Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Great Global Warming Swindle!

Yes its all a con! Well according to this program on Channel 4 it might be. I did not watch the actual program, but did catch a bit of the Newsnight discussion and have read the programs webpage.

The program lays out its arguments here.

I will make the following observations.

The program claims, here:
There is some evidence to suggest that the rise in carbon dioxide lags behind the temperature rise by 800 years and therefore can't be the cause of it.
This is a massive load of old tosh. Yes there may well be evidence to show that global temperature rises lead global carbon dioxide levels. I have no problem with that. What it shows it that global warming causes increased natural carbon dioxide emissions. It does not prove or disprove that carbon dioxide can cause global warming. For a bit of a discussion on how carbon dioxide heats the atmosphere see here.

The program claims here:
If greenhouse warming were happening, then scientists predict that the troposphere (the layer of the earth's atmosphere roughly 10-15km above us) should heat up faster than the surface of the planet, but data collected from satellites and weather balloons doesn't seem to support this.
Well, I'd like a bit of backing for this as a model. It does not seem to make sense to me. Most carbon dioxide emissions happen near the earths surface and carbon dioxide is heavier than air, just. Therefore it will stay low if it is generated low. The program does have some lovely pictures showing how carbon dioxide traps the suns rays by seemingly bouncing them back to earth. Well that's wrong, what happens is that carbon dioxide absorbs more heat. It does not bounce it anywhere.

So any sensible model would say the air with the most carbon dioxide in it gets the hottest (Well, OK methane generates more), and as it is heavier than air you would expect that to be closer to the ground.

However the program goes on, here with this:
For some people, the final nail in the coffin of human-produced greenhouse gas theories is the fact that carbon dioxide is produced in far larger quantities by many natural means: human emissions are miniscule in comparison. Volcanic emissions and carbon dioxide from animals, bacteria, decaying vegetation and the ocean outweigh our own production several times over.
One would hope it only took a small amount of thought to dismiss this argument. The natural environment both gives off and absorbs carbon dioxide. That is normal. It is in balance. As in fact is animals, bovine or otherwise farting. It happens and it has always happened. Nature copes.

The problem is not that human activity cause carbon dioxide to be produced, but where it comes from. generally it comes from fossil fuels which contain carbon that has been locked up for Milena. That adds carbon dioxide to the system faster than it is used to absorbing it, whilst crucially we reduce the ability of the environment to absorb that increase. This is where the problem comes.

Here there might be a point:
New evidence shows that that as the radiation coming from the sun varies (and sun-spot activity is one way of monitoring this) the earth seems to heat up or cool down. Solar activity very precisely matches the plot of temperature change over the last 100 years. It correlates well with the anomalous post-war temperature dip, when global carbon dioxide levels were rising.
Well, yes, but an unnatural increase in carbon dioxide concentrations does help the atmosphere absorb more heat. It is certainly the case that as the sun burns hotter so the earth gets hotter, but as I discussed here, that does not mean we can't do anything about it, nor does it mean that climate change models have ignored it.

Mind you there does need to be a debate and discussion. There can be no room for theological positions on this and we do not need a Mary Whitehouse of the climate change debate.

23 comments:

Ewan said...

On a couple of technical notes, the troposphere extends from ground level up to about 10-15km; it doesn't start up there. It's also, unlike the stratosphere above it, convectively unstable, so anything added to it it rapidly mixed throughout its depth - it doesn't stay low just because it's generated low.

The point about carbon dioxide absorbing IR radiation is a good one, and a large part of why many scientists think think the problem is obvious - we know exactly how CO2 absorbs IR, we have a good theoretical understanding of the mechanism, and all you need do to see it happen right in front of you is breath into a spectrometer. This doesn't rely on statistical models of the atmosphere, sunspot patterns, or global temperatures - it's just basic chemical physics.

The idea that you can pile a large amount of something that absorbs energy from sunlight as heat into the atmosphere where there is copious sunlight and have it magically not get warmer is a total fantasy. It's like chucking an extra duvet on your bed - it's so obviously going to make you warmer it's barely worth arguing about.

loadofoldstodge said...

As you had the courtesy to respond on my blog, Benedict, the least I can do is to reciprocate.

