23
Oct
07

You Are What Funds You

Yesterday I was browsing the bloglinks to the WaPo article on Global Warming and was led to a site with a rather unique perspective on the issue of climate change:

If Global Warming is a matter of science, ever ask yourself why almost all Global Warming Denialists are conservative Republicans? The reason – a general lack of knowledge and an ingrained propaganda driven agenda.

I found this postulate rather amusing, so I left the following comment:

Interesting. Then why are almost all Anthropgenic Global Warming Activists liberal Democrats? If you’re saying that one side alone has all the answers, then all you are is a partisan hack blinded by ideology.

Which led to a comment war, naturally, culminating with the following threat:

BTW “Doc” – I hope you’re tenured, I wonder what your Dean would think of a Science Professor who is an advocate of Intelligent Design? Must get cold up there in Barron, aye?

What got me was the insistence that research refuting climate change was invalid because of a source of funding, which is absolute nonsense.  (What also got me was the attacks that I’m an “Intelligent Design” creationist moron– a smear based upon these two posts.)

Regardless of my arguments on scientific viewpoints, this particular blogger would always go back to attack the funding.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t refute the information of any source.  As I mentioned, most academics in chemistry have receiving grants from Big Oil (the Petroleum Research Foundation, which has funded projects as diverse as cancer research to solar cell manufacture).  Does that mean all of that research is invalidated simply because of the funding?

It’s nonsense. On my blog, countless times, I’ve hammered home flaws in the thinking that humankind is going to destroy the planet with carbon emissions.  But trying to argue with our blogger friend was frustrating from his multiple attacks and attempts to shift the debate to something that was completely irrelevant.

I worry about a future where people without science degrees fight against research that was funded by people they don’t like.  It’s a complete mischaracterization of academia, and it calls into question the ethics of every single scientists that’s ever received money from a private source.

Oddly enough, our blogger friend insists on believing computer models that predict decades into the future, although there is much standing evidence that warns against putting too much faith into computer models — in any field, not just climatology.

But, as the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.


16 Responses to “You Are What Funds You”


  1. 1 William
    October 23, 2007 at 10:21 am

    How would you feel about family planning information given to you kids funded by Planned Parenthood (being the anti-choice person you are)? How would you feel about political email sent to you funded by MoveOn.org? How would you feel about receiving an appeal for contributions to an environmental group funded by George Soros?

    Yes, Virginia, people who fund have agendas. Have you noticed the Bush “Clear Skies Initiative” (ie smoke and mirrors initiative) has rolled back environmental regulations for power plants allowing them to pollute more? Oh, must be a coincidence that Cheney wouldn’t reveal his the substance of his meeting with energy execs and the 30 biggest utility companies owning the majority of the 89 dirtiest power plants have poured $6.6 million into the coffers of the Bush presidential campaigns and the Republican National Committee (RNC) since the 2000 campaign. Just one small example.

    Hey “doc” – eight supercomputer climate models from 8 countries working independently around the world don’t have agendas.

    But, the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine that you cited produced a report that had not been peer-reviewed, nor published, nor even accepted for publication in the journal of the National Academy of Sciences, BUT was circulated in a petition formatted to mimic the journal of the National Academy of Sciences. The Academy released a strong statement disclaiming any connection to this effort.

    So Doc, knowing that on a website hosted by LiquidCoal.com,the leader of that petition Robinson appeals to his readers to write to Lee R. Raymond, American Enterprise Institute and former Chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobile Corp to fund a renewed petition drive against global warming. I wonder why he didn’t appeal to the Sierra Club – that is if what you imply is false “You are what funds you”?

    How do you suppose Exxon has contributed to the National Resouces Defense Council?

    Get real.

  2. 2 docattheautopsy
    October 23, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    Willy said:

    “How would you feel about family planning information given to you kids funded by Planned Parenthood (being the anti-choice person you are)? How would you feel about political email sent to you funded by MoveOn.org? How would you feel about receiving an appeal for contributions to an environmental group funded by George Soros?”

    Well, let’s turn the tables. What do you think about getting climate reports from agencies whos well-being is derived from government funding for fighting climate change? What do you think about getting data from government-funded scientists who are being paid by the government that wants to scare people into voting one way or another?

