Reconciling CO2 Concentrations With Emissions and Energy Consumption

According to the US Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration, in 2016 the world consumed 580.7 quadrillion British Thermal Units, lovingly known as ‘quads.’ In 2010 we consumed 512 quads, a growth rate of about 2% per year.

global_energy_use_by_source.0

Reported emissions of greenhouse gases have plateaued for the past three years and have not risen much since 2010. March 2017: “For the third year in a row, the carbon dioxide emissions that drive climate change worldwide have been level.
The emissions pause is particularly noteworthy because it comes despite a growing global economy, the International Energy Agency announced. That’s a sign that carbon emissions are “decoupling” from the economy as other sources of energy come online.”

Peak CO2

And yet, concentrations of CO2 have risen sharply over this period. Whereas in the past century, concentrations rose by about 0.5 ppm per year, they are now routinely rising by over 2 ppm. And the last two years have been worse: “For the second year in a row, carbon dioxide concentrations as measured at Mauna Loa Observatory rose at a record-fast clip, according to new data released by the Environmental System Research Laboratory (ESRL). The annual growth of 3 parts per million in 2016 is the slightest shade below the jump in 2015 of 3.03 ppm.”

Mlo_ch4_ts_obs_03437

This is despite the ‘greening’ of the planet, the increase in vegetative cover due in no small part to an increase of CO2. This greening draws CO2 out of the air and should work to lower concentrations.

There is a clear disconnect here.But it’s fairly easy to explain.

There is no automatic meter on power plants or cars measuring their emissions. Statisticians take reports of national energy consumption (and sometimes sales of fossil fuels, when they have to) as proxies for emissions.

They can spot some errors in national data and work hard to be as accurate as possible. But they cannot overcome the difficulties caused by intentional misreporting of data.

Widespread misreporting of harmful gas emissions by Chinese electricity firms is threatening the country’s attempts to rein in pollution, with government policies aimed at generating cleaner power struggling to halt the practice.

… No official data on the extent of the problem has been released since a government audit in 2013 found hundreds of power firms had falsified emissions data, although authorities have continued to name and shame individual operators.

“There is no guarantee of avoiding under-reporting (of emissions) at local plants located far away from supervisory bodies. Coal data is very fuzzy,” said a manager with a state-owned power company, who did not want to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media.”

global_emissions_country_2015

Let’s be clear about what I’m writing. China is not lying about their CO2 emissions. Chinese coal companies are lying about how much they emit conventional pollution. However, those who spend their days trying to figure out how much in the way of greenhouse gases we are emitting end up using these statistics.

If concentrations of CO2 are rising higher than we perhaps expected, that might be the reason. If we need to look elsewhere, we might find that other countries are doing the same. And let’s not even start to examine the effect of perverse incentives caused by Emission Trading Schemes in places like the European Union.

It is hard enough to discuss climate change and human contributions to it when we trust the numbers. What happens when we can no longer do so?

92 thoughts on “Reconciling CO2 Concentrations With Emissions and Energy Consumption

  1. Helpful post Tom, thank you.

    It is hard enough to discuss climate change and human contributions to it when we trust the numbers. What happens when we can no longer do so?

    This reminds me of what I once heard Jonathan Jones say in the pub in Oxford: climate science is an unattractive field, for him as a physicist, because it’s a hard problem with inadequate or, failing that, non-existent data. (Jonathan’s interest in it is as an example of pseudoscience, I’ve seen him write elsewhere.)

    I often think back to this.

    One thing is certain. The certainty of many is ridiculous. (See what I did there. But only one side has produced ridiculously premature and damaging policies.)

    We seriously don’t know and should face up to this like adults.

    Like

  2. As usual a great analytical essay.
    Skeptics if all stripes have been pointing out how unreliable climate stats have been for sometime.
    You are presenting yet another important dimension in the unreliable world of the climate consensus.

    Like

  3. Thanks Tom, a welcome back to you for a timely report on this issue. IMO the exceptional rise of CO2 concentrations in 2015 and 2016 is closely linked to outgassing from the strong El Nino those years and now behind us. As you well know, the estimates of emissions from burning fossil fuels are confounded not only by sketchy and manipulated reports of changes in fuel inventories, but also by great uncertainties calculating outputs from the processes.due to variable efficiencies of burning.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I have no doubt that El Nino contributed to the increase in concentrations–however the phenomenon precedes and post dates the El Nino… so unless there’s slop in lead and lag times, I think there’s more to it than the ENSO cycle.

    Like

  5. I have never understood atmospheric CO2 variations. I do not dispute the fact that the inexorable rise, year by year, is almost certainly caused by human emissions (although I am aware that Roy Spenser has argued differently) and that most of the variation within a year is produced by the northern spring/summer growth of land vegetation and its dieback in autumn/winter. What I don’t understand is how this vegetation growth and other CO2 consuming/releasing processes have been able to remove approximately half the human CO2 additions regardless of how large they are (increasing until the past few years) or the size of the existing atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Why should the Earth, and especially its biota and oceans, be able to remove half of the CO2 humans emit regardless of what that amount is and regardless of what the ambient conditions are.