To comment on what you say. The first argument about a time delay in carbon dioxide levels against rising temperatures had me confused too. According to that, we are seeing the impact of the medieval warm period rather than anything recent in terms of carbon dioxide levels. As you say, "old tosh".

Point two: carbon dioxide traps heat rather than light though there is the issue of water vapour and whether a warmer world is a cloudier world. That moves into concepts such as "global dimming". Evidence post-Sept 11th, when normal aviation over North America was suspended, was that there was an increase in both temperature and sunshine during the brief period without air travel so there's something for David Cameron to consider !!

I do think the role of the Sun is significant and climate theory can't disregard it. The correlation between temperature and solar activity is striking. The question is whether the natural "cooling" of reduced solar activity is being overwhelmed by the man-made increase in carbon dioxide.

We are supposed to be passing through an increased phase of solar activity which will decline after 2012. My guess is in a decade we will know for sure if solar activity is still the main controlling factor inc limate or not but many people seem to have made up their minds already.

Benedict White said...

Ewan, I am not so sure about how convectively stable it is, bearing in mind that the denser the gas is the longer it is going to take to rise.

However you are right about CO2, it is to my mind a non argument that it gets hotter than air. The question remains is it the only cause of global warming? The answer is no.

Loadofoldstodge, Many thanks for your comments. To pick up on the issue of the sun, there is no doubt that the when the sun burns hotter the earth gets hotter. Also clouds do affect the atmosphere. I am not sure 9/11 is a good example though as it was only a short lived break.

What is clear is that we don't need theology clouding the debate.

Ewan said...

Within the troposphere the convective mixing completely overwhelms any effect of the increase in density caused by adding CO2. Air at ground level is less dense that air higher in the troposphere because it's warmer (easily verified by noting the presence of snow on mountains), so it rises. Of course, as it does so it cools, and the cool air sinking to replace it warms, so the whole layer just constantly churns.

That is, indeed, the essential difference between the troposphere and the stratosphere - the latter gets warmer at increasing altitude, which means there's no convection, and only very slow mixing. That's why pollution injected directly into the stratosphere (e.g. from high altitude jets) is so much more of a concern - it hangs around for much longer.

The trouble with the 'no theology' arguement, reasonable though it sounds on the face of it, is that it allows 'antis' to pretend that some things that are well understood basic scientific knowledge aren't.

Ted said...

Benedict

Found a great site which explores many of the issues raised in The Great Climate Swindle and answers many questions I've seen raised. Its only one source but well worth looking at.
http://www.realclimate.org/

Ted said...

Benedict

Found a great site which explores many of the issues raised in The Great Climate Swindle and answers many questions I've seen raised. Its only one source but well worth looking at.
http://www.realclimate.org/

Benedict White said...

Ewan, Thanks for the clarification.

I disagree with you on theology, but I think I might write up a full article on it, once I have clarified all the points I want to make.

Ted, yes I was aware of the site, thanks for sharing the links.

There is much obfuscation the issue.

Timothy said...

The correlation between temperature and solar activity is striking.

Er, no it isn't. It transpires that the graph shown on the C4 documentary was published in an oldish paper which has subsequently been discredited as containing serious errors. When these errors are corrected the correlation since the 1970s disappears.

It appears the makers of the programme deliberately sought to mislead by ignoring evidence that contradicted their preconceived point of view. That isn't even Theology (which I understand to be truth from authority), it is simple deception.

The IPCC report states that recent solar changes have had an effect on the climate - they don't dispute that as implied by the C4 programme. However, when you look at the data dispassionately, it shows you that the solar forcing was more important in the early 20th Century (1920-1940), but had little effect over the century as a whole (about 1/5th that of GHGs).

In recent decades direct measurements of solar radiation from the sun have shown no trend, yet global temperatures are rising faster than before.

Benedict White said...

Timothy, I was not aware that they were using an old graph. It would not surprise me though.

That said obviously as the sun gets hotter so does the planet. That said that does not mean that it is the only reason why we are getting hotter.

I do wonder though about methane. Lots of people are concerned about cows farting. Well we have always had a lot of biological systems on the planet doing that, so I suspect that methane is not that long lived in the atmosphere. Particuarly as it can easily react with oxygen.