    The flaw (one of many) in your reasoning is that you are suspicious of one body’s data due to its funding source, but you are not suspicious of another body’s data due to its funding source. You’re so naive that you believe that one’s motives are pure as snow while the other is nefariously evil.

    In truth the entire crux of the argument is scientific. It is unreasonable to believe that a fraction of a percent change from manmade emissions is responsible for the current warming trend we are seeing. If that was the case, large forest fires would set the planet off on a warming trend that could only be stopped by a radical cooling event.

    And if you look at the historical record you can see that’s not the case. In fact, CO2, historically, has always lagged behind the temperature change. The reason? The oceans. Gas permeability of the oceans decreases with temperature increases, and that release a lot of stored gas (nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide) into the atmosphere.

    And I can get this information from a variety of sources, none of them funded by Exxon or the Bu$hitler.

    Willy said:

    “Hey “doc” – eight supercomputer climate models from 8 countries working independently around the world don’t have agendas.”

    Hey, if you can read, and that’s still in debate, I was talking about the methodology for the climate models being suspect due to incomplete data, not because of the personal bias of the scientists. I wish you could get that through your addled head of yours.

    You can’t impeach data because of who funds the data. Once you do that, you’re opening a giant can of worms.

  3. 3 William
    October 23, 2007 at 4:36 pm

    Forgive my lack of technical knowledge professor, but you say “it is unreasonable to believe that a fraction of a percent change from manmade emissions is responsible for the current warming trend we are seeing.”

    As you know, the net difference between carbon sequestration and carbon respiration – refered to as carbon flux is at it’s highest point in 400,000 years and 90% of this increase has occured in last 100 yrs, mirroring the rise in fossil fuel emisions, and the curve is only rising more quickly. You don’t see a correlation here and do not find it significant that the CO2 levels also have spiked more dramatically in the same time period, again mirroring the rise in fossil fuel burning?

    It takes much more in the way of assumption to say there is NOT a correlation, particularly when the values of these three factors (C flux, CO2, and emisions) mirror each other, agree with the several independent computer models that you dispute, and also show rises that can only be described as unprecedented in human history… and you see no correlation and think its’ insignificant?

    You say you put science before politics and you provide studies from agenda driven skeptic organizations.

    You say, “Well, let’s turn the tables. What do you think about getting climate reports from agencies whos well-being is derived from government funding for fighting climate change? What do you think about getting data from government-funded scientists who are being paid by the government that wants to scare people into voting one way or another?”

    According to your reasoning here, climate reports can be skewed by government funding because of politics. How is this happening simultaneously in several different climate labs in several different countries? The big liberal conspiracy involves Australia (conservative gov’t), Germany (conservative gov’t), Canada (conservative majority), Japan, etc… ??

    Meanwhile, we have UC Professor Emeritus, Daniel Botkin, in his effort to deny possible global warming affects, says in the WSJ: “the reality is that almost none of the millions of species have disappeared during the past 2.5 million years — with all of its various warming and cooling periods.” What do you think doc? Is he correct and the scientific community wrong? Frederick Seitz, the figure head associated with that anti-global warming petition, is he credible? Even though we know he directed the spending of over $45 million of RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company medical research money, that concluded there are NO harmful affects from smoking? Why do you value and champion colleauges like this? How do you think this adds to your credibility?

    Seriously, step back and think about this. Begging the professors pardon, but believeing anything you say would require a suspension of belief of reality and critical thinking.

  4. 4 docattheautopsy
    October 23, 2007 at 9:15 pm

    Again, William, you’re ignoring some subtle points. The first is that the rise in carbon dioxide in the past 100 years does coincide with industrialization. However, similar rises have happened in the past without the aid of industrialization. In addition, the world is coming out of a little ice age, and when that happens, CO2 is released into the atmosphere, accounting for a rise. Any correlation is CO2 rise on a planetary scale is allegorical. In addition, there’s no reasonable explaination as to how a small percentage increase in CO2 from industrialization sources accounts for an increase in global CO2 emissions. As I said before, if CO2 changes were so sensitive to shock, any event that triggered a significant release would greatly warm the planet. And we don’t see such a variation in the historical record.

