[Updated 8/26/2020 – Ed]
On July 4, 2019, the International Journal of Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences published my scientific paper, “Human CO2 Emissions have little Effect on Atmospheric CO2.“
Because it is easy to read even for non-scientists, I encourage you to download the free PDF of my paper here.
My paper’s 9000 plus words and 17 figures explain much more about why human CO2 does not change climate than I can explain in this short article. If you do not understand the few math equations in my paper, just read the English and you will still understand my paper.
My paper supports Hermann Harde’s paper, published a few weeks before my paper, as well as the excellent book and videos by Murry Salby, and the papers from other authors who have worked to explain this core message:
Human CO2 makes an insignificant increase in the natural level of atmospheric CO2 and, therefore, nature, not human CO2, is responsible for changing the climate.
You can download Harde’s paper here:
The alarmist climate theory fails the scientific method.
Climate alarmists claim human CO2 emissions cause dangerous climate change. They believe a warmer planet causes bad things to happen. Therefore, they say, we must severely reduce human CO2 emissions to save the planet. They say it is a “climate emergency.”
Their problem is they have not checked the science. Science shows there is no reason to restrict our CO2 emissions.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) climate alarmist theory is wrong because it assumes nature treats human CO2 differently than it treats natural CO2. This is impossible because human and natural CO2 molecules are identical.
In contrast, a simple physics model (that should be taught in all schools and universities – but isn’t) shows how both natural and human CO2 flow through the atmosphere. This physics model exactly replicates the carbon-14 data.
How CO2 flows through the atmosphere.
IPCC claims and much of the public believes, human emissions “add” CO2 to the atmosphere as garbage adds to a garbage dump. The truth is just the opposite.
Natural and human CO2 “flow through” the atmosphere. As CO2 flows through the atmosphere, it raises the level of atmospheric CO2 just enough so, from the perspective of the atmosphere, CO2 outflow equals CO2 inflow. Nature balances CO2 in the atmosphere when it sets outflow equal to inflow.
An analogy is how water in a river flows into a lake and then flows out over a dam. If the river inflow increases, the lake level increases until outflow over the dam equals inflow from the river. Thereafter, the water level remains constant so long as inflow remains constant. The river does not “add” water to the lake. Water “flows through” the lake and when outflow equals inflow, the level is constant.
Similarly, human and natural CO2 flow through the atmosphere. The inflow creates a balance level that remains constant so long as inflow remains constant.
How we know that human CO2 is insignificant to atmospheric CO2.
The physics model is the only valid model of how CO2 flows through the atmosphere. Therefore, we must look at the consequences of the physics model.
The physics model shows the ratio of human to natural CO2 in the inflow sets the ratio of human to natural CO2 in the atmosphere. The ratios are the same. This conclusion is not only a physics result, but it is also an intuitive result.
Since the ratio of human to natural CO2 in the inflow is less than 5 percent, then the ratio in the atmosphere is also less than 5 percent. Therefore, of the 410 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere today, human CO2 supports less than 20 ppm, and natural CO2 supports more than 390 ppm.
[Note 8/26/2020: my Preprint #3 applies the Physics model to the carbon cycle. These full carbon-cycle calculations show the human addition as of 2020 to be about 33 ppm. – Ed]
This proves natural CO2 inflow has increased since 1750 and now is responsible for about 390 ppm of the CO2 in the atmosphere. This contrasts with the IPCC invalid claim that human CO2 caused all the increase in atmospheric CO2 above 280 ppm or about 133 ppm.
Therefore, nature, not human CO2, caused most of the observed increase in atmospheric CO2. If all human CO2 emissions were stopped, and nature remained constant, then the level of CO2 in the atmosphere would decrease but never go below 392 ppm.
All attempts to legislate the reduction of human CO2 emissions in order to save the planet are delusions caused by the inability or refusal to understand science.
A conflict in the climate “skeptics” community.
Real scientists in the climate skeptic community explain why human CO2 is not the dominant cause of the rise in atmospheric CO2. But some in the skeptic community still argue that human CO2 caused all the CO2 increase above 280 ppm and therefore “human CO2 saved the planet by providing more CO2 for plants.”
To be clear, I agree that more CO2 is good for plant growth. But that statement is unrelated to how much human CO2 caused atmospheric CO2 to increase since 1750.
While it is valid to argue that more CO2 is good for plant growth, to argue that human CO2 caused all the CO2 increase above 280 ppm is not only incorrect but it gives strong political support to the alarmists.
To win the political war decisively, we must argue that IPCC’s core theory is false. This is a solid scientific argument that will win the political war.
To use the “CO2 is good” argument in politics is self defeating because, unless qualified, it implies IPCC’s invalid core theory is true. Politically, it is the equivalent of shooting ourselves in the foot.
The fact is we must thank Mother Nature, not human CO2, for most of the increase in atmospheric CO2.
I would like to offer some financial support for your project. Is there a page I can use to make a donation?
Thank you, Dave.
My new website, coming in a few months, will allow people like you to formally provide financial support to the effort to bring climate truth to the people. It will also have some rewards for those who provide financial support.
Trump recently reduced regulation on methane I am wondering if you, or anyone reading this, has any material good material on methane that I can read to learn more about it? You helped me get over my fear about CO2! Thank you!
I read one scientist that said, The effect that man made CO2 has on the on global Warming is about the same as going out in a Hurricane and Farting Twice. Do you agree?
I live on Lake Talquin 20 miles west of Tallahassee, When Michael was coming in to Panama City, 80 miles west of us. I went out on my deck and farted westward and Michael missed us by about 30 miles. I believe in the power of a fart more than I believe man-made CO2 in effecting our climate.
Most readers here understood this 10 years ago. The important thing is to stop wasting $capital On the wind and solar hoax. This paper should give pause to the regulators who have been approving the uneconomic and unsightly trash.
It is my understanding that all available IR radiation that CO2 can absorb is absorbed at much lower CO2 levels than exist today. More cannot absorb more than 100%.
See April 2014 issue of American Thinker.
It’s true that the optical depth of IR due to CO2 is much more than 1.
Because of this, the altitude at which the atmosphere becomes optically thin to IR is high, where the atmosphere is cold.
Adding more CO2 to the atmosphere raises the altitude at which the atmosphere becomes optically thin, meaning that the atmosphere is radiating like a colder blackbody at that altitude (Flux from a blackbody is proportional to T^4). So since at constant lower-atmosphere temperature, the flux would decrease (due to the colder temperature of the radiating surface) the lower-atmosphere temperature increases to bring the atmosphere to a hotter adiabat and to cause the total outgoing radiation to equal the total incoming radiation.
“The “CO2 is good” argument requires as its premise that human CO2 causes all the rise in atmospheric CO2 above 280 ppm. Therefore, those who argue that human CO2 saved the planet use IPCC’s invalid science to support their claim. So, these people are really on the side of the alarmists. ”
In my opinion, the message that “more CO2 is good” sits on good science and sound reasoning but the acceptance of humans being the source is in error. I have repeatedly pointed this out on several sites and am now seeing some commenters that agree with me. I think the resistance to understanding the source of the CO2 is because of its relatively new prominence as well as the strong effort to refute it. The “knowledge” that we are “polluting” our atmosphere is so widely proclaimed and accepted that it will be an uphill battle to get it changed.
Thank you for your comment. The problem was in the structure of my paragraph. So, I replaced the paragraph you quoted from with a paragraph that says what I intended to say.
Relying on beneficial aspects of CO2 is an argument that is defective and, once recognized, fatal. Were increasing CO2 due to the accumulation of human emissions, as has been assumed, then CO2 would eventually attain levels that are injurious, with any benefits replaced by damages. This is the basis of the Endangerment Finding, which is woefully
in need of repeal. Hence, the beneficial argument merely postpones the position
that’s already being argued: CO2 is dangerous and therefore a pollutant.
The beneficial argument cannot prevail.
There’s only one way to slay this dragon: Expose the truth.
“If we are to converse, let us first define our terms”-Voltaire.
That is how I usually introduce my argument.
Define “Global warming”. Although average temperatures are meaningless and the concept of an “annual average global temperature is impossible mathematically and thermodynamically, it is generally accepted that Earth is about 1.8 degrees warmer than the Little Ice Age. It is also accepted in most knowledgeable circles that the urban heat island effect on reported temperatures (not measured temperatures) is about 1.7 degrees. WHAT global warming???
Define “climate change”. Climate is a regional parameter. In order to determine change a metric is necessary There is no metric for climate other than a classification system. Very few, if any, regions have experienced a significant net change in climate classification in the past hundred years. WHAT climate change????
Define “greenhouse gas”. How is the planet’s atmosphere similar to a greenhouse, and in what way does it differ. There are NO similarities, and numerous differences. WHAT greenhouse gas is anything but a figment of the imagination.
And so on.