Timothy said...

Benedict - if the sun gets hotter, then, all things being equal, the planet will get warmer. The key is the "if" and the data shows no trend in solar [or cosmic rays] since the 1970s. Obviously, if the sun doesn't get hotter, it can't warm the planet.

It wasn't the only old graph they were using. Oh no. I'd be more surprised if none of them were dodgy.

You are correct about methane. It is important. It does have a short lifetime (about 8 years but other pollutants like nitrous oxides can affect this). Looking at the graphs on page 3 of the Summary for Policymakers it is evident that the effect from Methane is about 1/3rd that of CO2.

However, since CO2 lasts so much longer in the atmosphere it is in many ways a more serious problem.

Interestingly I did hear that Methane levels had stabilised recently, and people were not sure why this was - could have been things like oil rigs burning off gas instead of just releasing it, capture from landfill sites, and changes in wetlands (drying up?), but there is a lot of uncertainty in the estimates of sources and sinks.

Benedict White said...

Timothy, just to clarify, you are saying that there is no evidence to suggest that the sun has got warmer since 1970?

Fair enough. I'd be interested to see a link.

That said, logically it does not matter, as there can be more than one source of global warming.

On the CO2/methane thing the answer is blindingly obvious. CO2 is a virtually inert gas to the point where you can weld with it, whereas methane is highly reactive. It breaks down of its own accord so in order to keep the same concentration in the atmosphere you have to put fresh in.

Carbon dioxide on the other hand does nothing of its own accord and the only way it gets broken down is if energy is put in, for example in photosynthesis. That said it gets broken down as well.

Timothy said...

Yes, Benedict, that's exactly what I am saying. It is remarkable that sceptics would try to use solar output as an explanation, when there has been no trend in solar output. You can see the 11-year solar cycle, but it is clear that there hasn't been an average increase that compares with the 1.5Wm-2 from CO2 (>2Wm-2 for all GHGs).

The other argument is less direct, about the solar influence on Galactic Cosmic Rays, which are claimed to have an effect on clouds. However, there isn't a trend there either, which simply makes them look silly in my opinion.

What it comes down to is that the programme was pure propaganda, and with propaganda it is the big lie that works.

This is why science education, and particularly the neglected philosophy of science, is so important. Too many people are taught science as a simple series of facts, rather than as a method for deciding which explanations can't be true. Leaving us, always, with simply our current best guess.

After all, even General Relativity is an imperfect theory, but it is at the same time the most powerful and best one that we have.

The same is true of "Global Warming Theory" as presented in the IPCC reports. There are still gaps in it (clouds and aerosols particularly), but the alternatives, such as that it is caused by the sun, have been shown to be even worse.

I really do worry for the future when such large numbers of people think "Intelligent Design" is a better explanation than evolution by natural selection.

Benedict White said...

Timothy, Alas I did not watch the program itself so am going on reports and the information on there website.

The information I have seen does make it look like propaganda.

As I have said before, even if some global warming was attributable to the sun it does not mean some is not attributable to an increase in CO2 output etc. nor does it mean we are powerless to do anything about it.

That said it is interesting to note your comments on a lack of extra solar heating. Have you got references for that?

As for bad science, I am afraid there is a lot of it about, and it is in part caused by people becoming religious on the subject. This has occured elsewhere.

As for intelegent design, I don't know the ins and outs of the theory. That said, what amazes me about some of these people is that they insist the earth was made in 6 days, that is human days, which implies they know how long God's days are. There is nothing to back this up at all.

Timothy said...

Benedict: An American scientist, whose name I forget, put together a brilliant web page, the link to which I have lost, which went through the process by which he (and coworkers) had stitched together the data from the different satellites to produce a record of solar irradiance during the satellite era.

I will see what I can dig up.

Benedict White said...

Timothy, many thansk.

That said, I am not sure how much difference it makes to the debate when it is obvious that the temperature of the biosphere is the product of many different factors. If the sun is getting hotter and causing global warming, we may well need to actively remove CO2 from the atmosphere as it will be cheaper than finding homes for a few billion displaced people!

Freddy said...

Benedict, I'm terribly sorry, but based on these posts, you don't know your science. You also should really watch the program (it's all over YouTube) before commenting on it.