    CO2 is always described as a well mixed gas, yet even the most cursory look at temporal and latitudinal variations reveals that it isn’t. The seasonal variation in the northern hemisphere dominates, but the peak does not extend into the southern hemisphere, which is marked by its own spring/summer high with lower CO2 values and amplitudes compared with the north. Yet somehow the southern hemisphere, with CO2 increases marching step by step with the north, must somehow assimilate its share of human emissions.

    To me the observations just don’t seem to make sense, but then I’m just a poor ignorant geologist denier.

    Like

  6. El Ninos- are extra warming..and extra CO2 released. the oceans have been warming for a few decades, and releasing CO2… and I don’t believe CO2 in the atmosphere, is causing the warming of the oceans…. If they cool for the next decade or 2, climate science could get very ‘interesting’ – !

    Like

  7. On the question of human CO2 emission vs. natural fluxes, here is an interesting explanation working off of stocks and flows in an open system by Ed Barry. From his paper linked below:

    “The IPCC agrees today’s annual human carbon dioxide emissions are 4.5 ppm per year and nature’s carbon dioxide emissions are 98 ppm per year. Yet, the IPCC claims human emissions have caused all the increase in carbon dioxide since 1750, which is 30 percent.

    How can human carbon dioxide, which is only 5 percent of natural carbon dioxide, add 30 percent to the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide? It can’t.

    This paper derives a Model that shows how human and natural carbon dioxide emissions independently change the equilibrium level of atmospheric carbon dioxide. This Model should replace the IPCC’s invalid Bern model.

    The Model shows the ratio of human to natural carbon dioxide in the atmosphere equals the ratio of their inflows, independent of residence time.

    http://edberry.com/blog/ed-berry/human-co2-not-change-climate/

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Actually, the % increase is 46%, going from 280ppm to 410ppm.
    I’ve always had misgivings about the cumulative emissions theory of anthropogenic emissions, how half are absorbed into the natural flux (which is an order of magnitude greater than the human contribution) and how the other half just sticks around to produce the observed linear increase since 1950, noting also that the rise in emissions since 1950 has been exponential.
    There is no doubt at all that the recorded uptick in ppm is mainly due to the rapid global warming resulting from El Nino; the same thing happened in 1998.

    Tom says:

    “I have no doubt that El Nino contributed to the increase in concentrations–however the phenomenon precedes and post dates the El Nino… so unless there’s slop in lead and lag times, I think there’s more to it than the ENSO cycle.”

    I believe that there was a sharp upturn in the PDO around 2013. Before then it had been declining. This event I believe is implicated in the formation of the Pacific ‘Warm Blob’ which also contributed to the steady rise in global mean surface temperature, culminating in the spike in 2015/16. I imagine also that it would have contributed to an increase in outgassing of CO2.

    It’s worthwhile noting that UAH is still recording a significant rise in lower tropospheric temperatures, whereas surface temperatures appear to be declining, rather the opposite of what was happening when surface temperatures were racing ahead of satellite temperatures.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Jaime, the 30% makes sense in Berry’s context. He aims to explain from where came the present level of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    280 ppm or 70% of today’s CO2 was there already in 1750. Thus the focus is on the 30% of the present level added since then. Since all natural sources and sinks are stimulated by rising temperatures, the equilibrium level of CO2 has been rising as the system adjusts to increasing inflows.

    https://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/figure-3_thumb.png?w=640&h=388

    Since 96% of all CO2 inflows are from land and ocean, that leaves 1.2% of the increase (>4 ppm) to come from humans. (4% of 30%). In all this, Berry is showing that IPCC wrongly analyzes their own data and draws the false conclusions.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What you’ve discovered is the difference between “lifecycle CO2” and net CO2 when it comes to biomass burning. They are converting coal power plants to wood chips (like DRAX) and then claiming the “lifecycle CO2” is much lower than reality. Cutting down trees and then burning them 1000s of miles away is a recipe for rewarding liars.

    Like

  11. The Journal needs to invite Harde’s response and publish his rebuttal. Until then, no point discussing the errors in your paper. If the Journal fails to allow debate, then Kohler et al. is revealed as politics not science.

    Like

  12. Ron,
    I have no idea what the journal is allowing, or not allowing. You really don’t need a rebuttal from Harde to determine that the suggestion that only 4% of the increase is anthropogenic is bizarrely wrong.

    Like

  13. Alan, from what you write it is clear that you don’t know what is meant when a gas is so-called well mixed. Another thing you were ideally placed to find out, but chose not to.

    As for why 50% of CO2 is absorbed, I’m fairly sure ATTP explained that some time back. I’m in an internet dead spot now so I can’t look for it; I don’t suppose you are actually interested in knowing though anyway.

    Barry, channeling your inner Salby, eh?

    Ron, “…annual human carbon dioxide emissions are 4.5 ppm per year and nature’s carbon dioxide emissions are 98 ppm per year.”

    Like a good “skeptic”, you give only one side of the balance, omitting the roughly 100ppm of nature’s offsetting negative emissions. And like other good “skeptics” nobody else points that out to you. Thus you all manage to maintain the necessary group cohesion at the cost of credibility.