People I spoke with about ‘climate change’ have a quite different idea about ‘climate’, ergo, they do not understand that climate is a human concept. Therefore the environmental polution is used to get an idea what politicians c.s. mean with climate change. Even the average of temperature of the earth is accepted as a truth by academics and high professionals. Not to ask the question what is meant by a ‘change’. I’ve stopped discussion for a while and hopefully we can skate a few weeks the coming winters, then they will realize that all was phantasy of politicians c.s to get and hold political power; the last decade punishing automobile industry with billions of fines was only to show that they rule the world.
“[…] the Physics Model has only one hypothesis, that outflow is proportional to level”
Isn’t this the crux of the argument ? I haven’t seen a reference backing this point in your paper, my apologies if there is one I missed. Are you aware of any on ongoing research on this ?
Also, could there be a delay between the increase of level and increase of outflow? Given a sudden increase, we would therefore see the level pass well beyond the equilibrium level for some time before readjusting to equilibrium once outflow has increased to balance inflow. The ‘deamon’ trapping excess CO2 is then just the time delay required for outflow to adjust to inflow.
This approach would ‘reconcile’ both your model with the IPCC, showing that the IPCC would be correct on a ‘short’ transitional timeframe, while you are correct at equilibrium.
Yes, this is the crux of the argument, and it’s not true.
In fact, it’s possible for net outflow to *decrease* with increasing level, if at higher CO2 levels, the oceans can hold less CO2 and therefore start to emit more CO2 into the atmosphere and absorb less.
Eventually, CO2 levels would rise until a new equilibrium is established, but that new equilibrium could be far above the current levels.
As it turns out, so far, as CO2 levels have gone up, outflow has increased somewhat, but proportionally less than the inflow has gone up, which is why levels are still rising. Roughly half of the CO2 that has been emitted by humanity in the last 100 yrs has been taken up by Nature (largely in the ocean), and roughly the other half remains in the atmosphere.
The continuity equation (1) is a given. The one hypothesis (2) is the crux of the physics model. I emphasize this in the Abstract, Section 3.3, and the Conclusion. All other physics model equations are derived from (1) and (2).
My references include Harde and Salby. Both have used their version of (2). Perhaps different from them, I state (2) as a hypothesis subject to test and confirmation. I use the 14C data as confirmation. There is no on-going research that I am aware of. Nor is there any scientific opposition to this hypothesis.
Regarding delay, it depends upon how we define our system. In the real world, CO2 inflow changes with location and time. This means the level of CO2 in the atmosphere is a function of location and time. So, also is e-time a function of location and time. Therefore, we could construct an infinite number of scenarios. But at all locations, outflow will still equal (level / e-time) and there will be no delay. Outflow is an instantaneous function of local level and e-time.
For simplicity, let us assume the CO2 in the atmosphere is instantaneously well mixed and the absorbers are also well mixed. This means the e-time is the same for all locations. If e-time is constant or slowly changing, the level will not and cannot overshoot its balance level. The level will always approach its balance level exponentially according to e-time.
It e-time changes or inflow changes, then the balance level changes. No matter how the balance level changes, the level will continue to follow the balance level. If you change the balance level rapidly to the opposite side of the level, it may appear that there is an “overshoot”. But there is no overshoot. It is only that the balance level changed.
All these things I have explained are explanations of the equations shown in the physics model. They are not my “opinions”. They are the result of the physics model which is, in turn, the result of hypothesis (2).
The demon that traps human (not excess) CO2 is a property of the IPCC Bern model and there is no way to reconcile that with the physics model. The IPCC Bern model treats human and natural CO2 differently. The physics model treats them the same. That is the basic difference between the models.
Dear Dr. Ed,
Indeed this is the crux of the matter… and it is wrong.
Outflow = L / Te
only is right if there is only one influx and one outflux or if all fluxes are unidirectional, which is certainly not the case over the seasons.
During NH spring some 30 ppmv CO2 is absorbed by vegetation while in the same months 25 ppmv CO2 is released from the warming ocean surface. The net result is some +/- 5 ppmv global CO2 amplitude for a global temperature change of +/- 2 K.
As vegetation absorbs enormous quantities of CO2, even with dropping CO2 levels in the atmosphere, that is largely independent of the CO2 level (pressure) in the atmosphere and mainly temperature dependent. The same, but reverse for the ocean surface, where the seasonal release/absorption is practically independent of the CO2 pressure in the atmosphere (but the average and trend are) and mainly depends on the temperature of the seawater…
That is where your (and Harde’s) comparison with a river flow fails.
Physics (Henry’s law) shows that for a given temperature, there is a fixed ratio between a gas in the atmosphere above a liquid and the same gas in the liquid.
That ratio shifts with temperature. For CO2 in seawater, the shift is about 16 ppmv/K around the 14 C average ocean surface temperature.
That means that for the current average seawater temperature, the atmosphere and the ocean surface are in dynamic equilibrium at around 295 ppmv (~μatm), not 415 ppmv. It is the 120 ppmv difference between real CO2 pressure and equilibrium pressure which is what pushes CO2 into the oceans and vegetation, not the absolute pressure of 415 μatm. That decay rate of nearly 50 years is (near) completely independent of the residence time, as the latter is temperature dependent, not pressure dependent…
In addition to the second point in the above:
Even if there was (near) zero inflow from the oceans to the atmosphere, the ultimate level in the atmosphere would get 295 ppmv with (near) zero outflow. That is the result of only two points: the solubility of CO2 in seawater (its concentration) and temperature.
That is for a “static” single sample in a bottle as good as for a “static” ocean.
Of course, the oceans are not static, as a lot of CO2 is going in and out. Even so, the net result in equilibrium for a dynamic ocean is exactly the same as for a static sample.
If the pressure in the atmosphere increases, less CO2 is released by the warm (equatorial) ocean waters and more absorbed by the cold (polar) waters, or reverse for lower CO2 pressure in the atmosphere (*). In both cases leading to exactly the same CO2 level in the atmosphere for the average ocean surface temperature as for a single static sample at the same temperature…
(*) the exchange of CO2 between oceans and atmosphere is in direct ratio to the difference in partial CO2 pressure (pCO2) of the ocean waters and the pCO2 of the atmosphere. pCO2 in the atmosphere is the real pressure measured as μatm in wet air, about the same as ppmv, but ppmv is expressed in dry air, that means a few % difference.
See for a map of ocean surface – atmosphere pCO2 differences:
en next page for what that means as uptake/release per year.
It is my opinion that increases in CO2 in the atmosphere is the result of global warming — not the cause .
The sun is the ultimate source of heat and energy, that varies over time.
The solubility of CO2 in water decreases with any increase in temperature resulting in a vast amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere from the oceans, which are 75% of the earth’s surface.
If the ocean is the source of the increase in atmospheric CO2, then (1) why do you think the ocean is acidifying just like it would if it were absorbing some of the anthropogenic CO2, and (2) where do you think anthropogenic CO2 has gone?
The answers to your questions are rather obvious. So,
(1) Why do you think the ocean is “acidifying”?
(2) Where do you think human CO2 has gone?
Ed, you’re responding to my questions of Robert Davis by asking the same questions?
1. I am not sure what the ocean pH is, but I do know the reaction that occurs CO2 + H20 > H2CO3 > H+ + HCO3- This is a rapid reaction under the influence of carbonic anhydrase. You see the free proton once carbonic acid loses it. I have no idea if this reaction is of a serious consequence to the planet, but it occurs readily to buffer the pH in mammalian bloodstreams.
2. The CO2 builds plant biomass which is stimulated to grow faster under higher CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. Corn in the Midwest grows at an astonishing rate and is a notable sink for massive quantities of CO2. This earth has buffer systems to deal with CO2 changes; and lots of other changes for that matter.
Point 3. My brother lives in Big Fork.
Salby and Harde show how surface temperature changes the inflow of CO2 into the atmosphere. If surface temperature increases, the balance level of CO2 increases and vice-versa. The important result is CO2 follows temperature.
Clearly, most of the added inflow comes from the ocean surface. It is necessary for the CO2 in the ocean surface to increase, in order to increase the inflow of CO2 into the atmosphere.
Yes, the sun is the ultimate source of energy. Reflection from land and cloud cover reduces the energy that reaches the earth.
Yes, I am asking you the same questions because you should know the answers. All your comments indicate you think you know the answers. So, simply tell us your opinions. We have no time for games.
No games here, Ed. Robert Davis’s comment invites these very natural questions. I don’t know all answers, but for someone who believes that the ocean has been the source of CO2 level rises, it’s natural to wonder what where they believe the human CO2 has gone.
In the last century, humanity has emitted an amount of CO2 that, if it were all still in the atmosphere, would explain roughly twice the rise in concentration that has actually happened (if it were all still in the atmosphere, we’d be in the ballpark of a ~200ppm rise instead of in the ballpark of a ~100ppm rise in the last century).