    As there is no correlation in the past that corroborates such information, it’s unreasonable to discard that information and lay the blame of planetary warming at the feet of fossil fuel combustion.

    Another hole in that idea is that the warming of the planet started before 1900– around 1850 or so. Unfortunately, that warming preceded large-scale industrialization. That particular piece of data is contrary to the idea of manmade warming. In addition, the warmest years on record (as recently adjusted by NASA) were not just in the 90’s.. but in the 1930s as well, long before the automobile revolution.

    Now, I’m not saying that manmade emissions don’t contribute to a small amount of global warming. What I am saying is that the claim (man is solely warming the planet) does not fit the data (man cannot be the only one warming the planet).

    As for simulataneously similar (not exact) results, those labs are probably using the same variables. Regardless, they’re using predictive techniques. It’s not experimentation, Willy, it’s modeling.

    As for the disappearance of species, it’s not something I’ve been following, so I can’t say if Botkin is correct or not. That’s also biology and the counting of species numbers– again, something I’m not focusing my efforts on. If he thinks that there isn’t a threat, then that’s his scientific opinion. The funding from, of all things, a tobacco company, shouldn’t impact his opinion, and I can’t see what stake a tobacco company would have in “hiding” extinction data from the public.

    What is true is that if the world does warm, there will be changes to the biodiversity index. Species adapted to the cold will be stressed with the climate change. And, if the world warms, you should not that insect populations should increase, and that will alleviate the stress on birds.

    As for stepping back and thinking about it, it seems I already have. I could also level the big guns of thermodynamics on you. But I’m trying to keep things simple for you to understand.

  5. 5 William
    October 24, 2007 at 1:43 am

    Doc,
    Before I can respond fully, I just needed to quickly dispel one piece of misinformation you presented that has been a source of confusion… deliberate confusion much quoted and irrelevant, seized relentlessly upon by Fox News, some of your favorite blogs, et al..

    “In addition, the warmest years on record (as recently adjusted by NASA) were not just in the 90’s.. but in the 1930s as well, long before the automobile revolution.”

    NASA’s revision affected annual temperature rankings for the United States only; it had no effect on the annual global temperature rankings. According to NASA climate modeler Gavin A. Schmidt, 2005 remains the warmest year globally in the instrumental record, followed by 1998. According to NASA, all 10 of the warmest years globally in the instrumental record have occurred after 1989. I would think you should need to know this when making statements like the above.

    I do not have the technical knowledge that you have but I do seem to be able to find more accurate and relevant information on which to base my opinions and reasoning, in my own limited way.

    I will continue this rebuttal later.

  6. 6 Billy
    October 24, 2007 at 3:28 am

    Looks to me like William ‘kicked your ass Doc’. Better circle the wagons.

  7. 7 docattheautopsy
    October 24, 2007 at 7:13 am

    Delving deeper in the 1930 anomaly, it should be noted that the temperatures used to create a global temperature back then were not corroborated using secondary methods. Many of the weather stations, especially urban stations, have not been corrected for their proximity to error-inducing phenomena. If we’re experiencing problems like this in the 2000’s, it stands to reasons similar problems existed in the 1930s. Additionally, areas that were too remote in the 30s to contribute to the overall global temperature were not included in global averages in those decades. With the advent of satellite data, we’re better able to determine global temperatures, especially those in remote areas.

    And “Billy”, as for “circling the wagons”, I’ll circle the wagons when William can explain how the thermal contribution of CO2 from about 10% of land mass can account for the degree increase in temperature across the globe, while at the same time explaining how that same effect didn’t cause a degree increase in temperature across the globe in the historical record.

  8. 8 William
    October 24, 2007 at 10:28 am

    Again, a quick response. You’ve said to me I’m not able to argue the facts. I give you multiple data sources and you impugn them. You give me a report from Aurthur Robinson’s industry funded skeptic group which you believe as law. Who has more credibility here?

    The report you refer to cherry picks information to support an agenda (hmmm… where have I heard that scenario before?) For example, many of their graphs and diagrams show trends over the short term, a few decades to a few hundred years . For example, they term methane as a “minor green house gas” on page 8 of the report and show a graph depicting the astmospheric methane level as ‘leveling off.’