    Like

  14. Len. Do YOU know what a well mixed gas is? I’m not spouting the rubbish that CO2 is heavier than air so can’t be fully mixed. What I’m saying is that turbulent processes in the atmosphere should be capable of fully mixing CO2 but are overwhelmed by seasonal and local events that add or subtract CO2. The atmosphere never gets a chance to become fully mixed. Indeed we now have satellites that map out the inequalities. I do acknowledge that the variation is very small (so for most intents and purposes it is a well mixed gas), but it’s people like you that are making all the fuss about a relatively small change in amounts of CO2 in the air.

    I await your insights regarding why 50% of the CO2 emitted by humans is absorbed regardless of how much we emit. When/if you manage to do that, please tell me if 50% of the CO2 emitted from other sources (say northern hemisphere vegetation) is absorbed and 50% goes into the atmosphere? I shall be so grateful for your help.

    Like

  15. Alan,

    I await your insights regarding why 50% of the CO2 emitted by humans is absorbed regardless of how much we emit.

    It’s not really that 50% of what we emit every year is immediately taken up by the natural sinks. If we were to emit a pulse of emissions into the atmosphere, we would expect that to decay exponentially with an e-folding time of around 100 years. If we then imagine our emissions as being made up of annual pulses, then each year’s emissions are decaying exponentially. Very little of what we emitted a long ago remains in the atmosphere, much more of what we emitted recently remains in the atmosphere. What this then produces is an enhancement in atmospheric concentration that is equivalent to just less than 50% of what we’ve emitted, and also means that the amount by which it rises every year is smaller than the amount we emitted that year.

    Like

  16. ATTP. Alas my lack of mathematics (beyond O-level) and physics makes topics like these difficult for me to comprehend. I shall take your helpful input and fly as far as I can with it. My understanding still doesn’t stretch to an explanation of why the percentage of human-emitted remains constant regardless of the amounts emitted.
    If an explanation without mathematics proves difficult, just say so. I’ve lived for years in ignorance, a few more years won’t matter.

    Like

  17. Alan,
    My understanding is that part of the reason is that our emissions have grown exponentially, while the decay profile for each pulse of emission is also exponential. If emissions continue to remain flat, then we would expect the airborne fraction to start dropping (i.e., the enhancement would become a smaller fraction of our total emissions), while atmospheric concentrations would continue to rise.

    Like

  18. ATTP. You open up whole new wormcan (and to me a false scare) with your last post. First, I think you mean sinks associated with fast CO2 pathways because slower pathways lead to huge sinks capable of absorbing enormous amounts of CO2.
    Even relatively fast routeways lead to vast sinks (during the Holocene, precipitation of shallow-water, tropical carbonates alone consumed around twice an atmosphere’s worth of CO2). Furthermore some sinks (like land vegetation) are actually expanding to the extent that it can be seen from space. Much of the acidification of lakes can be attributed to increased weathering rates induced by higher dissolved CO2 in rainfall – so locking up more atmospheric CO2. I cannot envisage any limit on increased rock weathering.

    If increasing atmospheric CO2 causes increased global temperatures capable of melting substantial polar ice (and I have not lost all my scientific scepticism to rule this out) then there is a relatively fast mechanism (already mentioned) that will restore the balance rather quickly (speaking geologically). Melting ice will raise sealevel giving tropical reefs living room. They have run out of this resource, having grown up to sealevel. This will greatly enhance marine carbonate precipitation so pulling down much of the atmospheric CO2 increase. The only limiting control will be the flux of calcium into the world ocean, which is huge.

    Like

  19. Alan,

    First, I think you mean sinks associated with fast CO2 pathways because slower pathways lead to huge sinks capable of absorbing enormous amounts of CO2.

    I meant on human timescales. On much longer timescales (thousands of years) the carbon sinks will draw atmospheric CO2 back down to pre-industrial levels. However, if we continue to increase our emissions, then the expectation is that the airborne fraction will increase (i.e., later this century it will be higher than it is now).

    Like

  20. ATTP. How can we possibly KNOW this? We see one major sink expand from space. We have no measurements of changing weathering rates (but know they’re increasing from changing lake acidities). There is no evidence whatsoever of a change in the CO2 proportion retained by the atmosphere. The problem seems to be entirely theoretical with no supporting evidence as far as I can tell (but I’m willing to be persuaded otherwise).

    Like

  21. Alan,
    I didn’t say KNOW. However, there is the PETM in which thousands of tonnes of CO2 was emitted into the atmosphere on a relatively short timescale and which then took more than 100kyr to be drawn back down. Also, there’s the Revelle factor, which comes from basic carbonate chemistry and which limits how much can be taken up by the ocean before the slow carbon sinks start to operate. You certainly don’t have to agree, but most of the research in this area indicates that the timescale over which atmospheric concentrations will be drawn back down is thousands of years (essentially, we expect at least 20% of our emissions to remain in the atmosphere for thousands of years – or, more correctly, an enhancement in atmospheric CO2 equivalent to at least 20% of our emissions).

    Like

  22. Hunter,
    That’s mostly confusing the residence time of a molecule (which is only a few years) and the adjustment time for an enhancement in atmospheric concentration (much longer and depends on size of the enhancement).