My own understanding is that the ocean is acidifying because it’s absorbing some of this higher level of CO2. And approximately half of the CO2 amount that has been emitted by humanity has been absorbed by sinks in land and ocean (primarily ocean).
For someone who believes that the ocean has been a net source of CO2 to the atmosphere, I’m curious where Robert (and you, Ed?) think that the anthropogenic CO2 has gone.
Dear Don, Thank you for your extended comment.
Both natural and human CO2 emissions have increased since 1750. The physics model shows that natural emissions now increase atmospheric CO2 by about 392 ppm and human emissions increase CO2 by about an additional 18 ppm. This produces today’s total of about 410 ppm. The increased inflow of natural and human CO2 has gone primarily into plant life.
The proper and necessary way to object to the above conclusion is to prove the physics model is wrong and the IPCC model is correct.
The physics model requires the conclusion that warming and ocean circulation have increased CO2 in the ocean surface, and that in turn increased the inflow of natural CO2 into the atmosphere.
The proper way to object to the above conclusion is to show that Murry Salby is incorrect in his math that proves CO2 follows temperature. See references [19 – 22].
The physics model, the 14C data, and simple logic prove that half of all human CO2 emitted is not still in the atmosphere.
The proper way to show what I have written above is wrong, is to show the relevant sections in my paper are incorrect.
The big picture summary of my paper is (1) it proves the IPCC climate theory is wrong, (2) it proposes a physics model that explains the data, and (3) so far, no one has proved the physics model is wrong.
The door is now open for anyone to prove any of the above three claims is wrong.
Ed, the phrases “The physics model shows that” and “The physics model requires the conclusion…” do not describe how scientific models work. Models don’t *show* anything. A model makes predictions — that’s all. If we test its predictions in many circumstances and its predictions are accurate, our confidence that the model maps reasonably well onto the real world increases; if we test its predictions and they turn out to be mistaken, we learn that the model is not fully describing reality.
If we were in a situation where 1 model makes accurate predictions, and we could somehow prove that no other model could possibly make accurate predictions, then this 1 model would be the only viable way to explain the world, and your statements would be justified. But this is not the situation we’re in.
Your “physics model” assumes that outflow of CO2 is proportional to its level in the atmosphere and you show that this model is consistent with the evolution of C14 levels. But you don’t show that no other models are consistent with the evolution of C14 levels.
In short, other models *are* consistent with the evolution of C14 levels, and so we are not left in a situation where the only way to explain C14 levels is to assume that total CO2 outflow is proportional to its atmospheric abundance.
You are resorting to semantics when you dispute my comment because I use the word “show” to mean a mathematical consequence of the physics model. If it makes you happier, substitute the word “predicts” for my use of the word “show.”
Your description of the scientific method is close enough for government work but not up to the standards of a quality university class in philosophy of science. According to Einstein, Kemeny (who learned under Einstein), and Feynman, the key to science is “if your prediction is wrong, your theory is wrong.”
On that basis, I have proved the IPCC Bern model is wrong.
Then you make a logical error when you apply the criteria that we cannot accept a theory that explains the available data until we prove there is no other theory that also might explain the data. It is impossible to prove something you don’t know about does not exist. No one said Newton’s theory was invalid because he could not prove Einstein’s theory did not exist. No one claims we cannot accept Einstein’s theory because Einstein did not prove there were no alternative theories that explain the data. In conclusion, your irrational claim does not prove the physics model is wrong.
The only way we can treat unknowns in science is to recognize that science is never settled. Then, if a new theory comes along, we can test it.
But one theory cannot prove another theory is wrong. You can prove a theory is wrong only by showing it makes a wrong prediction or violates physics. If more than one theory explains the data, science says we should choose the theory that is the simplest (Occam’s Razor).
So, if you have a theory worth discussing, you are welcome to present it.
Ed, where I see you suggest that the “IPCC theory” is wrong, you say,
“IPCC theory assumes nature treats human CO2 differently than it treats natural CO2. Nature cannot perform such a feat. So the alarmist claims are impossible.”
Can you point to where the IPCC says that Nature treats human CO2 differently than it treats natural CO2?
You also say,
“IPCC theory cannot replicate the carbon-14 CO2 data. So, according to the scientific method, we must reject the IPCC theory.”
Can you point to where the IPCC makes a false prediction of carbon-14 CO2 data?
The answers to all your questions are in my paper.
So, in your next comment, please reference the sections of my paper that you wish to discuss.
Ed, in section 6.3, you write,
“Of course, nature is a “net carbon sink” because nature absorbs human CO2 emissions. However, absorption of human CO2 has no bearing whatsoever on how much natural CO2 flows into the atmosphere.”
A net carbon sink can’t be responsible for the increase in CO2 levels.
A simple accounting equation is
(*) L2 = L1 + EmittedByNature – AbsorbedByNature + EmittedByHumans
where L2 is the level at time2, L1 is the level at time1, and EmittedByNature, AbsorbedByNature, and EmittedByHumans are the amounts emitted and absorbed (by Nature and Humans) between time1 and time2.
Suppose time1 is 20 years ago and time2 is now. Since CO2 levels are higher now than they were 20 years ago, L2 > L1.
If Nature is a net sink of carbon, then AbsorbedByNature > EmittedByNature, or EmittedByNature – AbsorbedByNature is less than 0.
Let’s work our way through the terms on the righthand side of (*). We start at L1.
Then we add this negative quantity (EmittedByNature – AbsorbedByNature), which would contribute to making L2 less than L1.
Then we add EmittedByHumans, which is large enough to bring the total up to L2 which is greater than L1.
If Nature is a net sink of carbon, (NatureOutflow > NatureInflow), then Nature cannot be making the CO2 level rise.
Thank you for your challenge. To explain my answer, I will write your equations more simply. Please note that comment formatting does not allow space between the end of an equation and the equation number, like (1), so I added dots.
Let D = L2 – L1 = the change in level from time1 to time2. Then
D = Eh + En – An …..(1)
Where the subscripts refer to human and natural. We can rewrite (1) as follows:
D + An = Eh + En …..(2)
Finally, you need one more equation:
D >= 0 …..(3)
When Eh is > 0, (2) and (3) require:
An > En …..(4)
Thus, nature is a net absorber because it absorbs Eh.
However, these equations are not sufficient to force En to be constant. This can be easily seen by setting D = 0 in (2):
An = Eh + En …..(5)
En can increase without bound because An can also increase to satisfy (4).
It does not matter if D > 0 as in (2). An is free to increase to stay greater than En.
Therefore, En is free to increase and thereby increase atmospheric CO2.
Ed, happy to use your variable names…
I’m confused by this comment:
“When Eh is > 0, (2) and (3) require:
An > En (4)”
Without regard to physical quantities, just considering the mathematical structure of the equations, it’s possible that
D = 5
An = 3
En = 6
Eh = 2
This still produces
D + An = 5 + 3 = 8 = En + Eh = 6 + 2,
so it satisfies your (2)
And D = 5 ≥ 0, so it satisfies your (3)
And Eh = 2 > 0
But An is less than En, in violation of your (4), so it looks to me like (2) and (3) together with Eh > 0 do not require that An > En.
I don’t think that this is particularly critical to the overall scientific question we’re addressing, but I want to make sure I’m following your mathematical claims, and at this point I do not. Can you clarify?
It looks like the comments system doesn’t like the “less than” symbol, and therefore slightly corrupted my last comment. The end of my comment was supposed to read:
But An is less than En, in violation of your (4), so it looks to me like (2) and (3) together with Eh > 0 do not require that An > En.
I don’t think that this is particularly critical to the overall scientific question we’re addressing, but I want to make sure I’m following your mathematical claims, and at this point I do not. Can you clarify?
Dear Don, Your last two comments are correct. The “less than” symbol cannot be used in WordPress comments because WordPress thinks it is the beginning of a command rather than text.
You are also correct that my sentence after my (3) is not correct. Rather than “require” I should have written, “allow.”
One way to clarify the math is to set D = 0 in (2) to get:
An = Eh + En …….(6)
Then this “requires that An > En.
Your example shows what would happen if An became less than En, like if all vegetation died off. Then (2) shows that D would become large because the inflow of CO2 into the atmosphere could not be absorbed by vegetation. Thankfully, that scenario does not exist today.
Okay, I agree that the equations allow An > En.
I also agree that, in fact, An > En. This is the natural interpretation of “nature is a net sink”, and we both agree that this, is in fact, the case.
So: for the last century or so, each decade, Nature removes more CO2 from the atmosphere than it adds to the atmosphere, and yet the CO2 level in the atmosphere keeps increasing. It keeps increasing because the total amount of CO2 added to the atmosphere is greater than the total amount removed from the atmosphere each decade. The reason the total amount added is greater than the total amount removed is that Nature is not the only emitter — humanity is adding CO2 to the atmosphere as well — and humanity is (basically) not removing CO2 from the atmosphere (the amount removed by carbon capture, biochar, etc., is very small compared with the amount humanity emits).