    1) Methane is not a ‘minor greenhouse gas is recognised as the cause of the greatest global warming event in the past 100 million years – the PETM. 2) The graph in the Robinson report is ridiculously short termed 25 years and doesn’t show a historical trend.

    To see the real trend in methane concentrations over the past 1000 years (still a relatively short term in geologic time) see this graph based on ice core samples from both Greenland and Antarctica.

    When looking at co2 concentrations in the atmosphere for the past half million yrs, we see 4 spikes, none higher than 300 ppm. Look at the 5th spike that has occured in the past 100 years. It is likely far more dramatic than any previous spike in human history – anomalous in it’s steepness of and abruptness of rise, coinciding exactly with the industrial revolution.

    Some of the projections are stunning.
    http://carto.eu.org/article2546.html

    Couple this with the fact that the 10 hottest years of global temps have occured since 1989 according to NASA.

    As a scientist you have every right to be skeptcal and you should be. But it becomes apparent that you are fitting and impugning data to support a political position, and that is denialism. (Hmmm … readers out there, tell us… where have we heard that phrase before – “fixing the facts around the policy”) Sounds all too familiar, doesn’t it?

  9. 9 William
    October 24, 2007 at 11:36 am

    Sorry, I forgot to include one thing – from the a report released just yesterday —

    Carbon dioxide emissions were 35 percent higher in 2006 than in 1990, a much faster growth rate than anticipated, researchers led by Josep G. Canadell, of Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, report in Tuesday’s edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    According to the new study, carbon released from burning fossil fuel and making cement rose from 7.0 billion metric tons per year in 2000 to 8.4 billion metric tons in 2006.

    Kevin Trenberth of the climate analysis section of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo. said the “paper raises some very important issues that the public should be aware of: Namely that concentrations of CO2 are increasing at much higher rates than previously expected…

    Alan Robock, associate director of the Center for Environmental Prediction at Rutgers University, added: “What is really shocking is the reduction of the oceanic CO2 sink,” meaning the ability of the ocean to absorb carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere.

    “It turns out that global warming critics were right when they said that global climate models did not do a good job at predicting climate change,” Robock commented. “But what has been wrong recently is that the climate is changing even faster than the models said. In fact, Arctic sea ice is melting much faster than any models predicted, and sea level is rising much faster than IPCC previously predicted.”

    So, are you going to listen to the scientists or are you going to get your info from industry funded politically motivated skeptic organizations, and Rush Limbaugh?

  10. 10 docattheautopsy
    October 24, 2007 at 4:03 pm

    Willy–

    You’re failing to grasp key concepts in the whole debate, which isn’t a surprise, given your lack of scientific background and your tendency to react to anything published with the words “global warming” in it.

    Methane is a great greenhouse gas, you’re right. But the concentrations of methane in the atmosphere are negligible compared to that of CO2. What’s worse is CO2’s performance as a greenhouse gas is dwarfed by water. While increasing CO2 will adjust warming slightly (which has a feedback which increases humidity levels around the globe), the overall greenhouse effect on the planet is pretty strictly regulated by water vapor. Humid areas (such as the oceans, coastlines, or anywhere with an annual humidity of around 40% or so) are not affected by CO2 levels in a meaningful way.

    Let me dumb it down for you. Suppose the amount of heat trapped by CO2 is equal to 1 brick. If you increase man-made CO2 amounts so that it traps 1.2 bricks, that’s a 20% increase in CO2 heat trapping. Seems like a lot, right? Now, compare that to 1000 bricks, which is a pretty good comparison of the heat trapping of man-made CO2 to that released by natural sources. If you have an increase of .2 bricks to 1000 bricks, the net effect of heat trapping by that extra .2 bricks is negligible.

    Now, take into account the fact that all the heat trapped from those 1000 bricks is significant in a dry system (such as a wintry Siberia, or the Arizona desert). But that same amount of bricks is trapped by a system with 5% humidity. As the % humidity increases, the bricks trapped by water overtake the relevance of the CO2 due to the concentration of water in the atmosphere. If all of that CO2, the 1000.2 bricks of heat, cannot significantly change the heat trapped by water, then you’ve got a system where the heat dynamic is strictly controlled by water vapor alone. That’s about 80-85% of the total surface area of the planet.