    Like

  23. I’m little the wiser. I know that there is a difference between the residence time of a single CO2 molecule and the time constant for the total CO2 concentration to return to equilibrium after a perturbation. This is supposedly much longer, and is the important value. However I can look at the Keeling Curve and see the CO2 concentration restored (+ the human contribution) after the northern hemisphere’s vegetation perturbation over a period of months.

    Concerning the PETM we have numerous inferences, few certainties.

    Like

  24. As I understand it, the take-up of CO2 by the different sinks is not resolved to within an order of magnitude–it seems to be inferred by looking at increased concentrations and trying to understand why. We don’t really know the amount of topsoil in tonnes to any degree of certainty, nor vegetation, etc. Actually the oceans are easiest to measure, which is convenient given their size.

    I’m not saying calculations of residence time are wrong–I don’t know enough to do so. I will hazard a guess that those talking with tones of certainty are to be congratulated on their tone, not their certainty.

    Like

  25. Well put Tom, almost poetic. Here is some support for your position:

    Global warming, human-induced carbon emissions,and their uncertainties
    FANG JingYun, ZHU JiangLing, WANG ShaoPeng, YUE Chao & SHEN HaiHua

    “However, the current global carbon balance is disturbed by two factors: one is anthropogenic carbon emissions from fossil fuel combustion and land use change, which are 9–10 Pg C per year [74], i.e. equal to 1/22–1/26 of the natural emissions from terrestrial and oceanic biospheres; and the other is that increasing temperature can result in a positive feedback of carbon emissions caused from a greater soil heterotrophic respiration and from oceanic ecosystems [77, 78].”

    “This increased emission will be reserved in atmosphere and contribute to the increase of atmospheric CO2 concentration if it cannot be absorbed by ecosystems. In this sense, in addition to the anthropogenic carbon emissions, the positive feedback of terrestrial and marine ecosystems to global warming may be another important source of the increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration.”

    “The estimation of global carbon budget indicates that a total of the natural and anthropogenic emissions are 250 Pg C per year, whereas the total of absorption by the natural ecosystems and the atmosphere is estimated as 230 Pg C per year (Table 2). This generates a gap of 20 Pg C between the global emissions and absorptions, which is twice the current total anthropogenic emissions (9–10 Pg C/yr).”

    “Therefore, there is a great uncertainty in the sources of the increased atmospheric CO2, and we may not reach to the conclusion that elevating atmospheric CO2 concentration is mainly from human activities.”

    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/reprint/human_induced.pdf

    Like

  26. ThomasWFuller2. Very true. I recall just after the initial Deep Sea Drilling Program found methane clathrates in their cores (setting off scares that the drilling ship might be sunk during uncontrolled methane releases) seemingly everyone jumped on the bandwagon that there were enormous amounts of natural gas (as clathrates or trapped beneath clathrate topseals). The entire lower parts of continental rises all around the Earth were considered to contain vast quantities of gas. This was “confirmed” by the presence of a widespread seismic reflector interpreted to mark the top of the clathrate-bearing sediments. Only when the Japanese began to investigate what was suspected to be clathrate-bearing sediments in their parts of the continental rise was it realized that the clathrate distribution was extremely patchy (and estimates of total methane vastly over-estimated).

    Like

  27. Alan, you say, “…turbulent processes in the atmosphere should be capable of fully mixing CO2 but are overwhelmed by seasonal and local events that add or subtract CO2.”

    That’s a rather silly thing to say. It’s like saying that the turbulent processes of you stirring your bath are overwhelmed by the water entering from the tap just because the local variations in temperature don’t disappear instantly. CO2 is well mixed; it’s around 400ppm all the way up to space; there’s no part of it that is still at pre-industrial levels or anywhere near.

    The article on why 50% was from Moyhu, as ATTP pointed out. If you’ve read it and the comments you’ll see that this has been understood for decades.

    What I find interesting about your and other “skeptics”‘ reaction to issues like this that don’t seem to make sense with the information available to you is that they reinforce your skepticism instead of making you re-evaluate how much you actually know. I don’t know whether it is conceit about your own level of knowledge, an inability to appreciate that there really are things that you don’t know you don’t know (personal unknown unknowns) or just laziness in just accepting things that confirm your biases (talking about skeptics in general there). I dare say the usual suspects will prove my point by declaring how ignorant or illogical I am.

    Like

  28. “What I find interesting about your and other “skeptics”‘ reaction to issues like this that don’t seem to make sense with the information available to you is that they reinforce your skepticism instead of making you re-evaluate how much you actually know. I don’t know whether it is conceit about your own level of knowledge, an inability to appreciate that there really are things that you don’t know you don’t know (personal unknown unknowns) or just laziness in just accepting things that confirm your biases (talking about skeptics in general there). I dare say the usual suspects will prove my point by declaring how ignorant or illogical I am.”

    “CO2 is well mixed; it’s around 400ppm all the way up to space; there’s no part of it that is still at pre-industrial levels or anywhere near.”

    There, you just proved it. Well done Len.

    Like

  29. Len
    “What I find interesting about your and other “skeptics”‘ reaction to issues like this that don’t seem to make sense with the information available to you is that they reinforce your skepticism instead of making you re-evaluate how much you actually know.

    Re-evaluate [my ignorance] Len? You seem to have forgotten/ignored the first sentence of the first post I wrote on this subject where I admitted my lack of understanding.

