Why our CO2 emissions do not increase Atmosphere CO2: Part 2

by Edwin Berry, PhD, Atmospheric Physics, also published in NewsWithViews

Over 4000 people, including hundreds of scientists, read my article “Why our CO2 emissions do not increase Atmosphere CO2“. As I write this, there are 126 comments.

One well-respected scientist wrote to me:

Your article is (in my opinion) the BEST commentary yet that I’ve seen on this topic. I cannot see any way to shorten it. Your analogies are fantastic.

This article brings the (atmospheric physicist) scientific level of understanding down to the level of a 6th-grade education.

Just science, facts. No politics, no hysteria, and no hype. I love it.

I appreciate that comment because that is my writing goal. However, I have a scientific goal as well. That is to prove the arguments to support alarmist Claim #1, namely, that “Human CO2 emissions caused all or most of the observed rise in atmospheric CO2,” are wrong.

The discussion in the 112 comments shows I have proved by logic that their 4-step argument to prove Claim #1 is invalid. Also, I proved the arguments that use carbon isotopes to prove Claim #1 are wrong.

All alarmist arguments for Claim #1 include the classic mathematical error of having more unknowns than equations. Therefore …

There is no scientific basis to claim that human CO2 caused all or most of the increase in atmospheric CO2.

The comments by Icarus62 and my replies best illustrate the core of the debate:


It couldn’t be simpler: We’ve emitted twice as much CO2 since the preindustrial as remains in the atmosphere today. Therefore, nature had been a net sink of CO2 from the atmosphere over this period and we’re responsible for 100% of the 120ppm rise. Agreed? It cannot possibly be otherwise.


Dear Icarus62, Thank you again for your comment. “It could not be simpler,” said the Aztec priests. “We simply cut out beating hearts and roll heads down the temple steps … and it rains.” They all believed it.

What is missing? The scientific method and good physics are missing. You are using what Richard Feynman called Cargo Cult science.


  1. Anthropogenic sources have emitted ~2,000Gt of CO₂ since the preindustrial.
  2. Atmospheric concentration has risen by ~850Gt / 120ppm.
  3. The remaining ~1150Gt is no longer in the atmosphere – it has been sequestered by the land and oceans.
  4. Hence the land and oceans have been a net sink for atmospheric CO₂ over this period, and 100% of the 120ppm rise in atmospheric CO₂ is anthropogenic.

This proves your argument wrong. If you disagree, please let me know which of these four items you dispute, and why. Thanks…


Dear Icarus62, Thank you for your comment because it is directly on point. You have presented the key 4 steps of the standard argument that human CO2 caused 100% of the rise in atmospheric CO2.

They are the same 4 steps that I present and rebut in my article above. The 4 steps fail because of invalid wording in steps 3 and 4. The phrase “land AND oceans” should be “land OR oceans.” The fact that (land + oceans) is less than 0 does not prove (land is less than 0) AND (oceans is less than 0).

Land can be a net sink even while oceans can be a net source for atmospheric CO2. Therefore, step 4 is invalid.

The 4-step argument does not prove human CO2 drives atmospheric CO2. That is because there are other scenarios where oceans can drive atmospheric CO2, while still meeting all the constraints of steps 1-3 after the “and” in step 3 is changed to “or” as required by logic.

My Fig. 1 above is a scenario were land absorbs all the human CO2 while oceans absorb and much CO2 as they emit. In that scenario, atmospheric CO2 remains constant. Steps 1-3 (with the “or”) do not exclude this scenario.

A second scenario can be where land absorbs all human CO2 emissions while oceans add CO2 to the atmosphere. (Simply change the ocean input in Fig. 1 from 44 to 46.) Steps 1-3 (with the “or”) do not exclude this scenario.

As you can see, there are an infinite number of scenarios that prove the 4-step argument is wrong.

You are not the first to challenge me with this 4-step argument. Keith Pickering, writing for Peter Gleick and company, challenged me with the same 4 steps. Keith acknowledged that I would win if I could produce even one scenario that showed his argument wrong. I did and Keith provided no counter argument.


Your comment is not a valid rebuttal. I can replace “the land and oceans” with “the natural world” and the logic is still the same – it’s immaterial how that 1150Gt of anthropogenic CO₂ that is no longer in the atmosphere has been partitioned between land and oceans. The natural world (land + oceans) has been a net sink of CO₂ from the atmosphere since the preindustrial and there is no scenario in which we can be responsible for less than 100% of the 120ppm rise in atmospheric CO₂.