    Now, if you try and say the energy trapped by additional, man-made carbon dioxide, in those regions, is diffusing out to the surface of the planet and to the oceans to change our planetary temperature by 1 full degree C, then your premise is based on absolute absurdity. If you bother to study the thermodynamics of the system, you’ll note that the temperature change in those areas, to significantly change the temperature of our oceans, would be on the order of many tens, if not hundreds, of degrees. It’s a ridiculous position to take, Willy.

    Instead of bemoaning industry and blaming fossil fuels for the increase in worldwide carbon dioxide, we should be looking for what’s causing the worldwide temperature increase. It can’t be the greenhouse effect. The only thing that could do that would be a change in albedo or a change in input of solar radiation.

    The sun has been quite active as of late. Saying it’s the sun would seem to be a reasonable answer. The loss of the arctic ice concerns me because it’s an albedo loss, but I refuse to believe it’s from man-made CO2 for the reasons stated above. That the Antarctic is actually getting cooler and thicker allays my fears some. What’s truly concerning is the newest research that cosmic radiation (or lack thereof) is actually reducing cloud formation, which is decreasing planetary albedo, which would account for the worldwide warming.

    So please, point me to the Limbaugh show where he explains all of this. Or maybe you should crack open a few textbooks on thermodynamics, statistics, math and chemistry.

  11. 11 Willy
    October 25, 2007 at 1:08 am

    I don’t know whether Dco closed comments on this post, moderated my comment or blocked me, but here goes again. Such an action would be cowardly as I have never blocked or moderated his comments or anyone else’s on my blog. I hope this gets through for the benefit of our readers. My response:

    Doc,
    Thanks for dumbing down the science for me, I really appreciate it. Welcome readers to this thread as well, I’m sure they will appreciate you dumbing the science down for them too.

    Doc’s essentially saying here that man-made CO2 production is too insignificant to alter global climate and that the CO2 greenhouse effect is a violation of the physical laws of thermodynamics.

    Doc’s science lesson is based almost verbatim on he non-peer reviewed report: “Falsification Of The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within The Frame Of Physics,”- Gerhard Gerlich, principal investigator.

    Before commenting on the science, let’s examine the source. Gerhard Gerlich was quoted as saying in 1995, “the CO2-greenhouse effect of the earth atmosphere is pure fiction of people who like to use big computers, without physical fundamentals.” An industry funded denialist from way back, Gerlich was a member of the European Science and Environment Forum. The agenda of this group was to discredit government safety regulations and reports on such things as genetically-engineered bovine growth hormone, pesticides, public smoking, and global warming. Gerlich’s coalition fought to discredit the World Health Organisation, and attempted to rebuff the science used by the USA’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Gerlich also worked with the Weinberg Group which ran special conferences for the tobacco industry to fight regulations against second-hand smoke. Gerlich participated in the anti-g
    lobal warming study co-produced by the Exxon-funded George C. Marshall Institute, “Climate Change and Policy: Making the Connection”.

    Gerlich’s most recent article from July, again, non-peer reviewed, due to it’s recent submission is just beginning to get debunked for it’s misleading calculations by scientists on various blogs. Here’s one:
    http://atmoz.org/blog/2007/07/10/falsification-of-the-atmospheric-co2-greenhouse-effects/

    Back to Doc’s argument – man-made CO2 production is too insignificant to alter global climate .

    The fact that CO2 levels have remained relatively steady, between 180 and 300 parts per million for the past half-a-million years, shows that natural emissions are usually balanced by natural absorptions. That is until very recently. Now slightly more CO2 must be entering the atmosphere than is being soaked up by carbon “sinks”.

    Human emissions of CO2 are now estimated to be 26.4 Gt per year, up from 23.5 Gt in the 1990s, according to an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report in February 2007. Disturbances to the land – through deforestation and agriculture, for instance – also contribute roughly 5.9 Gt per year.

    About 40% of the extra CO2 entering the atmosphere due to human activity is being absorbed by natural carbon sinks, mostly by the oceans. The rest is boosting levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    The smoking gun that shows the source of CO2 has resulted from fossil fuel burning and not the warming of the oceans and water vapor is found when determining the source of the increased carbon in the atmosphere. The studies are based on the ratio of the three different carbon isotopes in atmospheric CO2. Carbon has three possible isotopes: C-12, C-13 and C-14.