    06 Nov 17 at 4:53 pm
    “I have never understood atmospheric CO2 variations”.

    And at several other places along this thread I have made similar admissions. ATTP tried to help, you merely sneer.

    BTW. Thank you for the bath analogy – it really works. Just colour the incoming water and you can see how long it take to mix. During that time the bathwater is not fully mixed.

    Like

  30. I’m not sure what the general issue is with respect to CO2 being well-mixed. It is relatively well-mixed, but that doesn’t mean that it is precisely the same concentration everywhere; of course there will be variations that depend on the seasons, latitude, etc. However, it might be worth looking carefully at the scales of the figures/videos that show the variation in atmospheric CO2. It’s not a very large range. For example, below is the OCO-2 data for late September 2014. The colourbar goes from 389ppm to 406ppm, but most of it is near the middle of that range (i.e., the variation is actually quite small – it is pretty well-mixed).

    Like

  31. “I dare say the usual suspects will prove my point by declaring how ignorant or illogical I am.”

    No need.

    You declare it yourself perfectly adequately with your every post.

    Like

  32. Alan, “ATTP tried to help, you merely sneer.” Oh it’s ATTP now is it? Not your usual “ATTL”. You don’t go in for sneering, of course.

    “…I admitted my lack of understanding.”
    So you did. You also admitted that you didn’t understand physics, but you developed (or adopted) your own ideas of what is more important between the GHE and some other random things. Anyway, are you saying that your lack of understanding of the greenhouse effect and of atmospheric CO2 variations are not part of why you are a skeptic?

    As for the bath, exactly, it mixes. There’s a time constant but it is not all that long for the bath and not really so long for the atmosphere.

    Jaime, “There, you just proved it. Well done Len.”

    Hmm, interesting. Is CO2 not around 400 parts per million all the way up to space? There’s many fewer millions as one goes up, clearly, but doesn’t the parts-per stay about the same? At what altitude does it diverge?

    Like

  33. Len. Yes, I think my grudge against ATTP has lasted long enough and the last few days’ exchanges showed that my resentment was becoming petty.

    In case you hadn’t noticed, the atmosphere never, ever becomes fully mixed before becoming disturbed by seasonal life activities.

    As to why I’m sceptical, you are not really interested are you?

    Like

  34. Len, re. the vertical profile of CO2 concentration, you might want to read this. It’s not as simple as you suggest.

    https://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/17/3861/2017/acp-17-3861-2017.pdf

    Also, the oft-repeated meme that CO2 was 280ppm for hundreds of thousands/millions of years prior to the Industrial Revolution, whereafter it shot up to 400ppm is just moronic, based as it is only upon Antarctic ice core data with limited temporal resolution, excluding (with dubious justification) Arctic ice core data with higher temporal resolution, proxy plant stomata data and chemical analyses, all of which reveal much higher concentrations of CO2 and much more variability over shorter time scales.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. The El Nino influence on CO2 concentrations is clearly visible from the latest Mauna Loa data. Last month concentrations were 2.07 ppm higher than in October 2016. Post El Nino it that rate of rise seems to be resuming the previous, slowly accelerating, upward trend.

    Like

  36. Jaime, CO2 levels drop a few percent between 15 and 20km and then stay constant all the way up, according to your doc. So instead of being 400+ at ground level they might be *only* 390 at 35000m – and that is somehow not “around 400ppm all the way up to space” in numbers according to Jaime. Yeah.

    Alan, actually I talk to you exactly *because* I’m interested in why you are so skeptical. I could tease anyone and get teased or insulted back, but it is understanding where your, Geoff’s, Paul’s etc. skepticism comes from that fascinates me.

    Like

  37. Interesting article here on climate sensitivity, the critical parameter on which all climate science is dependent.
    A high level of climate sensitivity means that it is conceivably necessary that we take steps to restrain our emissions, a low level means that the entire CAGW scare is completely discredited.
    http://notrickszone.com/2017/10/12/2-new-papers-models-severely-flawed-temp-changes-largely-natural-co2-influence-half-of-ipcc-claims/#sthash.DAKwqgrB.dpbs
    This illustration showing historical estimates of temperature increase per doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration is very thought-provoking.

    Consider the result of extrapolating the ECS and TCR trends out to 2025 – 2030…

    Like

  38. Man in a Barrel, what is?

    Alan, an odd type of perversion, but whatever floats your boat… So give me a glimpse into your skeptic soul: what, climate-wise, did you disagree about most with Keith Briffa and what were the arguments on either side?

    Like

  39. I am not sure that Thomas Fuller has managed to achieve a reconciliation of CO2 concentrations with emissions and energy consumption. Nor has he (or the Scientific American article he refers to) given an adequate explanation of the divergence. I will make a number of observations that will help towards a full reconciliation and understanding.

    First is that a tonne of carbon C is about 3.664 tonnes of carbon dioxide CO2. Some use one measure whilst others use the other.

    Second is that CO2 emissions from energy consumption are the major source, but not the only source of CO2 emissions. Cement manufacture and land use changes are other sources. Using the CDIAC Global Carbon Budget 2015 (DOI: 10.5194/essd-7-349-2015, in 2014 land use change emissions were estimated at 1.1 GtC (4.0 GtCO2) compared with 9.8 GtC (35.9 GtCO2e) for fossil fuel and cement emissions.

