinks “no overtaking” CO2 emissions – increase atmospheric CO2. This is also linear.

    It should, however – at first – to examine the most commonly occurring in the biosphere model of predator-prey – The Lotka-Volterra equations (“chasing” each other sinusoid). Here is a predator – organisms with photosynthesis, and the prey is of course: CO2. According to the theory of AGW, IPCC, this model is impossible to implement due to the boundary conditions. Mainly has run out of iron and phosphorus, and disaster associated with warming, have further reduced photosynthesis. Therefore, the main problem (for the adoption of the model L-V) is to prove that in ancient – geological times, the biomass of warm – bio-sinks, however, were many times larger than now (and it need to prove by the skeptics). An example of the difficulties is here: http://earthscience.stackexchange.com/questions/2439/how-much-have-global-gpp-and-biomass-changed-over-earths-history.

    Bio-sinks are much faster (see eg. to quickly remove a sharp increase in CO2, at the end of the glacial period) than, for example: Oolites, etc.

    Paper by Knorr: Is the airborne fraction of anthropogenic CO2 emissions increasing?, 2009., it may indicate that we have to deal with the first phase of the sinusoidal model (no percentage increase the fraction of anthropogenic – in total emissions CO2).

    It is worth knowing that the dispute regarding bio-availability of phosphorus and iron is very “sharp” and far from finished. However, it is also worth known that fossil fuels (of course after combustion) are an excellent source of iron: “Iron solubility driven by speciation in dust sources to the ocean, Schroth et al., 2009.: “We conclude that spatial and temporal variations in aerosol iron speciation, driven by the distribution of deserts, glaciers and fossil-fuel combustion, could have a pronounced effect on aerosol iron solubility and therefore on biological productivity and the carbon cycle in the ocean.”

    • Henry on December 6, 2016 at 3:23 am

      Henry, I’m all but a specialist in the domain. But as far as I have understood the majority of the publications I read until now (and there was quite a lot of them), the effect of CO2 seems to be twofold:
      – its increase in the lower atmosphere contributes to the warming of water vapor, what manifestly results in more water vapor there;
      – in those higher atmospheric regions where water vapor is absent (due to both precipitation and a lack of atmospheric pressure, about 1% of that at Earth’s surface), CO2’s presence is the garant of a continuous heat release out to space.

      I intituively guess that without a minimum of CO2 we couldn’t manage to survive:
      – either we would freeze dut to an exceeding level of water vapor precipitation, or
      – we would burn due to an insufficient amount of heat release.

      Pure layman’s opinion, that’s evident. Take it as it is, with caution :-)

  33. And this reduction in plant growth at low CO2 concentrations does not take into account the reducing partial pressure of CO2 with altitude. When CO2 concentrations reached 190 ppm during the ice age maximum, plants at high altitude experienced even less equivalent concentrations, and were starved of a vital nutrient. Thus large areas of uplants were turned into CO2 deserts, creating vast dust storms. It was this dust, and the consequent lowering of ice sheet albedo, that ended the ice ages.

  34. from willhaas

    “The idea has been that added CO2 causes warming which in turn causes more H2O to enter the atmosphere which causes more waming because H2O is also a greenhouse gas with LWIR absorption bands. The additional waming then causes even more H2O to enter the atmosphere which causes more warming which causes more H2O to enter the atmosphere and so on. Actually an increase in CO2 is not required to set this off. (1) An increase in H2O itself which happens all the time would set off the chain reaction. If this really happened we would not be here. (2)The reality is that H2O is really a coolant so adding H2O to the atmosphere lowers and not raises temperatures”
    1. Agreed there is nothing magic about CO2, anything that increases temperature/H2O vapor will start this feedback.
    2. Wrong, it does happen here. The climate system/atmosphere on earth has an UNLIMITED amount of H2O vapor/liquid to work with. (the oceans) The vertical circulation driven by differential heating and cooling moves saturated air to cooler high altitudes where it condenses into clouds. This removes it from the (IR)water vapor feed back system. The water vapor feedback as normally referred to is the clear air IR part of the system only. The addition of CO2 cannot cause what already exists and since the effect is as you say to cool through the negative feedback of clouds and high altitude IR emission to space, no CO2 problem exists.

    So, now that we solved that, we can move on the the next great problem of the day, right :-)

    • It is not just clouds that cause the negative feedback. According to energy balance models. more heat energy is moved from the Earth’s surface to where clouds form, and yes radiate to space, by H2O via the heat of phase change then by both LWIR absroption band radiation and convection combined. The fact that the wet lapse rate is significantly lower than the dry lapse rate is further evidence of H2O’s cooling effect. The net feedback has to be negative for the climate to have been stable enough for life to have evolved because if not H2O alone would have been sufficient to have triggered runaway global warming causing the oceans to boil away, causing the atmosphe to be more massive then that on Venus and hence the Earth’s surface would have become hotter than the surface of Venus, but such has never happened on Earth.

      • Great point. Venus has no free water, instead it has sulfuric acid and sulfur trioxide, aka oleum. Much higher boiing point and density.

