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Eliminating all Man-Made CO2 -- Earth gets Warmer?

Bob Ashworth's picture
Sr. VP

Mr. Ashworth is a chemical engineer and has presented over 50 technical papers on fuels and fuel related subjects. Relating to the subject of global warming, he has written two papers, "CFC...

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  • Feb 2, 2010

Do you realize that CO2 emissions created by man's activities, combustion of fuels, etc. (called anthropogenic emissions) is miniscule compared to the emissions of CO2 from nature? Table 1 was developed by the IPCC. It shows annual CO2 emissions to the atmosphere from both nature and man and how much of the CO2 emitted is re-absorbed by nature.

Using the table above in combination with a total concentration of 385 ppmv of CO2 seen in the atmosphere in January 2008, one sees that the increase in CO2 caused by all of man's activities amounted to only 11.5 ppmv. The amount of CO2 from man is a mouse milk quantity compared to nature's emissions. If we eliminated all anthropogenic CO2 emissions, we would go back to the level we had in January 2003. Oh yes, when it was warmer then than it is now. Isn't this the first thing one would look at when evaluating the effect of man-made CO2; that is if they had any common sense? It is clear that CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has nothing to do with the earth temperature. If there is an effect it is so small it is not worthy of discussion.

Global warming advocates say that CO2 builds up in the atmosphere over a 50 to 250 year period, but this is not true. Figure 1 below shows that the CO2 concentration oscillates based on the growing season in the Northern Hemisphere. The ratio of land to ocean in the Northern Hemisphere is about 1 to 1.5 and in the Southern Hemisphere is 1 to 4. Therefore, the Northern Hemisphere with much more land mass has a growing season that dominates the Southern Hemisphere growing season with respect to absorption of CO2.

Does a correlation exist between the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere and the earth's temperature? No! Does an increase in CO2 cause the earth's temperature to increase? No! Figure 1 below was developed by Joseph D'Aleo, certified meteorologist. Even a non-scientist can see there is absolutely no correlation between CO2 concentration in the atmosphere and the earth's temperature. If there were a correlation, they both would rise and fall together. The CO2 has been on a continuous upward trend - not true for the earth's temperature.

In Figure 1, each year around April, increased CO2 absorption by plants in the Northern Hemisphere starts reducing the CO2 in the atmosphere and the reduction continues until around mid to late August when plants start to go dormant. The cycles occur on a regular yearly basis and the swing in CO2 concentration is in the 5 to 8 ppmv range. If CO2 stayed in the atmosphere for long periods before being consumed, the season to season cyclic effect would not be seen. It is clear that nature reacts very fast in its consumption of carbon dioxide.

The atmospheric concentrations of CO2 were taken at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. Two sets of temperature measurements are shown, one set by NASA's Microwave Sounding Unit (MSU) for the troposphere and the other by the UK's Hadley Climate Research Unit for the land and sea. Both show declining temperatures over time even as CO2 has increased from 366 ppmv in January 1998 to 385 ppmv by January 2008. Note that the land-sea and lower troposphere temperatures in January 2008 were some 0.7 Degrees C cooler than in January 1998.

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Harry Valentine's picture
Harry Valentine on Feb 2, 2010
Excellent article Bob,

Unfortunately we have too many advisors to governments and government officials who regard themselves as being infallible, an honor once accorded only to the pope at the Vatican. So governments in several countries have committed themselves to expenditures in the $-billions aimed at carbon reduction. The power industry did much to reduce carbon emissions at times past and independently of state decree. The thermodynamic efficiency of thermal power stations has improved with the introduction of ultra-critical steam power . . . the improvement has appreciably reduced carbon emissions, however unnecessary. I've even come across a government-sponsored carbon reduction initiative where citizens are encouraged to invest in CFL lights, LED lights, more efficient air conditioners and refrigerators to reduce carbon emission in a region that receives only hydroelectric power.

Bob Amorosi's picture
Bob Amorosi on Feb 3, 2010

I believe you have revealed what is really going on with energy industry carbon emissions management and the whole AGW debate with your statement "government-sponsored carbon reduction initiative where citizens are encouraged to invest in CFL lights, LED lights, more efficient air conditioners and refrigerators to reduce carbon emission in a region that receives only hydroelectric power."

Carbon emissions reduction, indeed the whole global climate change debate, is being used by governments as an excuse to promote changes in public behaviors for reducing energy use, and also to make fossil fuel sources less economically viable. I submit that governments are actually being quite clever using carbon emissions reduction as one of the reasons because even if it is (proven to be) a false reason, they know the public is very passionate about the global climate change crisis. Getting the public to adopt these conservation and efficiency upgrade measures requires a widespread culture change with consumers, which would not normally be an easy thing to do effectively.

Malcolm Rawlingson's picture
Malcolm Rawlingson on Feb 3, 2010
I'd like to think Governments were that clever Bob...but they aren't. They do what is required for them to stay in office. No more no less. As for the public being passionate about climate change - I don't see many people giving up their nice comfortable cars to ride in crowded uncomfortable trains and standing on ice cold platforms in the wind to catch one.

Major highways in my neck of the woods are as crowded with people burning gasoline and diesel as they were before. Maybe they talk the talk but they sure do not walk the walk.

Real change happens when technology enables it. People will stop burning gas when there is a viable electric car that is as good as the gas alternative and cheaper to buy and operate. People will use public transit when it is as reliable and comfortable and convenient as their personal vehicle alternative. People do not want to ride in cattle trucks and pay a premium for doing so. That is why most people are prepared to wait in traffic jams rather than take the train. At least they are not jammed in a railcar with hundreds of others getting sneezed all over. The best possible way to get H1 N1 is take public transit.

So what we need is technology - not more stupid public policies.


Jack Ellis's picture
Jack Ellis on Feb 3, 2010
Bob and Harry,

I think you give governments too much credit for being clever. And you give consumers too much credit for caring about climate change if it costs them anything.

