Climate Physics

Segalstad: Global warming dogma

by Tom V. Segalstad (1998)

A number of lifetimes and timescales are being used in both scientific and policy context to describe the behavior of heat-absorbing gases in the atmosphere. These concepts are very important for the discussion on whether anthropogenic CO2 will be accumulated in the atmosphere and exert an additional global “Greenhouse Effect” warming. If each CO2 molecule in the atmosphere has a short lifetime, it means that the CO2 molecules will be removed fast from the atmosphere to be absorbed in another reservoir.

The atmospheric residence time (i.e. lifetime; turnover time) of CO2 has been quantified based on measurements of natural radiocarbon (carbon-14) levels in the atmosphere and the ocean surface; the changes in those levels caused by anthropogenic effects, like “bomb carbon-14” added to the atmosphere by nuclear explosions; and the “Suess Effect” caused by the addition of old carbon-14-free CO2 from combustion of fossil fuels; and the application of gas exchange theory to rates determined for the inert radioactive gas radon-222. The results from these measurements are in Table 2, … in addition to the solubility data, and the carbon-13/carbon-12 mass-balance calculation. The last two recent methods give a lifetime of 5.4 years based on completely different methods.


  1. “The atmospheric CO2 is as important as oxygen for life on earth.”
    The first sentence of Tom Segalstad’s work.
    When ‘science’ is such an ass what must the unqualified think?
    It could be argued that if the atmospheric CO2 level were to triple it would still be good for the planet.
    Perhaps we should do away with the establishment trends and institutions and focus on de-radicalising the majority of the brainwashed public?
    How many times do you have to prove your point? You know, we know, they don’t know.

  2. Ed – Could you tell me what the definition of a graybody is? Are there any real-world objects that are actual graybodies?

  3. Like Essenhigh, Harde and Berry, Segalstad does not understand that the relatively short “residence times” (a decade or less) of carbon 14 put into the atmosphere (but not the ocean or land sinks) by atmospheric nuclear tests measures the MIXING of atmospheric carbon with carbon in the other sinks, not its REMOVAL from the carbon cycle. Segalstad also mocks the distinction made by other authors between isotope ratios and concentrations, showing that he, too, erroneously thought “Delta C14” was a measure of carbon concentration.

    After this posted 1998 Segalstad paper was written, the Heartland Institute, in 2008, posted a long commentary by Segalstad, in which he repeatedly praised and quoted from the paper by Essenhigh who, like Berry and Harde misinterpreted the C14 isotope ratios as concentrations. (see my paper which Ed has posted) If you make that mistake, you invariably come to the wrong conclusion about the persistence of anthropogenic carbon in the atmosphere. If you do not make that mistake, the carbon14 data show that new carbon injected into the atmosphere remains in the carbon cycle for at least many decades, and shows itself as an increase in the atmospheric concentration.

    I found an email address for Segalstad at the Natural History Museum in Oslo, and sent him a note calling attention to my paper. Unfortunately I got a response saying that he was no longer there, and had not left a forwarding address.

    1. Dear Dave,

      Thank you for the additional information about Segalstad.

      Neither your paper nor your arguments on this website show how 14C data indicates a long e-time. You are welcome to try again but please stop making incorrect claims until you can first produce an acceptable argument.

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