    Third is that emissions figures are only estimates. For fossil fuel and cement emissions CDIAC put the “uncertainty of ±5% for a ± 1 sigma confidence level”. For emissions from land-use change there is “uncertainty of ±0.5 GtC/yr”, with no confidence level. The latter is ±50%. Global GHG emissions are about 52 GtCOe, and increased from 1990 to 2012 at about 1.5% a year. The vaguely estimated uncertainties for emissions from land-use change of 1.8 GtCO2 are highly significant.

    Fourth is that the apparent de-coupling of emissions growth from economic growth in China may have other causes than renewables growth, pollution control measures or fiddling the figures. One is that China has had rapid growth is converting coal to liquids, which produces four to five times the emissions of from oil. A few years ago this was only economic when oil was above $60 a barrel. As the oil price has declined to below this level, it is likely much of this production has been shut down. Another is that many countries reach peak emissions per capita for economic reasons, which then stabilize or even decline. The USA reached peak emissions per capita in 1973 and the EU as a whole in 1980. Or it could be simply that the slowdown in economic growth from 10% to 6.7% included a recession in some high-energy consuming industries.

    Like

  40. With almost anyone else Len I would be happy to talk about my time with Keith, but with you I know you’d only wish to use it to your own ends, which are not mine. Go pull off fly’s wings under your microscope.

    Like

  41. Well I’d guess your position then was no more coherent than it is now, Alan, so you’d doubtless have trouble formulating a workable story. But we know it can’t have had anything to do with physics or atmospheric CO2 concentrations, both subjects you disavow sufficient knowledge of but nevertheless disagree with conventional opinion. Maybe it was the biological aspects, what changing climate will do to ecologies and species. But I’d guess you wouldn’t go down that path either as it is not your field. So geology. I’d guess you had a different interpretation of the geological history of CO2 emissions and their effects, maybe based on some advanced curve fitting and such…

    Like

  42. Mbc. Also important are two other factors: production energy costs, and losses. Different types of hydrocarbon fluids consume very different amounts of energy before usable products are obtained. Much of the Earth’s easily obtained, high value (= low refining cost) oils have been discovered and produced so year by year we resort to using less favoured reserves that take more energy to process. Tight gas uses significantly more energy to produce than conventional gas production.
    Losses, deliberate or accidental, might be minor but I recall that variations in atmospheric methane (which sadly for climate worriers declined year after year) was, by some, attributed to Russian gas companies reducing losses from their pipelines in Siberia.
    As we change from conventional to unconventional fossil fuels, CO2 emitted during production and refining will change.

    Like

  43. Jaime, read your own references. You get just one guess at what the 2001 in balloon number 20010530 means.

    Alan, good grief, you do have a god!

    Like

  44. Well mixed does not imply perfectly mixed. It is a minor red herring.
    Imho arguing about the term “well mixed” is a dead end issue.
    Allowing the focus to be on arguing the term provides an excuse for the climate hypesters to ignore the critiques of their fear mongering and apocalyptic claptrap.
    Think of ATTP, Len etc. as some fundie religionists who *know* their take on the bible proves that the rapture is coming (really soon!) and are rejecting critiques of their claims based on some obscure fact that they have correct.

    Like

  45. Jaime, I thought you could figure out. The graphs shows 365 at 35km and 375 ish in the troposphere because they’re from the start of the century. The balloon numbers would be a dead giveaway for most.

    Like

  46. Hunter I stand rebuked, yet this discussion began by my admission that I did not understand the vagaries of the Keeling Curve. I still maintain that perturbations caused mainly by organic activity take months to decline (hardly the characteristic of a well-mixed gas), by which time they are overtaken by the next perturbation and the atmosphere never gets fully mixed.

    One thing it has flushed out is than Len cannot read data plots, but perhaps we already knew this.

    Like

  47. ALAN KENDALL 11 Nov 17 at 6:22 pm
    The change from conventional to unconventional fossil fuels will be slow, and driven primarily by market distortions and politics rather than running out of conventional fuels. For instance, Saudi Arabia has huge reserves of low-cost oil – sufficient to supply the entire world for eight years at current production rates according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2016. The rest of the Middle East could supply the world for a further 16 years. Yet due to the OPEC cartel, and greater competition in the West means that oil with higher production costs and emissions can compete. It is similar for shale gas against conventional gas.
    The levels of potential emissions contained within proven reserves of coal, gas and oil is a number of times larger than the 1000 GtCO2e the IPCC claimed was the maximum that could be emitted from 2012 onwards (about 700 GtCO2e from 2018 onwards) to avert 2°C of warming. McGlade and Ekins 2015 (The geographical distribution of fossil fuels unused when limiting global warming to 2°C) estimate that the proven global reserves around 2900 GtCO2e – about four times the level emissions to exceed 2°C. I used the BP figures to get a breakdown by major source. For oil it understates Canada and Venezuela, and overstates the Middle East. It does not really matter, as McGlade and Ekins further estimate another 8000 GtCO2e of emissions from unproven reserves.