I can think of some very good reasons for changing the public's energy consumption habits. First, imported oil helps support regimes that are not particularly friendly. Drive your car and you support a despot. Second, coal is dangerous - to those who dig it out of the ground and those who have to breathe it's untreated effluent and those who have to live near the combustion waste piles. Third, even if shale gas reserves meet their promise, it appears getting the stuff out of the ground could endanger our health even more than mining and burning coal. Fourth, consuming the most desirable fossil fuels (light crude and natural gas) at current rates is not sustainable for more than a few decades, and it could take a lot longer than those few decades to develop and introduce substitutes.

Notice that I have not once mentioned CO2.

I don't think we have to force the public to make drastic changes in lifestyle, with the possible exception of making urban life a more attractive option than suburbia. However, when an air conditioning plant uses electricity to chill air at a constant and uncontrolled rate and then it uses more electricity to reheat that same air because the chillers that can't be throttled is producing more cold air than is required, well that's just wasteful and unnecessary. Similarly, when it's deemed more cost-effective to build another peaking plant instead of finding a way to install similarly priced distributed thermal storage for cooling, something's not right. Even pretty simple things can make a big difference. In the course of building a new home, we learned that $500 worth of labor and spray foam could reduce our winter heating bills by up to 33%. the payback period is less than a year.

Malcolm Rawlingson's picture
Malcolm Rawlingson on Feb 3, 2010
You make very good sense Jack. I am of the same opinion that real change occurs when it really saves people money...and that has nothing at all to do with CO2. In Toronto many buildings are cooled by cool water drawn from deep under Lake Ontario. This has reduced the air conditioning load for the city substantially. These types of initiative make sense because maintenance costs are less and of course electricity bills are substantially reduced for those owners that choose to be connected to the system.

The US imports quite a large chunk of its oil from Canada and I would not place Stephen Harper our Prime Minister in the category of despot - although I am sure some may argue otherwise.

Drive your car and support the Maple Leaf might be a better slogan.

But you are right saving energy should be viewed as an investment with a rate of return - and cut out the ideology.


Jim Beyer's picture
Jim Beyer on Feb 4, 2010
According the Joe Romm, the energy efficiency department of the DOE (under Clinton) was one of the only departments of gov't that directly made money for the country. For every dollar spent, they could realize several dollars in savings.

I can see there's quite a bit of dancing around the climate issue, because who wants yet another yelling match on that front? I know I don't.

I think both AGW advocates and critics agree on most things in terms of going forward, but some critics dispute the pragmatism of accepting AGW even if the ends might justify the means. I can appreciate this sentiment as well.

Perhaps we could agree that looking for efficiency gains is a good idea, as there is some low hanging fruit there. Since it just saves money for the consumer, it's hard to dispute.

Also, I think one could argue that reducing/displacing oil use is a good long term goal as well, given the problems associated with peak oil.

See? No CO2 mentioned here either.

Third, I think re-establishing our nuclear power program and getting some new nuclear power plants built is a good idea as well. I think as coal use increases, the (non-CO2) costs associated with coal use will only increase.

I can appreciate how skeptics of AGW can see how this whole thing can seem to be another mechanism of control by foreign officials in some world office. I couldn't agree more with that as well. That's an argument to get our country's in a mode where we use our own energy. This starts with displacing oil use. Our dependence on Mid-East oil has already caused more global problems (the ascendancy of radical Islam) than embracing the concerns of AGW ever will.

Bob Amorosi's picture
Bob Amorosi on Feb 4, 2010
Malcolm, Jack, and Jim,

Practically everything you guys say here is correct, I will agree with you. What Malcolm reveals about consumers not wanting to give up gasoline cars for trains or electric cars is that comfort and convenience has large value with consumers, a lot more value than the feel-good potential of generating less carbon emissions.

Giving up incandescent light bulbs for CFLs, or buying more efficient refrigerators and air conditioners are changes that don't sacrifice anywhere near as much comfort and convenience. What I am saying is there is potential (for governments or anyone else) to sell these sorts of things by tapping into consumers’ passions about climate change, knowing full well that consumers otherwise will typically wait until their existing appliances are reaching near end-of-service life. Granted if consumers could save a substantial amount of money doing these things, they don't need much extra motivation from other passions, consumers’ wallets are far more important.

(I started my electronics engineering career over 25 years ago designing microchips for a few years that go into hearing aids. I was astonished that hearing aids were so expensive yet they sell in mass numbers worldwide so well, often typically subsidized heavily in countries with publicly funded healthcare like Canada’s. This happens largely because hearing has tremendously high value to people, yet in spite of general public knowledge that long-term exposure to loud noise, like listening to rock concert level music, causes hearing damage later in life, consumers still do these things too because the value of entertainment wins out over health risks.)

Guys, when it comes to fostering changes in the public’s behaviors, particularly when it comes to buying into new products or buying into lifestyle changes, marketing messages can and do have a huge impact on effectively selling them. Technology alone does not normally sell itself, especially in its early stages, unless there are obviously significant savings to consumers’ wallets.

Bob Amorosi's picture
Bob Amorosi on Feb 4, 2010

"In the course of building a new home, we learned that $500 worth of labor and spray foam could reduce our winter heating bills by up to 33%. the payback period is less than a year."

This is a beautiful example of how marketing, or lack of it, influences consumers, in this case buyers of new homes. While your statement is correct and can save a consumer significant money over time, you have to ask why aren't more new home builders implementing this. Indeed why aren’t consumers generally aware of it.

New home builders don’t attempt to sell this extra foam and labor in spite of the fact they can potentially make a profit on it selling it as an "upgrade" to the house. Builders tend instead to make houses according to minimum code standards, then soak consumers for any upgrades the buyer asks for (100% cost markup is typical for a builder's upgrade profit). If they instead were to advertize it as a standard feature in their homes, they first commit themselves to putting it into every house even if some potential buyers don't want to pay for it, and secondly they lose out on the profit potential to offer it as an upgrade.

New home buyers in many cases won’t even ask for it simply because they don’t know about it, since builders generally don’t advertize all the myriad of upgrades possible when ordering a new house.