To take one of your scenarios as an example:

If the land had absorbed 2,000Gt CO₂ since the preindustrial, while the oceans had added ~850Gt to the atmosphere, the net natural change would be -1150Gt, i.e. a net sink. 100% of the 120ppm rise in atmospheric CO₂ would be due to us, because in the absence of our emissions, the natural world would have caused a decline to 130ppm, instead of the increase to 400ppm we have observed. Not a physically realistic scenario, but it does demonstrate why your argument is wrong.


Dear Icarus62, Thank you again for your comment.

You make an invalid assumption. You assume the “natural world” does not adjust to human input of CO2. Only a very small adjustment by the “natural world” will easily compensate for all human CO2 emissions.

If humans add CO2 to the atmosphere, land will absorb more CO2 and oceans will reduce their CO2 transfer to the atmosphere. That is because transfer rates are controlled by partial pressures of CO2.

Nothing in the 4-step argument excludes that ocean temperature can control the rate of change of atmospheric CO2. Since the 4-step argument cannot exclude this alternative, the 4-step argument is NOT proof that human CO2 caused all the rise in atmospheric CO2.

Further, the 4-step argument does not exclude the Fig. 1 alternative that shows atmospheric CO2 can remain constant if atmospheric CO2 is at equilibrium with ocean temperature. In Fig. 1, the “natural world” is a net sink but atmospheric CO2 remains constant.

Remember, to be proof, the 4-step argument must exclude all possible scenarios where atmospheric CO2 can remain constant in the presence of human CO2 emissions. The 4-step argument does not accomplish that proof.

The 4-step argument is a case of having more unknowns than equations. For example, if there were an equation that proved land and oceans emissions would not adjust to human CO2 emissions, then that would be sufficient to be a proof. But there is no such equation. So, the 4-step argument is based on an invalid assumption.


The ‘4-step argument’ explicitly states that the natural world has adjusted by absorbing around half of our CO₂ emissions, thus becoming a net sink. Any scenario in which we’re not responsible for 100% of the rise in atmospheric CO₂ is logically ruled out. I illustrated this with one of your scenarios above (land = -2000Gt, ocean = +850Gt, net natural change = -1150Gt CO₂, thus 100% of the 120ppm increase in atmospheric CO₂ is due to anthropogenic emissions, and none of it is due to nature).


Dear Icarus62, the 4-step argument incorrectly assumes the natural world absorbs only enough human CO2 emissions to account for the excess in its argument. That is illogical because it does not allow the natural world to absorb any more than this amount.

What physics would constrain the natural world to absorbing only enough human CO2 to support the unfounded alarmist hypothesis?

None! It is a hand-waving argument with no physical basis, and no support from the argument itself. If the natural world can absorb about half, the natural world can absorb all human CO2 emissions.

The 4-step argument assumes the natural world cannot absorb more CO2 than an amount specified in the assumption. And, lo and behold, the 4-step argument concludes its own assumption is correct. That is a perfect case of garbage in, garbage out. Sorry. That proves the 4-step argument is a religion and not a science.

The 4-step argument still has more unknowns than equations.


So, it seems you agree that the natural world has absorbed half of the anthropogenic CO₂ emissions since the pre-industrial, making it a net sink, as in your sample (though physically improbable and contradicted by the evidence) scenario above.

Given that the natural world is a net sink, all of the 120ppm rise in atmospheric CO₂ is anthropogenic. Logic does not permit of any alternative.

Your own scenario demonstrates this, where you imagine the land absorbing 2000Gt and the oceans emitting 850Gt, making the natural world a net sink, and meaning that the rise in atmospheric CO₂ can *only* be due to anthropogenic emissions. There is no other possible source to offset the natural net sink and raise atmospheric CO₂ by 120ppm.

QED, as I said before.


Dear Icarus62, thank you for your continued effort to prove your 4-step argument is valid. You help me make a better case that proves your 4-step argument is invalid.

To help you understand my point, I added an Appendix to my article above so I could show explicity another version of Fig. 1. Fig. 1 is a scenario were atmospheric CO2 can remain constant while human emissions are 4 units per year.

Fig. 4 is a scenario where we add 2 units to net Ocean emissions. In this scenario, Oceans supply a net of 2 units per year to the atmosphere while Land absorbs 4 units to equal Human CO2 emissions.

The 4-step argument that claims “human CO2 caused all the observed increase in atmospheric CO2” does not exclude this scenario. No data or physical equation exists to exclude this scenario. Therefore, the 4-step argument is inconclusive and invalid.

Therefore, there is no scientific basis to support the alarmists 4-step argument and its conclusion.

Until you or someone can produce real physical evidence that excludes all scenarios that contradict your 4-step conclusion, you have no case. No case and no QED.