    The whole problem of constraining emissions is pretty useless unless you can persuade Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, Qatar, Russia, China, India, USA, Canada, Venezuela and many other countries to leave at least 75% of their proven reserves and all unproven reserves of fossil fuels in the ground. All that is happening at the moment is the infliction of useless and regressive burdens on the countries who have swallowed the climate crap. The policies will still be useless even if (a) the extreme CAGW is true and (b) policies could deliver significant emissions reductions in OECD countries.

    Liked by 1 person

  48. Len has trouble reading:

    “Figure 7. (a) Reconstructed vertical profiles of the mean CO2 compared with CONTRAIL measurements for 2007 at 50–60◦N. Dotted and dashed lines show vertical profiles of CO2 from TRACZILLA (blue: May, orange: August). Symbols show in situ aircraft measurements from the CONTRAIL campaign (magenta square: May, black triangle: August).(b) Averaged monthly profiles of the reconstructed CO2 over the period 2000–2010 after removal of the mean CO2 trend at each level and centred on 2007”

    Like

  49. I don’t see your point, Jaime. Levels drop on average about 15ppm between 5 and 35km. Today levels average over 400ppm so at 35km you can expect 385-390. That is a long way from 365 and is, as I said to start with, around 400 – all the way up to space.

    Like

  50. Len, CO2 over the period 2000-2010 averaged a difference of 15-20ppm between 5 and 35km. You stated CO2 is 400ppm all the way up to space. Not so. CO2 concentration decreases the higher you go. ‘Space’ really begins at about 100km. There’s no reason to suspect that CO2 concentration does not continue to decline from 35km to 100km. You were, therefore, wrong. Simple. Just get over it.

    Like

  51. I said ‘around’ 400ppm, Jaime. You are arguing about the meaning of ‘around. The curve you like is not declining much at 35km, maybe 1 or 2ppm per 10km, so add another 7-14ppm to the decline. If you’re going to complain that a few ppm makes this difference between being around 400 and not being around 400, you might as well object that in May this year it was a smidgen off 410ppm – no way, that’s not around 400ppm! So what do you conclude from those few parts per million, that CO2 is not well mixed? Idiotic, even for you and your sidekick, Alan.

    Like

  52. It’s tedious dancing on the head of a pin with a troll who comes here only to mock and insult and try to score points. I showed you some actual science which proves that CO2 declines from ‘around’ 390ppm at 5km to ‘around’ 365 ppm at 35km, following a well-defined, characteristic profile, I merely said that this showed your unreferenced assertion that CO2 was ‘around’ 400ppm all the way up to space was not that simple.

    You could have just shrugged and said OK, yeah, CO2 does decline by ‘around’ 5% at 35km compared to the surface, and there’s no actual data for what it does for the next 65km, all the way up to ‘space’. But you couldn’t drop it could you. First you tried to argue (wrongly) that the data was only from 2001, then you argued that your bland statement which implied that CO2 does not vary with height was correct because you used the get out word ‘around’. Well, CO2 was ‘around’ 400ppm back in 1995 and will be ‘around’ 400ppm in 2030 probably, so what the hell are you climate change alarmist types getting so het up about, telling us we must reduce global GHG emissions to zero next week when clearly, from 1995 to 2030, CO2 will remain ‘around’ 400ppm for 35 years,during which the cumulative emissions of CO2 from fossil fuels will be huge?

    It is indeed remarkable that somebody who clearly prefers approximations and sweeping statements of equivalence to scientific exactitude should be such a nit-picking little git when it comes to arguing with people who he clearly despises and has no respect for. Alan, my ‘sidekick’? That’s bloody hilarious as far as I’m concerned and very insulting to Alan, with whom I agree and disagree probably in equal measure.

    Also, in your zeal to prove that CO2 was indeed ‘around’ 400ppm all the way up to space, you neglected to address the other points I raised concerning your apparent ignorance.

    Like

  53. Jaime. Remind me never to get on the wrong side of you, and “round about” half the time your side of an argument. Viva la difference.

    Liked by 1 person

  54. Tom,
    A Saudi oil minister once famously pointed out that the Stone Age did not end due to the lack of stones.
    People came up with something better. Copper, Bronze, iron, steel. Wood, coal, Oil and nukes. Progress.
    But it appears that the climate concerned are determined to end the Age of Oil with something that is not progress.
    The twin climate delusions, that we are experiencing a climate crisis and that windmills can end the crisis, are not going to build a world that serves the vast majority if us well at all.
    The climate kook folly of the moment is for scientists to sue peer reviewed papers that disagree with their unfounded claims. But this is only a step in a long path the climate consensus started since before climategate.

    Like

  55. Responded too quickly. More consideration would have lead me to write that I was, in this matter, delighted to be identified as Jaime’s sidekick but was mortified to learn that we disagreed 50% of the time.

    Like

  56. Actually Alan, that was just a rough guess. Thinking about it, I probably disagree with what you write a lot less than 50% and on science issues, even less than that, so yes, we are indeed partners in crime!

    Like

  57. ATTP,
    I just noted your answer regarding residence time of CO2 molecules.
    Sorry but your explanation is not at all clear.
    If a molecule us rem8ved in years, it is gone.
    Please clarify.
    Tia

    Like

  58. “…I merely said that this showed your unreferenced assertion that CO2 was ‘around’ 400ppm all the way up to space was not that simple.”