Len Gould's picture
Len Gould on Feb 4, 2010
Malcolm Rawlingson's picture
Malcolm Rawlingson on Feb 4, 2010
Good technology does sell itself. I write this on a Mac. I paid more than the average portable price for it because it IS good technology and it works beautifully well. I have a BlackBerry for the same reason. Great technology that helps me get more done. I have a Rogers stick that works just about anywhere I take it. My daughter in law has an Ipod which she adores because of its functionality. Energy technology is a harder sell but I am absolutely positive that if someone develops an electric car that is as comfortable, convenient, easy to maintain and cheap to run in ranges that are comparable to a gasoline vehicle they will sell by the millions.

Conversely garbage technology that does not REALLY work abounds and needs the hard sell and government incentives to make it attractive to wary customers. That;s why solar panels currently will never sell in significant numbers. Even the most technologically illiterate folks on the planet knows that its only going do do anything for you half the time. They do not work in the dark.

Good technology that does what it says and does it better and easier than the previous technology will indeed sell itself.

What we are short of is good technology in the energy business - not the fake stuff the so called "greens" keep trying to shove on us. Like mini flourscents that do not last anywhere close to what is claimed, cost 10 times the price and save you absolutely nothing and do not overall save any energy whatsoever. People are very wary of that sort of phony marketing.

People are probably careful about spraying foam into their new house as a result of the Urea Formaldehyde foam fiasco of the Federal Government some years ago. Another fake technology promoted by the greens who rapidly disowned it when they realized they made matters worse (as they often do).

Good technology is about as rare as common sense.



Bob Amorosi's picture
Bob Amorosi on Feb 5, 2010

Good technology will only sell itself in its later stages of commercialization. Consumers have been conditioned to be wary about ANYTHING new until it has a track record, in fact so have governments. Once a new technology becomes widely advertized and its merits become widely known for being good technology, then and only then I agree with you it tends to sell itself.

"Good technology is about as rare as common sense."

One's view of what is good and what is not, or what is common sense is often a highly personal opinion in general. For everything you are prepared to ridicule, I'll bet you can find 1000 consumers including ones that have higher education levels that will disagree with you.

A good example lately is Toyota cars. Hundreds of thousands of consumers buy them and thought they are among the best technology automobiles, yet many today are changing their minds about how good they are, all because of one tiny mechanical deficiency in gas pedal design that can be supposedly fixed with a tiny slab of cut stainless steel. To technically educated people like you Malcolm, such a deficiency wouldn't warrant condemnation of the whole Toyota brand, but the public's degraded “perception” of the Toyota brand is expected to cost Toyota potentially billions in lost sales. And by the way, didn’t I say marketing and publicity have a lot to do with public “perceptions”.

Malcolm Rawlingson's picture
Malcolm Rawlingson on Feb 5, 2010
Who said Toyotas were good technology Bob? Not me. Never owned one. Never will and glad I don't. Toyota is very good at convincing the gullible (including PhD recipients who likely know about as much about how the thing works as their pet poodles) that their technology is good when in fact it is the same as everyone else's. All Toyota cars run on otto cyle 4 stroke gas engines. Nothing new there.They CLAIM great mile per gallon. The FACT is they are about the same as most other cars on the road and many of their products are worse. Toyota is very good at manipulating public perceptions. Not so good at telling it like it is. This time they were caught with their pants down - it looks good on them.

It may seem like a "tiny mechanical deficiency" to you but thats is like saying Apollo 13 had a "tiny mechanical deficiency". It's not the size of the deficiency is it? It is the consequences of the deficiency. I am surprised that someone as educated as yourself cannot see the difference.

When your vehicle is accelerating uncontrollably into the rear of the vehicle in front I don't think the size of the deficiency really comes to mind. Or maybe you would just sit back and say thank goodness for Toyota airbag technology and pray it works better than the gas peddle.

Such omissions do indeed put the entire brand into question. Clearly these critical components were installed without adequate testing and quality assurance. If their QA was as good as they say this would have been found before the cars went in to full production. QA is a program vital to any manufacturing outfit and that program in Toyota is not working very well. The QA program affects all products they make not just one. Therefore if their QA is broken then yes absolutely I do question the ability of Toyota to make cars that are safe. These are major technical blunders - not tiny mechanical deficiencies.

To further illustrate the point Bob, it was a tiny technical deficiency that caused the space shuttle seals to fail that killed 7 astronauts. Nothing wrong with the other 99.99% of the space craft until after it exploded into a million pieces. A misaligned piece of rubber. It was a tiny piece of insulation - just happened to knock a hole in a critical component the heat shield - that caused the death of another set of astronauts.

The bottom line is Bob you can afford to make blunders in the paint or the seat cloth or the material on the dash board. With the gas pedal and the brakes and a few other vital components tiny technical deficiencies are just not permissible.

I don't ridicule Bob...I simply just tell the facts as they are. You may not like the truth of what I say because you seem to have been swayed by the marketers but that is up to your conscience not mine. Mini flourescent light bulbs use more energy to make than they save. The energy used to make them comes from coal in China where most are manufactured. I can give you the data if you would like. They do not last the 10 times longer than incandescent light bulbs that is emblazoned on most packaging - unless of course you leave them on 24 hours a day 7 days a week -which defeats the whole objective doesn't it. That is why I say they are not good technology...because they do not do what they say they do. They are sold as an energy saving device but they do not save energy. In the financial world that is called fraud.I don't think it is ridicule to state facts as politically incorrect as that may be.

There are many very good technologies that do not require "selling". MRI is another one that really did not require much marketng. The benefits were obvious from the outset. Electronic cameras is another. I just bought a new Canon EOS camera. Takes 1500 pictures of superb quality on a single chip that allows me to see the picture the instant it is taken. My previous camera used roll film and took just 36 and has to wait three days before I could see them.

Those are good technologies that have changed the landscape of their particular industries. Much of what I see in the "energy saving" world is not even close to that most of it rates as gimmicks.