        Anyone using the Venus analogy must consider the oleum difference. As in a boiling point of 280 C . Yes, it is a rather violent acid. No wonder probes don’t last long ;)

  35. This appears to be somewhat old news at one blog, but I just discovered it, and given its probable obscurity to many others, I thought it might bear repeating here’

    S. I. Rasool and S. H. Schneider, Institute for Space Studies, Goddard Space Flight Center, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
    Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and Aerosols: Effects of Large Increases on Global Climate
    Science 09 Jul 1971: Vol. 173, Issue 3992, pp. 138-141

    http://vademecum.brandenberger.eu/pdf/klima/rasool_schneider_1971.pdf

    How times change.

    • That has been noted here, and that Schneider hopped on the CACA band wagon as soon as it left the station, replacing the cooling gravy train. Meanwhile, he rode the nuclear winter scare to notoriety.

    • Didn’t you see that your copy&paste is dated 1971? How much do you think is known inbetween about that?

      Just a detail: there is no “saturation” effect.

      • Bindidon
        December 7, 2016 at 7:45 am

        Didn’t you see that your copy&paste is dated 1971? How much do you think is known inbetween about that?

        Right, we now know that your “The Science” of CO2-Climate Change is Scientifically Falsified by its [100%] Prediction Failure in real science’s real world of empirical data.

        Meanwhile, what are you, Bindidon, personally doing in the real world you live in to decrease your own “CO2 Footprint”? Is it mere Crickets vs Your Own CO2 Apocalypse?

      • JPeden on December 7, 2016 at 8:35 am

        Sorry for the response, but you are yourself the origin of it.

        This, JPeden, is the typical pavlovian answer of those I call the boring skeptics (i like sound skepticism, and from that you stay half an AU away).

        There was no hint on my meaning about CO2. A meaning which I myself consider be irrelevant due to my lack of knowledge concerning this extremely difficult and intricate context.

        What I have underlined in my answer to Robert Kernodle is that (in fact independently of the matter discussed) it is not very meaningful to refer on 45 years old scientific results.

      • “Bindidon December 7, 2016 at 1:12 pm”

        I hereby denounce myself for not realizing that I was trying to herd cats!

      • JPeden on December 7, 2016 at 3:36 pm

        Thanks JP for the pretty good humor.

        Meanwhile, what are you, Bindidon, personally doing in the real world you live in to decrease your own “CO2 Footprint”?

        Not much! But at least I managed 10 years ago to stop this stoopid driving a car every morning / evening, and to switch to public transport :-)

  36. Andy: You can go to the website below and simulate OLR (or DLR) from any atmosphere with whatever GHG concentration(s) you and temperature you want. For example, you can zero out all of the other GHGs and just look at normal water vapor vs no water vapor in a sub-arctic winter atmosphere or a tropical atmosphere. It usually makes sense to study one GHG at a time and then move on to mixtures that are relevant to our atmosphere.

    http://climatemodels.uchicago.edu/modtran/

  37. Does anyone know if the pictures of the four pine trees are from a real experiment? Is there a picture of the four (similar) trees before CO2. Doing this multi-year experiment would take a lot of time and equipment – a lot more than just staging picture with four signs and trees of different height. A real experimenter presumably would be proud to document how the experiment was performed.

    • frank
      I don’t know about the pine trees
      I do know that in Holland they add about 1000ppm of CO2 in the greenhouses to get much bigger tomatoes.
      this type of technology is not generally known because many try to keep it secret for understandable reasons….

      • Except for the makers of CO2 generators who advertise their technology to commercial greenhouse growers.
        Of course with the potential for increased growth comes the caveat that other nutrients become limiting to growth so nitrates/phosphates etc may need to be added to achieve larger crops.

      • hallo Phil.
        long time no see
        haven’t been not sick or anything?
        It is good to see you understand the basics of biology and that more CO2 together with other nutrients is better….

  38. Figure 3 shows the greening of the African Sahel from 1982 to 2003.

    https://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2016/12/clip_image005_thumb.jpg?w=627&h=342

    Sorry: this is bare manipulation à la Craig Idso. No wonder: this person is known to have best relations to institutions like Heartland Institute, and to big coal mining companies.

    I have no problem at all with people pushing hard on CO2 promotion. But I say to them:

    « Please keep countries like the Sahel zone off your bloody manipulations. »

    I’ve been there, and Sahel looks rather like this:

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/store/10.1029/2002GL016772/asset/image_n/grl16703-fig-0004.png?v=1&t=iwf1wtg3&s=d081a7b6c87a351b385cf02088498193879006b4

    Above picture I found in the following article concerning Sahel:
    Vegetation index trends for the African Sahel 1982–1999 (Lars Eklundh, Lennart Olsson 2003)
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2002GL016772/full

    It is evident that the character sequence “CO2” does not appear at any line in the paper.

    Sahel’s slow (re)greening is solely due to rainfall and – by far more important – to the notable effort spent there in the last 30 years to increase tree planting and water storage.

    Surprisingly, even people like Eklundh and Olsson felt some need to extend the Sahel zone pretty good southwards (Sahel rather ends at the latitude of Dakar, Senegal).