So, An > En, but Eh >> Ah, and in total, En + Eh > An + Ah.
It seems that we agree on all this, is that right?
There is nothing in the equations above that justify your conclusion:
“It keeps increasing because the total amount of CO2 added to the atmosphere is greater than the total amount removed from the atmosphere each decade.”
By contrast, the equations above prove being a net absorber puts no constraint on natural CO2 emissions.
Let’s add a little more math. Notice that your first equation led to (1):
D = Eh + En – An
This is the same as my (1) in section 3.3:
dL/dt = Inflow – Outflow
Our equations are in units of ppm per year. Now I will write your (1) in a slightly different way:
D = (Enn – Ann) + (Eh – Anh) …………………………………. (7)
Where the first () on the right side represents the natural flow and the second () represents the human flow. Anh represents nature’s absorption of human emissions.
To make the physics and math even simpler, we can separate (7) into natural and human equations:
Dn = Enn – Ann ………………………………………………………. (7a)
Dh = Eh – Anh ………………………………………………………… (7b)
Where (7a) traces the flow of natural CO2 and (7b) traces the flow of human CO2. Since natural and human CO2 molecules are identical, they behave the same. Their e-time is the same. The An follow the same rules.
In the case of the physics model,
An = Level / e-time
where the level is the level of the component being considered: natural or human or the total.
Both equations are the same as my (1) of section 3.3, for which I wrote in section 3.2:
“The Physics Model applies independently and in total to all definitions of CO2, e.g., to human CO2, natural CO2, and their sums, and to 12CO2, 13CO2, and 14CO2, and their sums.”
“The Physics Model is complete. It is not necessary to add separate inflows for human and natural CO2 to the Physics Model. Just use a copy of the Physics Model for each CO2 definition desired.”
There is nothing in Eh or Anh of (7b) that limits Enn of (7a). While Anh means nature is a net absorber, this has no bearing on the magnitude of nature’s emissions, Enn.
So far as physics is concerned, some part of nature could have changed to produce the exact additional inflow of CO2 as human CO2 has caused. The fact that human CO2 comes from us humans has no bearing on the physics. The same amount or more of additional CO2 could result from a rise of water from the deep ocean or another natural process.
The physics is clear. Equations (7a) and (7b) require that the ratio of human to natural CO2 in the atmosphere equals the ratio of their inflows. This also means today’s natural CO2 adds about 392 ppm to the level of atmospheric CO2 and human CO2 adds about 18 ppm.
This means natural CO2 inflow has increased since 1750.
Hi Ed, I’d really like to nail down exactly where we disagree.
Do you agree that, in the last decade, there has been more total emission of CO2 into the atmosphere than total absorption of CO2 out of the atmosphere, and that this is why D > 0 (i.e., why the level has increased)?
Yes, the reason that D has increased is that net inflow was greater than the net outflow over the time period you defined. But that is an elementary conclusion and it does not address what is really occurring when CO2 flows into and out of the atmosphere.
My (1) is a rate equation and a continuity equation. It conserves CO2 molecules. If you integrate my (1) over time, then you find that the level has increased because the integration of (inflow minus outflow) is > 0.
You will understand your equation (1) better if you take the time derivative to turn your levels into rates, to be like my (1). Then you can set your dD/dt = 0, or dL/dt = 0. The proper physics focus on the CO2 flow problem is on balance levels set by inflows, and not on the change in balance levels.
Imagine water in a lake that flows out over a dam. We understand that the inflow sets a balance level. If the inflow remains constant, the level will move to the balance level where outflow equals inflow. Thereafter, continued constant inflow adds no more water to the lake.
We understand that the level initially rose because the inflow exceeded the outflow, but that consideration is secondary to the fact that it is the continued inflow that sets the lake level, even as the outflow equals the inflow.
Now suppose we add a second river’s inflow into the lake and the inflow of the second river is 5% of the total inflow. The lake rises a small amount that is just enough to make total outflow again equal to inflow. We do not say the level of the lake increased because the total inflow over a short period of time exceeded the outflow.
Although that would be true, it is the wrong focus. We say that continued inflow maintains the new lake level.
Now suppose we divert the first river, so it no longer enters the lake. The lake level will fall significantly until the outflow equals the inflow of the second river. Surprise, there was no irreversible accumulation.
If we consider only how net flow adds or subtracts from the level, we miss the point of the physics that shows why the level really rises and that it is reversible. We also may fall for the fiction, as you have, that the second river is responsible for all the increase in the level.
Suppose initially the first river was 50% of its future value. Then the second river would be 10 percent of the total (approx.). Then we come back later and find the lake is at a higher level because the first river inflow doubled.
Do we say that the river below the dam is a “net absorber” because it contains the water from the second river as well as from the first river? Well, we could.
Do we say that because the river below the dam is a “net absorber,” therefore the first river stayed at its original inflow of 50% and the second river caused all the “accumulation” of water in the lake? Obviously no!
But that is what you are doing with your mental view of how CO2 flows through the atmosphere. You did not begin your journey with physics. You began your journey with a point of view that nature is good, and human is bad, and therefore we bad humans with our insignificant CO2 emissions somehow caused all the rise in atmospheric CO2 since 1750. We neglect to recognize that our conclusion is impossible.
Maybe you can explain to me why you did not begin your journey with physics.
D is not a rate the way you defined it; D is an absolute difference in ppm. You wrote
“Let D = L2 – L1 = the change in level from time1 to time2.”
So, taking time1 as a decade ago and time2 as now, D is roughly 24ppm (roughly 411ppm minus roughly 387ppm) — which could also be expressed in gigatons of CO2, or any other appropriate units.
Do we agree on this?
You are correct that your D is in terms of levels rather than of rates. Looking back, I see I inadvertently introduced that error in my comment of Aug 17 at 9:30 am. Sorry.
Therefore, rather than write what would be a very confusing correction to my previous comment here, I decided to edit the first few paragraphs of my previous comment to make it more readable.
Okay cool, looks like we’re in agreement here.
So, D = (approximately) 24ppm over the last decade.
This means that Eh + En – An = 24ppm.
And En – An is less than 0, since nature is a net carbon sink. Concretely, En – An is roughly -21ppm, and Eh is roughly 45ppm.
Therefore, Nature has removed roughly 21ppm more CO2 from the atmosphere than it has added to the atmosphere, but humanity has added roughly 45ppm of CO2 to the atmosphere, which has resulted in a roughly 24ppm increase in atmospheric CO2 levels in the last decade.
(These numbers might be off by a few ppm, but they’re pretty close to accurate.)
Do we agree on this?
Let’s be more specific about what we agree on. A few comments back, I wrote:
To make the physics and math even simpler, we can separate (7) into natural and human equations:
Dn = Enn – Ann ………………………………………………………. (7a)
Dh = Eh – Anh ………………………………………………………… (7b)
So, also using approximate numbers, I get:
Dn = 22.8 = 1000 – 977.2
Dh = 1.2 = 44.0 – 42.8
D = 24 = 1044 – 1020
Ed, did you agree that the D=24ppm equals (En-An) + Eh, which are two terms that have values roughly -21ppm (for En-An) and 45ppm (for Eh)?
Using the approximate numbers for ten years in my comment, I get:
Dn = Enn – Ann = 22.8 …….. (you get -21)
Eh = 44 …….. (you get 45)
How can you justify getting -21 for Dn?
I’d really like to nail down agreement on the simplest possible accounting equation before introducing more complexity. I’m happy to pursue this conversation anywhere you want, but I think it will be more productive if we can find points of agreement and then introduce small perturbations to try to find new points of agreement or get really clear on where we disagree.
I’m happy to go with your Eh number of 44ppm. So if
D = 24ppm over the last decade (we agree on this, right?), and
Eh = 44ppm over the last decade (according to your last comment), and
D = Eh + (En-An) (which you agreed on several comments ago — essentially the same as your eq 1), then substitution yields
24ppm = 44ppm + (En-An),
which implies that
En – An = -20ppm
Does this all look correct to you?
We agree on the approximate numbers which are close enough for this discussion.
We disagree on how you use your numbers. To simulate reality we must put our numbers into separate equations:
Dn = Enn – Ann ……………………………………(7a)
Dh = Eh – Anh ……………………………………..(7b)
When you combine Ann and Anh into one An, you miss the physics and you can draw the wrong conclusion from your numbers. There is no justification for refusing to separate An into its two critical components.
I’m not refusing anything. Happy to go wherever this conversation goes. For now, just trying to go one step at a time.
So, I understand your last message as agreeing that (using approximate numbers)
En-An = -20ppm
Are we on the same page here?
That is correct. It is simple math.
So, in the last decade, Nature emitted the gigaton equivalent of 1000 ppm of CO2 into the atmosphere and absorbed the gigaton equivalent of 1020 ppm of CO2. Meanwhile, humanity emitted 44 ppm of CO2 into the atmosphere.