As I said good technology is rare. Bad technology is plentiful.

Bob Amorosi's picture
Bob Amorosi on Feb 5, 2010
So Malcolm, I guess what you are really saying is that ANY tiny little design deficiencies are unacceptable if the consequences are potentially catastrophic. I get your point. It doesn't matter that 99.999%, or something in that ballpark, of all the Toyota vehicles on the road have never experienced a failing gas pedal, all it takes is a very small number of failures to damage the brand. I tend to agree with you on that. The public EXPECTS total flawlessness when it comes to safety.

Perhaps now you will understand why large nuclear power plants are viewed by so many as being an unacceptable safety risk. I can recall you saying many times on this website that the chances of nuclear power plant accidents are so extremely low it makes no sense to condemn them for safety concerns. However the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl disasters are still vividly remembered to this day around the world, so by your own logic about Toyota gas peddles, I think you get my point. Why should the public view nuclear plants any differently than many are now viewing Toyota cars.

Don’t get me wrong here, being a technical person I can live with small probabilities of failure. I wouldn’t have a big problem with driving a Toyota, or building more large nuclear plants, because I learned a long time ago that the mean-time-between failures for something that is very complex in design, or something that is mass produced in large numbers, is a statistical game where the chances of failures is NEVER absolutely zero.

Bob Amorosi's picture
Bob Amorosi on Feb 5, 2010
Furthermore, I have been talking mostly about marketing technology to consumers. MRI machines aren't sold to the public, and don't need much selling to be widely accepted by the professional health people that use them. Even so, I'll bet it took several years of testing them in small numbers of hospital labs before they became widely adopted.
Bob Amorosi's picture
Bob Amorosi on Feb 5, 2010
On the subject matter of this article, there is plenty of evidence to raise doubts about CO2 being a primary cause of global warming. I personally believe it is one of several factors causing the disruption of historical climate patterns we have been seeing over the past few decades. Be it warming or cooling, it doesn't really matter because significant climate disruptions, and many more extreme weather events we see now are ultimately catastrophic to civilization. The average person on the street or in the TV audience knows this, so most of the public is at the very least concerned about it. About the only thing the public views more importantly is the health of their pocketbooks and wallets.

It is also growing public knowledge that fossil fuels will likely become much more expensive to extract from the earth, and like the case of peak oil are likely to decline in production and rise substantially in price on average. When combined with the knowledge all fossil fuels are also responsible for man-made contributions to atmospheric CO2, small or otherwise, you have a recipe for two unstoppable trends;

a) the deliberate rigging of economic rules by government policymakers to make alternate energy sources more viable and oil less viable, and b) preying on the public’s passions to reduce man-made CO2 by getting us to change our energy use behaviors. The latter will be characterized by fostering new technologies to reduce energy uses with conservation and efficiency upgrades. The perceived economic benefits, particularly when it comes to electricity generation, is that the cheapest megawatt to build new generating capacity for is the megawatt the public is persuaded to avoid using in the first place.

Len Gould's picture
Len Gould on Feb 6, 2010
Malcolm. You shed most of your credibility when you toss around opinions as if they were facts.
Bob Amorosi's picture
Bob Amorosi on Feb 6, 2010
Len, you have been a firm believer in AGW and that C02 levels rising are very likely behind it. I am not anywhere near as infromed as you are, or as Jim Beyer is, but for myself and untold many others in Canada, it's hard to ignore the disappearing glaciers, unprecedented melting permafrost reported in the north, and the increasing retreat of the Arctic ice pack every summer now. This cannot be explained by anything BUT warming in the polar regions.

The issues in the article here are the numbers and whether rising CO2 levels have anything at all to do with warming. Is it possible we are seeing warming n the polar regions but greater cooling outside the polar regions such that over the entire globe there is net cooling going on. If this is possible, then in my books it still means widespread climate pattern disruption, which is just as bad as overall net warming.

I'm curious what your crystal ball is saying, being probably one of the best on the planet in my view.

Bob Amorosi's picture
Bob Amorosi on Feb 6, 2010
Len, Imagine for just a minute what would be possible for all consumers if your IMEUC reform proposals were implemented on a wide scale in our electricity grids. Consumers would have the ability to choose the electricity generator of their choice, all the time. It would be fascinating to see just how coal, nuclear, and renewable source generators would fare against each other, especially if say governments rewarded those generators with less or no carbon emissions.

It would help to expose just how much the public cares about the environment because many consumers would then have the capacity to vote with their wallets when they go shopping for electricity. In light of my opinion here, the renewable source generation people in principle should be extremely in favor of adopting IMEUC, whereas coal and nuclear generators would likely be against it.

The moral of my comment here is that your IMEUC proposals would not just open up true generator competition and be good for consumers, it would open up a pandora's box for vested interests in conventional electricity generation. Needless to say your IMEUC concept is bigger and potentially more revolutionary than anyone can imagine.

I wish I had a crystal ball like yours.

Len Gould's picture
Len Gould on Feb 7, 2010
Hi Bob. Just a minor re-direct. I'm not a believer in AGW, simply a believer in the science which as near as I can tell so far strongly indicates a potential risk of serious consequences of increasing earth atmosphere's CO2 levels. I've said many times, AGW may or may not turn out to be a seriously stupid experiment to make on the only spaceship we know of which can support our species, we just don't know yet EITHER WAY. And also, as near as I can tell, the ODDS of serious consequences for any individual are FAR higher than the odds of having your automobile do an uncontrolled acceleration. People are very erratic in their risk evaluation judjements.

Also thanks on IMEUC. I just wonder whether anyone else but you and me has even read the documents.

Malcolm Rawlingson's picture
Malcolm Rawlingson on Feb 7, 2010
Bob, I absolutely agree with you of course. In some systems a "tiny little deficiency" is indeed a serious matter and not quite so tiny when measured against the consequences the very point of what I was trying to say. Indeed this very thinking is at the heart of nuclear power design. We expect machines to go wrong since nothing, however well designed and tested, is flawless.