With respect to the ice core data, you say :
"This is a massive load of old tosh. Yes there may well be evidence to show that global temperature rises lead global carbon dioxide levels. I have no problem with that. What it shows it that global warming causes increased natural carbon dioxide emissions. It does not prove or disprove that carbon dioxide can cause global warming."
You're missing the point. What the ice cores show is that first temperature rises, then CO2 rises; much later, temperature falls, then CO2 falls. Therefore :
1) The temperature rise was not caused by the CO2 rise, so it must have been caused by some other factor.
2) While the CO2 might have added to the warming effect, it cannot be by much. Once the external factor changed and temperature fell again, CO2 soon fell as well. Whatever is the additional warming effect of CO2, it is completely dominated by the other factor(s).

Your linked post on how CO2 warms the atmosphere is also wrong.
"CO2 absorbs more heat from sunlight than either oxygen or nitrogen does, so the more of it there is about the more heat the atmosphere absorbs from sunlight."
No. Gasses will only absorb very specific wavelengths of radiation; greenhouse gasses are ones which absorb radiation in the near infra-red.
The way the greenhouse effect works is that incoming solar radiation - which is mostly in the visible spectrum - warms the Earth, which re-radiates that heat in the infra-red. This infra-red is then caught up in the GHGs.
The point is that a very small portion of incoming solar radiation is in the "greenhouse wavelengths", so very little of it is caught in GHGs on the way in. Howver, a large proportion of re-radiated heat is in those wavelengths, so gets caught on the way out. If you actually tried your bottle of air and bottle of CO2 experiment, I doubt you would be able to tell the difference in temperature.

In that post, you also say "The planet would be ice bound with out any CO2". Leaving aside biological effects, so looking only at greenhouse effects - I'm sorry, this is also wrong. You have to remember that CO2 is a very minor GHG. In fact, with one exception, all GHGs are very minor: the only one that matters is water vapour, which has far more greenhouse effect than all the rest put together. This is why the IPCC scare stories are entirely dependent on the gearing effect of water vapour. Even they admit that if you were to double the CO2 in the atmosphere, the direct increase in greenhouse warming, even assuming that all their assumptions are correct, would be only about 1C. The only way they could get scary numbers of 5C or more was by saying that the 1C of CO2 warming will lead to more water vapour, so more warming. Unfortunately, they stop at that point and don't look at the consequnces of more water vapour, of which the most obvious is more clouds, and more incoming solar radiation reflected back to space long before it ever hits the ground.
This is a general point about the IPCC types - they always try to ignore the obvious negative feedbacks.


And when you say "If we take the right actions not only could we stop the rise in green house gasses but we could also reverse them, making up for the increase in temperature of the sun, if it is in fact happening."
If you seriously think that fiddling at the margins with a minor GHG is going to have a measurable effect, then you really need to do a bit more research. Even the warmers admit that the effects of a full implmentation of Kyoto would barely be measurable.

You are also, with respect, somewhat naive when you say :
"we may as well develop the technologies to live without cheap fossil fuels now"
It is certainly true, but the only thing that will get us away from fossil fuels is when some clever person invents a way to store energy which is even vaguely aas efficient as a tank of hydrocarbons. This is not an engineering problem, it is a scientific probem - as in, no-one knows how to do it, and it is going to require some significant scientifc breakthroughs before it happens. Maybe the clever folks at MIT materials lab will do it with their nanotube ultracpacitor, maybe EEStor has already done it with their high purity dielectrics - I don't know. But we aren't there yet.
If the current hysteria woud lead to real R&D in this direction, then I might hold my nose and not complain. The trouble is, it won't - it will lead to all manner of tax-funded boondoggles that do absolutely nothing of use.
As an example, I went to a lecture at the Royal Society a few years ago that had the chairman of Shell happily blathering on about climate change and how Shell coud take the CO2 from power stations and pump it through their gas network into exhausted North Sea gas wells. What he didn't say, but was obviously thinking, was that this meant that he could delay, by a a couple of decades, his abandonment costs for the North Sea pipeline infrastructure and drilling rigs, and get paid a nice safe taxpayer funded revenue stream to boot. All for doing something that is a hell of a lot easier than his core business.
There will be lots of this sort of thing, and it will be money completely wasted.
(I don't understand why the greenies are so determined to blame the oil companies for scepticism; they are all going to get their snouts in the trough just like everyone else.)