So, Nature removed more than it put in. And humanity put in more than it removed.
So Nature’s contribution to the delta is -20ppm, and humanity’s contribution to the delta is +44ppm.
We’ve agreed on all this so far. Given this, how do you justify the conclusion that Nature is responsible for the increase in level over the last decade?
For comparison, suppose if I have a joint bank account with a friend with a balance of $1000. Then, in the span of a year, and my friend puts in $100 and takes out $120, and meanwhile I put in $44 and take out nothing. My new balance is $1024. So I’ve contributed +$44 to the balance, and my friend has contributed -$20 to balance, and I think we’d both agree that the natural conclusion is that the balance has gone up because of what I’ve done, whereas my friend’s contributions tended to reduce the balance (but was more than canceled out by my own contributions).
I have already answered your question above, but you have ignored it. Your bank account analogy does not represent the underlying physics.
In short, you miss the point that CO2 that enters the atmosphere will flow out of the atmosphere. Inflows do not add to the CO2 in the atmosphere. Inflows only set balance levels (like the lake analogy I presented).
To properly describe the CO2 problem, you must formulate rate equations (as I do in my paper).
To repeat what I wrote above, if we put your numbers into their individual components, we can see what is occurring:
Dn = Enn – Ann ……………………………… (7a)
Dh = Eh – Anh ………………………………… (7b)
Dn = 22.8 = 1000 – 977.2
Dh = 1.2 = 44.0 – 42.8
D = 24 = 1044 – 1020
“So Nature’s contribution to the delta is -20ppm, and humanity’s contribution to the delta is +44ppm.”
Your claim is incorrect. Nature’s contribution to the delta is 22.8 and the human contribution is 1.2. If nature’s inflow had not increased, the human inflow would have increased the delta by only 1.2.
It is easy to prove your conclusion is incorrect by simply reversing the argument. Suppose we begin with only human CO2 and then add natural CO2. In that case, using your approach, we would claim natural CO2 caused ALL the increase in CO2. But that would be wrong because it would not include the increase in human CO2 that also occurred.
The only way you can assign all the increase to human CO2 is to claim that nature treats human and natural CO2 differently, as the IPCC does. Your claim assumes a higher percentage of human CO2 stays in the atmosphere than natural CO2 stays in the atmosphere. But nature treats natural and human CO2 the same, so their percentages will be the same.
Equations (7a) and (7b) properly treat natural and human CO2 the same. Natural CO2 contributes 95% and human CO2 contributes 5% to the overall balance level of CO2 in the atmosphere.
Dn is approximately 95% of the inflow. Dh is about 5%. Focus on the inflows. Over your 10-year period (it would be better to use a 1-year period), their inflows are 1000 and 44 respectfully. Their outflows are in the same ratios and their inflows.
Your added 24 ppm derives 95% from nature and 5% from human CO2 inflow. But you incorrectly claim that human inflow causes all the rise. You have neglected to account for the physics of the flows, which I have already described above.
I haven’t seen a place where the IPCC claims that Nature “treats human and natural CO2 differently”. If the citation"ation from the IPCC report was in your paper and I missed it, I apologize — would you mind pointing to it here?
* * *
Here’s another way to think of the issue —
In the last decade, the atmospheric level of CO2 has increased by an average of 2.4ppm per year. Unfortunately, we cannot run this controlled experiment, but pretend we could immediately shut off all fossil fuel/human inflow of CO2 to the atmosphere for a year. What do you think would be the atmospheric CO2 level at the end of the year? You could probably guess my answer if you want; but I’ll tell you my answer after you answer. Although we can’t run this experiment, I think seeing what each of us hypothesizes would happen will be clarifying.
Of course, the IPCC does not go around admitting it treats human and natural CO2 differently. But they make it clear in its reports. For example, open my reference .
Then look at the two figures on page 188. The IPCC says natural CO2 flow is balanced, outflow equals inflow. The IPCC also says human CO2 is not balanced.
My section 4.2 shows the Bern model which includes the IPCC details for human CO2 flow. The IPCC specifically excludes natural CO2 from following the Bern model. Thus, the IPCC model treats human and natural CO2 differently.
To answer your last question, the physics model is very clear: Human inflow increases the level by about 18 ppm. Turn it off and the level will decrease (in about a dozen years) to the natural level of about 392 ppm.
The annual decrease would be according to the e-time. This means the level will move 63% of the way to nature’s balance level in an e-time, or 4 years if e-time is 4 years.
Hi Ed, I see 4 panels (a through d) on page 188. Which 2 are you referring to?
Sorry. my comment refers to (a) and (b) of Fig 3.1.
Okay thank you for pointing that out.
I agree that’s a confusing image that does tend to give the impression that they think that Nature treats human CO2 differently from how it treats natural CO2. I don’t think that they actually think this, nor that it’s a tenet of their model, but I see how this figure gives that impression.
Happy to return to this, but first I want to address what you said would happen if we turned off human CO2.
I’m curious if your numbers are consistent with each other.
Suppose human CO2 shuts off immediately.
If the level drops exponentially toward a “balance level” 18ppm below the current level with an e-folding time of 4 years, then in the first year, it drops 18ppm * (1 – exp(-1/4)) = 4ppm.
On the other hand, using approximate numbers, natural emissions are 100ppm/year and natural absorption is 102ppm/year. If human CO2 shuts off, Nature doesn’t immediately know to change its emission or its absorption, so in the first year, Nature absorbs 2ppm more than it emits, and the CO2 level drops 2ppm.
So, my understanding of your model is that your model predicts two different things would happen in the first year after human CO2 emissions cease — CO2 levels would drop from 411ppm to 407ppm, and CO2 levels would drop from 411ppm to 409ppm.
Am I understanding your thoughts correctly?
In my answer to your question about how turning off human CO2 emissions would change atmospheric CO2, I assumed that natural CO2 emissions remain constant since you did not state otherwise.
The physics model does not predict what nature or human emissions will be in the following years. So, the most meaningful answer to your question is to compute only the effect of shutting off human CO2.
So I’m confused — what would the level be 1 year after shutting off the human CO2?
Your comment about exponentially relaxing (with an e-folding time of 4 years) toward a balance level 18 below the current level suggests that the level would go from 411ppm to 407ppm.
But the fact that emissions are at 100ppm/yr and absorption is at 102ppm/yr suggests that the level would go from 411ppm to 409ppm.
Which would it be?
If natural emissions are assumed constant (and e-time is constant) then nature will be at its balance level where outflow equals inflow. It is incorrect to claim nature’s absorption is greater than its emissions under that assumption.
Also, your question shows why we must separate nature’s absorption into natural and human components, as I suggested above. Then when we consider your scenario, we have only to consider the absorption of human CO2 from the atmosphere, or simply outflow of human CO2 which equals its level divided by e-time.
Hi Ed, the name is Don.
I’m understanding your answer as saying that the exponential decay is what would happen, and the level would be 407ppm after 1 year.
Is this inference correct?
(Sorry for the typo or slipup. I am totally focused on writing another document today.)
Yes, it would be 407 ppm using your numbers since I assumed nature stays constant. I did not calculate the 407 because I assume you calculated it correctly.
Gotcha, thank you.
I’m confused though —
Natural emission is 100ppm per year, and this by assumption wouldn’t change. Natural absorption is 102ppm per year, and by your hypothesis, this is proportional to level, so since the level initially remains what it currently is (411ppm), the natural absorption would remain 102ppm per year.
So in the first year after human emissions shut off, Nature would emit 100ppm of CO2 and absorb 102ppm of CO2, so D would be -2ppm, and the new level would be 409ppm, not 407ppm.
OK, now I see what you are after. I will use the numbers that I apply, which may differ slightly from the scenario that you proposed at the beginning of this conversation.
The level is 392 for nature and 18 for human for a total of 410 ppm.
e-time is 4 years.
Natural inflow is 98 ppm/year. Human inflow is 4.5 ppm/year.
Human emissions get turned off, so = zero.
Natural emissions stay constant at 98.
We are left with a level of 410 ppm and a new balance level of 392 ppm.
Nature will continue to absorb 392/4 = 98 ppm/year to balance its inflow.
Nature will also absorb 18/4 = 4.5 ppm/year initially, and this will decrease as the remaining human-caused level decreases.
Since Lb and Te are constants, we can use (8) to calculate how the level decreases from 410 to 392:
L(t) = Lb + (Lo – Lb) exp(– t/Te) (8)
L(t) = 392 + (410 – 392) exp(-t/4)
L(t) = 392 + 18 exp(-t/4)
You can do the math by plugging in the sequential years into t.
If you want to know outflow at any level, use (2)
Outflow = L / Te
where L = total level
Hi Ed, thanks for the reply.
Still trying to make sense of these numbers.
In the past decade, humans (fossil fuel & cement) emitted 44ppm (so averaged 4.4ppm/yr).
And in the past decade, Nature absorbed 20ppm more than it emitted (so averaged absorbing 2ppm/yr more than it emitted).