And you are quite right that there is no room for error in some critical components and in some critical technologies - nuclear power being one. But there are many other of course. Aircraft is another. Spacecraft another. In nuclear technology thereis never reliance on a single system or a single component and there are multiple back-ups. A nuclear power plant does not have one system for shutting down the reactor and keeping the fuel cool it has several and they are triplicated.

Of course none of this thinking appears in Toyota or any other car manufacturers products for that matter. Deaths on the road caused by various vehicle malfunctions and design flaws or not great but they are significant and many times greater than that of nuclear power plants. Strangely no-one calls for triplicated safety systems on cars.

Compared to operating a motor vehicle nuclear plants are infinitely safer. More people are killed on the roads of the USA every month than were killed at Chernobyl - but apparently that is OK.

The key point though Bob is that the "fly-by-wire" gas pedal introduced by Toyota appears to have missed some critical QA steps which is why their reputation is taking a beating just as Fords did when the tyres started to blow out on one of their models.

And I certainly do think the public expects flawless performance from the safety features of the cars that they buy.

And I do fully understand the expectation of the public when it comes to nuclear power plants. But of course it depends on which member opf the public you are talking about. If you go to any community with a nuclear power plant in their jurisdiction you will find that by far the majority consider them to be safe...which of course they are.

But I am sure if your public was drawn from other communities one may get a different answer. You will be interested I am sure on an upcoiming documentary "My Nuclear Neighbour" due to be aired on the CBC this Thursday. It will answer some of your questions about how safe nuclear p;lants are. (Much much safer than driving a vehicle - even a Toyota).

Thoughtful points Bob as always.

Malcolm Rawlingson's picture
Malcolm Rawlingson on Feb 7, 2010
Len,You lambaste me for sharing my opinions then follow up with a piece that is 100% Len's Opinion with not a fact to back it up. What are the probabilities on which you base your entirely subjective opinion?

One thing I agree with you on though is people judgements of risk are entirely subjective. Not only that everyone's perception of risk is different.

Most people place the risks of nuclear power very high. The risk is actually very low (Real data Len - not my opinion). They place the risk of dying as a result of smoking lower than the risks of nuclear power - it is the other way around.

So absolutely right peoples perception of risk has nothing to do with the probability actually associated with that risk. However if you are behind the wheel of a car that is accelerating out of control it really doesn't matter does it.

99.99% is irrelevant if you are the poor soul that gets stuck with the .01%.

But Len you shed most of your credibility when you toss around opinions on probabilities as if they were facts....please take a leaf out of your own book before you criticise others.


Len Gould's picture
Len Gould on Feb 7, 2010
I likely deserved that Malcolm. I shall need to get back to posting links to backup every word I post.

Climate change odds much worse than thought - MIT Press

"The new projections, published this month in the American Meteorological Society's Journal of Climate, indicate a median probability of surface warming of 5.2 degrees Celsius by 2100, with a 90% probability range of 3.5 to 7.4 degrees."

Len Gould's picture
Len Gould on Feb 7, 2010
BTW, +5.2 degC global will PROBABLY be quite catastrophic, esp. for tropical, dry and lowlying areas.
Paul Stevens's picture
Paul Stevens on Feb 8, 2010
I think the most significant part of the article appears in the first sentence. "The most comprehensive modeling yet carried out..."

In this case they added in expected economic activity and projected an outcome based on a "no change" scenario i.e. no allowance for techniological innovation, no change in expected birth rate, etc.

The article goes on to state "...the model does not fully incorporate other positive feedbacks that can occur, for example, if increased temperatures caused a large-scale melting of permafrost in arctic regions and subsequent release of large quantities of methane..." I assume it also doesn't take into account any suggestions that solar activity has been a much better indicator of climate change than CO2 concentrations.

They do include allowances for all of the volccanic activity in the 20th century that has masked warming that would have appeared except for the particulate matter thrown into the atmosphere. Which is news to me. I was unaware that all of this vocanic activity had such a large impact on temperatures and haven't seen references to it in other places.

Using computer models and their projections as proof of something, when the models don't consider cloud cover or cloud formation and when the feedbacks the model uses are numbers that the operators feed into the system seems meaningless.

Computer models are not a substitute for a theory of climate change that can explain warmer temperatures during Viking habitation of Greenland, the Roman optimum period and the Halocene Optimum. When a computer model has adequate parameters to model periods of our recent history when temperatures were higher than now, without higher CO2 concentrations, and when it can reflect the cooling that occurred with the "Little Ice Age," the subsequent recovery (our current century and a half warming period) and the 11 year long stoppage in warming that has occurred since 1998 as CO2 concentrations have continued climbing, then you might have something worth paying attention to.

Paul Stevens

Jim Beyer's picture
Jim Beyer on Feb 8, 2010
PSU clears Mann of 3 of 4 charges. Remaining charge still pending. Link
Ed Reid's picture
Ed Reid on Feb 8, 2010

To your earlier comment, I believe that Dr. Romm would have a very difficult time supporting his high opinion of EE's cost/benefit ratio based on DATA rather than projected results. I doubt he would bother to try.


Len Gould's picture
Len Gould on Feb 8, 2010
Paul - "Using computer models .... seems meaningless". ????
Jeff Presley's picture
Jeff Presley on Feb 8, 2010
Jim, that would be known as a whitewash exactly as I predicted exactly two months ago, or precisely when they beginning slathering on the white paint. lol

Of course if you don't like Fox News complaining about it, why not look back at the Collegian itself? It isn't six months yet, so I'm still not going to dive into this debate other than to reiterate previous points, such as self-investigative whitewashings. As the author above puts it, you wouldn't accept Exxon investigating ITSELF over the Valdez sinking now would you? Amazing how prejudicial blinders operate.

Len, so NOW you're an open-minded non-believer in AGW? Wow, I never thought I'd see the day. Perhaps you've accidentally clicked on some of the hundreds of links I've posted for you over the years and a seed of doubt is finally growing there between your ears. If so, great.