Here is Fig. 4 from the referenced article:

John H:

Just to be clear. You think increased ocean temperatures have released all, or most, of the CO2 which upped atmospheric ppm from a relatively stable 280ppi for a couple of thousand years to the 400ppm we have now?


Dear John, yes.

Please see the Appendix that I just added above that adds Fig. 4. Fig. 4 is a scenario where Oceans supply the CO2 to increase Atmospheric CO2 while Land absorbs not only its own emissions but also Human emissions.

Remember, to make my point (according to the scientific method), I do not need to prove my Fig. 4 scenario is what occurs because there are an infinite number of such possible scenarios. I only need to show one possible scenario that the alarmist 4-step argument does not exclude, to prove the 4-step argument is invalid. I did that.

Also, please see my reply to the comment by Icarus62 today. Thanks.

In summary …

There is no scientific basis to claim that human CO2 caused all or most of the increase in atmospheric CO2.

My article references Murry Salby’s videos and book. My lake analogy conveys the same correct physics that Salby puts into differential equations.

Alarmists claim Salby’s calculations do not “conserve carbon.” They are wrong. Salby’s calculations conserve carbon, just as my lake example conserves water.

Alarmists claim I needed to included ocean acidification, land and ocean absorption limits, etc., to refute their hypothesis. My response is as follows:

  1. The alarmist hypothesis claims human CO2 causes all the observed rise in atmospheric CO2.
  2. The alarmist hypothesis includes only data on human CO2 emissions and atmospheric CO2.
  3. I showed their hypothesis fails by including all data in their hypothesis.
  4. I do not need to include data that alarmists did not use in their hypothesis.

There is no end to the illogic of climate alarmists.

What if we could do an experiment to prove whether human CO2 increases atmospheric CO2? 

We could stop all human CO2 emissions and see if atmospheric CO2 goes down. Fat chance of pulling off that experiment.

We could increase human CO2 emissions and see if atmospheric CO2 increased its slope – or rate of increase – as the alarmist hypothesis predicts.


  • If atmospheric CO2 increases its slope, the alarmists win.
  • If atmospheric CO2 does not increase its slope, the alarmists lose.

Well, we did that experiment. It is at the end of my article. Here it is again. 

After 2002, human CO2 emissions increased its slope by three times. At the end of 2012, human CO2 emissions were three times where they would have been if we continued “business as usual.”

Atmospheric CO2 scaled did not change its slope.

The alarmist hypothesis made an incorrect prediction. Therefore, the alarmist hypothesis is wrong.

Human CO2 emissions do not significantly increase atmospheric CO2. As the alarmists like to say, “the science is settled.”

Soon-to-be President Trump is correct. Our CO2 emissions do not cause global warming or climate change. We do not need to restrict our CO2 emissions.


  1. You have settled the science of CO2 to my satisfaction. The only thing man-made about climate change is the alarmist. Thank you.

  2. Dr Ed

    I just found and read Humlum et.al (Global and Planetary Change 100 (2013) 51–69) which is a through analysis of CO2 and temperature on annual time frame. It completely agrees with your analysis here. The conclusions are:

    There exist a clear phase relationship between changes of atmospheric

    CO2 and the different global temperature records, whether

    representing sea surface temperature, surface air temperature, or lower

    troposphere temperature, with changes in the amount of atmospheric

    CO2 always lagging behind corresponding changes in temperature.

    (1) The overall global temperature change sequence of events appears

    to be from 1) the ocean surface to 2) the land surface to

    3) the lower troposphere.

    (2) Changes in global atmospheric CO2 are lagging about 11–

    12 months behind changes in global sea surface temperature.

    (3) Changes in global atmospheric CO2 are lagging 9.5–10 months

    behind changes in global air surface temperature.

    (4) Changes in global atmospheric CO2 are lagging about 9 months

    behind changes in global lower troposphere temperature.

    (5) Changes in ocean temperatures appear to explain a substantial

    part of the observed changes in atmospheric CO2 since January


    (6) CO2 released from anthropogene sources apparently has little influence

    on the observed changes in atmospheric CO2, and

    changes in atmospheric CO2 are not tracking changes in human


    (7) On the time scale investigated, the overriding effect of large volcanic

    eruptions appears to be a reduction of atmospheric CO2,

    presumably due to the dominance of associated cooling effects

    from clouds associated with volcanic gases/aerosols and volcanic


    (8) Since at least 1980 changes in global temperature, and presumably

    especially southern ocean temperature, appear to represent

    a major control on changes in atmospheric CO2.

    Thought you might be interested.