Back in this post, you say:
"The program does have some lovely pictures showing how carbon dioxide traps the suns rays by seemingly bouncing them back to earth. Well that's wrong, what happens is that carbon dioxide absorbs more heat. It does not bounce it anywhere."
I'm sorry, again you need to study a bit more. Significant amounts of infrared radiation that are absorbed by GHGs are rapidly re-radiated at the same wave-length. To make life more complicated, it is radiated in a pretty much random direction, including straight back down towards the earth.

Regarding the mixing of CO2 in the atmosphere - air is constantly circulating vertically due to convection, which more than makes up for the additional molecular weight of the bigger GHGs. All these climatologists like to say that CO2 is a well-mixed gas, and assume that it is practically homogenous throughout the atmosphere. I'm not entirely convinced of this, but I don't have evidence to dispute it. (As an aside, it does strike me as odd that the CO2 measuring station that seems to be quoted most often is Mauna Loa in Hawaii - i.e., right next to a very active volcano.)

When you say :
"The natural environment both gives off and absorbs carbon dioxide. That is normal. It is in balance."
You should recall that it is a dynamic equilibrium, rather than a balance. That is, even without any anthropogenic contribution, the equilibrium is constantly moving and is probably almost never at any sort of exact "correct" level. (See again the CO2 levels in the pre-historic ice core data.)
The point is that the anthropogenic contribution is very small by comparison with the natural CO2 flux, and probably well within the error margin of the dynamic equilibrium.

Regarding solar effects, you should note that there are several different factors at play here. The obvious one is insolation (i.e. incoming solar radiation), the less obvious one which the program was talking about is magnetic field effects. The point here is that the solar magnetic field also varies over time, not necessarily in sync with radiation. When the solar magnetic field is strong, it shields us from incoming cosmic rays. The cosmic rays that get through to the atmosphere will increase cloudiness, and hence the amount of insolation that is relfected back to space before it ever hits the planet. (This isn't surprising: the traditional method of detecting radioactivity is with the use of cloud chambers.)
Incidentally, the earth's magnetic field has been getting weaker for more thana century, possibly leading up to a long overdue polar flip. I would have thought this could also be relevant, but I haven't yet found any analysis of it.

Dear me, I do blather on. Benedict, you need to get out and research this a bit more. Be warned: there is a lot of misdirection and misinformation out there, mainly from the warmers, in my view. Keep your critical thinking hat on, and come to your own conclusion.

Freddy said...

Re Ewan
"The idea that you can pile a large amount of something that absorbs energy from sunlight as heat into the atmosphere where there is copious sunlight and have it magically not get warmer is a total fantasy."

Oh, hell. Ewan, see long comment above - GHGs do not absorb significant amounts of sunlight. Also start studying negative feedbacks. Also look at how trivial is CO2's effect as a GHG by omparison with water vapour.

Freddy said...

Time, with respect to RealClimate, you should be aware that that site was specifically set up to try to defend a particularly bogus piece of pseudo-science called the hockey stick. Rather than clog up Benedict's blog any further, please see my comment at http://www.order-order.com/2007/03/climate-change-solar-sourced-or-carbon.html#c8505677861690114870 for a quick picture.

By all means read it, but please keep your bullshit detetors on.
In particular, be very careful when they dismiss a sceptic argument with a reference to "we disposed of this argument here(Link)", where the link is to another article on their site. Always go and read the link - you will frequently find that there is no counter-argument of any sort. Also, when you have identified a logical flaw in what they are saying, try posting a comment, and see if it get censored - they often do.
Note that the above is my experience of the place - do try it and see what you think.
You should also look at www.climateaudit.org , which was set up by Steve McIntyre to defend himself from the rather unpleasant attacks that RealClimate were launching at him over the hockey stick. It is now an extraordinarily wide-ranging and useful resource - and it doesn't censor difficult questions.

Freddy said...

That link in my previous post looks a bit manky - try this one.