Len Gould's picture
Len Gould on Feb 8, 2010
No Jeff, I'm NOT and open-minded non-believer in AGW. Unlike most anti-agw'ers I take nothing in this issue on faith.
Len Gould's picture
Len Gould on Feb 8, 2010
And my position on this issue hasn't moved an inch due to your or the present authors attempts at scientific discussion.
Jim Beyer's picture
Jim Beyer on Feb 9, 2010

I can appreciate that not everything Joe Romm says is gospel. However, there is quite a bit of low hanging fruit with respect to energy efficiency (especially for some industrial processes) that can pay for themselves in 1-2 years. I don't think he was fibbing in this regard. I'm not talking CFLs. More like old equipment that had not been improved that was using up oodles of electricity or NG.


Yes, we have the 6 month agreement. I just wanted to get that information out there so you could say that it was a white wash. All part of the process. It looks like the only thing missing from this AGW conspiracy is Michael Mann on the grassy knoll.

Bob Ashworth's picture
Bob Ashworth on Feb 9, 2010
Science and philosophy in their purest forms are only searches for Truth. If not, it isn't science or philosophy, it is just someone's spin based on some hidden agenda they have. The data is there to analyze, analyze it yourself. I did and found AGW was a scam. I did that anaylsis a year or two ago and time has proved my analysis was a correct one. Every day there is new press releases showing the IPCC manipulations/lies; i.e. the Himalayan glaciers, the sea levels in the Netherlands, and the temperature measurement shenanigans.

This last one, John Coleman, Founder of the Weather Channel, discusses. Here is a short video he made in case you haven't seen it. It is worth watching.

Jim Beyer's picture
Jim Beyer on Feb 9, 2010
Much more amusing to watch, especially for Cheap Trick fans: Green Police
Jim Beyer's picture
Jim Beyer on Feb 9, 2010

I've done analysis myself as well and I don't think it's a scam. Most of the points brought up by AGW skeptics (like the water vapor issue that John Coleman leads off with) are explained by detailed information about the phenomena that the skeptics don't seem to want to take the trouble to understand. The experts (whose job it is to investigate this stuff) think there is something going on, but that can't be right (can it?) so the skeptics cry out "conspiracy!". If your mindset is based on a large conspiracy being in place, you are DELUSIONAL. There's no other way to put it.

Your paper above contains at least two factual errors that I haven't even bothered to comment on. (CO2 lifetime in the atmosphere and CO2 correlation with temperature). It's not worth it because when critiqued you either complain about being badgered or else bring up further points that I have to waste more time refuting.

I'm the first to admit that not everything is know about AGW. And the first to admit that the potential costs of changing our behavior is onerous. But I think most people reading this site also agree that we have too many people on the planet. As humans, we've been pretty clever at managing resources such that lots of people can live pretty well, but like an overdrawn investment bank, when things finally start to tip unfavorably, they can tip pretty fast. I think the skepticism about AGW is a denial of the reality that we are living in a resource constrained world. While most of this can accept this in theory, when the implications of the reality hits, its hard for some of us to accept it.

Look at it this way; we are in global peak oil NOW, yet Bob writes a rant about denying global warming. This is like complaining about a dirty salad fork in the main dining room of the Titanic. WAKE UP, PEOPLE!!!

Len Gould's picture
Len Gould on Feb 9, 2010
Like any other natural resource, earth's atmosphere as a waste dump is PROBABLY not unlimited as many would appear to have us believe.
Jeff Presley's picture
Jeff Presley on Feb 9, 2010
Len, your quote of 2/7/10 "I'm not a believer in AGW, simply a believer in the science ". First if asked under oath I would swear that you WERE a believer in AGW, due to your strident and sometimes hysterical statements supporting same. Therefore I added the open-minded part, but now see the same close-mindedness I've come to expect, return. I do suspect you're starting to hedge your bets on the off-chance these self-investigations accidentally uncover some actual dirt, or more likely we get another whistle-blowing person of conscience who can't stand the crapola anymore.

As to scientific discussion, I still fondly recall the hysterically IR funny photon taking a brownian walk through 60,000 feet of atmosphere. Does that count as science?

Jim, you don't want to wait 6 months do you? I TOLD you it would be a whitewash, I TOLD you WHY it would be a whitewash and you pretend conspiracy. So answer the question, do you have any problem with Chinese milk companies "investigating" tainted milk? RJR Reynolds "investigating" the hazards of smoking? Do I need to go on, or has your sarcasm limit been reached?

As to CO2 in the atmosphere for thousands of years (Albert Einstein Gore quote), I have one simple test. In 1945 we blew off several nuclear weapons and hundreds more since then in the atmosphere. Those weapons made massive quantities of carbon-14 CO2, which is trivial to detect. In fact it WAS detected and mapped and tracked continuously. Where is it today? Hint, NOT IN THE ATMOSPHERE!!! Quid est demonstratum.

But the climate "scientists" use "theories" and "models" to "predict" that it stays in the atmosphere for centuries and no one dares to say their emperor wears no clothes. Well, I dare.

Jim Beyer's picture
Jim Beyer on Feb 9, 2010

OK, let's keep it buttoned, as agreed. But I will just note that they only cleared him on 3 of the 4 points, so it wasn't quite a whitewash. Maybe a beigewash?

Don Stowers's picture
Don Stowers on Feb 9, 2010
Dr. Steven Chu recently was asked how he responds to people who tell him they don't "believe" in global warming. He answered that he responds with data -- not with words, and that the scientific data overwhelmingly prove that the earth is getting warmer, the Arctic ice cap is melting, that mountain glaciers are receding, and that sea levels have begun rising. Whether or not human beings have had a significant impact on climate change is still worth studying, but the most scientists -- especially climatologists -- have concluded that anthropogenic global warming is a fact. Most of those who disagree are politicians.

The Catholic Church once believed that the sun revolved around the earth, while Galileo knew that the reverse was true. Belief has nothing to do with science.