If Nature is emitting 98ppm/yr, and is absorbing 2ppm/yr more than it emits, then Nature is absorbing 100ppm/yr, right?
So in the first yr, wouldn’t Nature emit 98ppm and absorb 100ppm and have the level fall by 2ppm?
(Put differently, if Nature is absorbing 98ppm/yr + 4.4ppm/yr, then Nature is absorbing all that is emitted, and Nature is not a net sink.)
Curious your thoughts.
Looking back at my parenthetical “(Put differently, …)”, I see I misspoke. Nature would absolutely be a net sink if it’s absorbing (98+4.4)ppm/yr and emitting 98ppm/yr.
What I should have said was simply that if Nature is emitting 98ppm and absorbing (98+4.4)ppm then Nature is absorbing *all that is emitted* and the level isn’t rising any more.
But in the last decade, we’ve already agreed that Nature has absorbed less than the total emission, so we shouldn’t assume that if humanity turns off CO2 emissions that Nature’s absorption will suddenly increase (how would it know that it should?).
Okay, I realized what your perspective ought to be:
Let’s stipulate that the current level is 411ppm, the current emissions by humans are 4.5ppm/yr, and that outflow is proportional to level with a constant of proportionality of (1/4yrs).
Then your perspective would be that instantaneous outflow = 411ppm/4yrs = 102.75ppm/yr, and if natural inflow = outflow – 2ppm/yr (as has been the case for the last decade), then natural inflow = 100.75ppm/yr, and the balance level would be 403ppm.
So, if human CO2 were to instantaneously shut off, and if natural inflow were to remain constant, then in the next year, Nature would emit 100.75ppm and would absorb 102.75ppm, and so the level would fall by 2ppm from 411ppm to 409ppm. And in 4 years, the level would fall (1-1/e) of the way to the balance level of 403ppm.
* * *
Note that I don’t agree with this conclusion because I don’t agree with several premises (primarily that outflow is proportional to level with a constant of proportionality of (1/4yrs)), but I believe that what I wrote above is the natural conclusion of your perspective.
Dr. Ed…it seems you have an example of the effects of human produced CO2 being stopped almost completely. I assume the C14O2 from the open air nuclear testing stopped and the level fell along an isotopic dilution curve, as per your paper. Unless I missed something it seems a very persuasive proof that CO2 has achieved totally equality with all other sources of CO2 and lives a perfectly normal lifestyle with all the comings and goings of its life.
I appreciate all your efforts to make your website a source of scientific pondering on a very volatile topic.
Hi David, there are natural processes that absorb CO2 (in plants, in the ocean) and natural processes that release CO2 back to the atmosphere (from land/plants, from the ocean).
The “outflow” of CO2 from the atmosphere to the land/ocean reservoirs could be completely constant with level, and still the concentration of C14 CO2 would drop exponentially from its high-point after the mid-century nuclear tests. This is because C14 CO2 would preferentially be removed from the atmosphere and replaced by C12 CO2 until the C14 CO2 concentration in the atmosphere matched its concentration in the land/ocean reservoirs, thereby reducing the atmospheric C14 CO2 concentration.
Just because C14 CO2 levels drop exponentially with time doesn’t mean that total CO2 outflow is proportional to the total CO2 level. Again, the process described in the above paragraph (which would match the atmospheric C14 measurements) would happen even if total CO2 outflow were completely independent of total CO2 level.
In other words, just because a typical CO2 molecule in the atmosphere is replaced every 4 years doesn’t mean anything about the typical timescale for adjustment of the total level, given a perturbation to the total level.
Even more, as there is a timing problem with the 14C/12C ratio (and the 13C/12C ratio): what goes into the deep oceans is the current ratio (at a peak in 1960), what comes out of the deep oceans is the ratio of some 1,000 years ago, long before human or bomb influences…
That makes that what returned in 1960 as 12CO2 still was about 97.5% of what did go into the oceans, but what returned as 14CO2 was only 45%:
That also makes that the decay rate of a 14CO2 peak is at least 3 times faster than of a 12CO2 peak (around 50 years e-fold rate).
The flaw in your analysis that concludes human burning of fossil fuels is but a small part of CO2 increases comes at the very beginning when you separate the contributions of “human” and “natural “ sources. Think instead of “fixed” and “mobile “ carbon. A seam of coal in the ground has fixed carbon. It has been there for millennia causing no trouble. When coal is burned the carbon in the CO2 becomes mobile. As you note it doesn’t stay in the atmosphere more than several years, but when it is gobbled up by some plant it is only temporarily taken out of action. When a leaf dies and decays, CO2 gets back in the atmosphere. At this point you call it “natural” but the carbon in this natural cycle now includes carbon that was once fixed in that coal seam. It is now part of the mobile inventory of carbon and it got there because humans burned coal. Surely you must have wondered why your “natural” carbon just happened to track, roughly, output from fossil fuel consumption. Now you understand. And as the mobile inventory grows, being fed by human activities, we indeed have a human caused problem .
HI Don, My comment was directed at the claim from the IPCC that anthropogenic CO2 stays for a looonnnnggg time in the atmosphere while natural CO2 turns over faster. I am wondering about your statement that the C14 version of CO2 would be preferentially removed and replaced. How does that work? Wouldn’t any molecule of a given volume of CO2 be removed/replaced using the same isotopic dilution statistical decay formula. ( I may not be putting my thoughts in a clear narrative but I’ll try again if you don’t read my mind for the unclear writing)
The IPCC says a lot of things, and in a few places the phrasing is a bit confusing and it sounds like they’re saying something that’s wrong. The thing that’s wrong is that human CO2 spends a different amount of time in the atmosphere than natural CO2. Of course that’s not the case — Ed is correct about this, and despite their somewhat clumsy presentation in a few places, the IPCC does not actually believe this either.
All CO2 turns over pretty quickly. Within roughly 4 years, about 2/3 of the CO2 molecules in the atmosphere have gone into the land&ocean reservoirs, and roughly an equal amount of CO2 has come out of the reservoirs and gone into the atmosphere. Within roughly a decade, about 90% of the CO2 molecules in the atmosphere have gone into the reservoirs, and roughly an equal amount of CO2 has gone back into the atmosphere.
So, for simplicity, imagine an analogous problem. There are 2 barrels of marbles. Barrel A has 99,000 blue marbles. Barrel B has 900 blue marbles. Every time step, we take 250 marbles from A and move them to B, and 250 marbles from B and move them to A. In 4 time steps, roughly 2/3 of the original marbles in B have been moved to A. Now, after this process has been going on for a bit, we suddenly add 100 red marbles to B. We continue to move 250 random marbles from B to A and 250 random marbles from A to B every time step.
In total, there are 100,000 marbles, of which 100 are red. So, 0.1% of all marbles are red. The equilibrium level, when everything is well mixed, is for 0.1% of A (99 marbles) to be red and 0.1% of B (1 marble) to be red.
In the first time step after the red marbles are added to B, of the 250 random marbles that we gather from B to move to A, odds are that about 25 of them are red, and of the 250 that we gather from A to move to B, we know that none of them are red, since at this point barrel A consists only of blue marbles. So 1 timestep after we add the red marbles to B, B’s red count goes down to about 75 red marbles and 925 blue marbles.
In the second timestep after the red marbles are added to B, of the 250 random marbles that we gather from B to move to A, odds are that about 18.75 (call it 19) of them are red, and of the 250 that we gather from A to move to B, odds are that about 0.06 (call it 0) of them are red, so in 2 time steps after we add the red marbles to B, B’s red count goes down to about 56 red marbles and 944 blue marbles.
Note that in this example, the red marble concentration of B drops exponentially toward its equilibrium level, but the total number of marbles in B increased from 900 to 1000 and (by construction) there’s no movement back toward 900. inflow equals outflow at both 900 total marbles in B and at 1000 total marbles in B.
The numbers in this toy example have something in common with the physics of CO2, although intentionally I’m not making the analogy overly tight. But the point is that the concentration of a subspecies that’s far out of equilibrium can fall exponentially toward an equilibrium level without implying anything about the evolution of the total level.
Dear Dr. Dave Andrews,
Thank you for your comment. You have described, what is in my opinion, the essential difference between the IPCC position and my paper. It turns out I am preparing a longer document to address the point that you have made. I will inform you when I have finished.
It will be more efficient to discuss your point after I make a new post that will focus on this subject.
Should I assume you think the human caused CO2 is the “problem” and the “problem” is that CO2 is the climate change driver? I ask because most of the comments have been about the origin and fate of CO2 in the atmosphere. I think the real issue is does/can CO2 control or cause climate change? What is your position on this?
It is not clear who you are addressing in your question. I think each person may have a different answer. All opinions are welcome on this website.
In my case, I support what is in my post. To put it simply, (a) the sun and ocean cycles control surface temperature, (b) the surface temperature controls the level of CO2, which is why CO2 has increased since 1800. (c) Human CO2 has very little effect on atmospheric CO2. (d) Atmospheric CO2 does not control the climate.