Benedict White said...

Freddy: You are wrong.
With respect to the ice core data,
"1) The temperature rise was not caused by the CO2 rise, so it must have been caused by some other factor."

Yes, but that is in the past. It shows what we already know, temperatures rise and fall for a variety of reasons, but when temperatures do rise CO2 rises later. It does NOT say anything about what happens when you increase CO2 levels by other activity like burning fossil fuels.

"2) While the CO2 might have added to the warming effect, it cannot be by much. Once the external factor changed and temperature fell again, CO2 soon fell as well. Whatever is the additional warming effect of CO2, it is completely dominated by the other factor(s)."

Again this is historical information from a long time ago and does not say anything about what happens if you introduce CO2 that has been locked up underground for milenia.

"If you actually tried your bottle of air and bottle of CO2 experiment, I doubt you would be able to tell the difference in temperature."

I have tried it, why don't you?

"In fact, with one exception, all GHGs are very minor: the only one that matters is water vapour, which has far more greenhouse effect than all the rest put together."

Got a citation for that? Incedently I do take your point about negative feedback systems, which are mostly there (barring the positve longterm feedback of CO2 rise following a temperature rise with some large lag) and yes a lot of scaremongers do ignore the feedback to get scary numbers.

" Even the warmers admit that the effects of a full implmentation of Kyoto would barely be measurable."

Kyoto was an interim agreement.

"It is certainly true, but the only thing that will get us away from fossil fuels is when some clever person invents a way to store energy which is even vaguely aas efficient as a tank of hydrocarbons"

They have, it is a tank of hydrocarbons. It is merely a question of where you get them from, fossil based or renewable.

We spend a lot of time and money in Europe growing food we don't eat which we then dump on Africa screwing their agricultural economies, when we sould be growing our own fuel!

"Regarding the mixing of CO2 in the atmosphere - air is constantly circulating vertically due to convection, which more than makes up for the additional molecular weight of the bigger GHGs. All these climatologists like to say that CO2 is a well-mixed gas, and assume that it is practically homogenous throughout the atmosphere. I'm not entirely convinced of this, but I don't have evidence to dispute it."

Actually I am convinced it is not evenly mixed across the globe either, in fact satalite CO2 mapping shows it isn't.

"The point is that the anthropogenic contribution is very small by comparison with the natural CO2 flux, and probably well within the error margin of the dynamic equilibrium."

I take your point about a dynamic equelibrium rather than a balance, but the fact is co2 levels are risng. So have you got a source for the last part of your statement?

"Dear me, I do blather on. Benedict, "

Well, it is what the blogosphere is for, so feel free!

Freddy said...

Ice core records : you say
"this is historical information from a long time ago and does not say anything about what happens if you introduce CO2 that has been locked up underground for milenia."
I think we are talking past each other here, possibly because you are assuming a more stable natural system than am I.
Now that the warmers have given up on the hockey stick, they are back at the position of having to prove that any of the twentieth century warming is anything other than entirely natural, with the increasing CO2 as a consequence of that warming. Remember, the burden of proof is on them.
Off the top of my head, I could perhaps hypothesise that the current level of CO2 is precisely what it would be if humanity had never existed. Because we do exist, some of the CO2 in the air is anthropogenic; but if we didn't, then the balance of the natural flux would be such as to produce the same result.
No, I can't prove it - but I don't think you can disprove it.
As an aside, don't be totally certain that we know how much warming there has been over the 20th centure, or that the CO2 level now is significantly different from 100 years ago.
On the former, the awful Prof Jones of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia has consistently refused to release the data (which measuring sites he uses, what adjustments he is making for urban heat island effects) which would enable any other researcher to reproduce his work. In any real science, this would immediately be enough to have his entire body of work thrown on the scrap heap, but this is climatology, where anything is permittted if it fits the green agenda.
On the latter, there is a Polish professor called Jarowowski who is trying to show that the nice smooth growth in CO2 taken from ice cores for recent years is a complete fiction, and that there are plenty of people in Europe in the last hundred years who made direct measurements of CO2 levels and got wildly different results. I haven't seen his work yet, so I cannot vouch for it. I will say that I have always been highly suspicious of deriving atmospheric gas concentrations from microscopic ice bubbles.