Len Gould's picture
Len Gould on Feb 9, 2010
Jeff: " I do suspect you're starting to hedge your bets on the off-chance these self-investigations accidentally uncover some actual dirt" -- Not a bit. My take on the issue hasn't changed in a long time. 1) I'm convinced that the science provides overwhelming evidence that modifying earth atmosphere's GHG content can, and has in the past had a, significantly effect on global average climate. 2) Human activities are increasing significantly GHG loads in earth's atmosphere. 3) IMHO all that remains to determine is exactly how much, but I'm convinced that the odds for real problems mostly for others outside my local vicinity, are too high to just blithely ignore the issue as you appear to recommend.
Len Gould's picture
Len Gould on Feb 9, 2010
And Jeff, 4) I'm still as always, convinced that brownian motion is an excellent analogy for how energy travels from earth's surface into the vacume of space. ( a) Brownian motion: Energy imparted to a molecule in a gas results in a velocity, whose size and direction is modified according to its collisions with other molecules with different energies, velocities and directions. The average distance travelled is the "mean free path" b) IR photons depart earth's surface in random directions and colide with air molecules, imparting their energy to the molecules, which then re-emit the energy in one or more packets of IR in random directions. How often this needs to occur before the energy packet is transmitted into space and gone from earth depends on a "mean free path", eg. the distance a photon of that wavelength can travel in the atmosphere without encountering a molecule which can absorb it, which is determined by the density of GHG molecules in earths atmosphere) You never did present any scientific reasoning for choosing that particular point to try to discredit me with back years ago and ever since, or why you consider tha analogy funny.. How about doing so now?
Kevin Lawless's picture
Kevin Lawless on Feb 9, 2010
Mr. Ashworth and commentors:

I usually only read EnergyPulse lively banter that follows anything related to climate change or global warming. By your logic Mr Ashworth, we shouldn't care about small percentage annual increases in volumes of CO2 in the earth's ecosystem.

So let's apply this logic to another complex ecosystem, one which we are constantly studying like the atmosphere: the human body. Let's take a healthy 180 lb, 30 year old man whose caloric intake is just slightly out of balance with what his body can usefully use in a year, just 1.5% more. Within 7 years, this man would have put on 20 lbs. Within 10 years he would weigh 209 lbs. I am sure when visiting his doctor for his 40 year physical, the doctor would have some friendly advice for him about losing the tire around his waist and its implications for critical systems like his heart. The doctor would also talk about the risks of heart disease, diabetes and assorted other issues for which his risk goes up. Let's just say, this man doesn'b believe much in what his doctor ordered or can't execute a plan to address his inbalances.

After a second decade of this decidely small 1.5% inbalance, this man would weigh 242 lbs. and clearly his health risks are increasing. After a third decade he weighs 100 lbs more than at 30 years of age.

Now hopefully this man would be rational and take some action like increasing his exercise and lowering his caloric intake at some point to lower his health risks. Perhaps not easy, but necessary.

Hopefully, at some point we will recongize the same small numbers process at work in the atmosphere and take steps to reduce our risks.

T Conroy's picture
T Conroy on Feb 9, 2010
Kevin Lawless makes the correct point. It puzzles me why we work hard to control noxious and visible emissions (dust, ash, acids, sewage, etc.), but don't want to control CO2 because we don't seem to find it noxious. Mankind is consciously and intentionally changing the chemical composition of our atmosphere, but don't find that objectionable. It represents a stunning arrogance to suggest we KNOW that our emissions will not or are not impacting our environment negatively.
Graham Cowan's picture
Graham Cowan on Feb 9, 2010
Ashworth ...
Using the table above in combination with a total concentration of 385 ppmv of CO2 seen in the atmosphere in January 2008, one sees that the increase in CO2 caused by all of man's activities amounted to only 11.5 ppmv.

is faulty in his understanding of the Keeling Curve. The implied baseline CO2 concentration of 373.5 ppmv is far from the natural, pre-industrial-revolution level of 280 ppmv.

How shall the car gain nuclear cachet?

Michael Fraley's picture
Michael Fraley on Feb 9, 2010
No sir, Kevin Lawless makes a senseless point. First, the human body is NOT an ecosystem. It is extremely different from the complex global system of interlinked dynamic systems, all with separate and linked forcing, feedback, and dampening effects that are only understood through very simplified models.

In spite of all the evidence that CO2 level does not drive temperature change, but rather follows it, lets assume CO2 increases in isolation and only affects global temperatures. Well, data demonstrates that the effect is not linear, but logarithmic. So, with ever increasing levels, the marginal effect on temperature will diminish. More importantly, there are numerous dampening and opposing effects that drive the system equilibrium the other direction (you do know that plants use CO2 and make O2...remember that?).

Finally, NO ONE KNOWS what the optimum temperature for the planet is!! I rather like it a little did western civilization as a warming climate boosted agricultural output and led Europe out of the dark do the multitudes of plant and animal species that flourish as temperatures do millions of starving people around the planet who benefit from increased agricultural output resulting once again from increased temperatures.

Can our lame efforts at controlling global climate have an effect? Only in that we will depress the standards of living throughout the world, with the bulk of that effect falling upon the poorest of nations, and ensuring increased suffering and mortality. All so a few elitists can feel good about themselves, deluded into believing they really have not wasted their lives' work a monumental fool's errand.

Jeff Presley's picture
Jeff Presley on Feb 9, 2010
Len, I've answered that DOZENS of times, including links, which you never clicked on. You will recall the words inverse square law but since you NEVER click on the links I post, you of course have NO IDEA what it means. Do yourself a favor and click on the link above (different than the past links I gave you) it explains the science in an approachable manner using sound waves instead of light waves, because you have this odd understanding of light energy as being something magic, which it isn't. Whether you click on the link or not, whether you acknowledge your error or not, others reading this will, and will laugh with me at your error.