    C-12, which has 6 neutrons, is by far the most prevalent carbon isotope and is a stable isotope. Carbon 13 is also a stable isotope, but plants prefer Carbon 12 and therefore photosynthetic CO2 (fossil fuel or wood fuels) is much lower in C-13 than CO2 that comes from other sources (ie.. animal respiration); and Carbon-14 is radioactive. Studies of carbon isotopes in CO2 has resulted in the following findings:

    * There has been a decline in the 14C/12C ratio in CO2 that parallels the increase in CO2. In 1950 a scientist (Suess) discovered that fossils do not contain 14C because they are much older than 10 half lives of 14C.
    * There has been a parallel decline in 13C/12C ratio of atmospheric CO2. This has been linked to the fact that fossil fuels, forests and soil carbon come from photosynthetic carbon which is low in 13C. If the increased CO2 was due to warming of the oceans, there should not be a reduction in the ratios of C-13 and C-14 to C-12.

    There are other clues that suggest the source of increased CO2 is not related to the warming of the ocean and subsequent release of CO2 from the ocean.

    * There has been a decline in the oxygen concentration of the atmosphere. If ocean warming was responsible for the CO2 increase, we should also observe an increase in atmospheric O2, because O2 is also released as the water is warmed.
    * The ocean is a sink for atmospheric carbon, and the carbon content of the oceans has increased by 118±19 PgC in the last 200 years. If the atmospheric CO2 was the result of oceans releasing CO2 to the atmosphere, the CO2 in the ocean should not be rising as a result of ocean warming.

    Shall I dumb this down for you doc? Oh… whoops, sorry, you’re the Chemistry PhD, I’m the dumb musician. continuing….

    Fossil fuels were formed millions of years ago. They therefore contain virtually no carbon-14, because this unstable carbon isotope, formed when cosmic rays hit the atmosphere, has a half-life of around 6000 years. So a dropping concentration of carbon-14 can be explained by the burning of fossil fuels. Studies of tree rings have shown that the proportion of carbon-14 in the atmosphere dropped by about 2% between 1850 and 1954. (After this time, atmospheric nuclear bomb tests altered these data sets by releasing large amounts of carbon-14.)

    In addition, fossil fuels also contain more carbon-12 than carbon-13, compared with the atmosphere, because the fuels derive from plants, which preferentially take up the more common carbon-12. The ratio of carbon-13 to carbon-12 in the atmosphere and ocean surface waters is steadily falling, showing that more carbon-12 is entering the atmosphere.

    Carbon-12 atoms dominate the chemical structure of all fossil fuels, since carbon-14 naturally decays into it over time. So….where plant tissues are loaded with lots of carbon-12 but little carbon-14, there is more fossil fuel burning. Likewise, where plants have the expected levels of cosmic ray and nuclear-created carbon-14, there is less fossil fuel burning diluting that global signal.

    A study by the University of Colorado and Europe’s Laboratory of Climate and Environmental Science at Saclay, France has used these measurements in corn plants to map out fossil fuel burning hotspots in the US – actually measuring how much of the carbon dioxide in a given region comes from fossil fuels.

    Any questions?

  12. October 25, 2007 at 10:21 am

    This from William:

    Doc,
    Thanks for dumbing down the science for me, I really appreciate it.
    Welcome readers to this thread as well, I’m sure they will appreciate
    you dumbing the science down for them too.

    Doc’s essentially saying here that man-made CO2 production is too
    insignificant to alter global climate and that the CO2 greenhouse effect
    is a violation of the physical laws of thermodynamics.

    Doc’s science lesson is based almost verbatim on he non-peer reviewed
    report: “Falsification Of The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within
    The Frame Of Physics,”- Gerhard Gerlich, principal investigator.