Bottle experiment : you say
"I have tried it, why don't you?"
Because I'm lazy. Details please : how did you fill the CO2 bottle, what surface were the bottles sitting on, what was the temperature difference over time ?

Water vapour : you say
"Got a citation for that?"
No. In the couple of years that I have been looking at this, I don't recall seeing a proper peer-reviewed paper on the subject (which isn't to say that such does not exist). The range of estimates I have seen is 60% to 90% with the enthusiastic warmers at the bottom end and the sceptics at the higher end - hence the "more than all the others put together". The "lots" was deliberately vague because I don't know of a generally accepted precise number.
To be fair, this is partly a problem of definition. There is considerable overlap in absorption bands between different GHGs: if all the CO2 were to magically disappear, many of the infrared photons that would have been absorbed by them will be absorbed by water vapour instead.

Energy storage: you say
"They have, it is a tank of hydrocarbons. "
Heh, fair enough. But making hydrocarbons is horribly inefficient and expensive, which is why it is only done by people who have no access to fossil fuels.
The biofuels you refer to - these are just a way of storing solar energy. They strike me as a stunningly inefficient way of doing the job.

Error margin of the dynamic equilibrium: you say
"So have you got a source for the last part of your statement?"
No. You're right, I should be more specific: that was an opinion on my part. Given the "finger in the air" nature of most of these estimates of the natural flux, I feel justified.

Benedict, if you're interested in this stuff, I do recommend going over the back posts at www.climateaudit.org . You have some surprises in store.

Benedict White said...

Freddy, sorry for the delay getting back to you. I have been dealing with the sort of ivory tower nu lab type who seems to think that someone on low pay having to pay £4 or £5 per week tax is not a problem!

"Ice core records : you say
"this is historical information from a long time ago and does not say anything about what happens if you introduce CO2 that has been locked up underground for milenia."
I think we are talking past each other here, possibly because you are assuming a more stable natural system than am I."

Perhaps we are. The environment seems to exhibit reasonable short term stability, that is you do not expect noticeable change in less than a few hundred years. We appear to be going through a faster rate of change than we can see in the historical record.

"Now that the warmers have given up on the hockey stick, they are back at the position of having to prove that any of the twentieth century warming is anything other than entirely natural, with the increasing CO2 as a consequence of that warming. Remember, the burden of proof is on them."

Actually this is not a court of law, this is a one shot chance of making sure we don't muck up the planet and hence the precautionary principle applies.

As I have said, CO2 absorbs solar heat that otherwise would not be, so if you pump lots into the atmosphere, you are more likely than not to drive those levels up and hence retain more heat.

"Off the top of my head, I could perhaps hypothesise that the current level of CO2 is precisely what it would be if humanity had never existed. Because we do exist, some of the CO2 in the air is anthropogenic; but if we didn't, then the balance of the natural flux would be such as to produce the same result.
No, I can't prove it - but I don't think you can disprove it."

There have been times when CO2 has been higher and lower, the question is would it be higher or lower now but for our intervention? I think you would have a hard time arguing that we make no difference.

Re your comments on Prof Jones of the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, Yes you are right. That said I don't know what he has said.

"Bottle experiment : you say
"I have tried it, why don't you?"
Because I'm lazy. Details please : how did you fill the CO2 bottle, what surface were the bottles sitting on, what was the temperature difference over time ?"

*cough* I'll fess up, I have seen it done, and in principle the surface does not matter as long as they are the same. You will with any source of CO2, like a soda siphon or a quick bicycle tyre inflater.

two identical bottles in the same place. Should take between 5 and 10 minutes to see a very significant difference.

On the CO2 in ice bubbles, fair enough. More research needed.

"The biofuels you refer to - these are just a way of storing solar energy. They strike me as a stunningly inefficient way of doing the job."

Well, no, because although they turn low amounts of solar into energy it is very compact energy and there are lots of spin offs, like feeding oil seed cake to cattle to produce manure which can then be composted to produce methane for electricity generation of cleaning and feeding into the gas grid, and very good clean fertilizer. You also may get milk and or meat.

Larry Newman said...

It's all a total con. Can't believe a "conservative" would fall for it.