Conroy, you act as if CO2 is some hazardous gas, but neglect to understand that it is required for ALL LIFE ON EARTH!!! It is not a pollutant, regardless of what the EPA says. Its attraction to bureaucrats is obvious as Lindzen so eloquently observed: “CO2 for different people has different attractions. After all, what is it? – it’s not a pollutant, it’s a product of every living creature’s breathing, it’s the product of all plant respiration, it is essential for plant life and photosynthesis, it’s a product of all industrial burning, it’s a product of driving – I mean, if you ever wanted a leverage point to control everything from exhalation to driving, this would be a dream. So it has a kind of fundamental attractiveness to bureaucratic mentality.” – Richard S. Lindzen, Ph.D. Professor of Atmospheric Science, MIT

Again, this is NOTHING about science and nothing about weather (er climate since climate scientists always say weather does not equal climate when the weather is cold, but reverse their stance when the weather is hot). It is EVERYTHING about political control of our lives and our economies.

Kevin Lawless's picture
Kevin Lawless on Feb 9, 2010
Mr. Fraley,

Thanks for the suggesting that my analogy is wrong only because is suggested that the human body is an ecosystem. Allow me to change my wording from ecosystem to complex system. I don't really want to argue specifically whether the human body is as complex as the atmosphere just because it is made up of a wide variety of interacting separate but linked systems (adrenal, nervous, digestive, circulatory, to name a few), each with their own forcing, feedback, and dampening effects that are only understood through simplified models (science of medicine). Frankly, the analogy does hold true. For instance the atmospheric (human) system has an amount of CO2 (e coli bacteria) which is normally stable, but forcing (combustion of fossil fuels/ingestion of raw meat) will cause severe issues.

My real point though is that Mr. Ashworth's discussion about 1.5% annual increase in CO2 in the atmosphere is senseless. To suggest that an annual increase of that amount when it occurs consistently over decades is something which we shouldn't be concerned suggests short term thinking. Small numbers add up over time and certainly the Keeling Curve is showing that. TIme will tell whether the science of AGW is correct, overstated, or understated but that doesn't mean we should ignore the evidence we have at hand and take action to reduce risks. After all we only have one earth.

As to optimum temperature, try reading Jared Diamond (Collapse) or Brian Fagan (The Great Warming) to find out what happens to civilizations that aren't prepared for climate change.

FInally, I am glad to see that we both are concerned about the welfare of those populations at risk. Some of the poorest nations are at the highest risk from climate change and apparently also from the cure to climate change. Perhaps we just need a better plan to improve their living situation.

Len Gould's picture
Len Gould on Feb 9, 2010
Jeff - "since you NEVER click on the links I post, you of course have NO IDEA what it means." Typical of your logic, Jeff, implying that the ONLY way one might learn anything is by following your links, and presumeably thus your ?insights? At the beginning I followed enough of your links to learn that they're not worth following. Links from other rational debaters I always follow.

BTW, the inverse square "law" (the intensity of any effect propagating in all directions from a point source changes according to the surface area of the sphere defined by the radius of the distance from the source to the point of measure) is so obvious as to not even be science, but merely engineering and not even challenging engineering at that. It also has no relevance to my analogy that I can see, but perhaps you have an explanation for why you consider it so?

Don Hirschberg's picture
Don Hirschberg on Feb 9, 2010
I come late to this discussion and find myself in a rather surreal swirl. In the rather recent past I had gathered the idea that the prevailing view on Pulse was that the warming effect of CO2 was settled science, that coal had to go, etc. Unless my memory has gone bad I find statements that are quite weasely – of the “I never said that” kind. Oh?

I am glad I never stuck my head out very far on the CO2 issue. But I have stuck my head out very far on the population issue. Many times. Those who have heard it before might want to skip the next paragraph.

Until recently, i.e. the last 1000 years, there had never been more than 0.3 billion humans alive at one time. Basically that’s all that could be fed a subsistence diet. None of the vast encompassing empires of antiquity (China, India, Egypt, Persia, Greece, Rome etc.) ever had the population of Mexico today. A few key inventions got us started: the lateen sail, we could then point to the wind in ships, the Caravel, that allowed Europeans to sail beyond sight of land knowing they had a good chance of coming back! The horse collar that made the horse the equivalent of an energy nuclear age and rid the European famer of oxen. Energy enhancements. And the population grew. Ta da, the steam engine, fossil fuels and the rest we know about. From the Dawn of Man until a mere 1000 years ago the population grew to 0.3 billion. There are now about 6.9 billion - in a veritable trice we are 23 times more numerous than the previous peak.

Not climate change, not oil depletion, not water shortages, not CO2 – our problem is too many people and it get’s worse by nearly 0.1 billion a year. Yet we dance minuets about solving problems with smart grids and electric cars. How fatuous.

It’s happened in my lifetime. I was born into a world that just might have been sustainable, one soon ticking over to 2 billion.

Jim Beyer's picture
Jim Beyer on Feb 10, 2010
I'm not completely understanding of where the inverse square law comes in, but it wouldn't apply to photons leaving the earth, at least up to 60,000 feet. That's too small a distance compared with the radius of the earth, which is something like 3,900 miles. 60,000 feet is only about 12 miles, so the increased area of a sphere 12 miles bigger than the earth is only the square of 3912 over 3900 or about 0.6%.

For the inverse square law to kick in meaningfully for particles leaving the earth's surface, you need to get to the point where the earth itself becomes more of a point source. That would be several radiuses of distance away, 10,000 to 20,000 miles or so.

Recall that the flux out of an infinite sheet is constant to infinity. But a large finite surface up close looks very similar to that infinite sheet. Even a large finite curved surface. So any flux from a sphere is essentially constant up to a radius or so away from the surface.

Adrian Lloyd's picture
Adrian Lloyd on Feb 10, 2010

I am baffled by your comments about carbon 14. As this is being continually formed in the upper atmosphere (nitrogen atoms adsorbing free neutrons produced by cosmic radiation striking the atmosphere), how can you say that the c14 produced by nuclear explosions in the 40's & 50's was tracked and is no longer there? How is this c14 distinguishable from "natural" c14?


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