    Before commenting on the science, let’s examine the source. Gerhard
    Gerlich was quoted as saying in 1995, “the CO2-greenhouse effect of the
    earth atmosphere is pure fiction of people who like to use big
    computers, without physical fundamentals.” An industry funded denialist
    from way back, Gerlich was a member of the European Science and
    Environment Forum. The agenda of this group was to discredit government
    safety regulations and reports on such things as genetically-engineered
    bovine growth hormone, pesticides, public smoking, and global warming.
    Gerlich’s coalition fought to discredit the World Health Organisation,
    and attempted to rebuff the science used by the USA’s Environmental
    Protection Agency (EPA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the
    Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Gerlich also
    worked with the Weinberg Group which ran special conferences for the
    tobacco industry to fight regulations against second-hand smoke. Gerlich
    participated in the anti-global warming study co-produced by the
    Exxon-funded George C. Marshall Institute, “Climate Change and Policy:
    Making the Connection”.

    Gerlich’s most recent article from July, again, non-peer reviewed, due
    to it’s recent submission is just beginning to get debunked for it’s
    misleading calculations by scientists on various blogs. Here’s one:
    http://atmoz.org/blog/2007/07/10/falsification-of-the-atmospheric-co2-greenhouse-effects/

    Back to Doc’s argument – man-made CO2 production is too insignificant to
    alter global climate .

    The fact that CO2 levels have remained relatively steady, between 180
    and 300 parts per million for the past half-a-million years, shows that
    natural emissions are usually balanced by natural absorptions. That is
    until very recently. Now slightly more CO2 must be entering the
    atmosphere than is being soaked up by carbon “sinks”.

    Human emissions of CO2 are now estimated to be 26.4 Gt per year, up from
    23.5 Gt in the 1990s, according to an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
    Change report in February 2007. Disturbances to the land – through
    deforestation and agriculture, for instance – also contribute roughly
    5.9 Gt per year.

    About 40% of the extra CO2 entering the atmosphere due to human activity
    is being absorbed by natural carbon sinks, mostly by the oceans. The
    rest is boosting levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    The smoking gun that shows the source of CO2 has resulted from fossil
    fuel burning and not the warming of the oceans and water vapor is found
    when determining the source of the increased carbon in the atmosphere.
    The studies are based on the ratio of the three different carbon
    isotopes in atmospheric CO2. Carbon has three possible isotopes: C-12,
    C-13 and C-14.

    C-12, which has 6 neutrons, is by far the most prevalent carbon isotope
    and is a stable isotope. Carbon 13 is also a stable isotope, but plants
    prefer Carbon 12 and therefore photosynthetic CO2 (fossil fuel or wood
    fuels) is much lower in C-13 than CO2 that comes from other sources
    (ie.. animal respiration); and Carbon-14 is radioactive. Studies of
    carbon isotopes in CO2 has resulted in the following findings:

    * There has been a decline in the 14C/12C ratio in CO2 that parallels
    the increase in CO2. In 1950 a scientist (Suess) discovered that fossils
    do not contain 14C because they are much older than 10 half lives of 14C.
    * There has been a parallel decline in 13C/12C ratio of atmospheric CO2.
    This has been linked to the fact that fossil fuels, forests and soil
    carbon come from photosynthetic carbon which is low in 13C. If the
    increased CO2 was due to warming of the oceans, there should not be a
    reduction in the ratios of C-13 and C-14 to C-12.

    There are other clues that suggest the source of increased CO2 is not
    related to the warming of the ocean and subsequent release of CO2 from
    the ocean.

    * There has been a decline in the oxygen concentration of the
    atmosphere. If ocean warming was responsible for the CO2 increase, we
    should also observe an increase in atmospheric O2, because O2 is also
    released as the water is warmed.
    * The ocean is a sink for atmospheric carbon, and the carbon content of
    the oceans has increased by 118±19 PgC in the last 200 years. If the
    atmospheric CO2 was the result of oceans releasing CO2 to the
    atmosphere, the CO2 in the ocean should not be rising as a result of
    ocean warming.

    Shall I dumb this down for you doc? Oh… whoops, sorry, you’re the
    Chemistry PhD, I’m the dumb musician. continuing….