    To cut a long story short, this has NOTHING to do with CO2 increase.

  39. If the world had a magic wand and could reduce the CO2 in the atmosphere back to the good old days of say 1945 then according to satellite and other measures plant productivity across the world would decline by 20-30% at a minimum. That means mass starvation.

    The IPCC’s prediction of lower plant productivity in 2080 is based on extremely bad science.
    1) Genetics and other standard research into plant productivity is producing massive gains that have tripled overall productivity of plants since 1945 or so.
    2) Industrial countries spend 2% of GDP on food production. Even if there was a decline this is not a big problem as the slightest increase in spending would compensate.
    3) We are likely to have a food surplus by 2080 given current trends and increasing productivity from higher temps and increased co2 so that any decrease will hardly be relevant.
    4) increased co2 improves not only plant productivity but also drought resistance assuming more droughts. A recent peer reviewed study showed that this completely cancels the effects of lower prodictivity due to projected model temperatures.
    5) Projected model temperatures are way way off and based on unrealistic senstivity to Co2. So temperatures will never get to the levels they predict they think will hurt plant productivity which the previous article showed wouldn’t happen anyway.

    Due to these extremely powerful reasons the IPCC’s prediction of food productivity decline in 2080 is one of the most laughable and worst predictions they’ve made (which is saying something.)

    Moreover, as pointed out in my first paragraph we would probably be welcoming additional CO2 and be completely uninterested in reducing CO2 levels. It is the most natural organic plant fertilizer available and we may find ourselves in 2080 burning fossil fuels to keep the CO2 level in the atmosphere elevated forever just because it’s the cheapest way to keep the planet warm and fed.

    • https://logiclogiclogic.wordpress.com/

      Jesus how old are you logic*3?

      You remember me these ridiculous people telling us in the last century’s Sixties that “the fission of 1 kg uranium liberates as much energy as burning 2,800 tons of coal”.

      Over 50 years later, we know more about that blind-alley and the true comparison given by elaborating complete cost and energy balances, but we luckily also know more of how to discern and analyse similar blah blah.

      • @ binding

        Your swearing is inacceptable. Remember we are in a public lecture room where eveybody can be a teacher or student. Dont talk unwise of peole jou have not studied. Jesus is the only one who can save you fronll

    • Never mind what everyone says:
      We have been over this many times before: there is no CO2 induced warming.
      Like H2O [especially clouds, but also vapor] CO2 cools the atmosphere when the sun is shining,
      by mirroring radiation especially at 1-2um and between 4-5um
      looking at the spectrum of CO2<
      Anyone claiming that earth's emission at between 14-15um is bigger than the sun's radiation on earth at 1-2 and 4-5 must be out of his mind.
      The net effect of more CO2 in the air is cooling rather than warming, but that effect is too small to count against natural warming/cooling.

      • Anyone claiming that earth’s emission at between 14-15um is bigger than the sun’s radiation on earth at 1-2 and 4-5 must be out of his mind.

        Not at all, they’d just have to understand blackbody radiation and radiation heat transfer, unlike you Henry.
        To a good approximation mean sun’s radiation incident on the Earth’s surface equals the earth’s emission at the TOA.

      • Phil. says
        To a good approximation mean sun’s radiation incident on the Earth’s surface equals the earth’s emission at the TOA.

        Henry says#
        if that were true, it would not be warming, now would it? Or do you also doubt now whether it is still warming???

        to prove to me that the net effect of more CO2 in the air is that of warming rather than cooling, you must come up with the test results of an experiment that actually measures how much [the more] CO2 is cooling the atmosphere and how much it is warming the atmosphere. i.e. give me balance sheet.

        In this respect, of course, the closed box experiments of the inventors of ‘global’ warming do not count, as they simply ignored the deflection of energy back to space by the CO2 in the sun’s emission spectrum 0-5 um.

      • Henry December 9, 2016 at 10:03 am
        Phil. says
        “To a good approximation mean sun’s radiation incident on the Earth’s surface equals the earth’s emission at the TOA.”

        Henry says#
        if that were true, it would not be warming, now would it?

        Actually it would if the absorption by the atmosphere of the emission from the earth’s surface was increasing. Think about it.

      • Phil,

        “Actually it would if the absorption by the atmosphere of the emission from the earth’s surface was increasing. Think about it.”

        The atmosphere responds nearly immediately to thinks like changing clouds, changing water vapor concentrations as well as any other variability in GHG concentrations. So yes, if the atmosphere absorbs more surface emissions, the surface will warm owing to more of these absorbed emissions being returned to the surface, but this warming is nearly instantaneous (i.e. no more than a few days to adapt). Another way to look at this is that the residence time of energy stored by the atmosphere is very short.

      • Phil. says
        Actually it would if the absorption by the atmosphere of the emission from the earth’s surface was increasing. Think about it.
        Henry says
        but it is not warming.
        especially not here where I live…we only had cooling despite everyone burning fossil fuels here…

        must be that the CO2 is cooling the atmosphere?

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