I have published one paper on this subject that addresses (c). I have more papers coming.
Be sure to also read the paper by Hermann Harde here.
I probably hit a wrong button somewhere but my intent was to ask Dave Andrews the question because of the word “problem” in the last line of his comments. It helps me to know the definition of words that are used ambiguously (at least to me).
The biggest flaw I see with your Physics Model, whereby you arrived at the conclusion, “of the 410 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere today, human CO2 supports less than 20 ppm, and natural CO2 supports more than 390 ppm,” is this is at direct odds with the proxy-reconstructions of past CO2 levels from the Medieval Warm Period (MWP), the Roman Warm Period (RWP), etc.
The assumption you’ve made is that today’s Current Warm Period (CWP) is roughly analogous to natural climate warming cycles like the MWP and RWP, where temperatures (and likely world-wide glacial and ice sheets masses) were similar to what we are experiencing today. The atmospheric CO2 levels should have been the “natural CO2” without any significant human CO2 component. Thus we should see atmospheric CO2 levels from 1,000 years (MWP) and 2,000 years ago (RWP) in the 390 to 400 ppm range in those reconstructions if your model is correct.
Law Dome Ice core (trapped air bubbles) measurements:
Law Dome CO2, CH4 and N2O ice core records extended to 2000 years BP
And DOE’s Berkley Labs summarizing the
and graphically here:
Stomata-derived CO2 estimates:
From a somewhat dated, but still largely unchallenged data, this web page nicely sums up stomata data. This stomata data puts an upper limit on CO2 levels during the Holocene at ~340 ppm before the start of the industrial era of large scale FF burning.
“Data from various stomata studies (ref. 10-20) show CO2 concentrations over the last 11,000 years varied between 260 and 340 ppm (average: 305 ppm). In contrast, the Dome C ice core record shows no significant variability and considerably lower overall CO2 levels (average: 270 ppm).”
(ref URL above and Figure 5 therein)
The bottom line is multiple lines of observational evidence do not support your “physics model” predictions of the ratios of additional CO2 during these warm climate phases. Your model produces 390 ppm is natural, but in neither the RWP or the MWP do find observational data to any level above 340 ppm. Th is +50 ppm over the several decades involved (so far) is within the best estimates of resolution for the stomata data, and is also not supported by any measurements in any ice core data set performed by multiple independent, international teams.
Your Physics Model doesn’t agree with the past CO2 measurements from similar, recent climatic warming periods, therefore it’s wrong.
Disclaimer: I do not think the Bern Model is even close to correct either. Multiple lines of evidence from more recent Earth observations (principally OCO-2 determined fluxes) suggest the basic assumptions in the Bern Model (and of NASA scientists) of Earthly carbon sinks and sources are deeply flawed.
Channeling my Feynman as every good scientist should:
“It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.” – Dr Richard Feynman
(In the observational world of Earth sciences, Feynman’s use of the word “experiment” from his work in particle physics is “multiple, independent observations from historical data” in this context.)
The only conclusion I can make of this is that CO2 is most likely not an important factor in either the past warm periods nor it is likely then an important (or even relevant) factor in the Current Warm Period of a warming Earth.
Joel, why do you conclude that CO2 is not an important or relevant factor in the current warm period?
Because multiple temperature reconstructions of the MWP and RWP strongly suggest global temps and abrupt climate changes then were similar to today, and there were NO millions of gas-guzzling SUVs or thousands of passenger jets spewing FF-derived CO2 into the atmosphere back then.
The Greenland Norse pastoral colonies of the 13th century still could not exist today. Same for the Chaco-culture high plateau maize agriculture Anasazi of the SW Colorado/NM region. The Thames River in London has yet to see the Winter Ice Festivals of the 17th Century, etc. Those warmer and colder climates were climate change events at their transitions, and of fully natural origin, that have no precedent in the modern records, a fact the Alarmists need the public to remain largely unaware of.
This is the basic reason Mann and his co-conspirators tried so earnestly to erase the LIA and the MWP in their “tree-mometer” paleo-reconstructions and associated hide-the-decline “tricks”. Those past natural climate change cycles destroy the CO2-in-control/CO2-control-knob argument.
So that after 4+ billion years of a dynamic, never-ending Earth climate heat balance-seeking equilibrium, atmospheric CO2 (within the range of 200 to 2000 ppm) is either unimportant/irrelevant to global climate, OR (aka, the non-denialist position) that the 2X-CO2 sensitivity (the “Charney sensitivity” or aka ECS) is so low due to system feedbacks (cloud variations, polar ice/albedo, mid-lat precipitation, etc) that the effective delta-CO2 climate sensitivity makes CO2 itself a minor factor.
This is the fundamental conclusion we should have for a IR-excitable, trace gas in the single digit per 10,000 parts change range.
With the low-sensitivity CO2 hypothesis, pCO2 becomes a 2nd or 3rd order climate effect, an effect that can be ignored based on the high “noise” (variability) of the other more significant factors (solar output and orbital insolation-driven variability, tectonic-driven hemispheric landmass-ocean ratios, the location of Antarctica at the southern pole, etc) over all time scales.
– We know that from glacial-to-intergalcial transitions of the Pleistocene, atmospheric CO2 levels lags global Temp changes by around 800 (+/-300) years. That is time scale of millennia.
– We know from the modern MLO CO2 record that strong El Ninos (warm Pacific water release) associates with a higher annual CO2 rate. Conversely, a strong La Nina (a cold water release) associates with lower annual CO2 increase rates. Thus from observation, we know ocean surface temps control delta CO2 rate on time scale of seasons and a few years.
So unless you are willing to reverse causality (that is, believe in effect before cause), delta-CO2 is irrelevant for understanding climate change at all time scales.
Thanks Joel. I agree that if temperature changes precede CO2 changes, it means that the initial changes in temperature were not caused by changes in CO2, no one could deny that. But the claim that CO2 can act as an important greenhouse gas is not a claim that CO2 is the only thing that influences temperature (no one claims that!).
The suggestion that CO2 is only a few parts per 10,000 implies that it can’t have an important influence on temperatures is mistaken. A few parts per million of cyanide will kill a person. Sometimes, trace chemicals can have an important influence. (I’m not saying that CO2 is the same as cyanide; I’m drawing an analogy) The IR properties of CO2 are well understood; even a relatively small amount of it can absorb a substantial amount of outgoing long wavelength radiation. Increasing the amount in the atmosphere increases the amount of IR radiation that is absorbed, slowing the cooling rate for a given temperature, requiring the temperature to increase in order to maintain a cooling rate that matches the solar heating.
Changes in CO2 have not _triggered_ many of the warming and cooling events in the last few hundred millennia, but it has amplified them. The orbital variations (Milankovitch cycles etc.) can kick off a change in temperature but are not energetically sufficient to cause the amplitude of temperature swings that we see. CO2 has piggybacked on other triggers to cause larger temperature swings. What would be small temperature changes on a planet that lacks the CO2 positive feedback loop turn into larger temperature changes because the increased CO2 that is caused by higher temperatures leads to even more warming.
This positive feedback loop will bite us hard in coming years. The current warming isn’t triggered by orbital changes; it’s triggered by CO2. However, the warming temperatures will lead to even higher CO2 levels, which will eventually accelerate warming if we don’t get emissions under control.
– If positive feedback were dominate, then the Earth would have never escaped the PETM or similar Cretaceous hot periods. Clearly there exists dominate negative feedbacks within the global climate system that have preventing sustained runaway climate extremes.
– If all things were held equal (albedo, convection and precipitation rates, insolation, etc), then changing the GHG concentration would have an easy to quantify effect on the surface temperature of a standard atmosphere. Of all those other things are also constantly changing in in their own feedbacks in the real system.
– If anything, the fact that the Earth has been locked in a seemingly endless series Glacial Ice House cycles the past 3 million years ought to scare the hell out of rational scientists seeing as how we are overdue to return to the Freezer. But screaming about natural processes beyond humanity’s control doesn’t tend to bring home that next NSF grant.
As for this statement you made:
“The current warming isn’t triggered by orbital changes; it’s triggered by CO2. However, the warming temperatures will lead to even higher CO2 levels, which will eventually accelerate warming if we don’t get emissions under control.” There is some serious take-it-on-faith, hand-wavium going on there.
– The current warming is little different from the MWP. Why did the MWP happen with so little CO2 change?
– CO2 was increasing steadily from 1950 to 1976. Why did global temperatures fall during that period, with resulting glacial return warnings from scientists?
– How convenient it has been that the continuous satellite records of tropospheric temps (AMSU soundings) and polar ice coverage begins at the end of this 1950-1975 cooling period (starting at bottom of cycle).