      1. Dr. Ed

        The bottom link attempts to defeat Humlum using the diluted C12 argument that Salby demonstrated to be incorrect. I can't remember all the in and outs of Salby's argument but it made good sense to me when I watched it. Something about inverse production of C12 from natural sinks I think. I don't believe Salby's work has made it to print yet. Do you know of any other scientist that has reproduced his refutation of the "dilution smoking gun" argument and got it into publication?

        1. Dear DMA, Yes, I included the third link to Kern & Leuenberger because it is the only attempt to defeat Humlum but it does not succeed. K&L do not show Humlum is wrong. They only say "what if?"

          K&L have their scientific method reversed. Alarmists use the CO2 quantity argument as their primary case to claim human emissions cause all the increase in atmospheric CO2. The burden of proof is on the alarmists. It takes only one example to show their hypothesis is wrong.

          Humlem defeats the alarmist argument. K&L do nothing to show the Humlum made a mistake. So Humlum's argument stands and the alarmist case fails.

          Also, I and others defeat this alarmist argument in Part 1 of this discussion.

          Then K&L try to substitute the C12 argument, which is an admission that they have not shown Humlum to be wrong. We discussed the C12 argument in Part 1. I claim that my side easily defeated the C12 argument. Eric tried the C12 and C14 arguments but he was not able to show he had an equation to match all of the unknowns in those arguments. It was all hand-waving with no numbers.

  3. Dr. Ed

    Thank you for your quick, clear response and your fine web site.

    I hate to ask too many questions but have you seen Pat Franks error propagation analysis of the global Circulation Models? As a land surveyor I am familiar with error propagation and find his video very reasonable in denying any predictive value for the models we have been using. The modelers will have nothing of it and claim he is "out to lunch". I would appreciate your take on it if you have the time and inclination.


  4. Dear DMA, To do my PhD thesis (additional publications here), I had to thoroughly study Scarborough's "<a href="https://www.amazon.com/Numerical-Mathematical-Analysis-Sixth-Scarborough/dp/B0010KJL8G/ref=sr_1_12?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1486230493&sr=1-12&keywords=scarborough+numerical+analysis&quot; target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Numerical Mathematical Analysis." My thesis is still considered a breakthrough in numerical analysis as well as in cloud physics. With that background, I reviewed papers by Pat Frank so I could reply to your request. In general, Frank has a point. There should always be an error analysis for numerical calculations.

    First, Frank is wrong in one regard: we don't need to find the exact initial conditions. We need to do the calculation for a range of initial conditions. We need to test for the sensitivity to initial conditions. If our calculation converges to the same result for a realistic range of initial conditions, then we have a stable numerical calculation. If our calculation diverges with changes in initial conditions, we have an invalid numerical calculation.

    Second, every step in a numerical calculation will generate errors. A large part of the study of numerical analysis involves how to minimize these errors. At the same time, it is possible to calculate the likely error at each time step.

    Only a mathematician who is involved in climate model programming will know how much error the calculation produces. I assume those who run climate models must have people who look at this source of error and they should be able to tell us how much error is likely.

    In my opinion, I do not think numerical errors are the biggest concern we should have about climate models. I think our biggest concern should be whether the models have used the right physics and numerical formulas.

    The alarmists have reversed cause and effect when they claim CO2 drives temperature. It is likely they have inserted the same error in physics into their models.

    David Evans is an expert mathematician who has studied climate models. He <a href="http://sciencespeak.com/climate-basic.html&quot; target="_blank" rel="nofollow">concludes the models include serious mistakes in their design. He inserted proper methods of calculations into climate models and found his corrections caused the climate models to drastically reduce their predicted temperatures and more closely approximate observed data.

    1. Dear David, Thank you for the reference.

      You claim "real scientists" wrote the article you reference but there is no author to the article. Is that how "real scientists" do it?

      Further, unless someone can show my post in Part 1 in incorrect, then I have proved the article you referenced is wrong. No wonder no one wants to add their name to it.

      Sorry, David, you have proven once again that you are not a "real scientist."

    1. Dear Jan,

      Thank you for your very interesting presentation. You conclusions leave room for Salby's hypothesis to be correct. Does your article negate the hypothesis that CO2 drives temperature?


      1. In my assumptions about global temperature CO2 doesn't come in to it.

        I would refer to Murry Salby, Henrik Svensmark ans also David Avans, for that issue.

        But the question would be of no consequence, once it could be established that human emissions are not the driver of atmospheric CO2.

        The issue would return to be a purely scientific one.

        Activists, greedy vultures and politicians would have to start looking for something else to torture our minds with, and fill their pockets.

        1. David, Academia kicked out Salby because academia and what you call the "scientific community" does not support real science.

          Every comment you make, proves you don't understand science.