    Fossil fuels were formed millions of years ago. They therefore contain
    virtually no carbon-14, because this unstable carbon isotope, formed
    when cosmic rays hit the atmosphere, has a half-life of around 6000
    years. So a dropping concentration of carbon-14 can be explained by the
    burning of fossil fuels. Studies of tree rings have shown that the
    proportion of carbon-14 in the atmosphere dropped by about 2% between
    1850 and 1954. (After this time, atmospheric nuclear bomb tests altered
    these data sets by releasing large amounts of carbon-14.)

    In addition, fossil fuels also contain more carbon-12 than carbon-13,
    compared with the atmosphere, because the fuels derive from plants,
    which preferentially take up the more common carbon-12. The ratio of
    carbon-13 to carbon-12 in the atmosphere and ocean surface waters is
    steadily falling, showing that more carbon-12 is entering the atmosphere.

    Carbon-12 atoms dominate the chemical structure of all fossil fuels,
    since carbon-14 naturally decays into it over time. So….where plant
    tissues are loaded with lots of carbon-12 but little carbon-14, there is
    more fossil fuel burning. Likewise, where plants have the expected
    levels of cosmic ray and nuclear-created carbon-14, there is less fossil
    fuel burning diluting that global signal.

    A study by the University of Colorado and Europe’s Laboratory of Climate
    and Environmental Science at Saclay, France has used these measurements
    in corn plants to map out fossil fuel burning hotspots in the US –
    actually measuring how much of the carbon dioxide in a given region
    comes from fossil fuels.

    Any questions?

  13. 13 Billy
    October 26, 2007 at 6:52 am

    Well Doc, he did it again. Perhaps you should consider another area of interest. Slam dunk!!

  14. 14 docattheautopsy
    October 26, 2007 at 6:22 pm

    Willy said:

    “Doc’s essentially saying here that man-made CO2 production is too
    insignificant to alter global climate and that the CO2 greenhouse effect
    is a violation of the physical laws of thermodynamics.”

    I’m sure you can read music like a pro, Willy. But you can’t read what I said. I never said the CO2 greenhouse effect doesn’t exist, nor did I say it’s a violation of the 2nd law of Thermodynamics. I’m sure it would help you to pigeonhole me into these arguments, but that is not what I’m arguing.

    Gerlich’s paper, and the subsequent criticism of the paper, seem very interesting. I’ll be sure to read them over the weekend now that I’m done grading the exam.

    I find the isotopic paper to be far more interesting. You didn’t provide a link to the actual paper, and I haven’t been able to dig it up other than just references to it, but the isotopic change is compelling, until you look at the percent change, with is 0.15%. The authors seem to suggest that this is entirely relevant, but I’m not convinced all the sources of low C-14 CO2 are accounted for in the paper.

    The oceans contain large amounts of trapped CO2, and the slow moving, deep ocean currents are slow moving subsurface sinks of carbon dioxide. What that means is that the CO2 in the ocean is decaying as well, but the relative speed at which it reaches the surface again, compared to that of fossil carbon, is fast. But given the amounts of gas that are released by the oceans, the isotope ratio changes can be an artifact of released carbon dioxide.

    As for the source you cited that claims the concentrations of CO2 in the ocean are increasing as the temperature of the ocean increase, that’s patently false. As an aqueous system warms, the gas solubility decreases.

  15. 15 persimmon
    December 21, 2007 at 11:57 am

    Doc, your argument is not aimed at climate science. It is aimed at a strawman, or maybe a hippie in a polar bear costume at a street rally. If you are going to pretend your position is informed by science, you must first inform yourself as to what scientists are actually saying.

    No one outside of a bear suit claims that man is “solely responsible for warming.” Scientists understand that the climate is a complex system with many contributing factors. They also understand the limits of computer modeling. You misunderstand the problem at fundamental levels and have a sketchy grasp of the core facts and methods.

    It seems like you learned what little you know of the subject from someone who dropped out of high school to dedicate their life to being stoned. It’s not surprising that you might object to their silly views, but not particularly relevant either. If you want to have some relevance or credibility, you need to first figure out what actual scientists have to say about CO2 and the climate.


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About Me

My name is Doc. Welcome to my blog. If you're visiting from another blog, add me to your blogroll (and I'll happily reciprocate). I have a Ph.D. in Chemistry and live in Wisconsin. If you have any questions, feel free to email me. My email is docattheautopsy at gmail. (No linking to deflate the incredible spam monsters).

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