– The role of the sun’s magnetic cycle and proposed “modern maximum” is still hotly debated and not at all “settled.” See:
“Unusual activity of the Sun during recent decades compared to the previous 11,000 years”, S.K. Solanki, et al. Nature,
and their related paper, “Can solar variability explain global warming since 1970?”, S.K. Solanki and N. A. Krivova, J GEOPHY RES, Vol. 108, NO. A5, 1200, doi:10.1029/2002JA009753, 200. https://www2.mps.mpg.de/homes/natalie/PAPERS/warming.pdf.
Those solar papers stress the modern solar activity is not the dominant reason for the increase in global temps, but can only account for slightly less than 30% of the observed warming since 1970. But solar magnetic cycles are still a player. The Maunder Minimum tells us that most clearly.
So if we provisionally accept that a solar magnetic modern maximum can account for at most 30% of observed modern warming, and that internal ocean climate cycles can likely account for another 40% of the Global Mean Surface Temp (GMST) increase (based on the 1999-2015 hiatus where GMST failed to rise at significance), then that leaves only about a 30% attribution for the CO2 increases.
Together, this means that when all 3 of those influences (solar magnetic, ocean cycles, CO2) were aligned in the positive direction, as they were 1977 to 2002, we saw a large (alarming) global T increase. When they began to move out of alignment around 2000-2002, climate scientists began to “worry” about a GMST hiatus and its implications for their GHG climate modelling efforts. (That is, the GCM assume constant solar forcing, and cannot replicate the internal ocean cycles).
What this should tell us, with (1) the AMO now declining in its 30-38 year long descending node
(see Trenberth, Zhang, Rong on AMO here: https://climatedataguide.ucar.edu/climate-data/atlantic-multi-decadal-oscillation-amo ),
and (2) a more modest solar activity for the next few solar cycles, SC25 and 26 to about 2042, that the world and our political leadership should be preparing for a cooling phase for the next 30 years, rather than a sustained global warming.
Instead of promoting energy poverty and energy scarcity, we should be securing our energy future with nuclear and natural gas. And simple reality tells us there simply are no immediate viable large scale substitutes for our petroleum-based liquid fuels in transportation and agriculture.
– We should be spending more on food and energy systems resilience rather than wasting it on CO2 mitigation, a mitigation that is designed to bring energy scarcity to the world (except China and India, both of which reject external, politically imposed emissions limits for at least the next decade)
With that perspective, we should be thankful for whatever warming CO2 will provide, because it has historically always been the cooling climates that humanity has suffered the most disruptive events.
Joel, unfortunately, anthropogenic climate change will bring about catastrophe despite your soothing words.
“If positive feedback were dominate, then the Earth would have never escaped the PETM or similar Cretaceous hot periods. Clearly there exists dominate negative feedbacks within the global climate system that have preventing sustained runaway climate extremes.”
Yes, on longer timescales, there’s the carbonate-silicate cycle that acts as a thermostat for the planet. But CO2 levels have never in the last million years increased as quickly (or to as high a level) as they have now, and the carbonate-silicate cycle won’t save us for many hundreds to thousands of years.
I’m not going to go through your whole kitchen sink, but will point out a few things in what you wrote. You ask good questions, and they have answers.
“– The current warming is little different from the MWP. Why did the MWP happen with so little CO2 change?”
The Medieval Warm Period was less warm and warmed less quickly than today’s temperatures. AND, its causes are understood — higher than typical insolation, and lower than typical volcanic activity.
“– CO2 was increasing steadily from 1950 to 1976. Why did global temperatures fall during that period, with resulting glacial return warnings from scientists?”
Because of (1) increased aerosols after WWII and (2) increased volcanic activity. This explanation matches what’s observed in day-to-night temperature deltas (daytime highs were lower but nighttime lows kept climbing due to increasing CO2 during that epoch).
The suggestion that Big Gov’t Grant is responsible for getting scientists to dishonestly spread fear of anthropogenic global warming is really kind of silly.
Most of the “dangers” from CO2 comes from climate models which now already get (much) too high temperatures. See:
Theoretically, a doubling of CO2 (280 to 560 ppmv, at the end of this century) would increase the temperature with 1 degree C, the rest is from positive feedback’s like water vapor (but what about clouds?). If that was true, the largest increase would be in the upper troposphere of the tropics. It is just there that near all models fail…
Further, CO2 rises and drops with a lag after temperature changes. During a deglaciation, there is a huge overlap between the two, which allows modellers to give a huge effect of CO2 on temperature.
After the previous interglacial, there was a long period that CO2 remained high, while temperatures dropped to a new minimum and land ice sheets increased to a new maximum. After that, CO2 dropped with some 40 ppmv without clear effect on temperature or ice sheet volume:
That points to a low impact of CO2 on temperature…
a “Martian Attack” yet no mention of the 95% CO2 level on your planet!
Can this be a reason for changes
It is not for Doc to show no others are correct. It is expressly required that you prove your assertions. Doc has proven his. You must not hand wave statements like “1/2 of the human CO2 remains for 100 yrs”. There isn’t scientific support for that statement. I enjoy the banter but it is somewhat irrelevant as CO2 cannot “greenhouse” no matter how much you would wish it to.
Re Dons statement of rebuttal, “The suggestion that Big Gov’t Grant is responsible for getting scientists to dishonestly spread fear of anthropogenic global warming is really kind of silly.”
Whew, Don, Gov’t money is the basis for promoting AGW. It is impossible receive a grant unless you promote AGW. Every University is fighting for the money and unless the Depts toe the AGW line, they receive diddly. Research this and see if the ratio approaches infinity.
I am pleased to read your “Physics Method”. I am in complete agreement.
Straight out of Chemical Engineering Mass Transfer.
I have noted something strange on Google Scholar. I cannot get it to find Dr. Ed’s July 2019 paper. I can get Harde’s paper by entering “Hermann Harde, 2019”. Is it just me or is the search engine black listing this paper?
The Shadow Banning of the entire Internet is now in full swing and effect…as we move into this political year. Search Engines and Web Hosts…are removing as much counter Socialist information as possible, and this goes for anyone attempting to counter Climate Alarmist lies.
I have been shadow banned by AOL, just today. It is a secret ban on your comments, which allows YOU to see your own comments…but prevents them from being seen by ANYONE else.
We are now entering a Big Brother Internet controlled by evil people.
Hi, I understand the logic of your scientific argument, and it is compelling.
However what I may have overlooked in your hypothesis, is the mechanism for what appears to be an unusual natural rise in CO2 levels if you are correct (apart from the approx 20 ppm attributed to humans).
The current and previous warming and cooling cycles appear to be perfectly natural, and in line with the expected pattern of cycles (even if somewhat irregular).
But the CO2 level does seem to be higher than as measured by the ice cores for past cycles.
We know that warming oceans outgass more CO2, but that would also be true for similar temperatures in previous cycles, so why do the current temperatures appear to be pushing CO2 higher right now as opposed to previous cycles (excluding human output)?
I would be appreciative if you have the time to set me straight.
Dear Don Bocologist,
Let me remind you that after decades of accurate equatorial tropospheric temperature measurement both by radiosondes and satellites, that the temperature has not risen by the required .6 degree as the sensitive climate hypothesis demands.
My understanding is that there has been a slight cooling.
That being the case climate is not sensitive to the tiny amounts of CO2 humans are producing and therefore the most warming we can expect from human activities is the small amount relative to that CO2 output.
That is assuming it is not counterbalanced by increased albedo caused by more cloud formation, due to increased evaporation as a consequence of our small warming effect.
Additionally CO2 has a saturation effect on warming and I understand the atmosphere has used about 87 percent of CO2’s ability to warm at 415 ppm CO2.
Therefore based on the lack of climate sensitivity, and the rather limited ability to warm much more by CO2, it does not seem that CO2 is a real issue.
I myself think it was carefully chosen by the Club of Rome as the key to attacking and dismantling, modern western society, with the co operation of the naive but well meaning masses by creating a non existing crisis to which they would be encouraged to sacrifice their best interests on the alter of supposed public good.
Dear Don Bocologist, you are sooo politically naive, look at the amount of scientists who have lost their positions at universities and government institutions internationally because their honest peer reviewed and published work, indicated that in whole or part there were other possible explanations apart from co2 for current and previous warmings and coolings.
Look at the internationally coordinated campaign in the scientific and general media to prevent good quality alternative scientific views from becoming widely known.
This is no accident, in my own country and in the UK the national broadcaster ( who has a charter demanding honesty and integrity and a fair portrayal of all views) has simply become an outlet for anthropogenic warming propaganda.
In a recent Q & A program on the ABC a climate scientist blatantly lied about his views on the issue, denying the accuracy, of statements on climate issues made by another broadcaster on another commercial channel.
Fortunately the interview with that same scientist on the other broadcasters program still existed and demonstrated that he publicly, endorsed and strongly supported the views that a few months later on the ABC he said were unsupportable and completely wrong.
This is politics not science.
There is a clear international pattern here.
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