  5. Ed, until you published in respected peer reviewed journals, you will be completely ignored and just be seen as another blogger who can do no more than self-publish.

    Sorry, but that's how it goes. As a PhD, you should be well aware of this.

    1. David, As I said before, David, you are a circus bear who wears a funny hat and pedals his little bicycle from blog to blog to blog.

      The new book by Khvorostyanov and Curry, "Thermodynamics, Kinetics, and Microphysics of Clouds," references some of my professional papers. I don't see your name among the references.

      Also the 1975 book by Voloschuk and Sedunov, "Processes of Coagulation in Disperse Systems," references my work. But I guess you can't read Russian so you would not know.

  6. Salby. Tossed out of academia. No one takes him seriously. No one even tries to reproduce his results.

    I feel kind of sad for him.

    Who's paying him these days? And why?

    1. Appell, you have become nothing more than a gadfly.

      Why you have the need to post on this blog is a mystery.

    2. David, You hold up academia as the final word on climate science. What a moron you are. You use academia as an authority argument in your futile attempt to make your case. Of course, as Aristotle taught and you never learned, authority is not any basis for a scientific argument.

      It is sad that academia has lost its way in climate science. Academia has substituted politics for science. Academia discards good scientists and keeps losers, like you.

      You remind me of one of the circus bears in "The Bear that Wasn't." When asked if the bear outside the circus was a bear, the circus bears replied,

      "No. If he were a bear, he would not be outside with you. He would be in the circus, wearing a pointed hat, and riding a bicycle with us."

      Apple, you are a circus bear.

  7. Icarus62 wrote:

    "We’ve emitted twice as much CO2 since the preindustrial as remains in the atmosphere today. Therefore, nature had been a net sink of CO2 from the atmosphere over this period and we’re responsible."

    The planet has absorbed roughly 1/2 of the CO2 we've emitted.

    That's not a "net sink," it's a relative sink. If it were a "net sink," it would have absorbed all of what we emitted or more.

    There are no mysteries here whatsover.

  8. Wrong Ed. The article clearly says it is written by "eric." It's easy to find who RC means by that. If you can't figure that out, let me know.

    You are putting up false — obviously false — information here, pseudoscience, totally unsupported by any evidence. Then you're afraid to submit it to the real scientific process of peer review and publication. You just hide here on your little blog. I can't believe that's how you were taught to do science. Obviously it wasn't.

  9. I am a climate sceptic but an open minded one I hope, but I'm afraid that Icarus is correct. I accept your scenario that the warming oceans can be a source of CO2 whilst the land is a sink. However the land does not distinguish between manmade CO2 and natural CO2, it simlpy absorbs. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased, man has added CO2. The CO2 in the atmosphere must be greater because of mans contribution. It doesnt matter how you adjust the flows.

  10. Dear Alan,

    You are correct that land does not distinguish between human and natural CO2. It can't because there is no way to tell the difference.

    Regarding the relative contributions of human and natural CO2 emissions to the level of atmospheric CO2, human CO2 emissions are only 5 percent of nature's CO2 emissions.

    Therefore, simple physics says, at equilibrium, the human contribution to the level of atmospheric CO2 is only 5 percent of nature's contribution. And we are only about 4 years away from equilibrium. That makes the human contribution about 18 ppmv out of 400 ppmv. Nature is responsible for the remaining 382 ppmv.

    The IPCC assumes, incorrectly, that human CO2 emissions caused all the increase in atmospheric CO2 above the year 1750 level of 280 ppmv. The IPCC has abandoned physics.

    1. Hi Dr Ed,

      I am enjoying your blog and your clear way explaining the physics of the atmosphere. Thank you for your work.

      In the lake analogy, I think what trips people up is that the size of the lake is fixed, whereas atmospheric CO2 is increasing. Am I correct in saying that if we take the analogy further, the lake grows marginally in size when there is an increase in temperature?

  11. Dr. Ed,

    There are many holes in the "co2" AGW theory.

    Has any consideration been given to what affect cumulatively adding 8 billion heat producing people, along with their heat producing activities has had on regional temperatures?

    For example, we know that London is generally warmer than surrounding areas because of the UHI.

    The local UHI effect is a product of human activity. Nothing to do with atmospheric co2 . But it affects temperatures.

    It requires one to kick the alleged dubious co2 link out of the mind for a moment.

    The average human radiates about 100w, their cars and trucks run at ~90°c, then there's the heat generated (not the co2) from their requirements for heating, the same for their cooling, and, the list goes on and on.

    There might well be AGW, but it may have nothing to do with co2.

    Or is that heat I've described just too small to have been measured?


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