    No, Jaime, to my suggestion, “CO2 is well mixed; it’s around 400ppm all the way up to space; there’s no part of it that is still at pre-industrial levels or anywhere near”, you said I was ignorant or illogical. I am doubtless sometimes illogical and I’m ignorant of almost everything there is to know, but not in that sentence in the context of that discussion. It may have been imprecise but to address your sidekick’s suspicion that CO2 isn’t well mixed because he’d spotted some variations on the order of 5ppm over the course of a season, it was quite adequate. CO2 is not in some way stratified, it doesn’t condense out, it is well mixed. Of course, if you could show that CO2 at the altitude of effective radiation to space doesn’t rise in tandem with surface levels, then the standard description of how the GHE works to warm the planet would be invalid. But being well mixed, it does.

    As it happens, I didn’t know that levels fall slowly with altitude, so thanks for that. CO2 is heavier than O2 and N2 so naively (ignorantly) that profile might be expected.

    Hunter, “But it appears that the climate concerned are determined to end the Age of Oil with something that is not progress.”

    If we could retain or improve the quality of life of everyone and do it with less pollution and ecological destruction and without the risk of changing the climate, that would surely represent progress. So, no, what you think appears to be so, is not. Bloody difficult to achieve, you might say instead, and you’d be right.

    Like

  59. Len, at this point I just yawn and say “Yeah, whatever”.
    I’m off now to watch some paint dry and bash my head slowly against a brick wall in preference to pursuing this ‘conversation’ any further. Have fun.

    Like

  60. Of course CO2 is well mixed. No evidence really suggests that but unless he makes yet another totally unjustified assumption the whole shebang collapses and he has to start waffling about the climate 10 million years ago…. Similarly without much in the way of evidence. It is like giving a ticket inspector a photo of your grandma and expecting him to accept it as proof of having bought a ticket

    Like

  61. Hunter,

    If a molecule us rem8ved in years, it is gone.
    Please clarify.

    Essentially there are two different timescales, one called the residence time and the other called the adjustment time. The residence time is the typical time an individual molecule will stay in the atmosphere before moving into one of the natural sinks (oceans/biosphere). The adjustment time is the timescale over which an enhancement in atmospheric CO2 will decay.

    If you consider the fluxes, then the flux out of the atmosphere (into the natural sinks) is about 210GtC per year. The total mass of CO2 in the atmosphere is about 850GtC. Therefore all the CO2 in the atmosphere could leave the atmosphere and go into one of the natural sinks within 4 years, or so. However, the flux into the atmosphere is also about 210GtC per year (in fact, it’s slightly more than this because or our emissions into the atmosphere) and so a molecule that leaves the atmosphere will be replaced by one coming into the atmosphere. Therefore, that the residence time of a molecule is only a few years, does not mean that an enhancement in atmospheric CO2 would also decay on a timescale of a few years, because a molecule that leaves the atmosphere will typically be replaced by one coming from outside the atmosphere.

    Determining the adjustment time (the timescale over which an enhancement in atmospheric CO2 will decay) is a bit more complex, but Gavin Cawley has a paper that estimates it – reasonably simple estimates give about 70 years, more complex ones are a few hundred years (see Figure 2 here).

    Like

  62. OK, OK, OK. I confess: CO2 is a well mixed gas. All I was trying to do was to point out that seasonal and hemispheric processes disturb the uniformity, and these divergences propagate rather slowly (months) over the Earth’s surface – more slowly than I would have thought in a “well-mixed” gas. Then Jaime came up with a research paper showing a persistent vertical pattern of varying CO2, which to my mind (but not Len’s) is even more difficult to explain. It’s my hang-up and I’ll not impose it upon you again – but I still don’t understand it.
    I suppose my hang up relates to the difference between an atmosphere that has been mixed for eons and one in which the global mixing process between hemispheres is somewhat slower than I would have first imagined (or am I being overly influenced by my teenage reading of Nevil Shute’s “On the beach”?)

    Like

  63. ATTP,
    Thank you for skipping over the radical claim of the climate consenus, that CO2 sticks around for hundreds if not thousands of years.
    Your assumption that CO2 sinks are static does of not appear to be supported by the physics or the facts.

    Like

  64. Hunter,

    Thank you for skipping over the radical claim of the climate consenus, that CO2 sticks around for hundreds if not thousands of years.

    Well, because I didn’t think it was relevant to what you’d asked. However, yes, we would expect an anthropogenically-driven enhancement in atmospheric CO2 to persist for thousands of years. It depends on how much we emit, but given how much we are likely to emit it is likely that an enhancement equivalent to 20% of our emissions will remain in the atmosphere for thousands of years. You can check the Archer et al. paper that I included in the last comment (see the box about the PETM, for example, and Figure 1). It’s also related to the Revelle factor, which I discussed in this post.

    Your assumption that CO2 sinks are static does of not appear to be supported by the physics or the facts.

    I didn’t say they were static, and they almost certainly are not. I was simply presenting some current numbers that illustrate why the residence time of a CO2 molecule is only a few years.

    Like

  65. ATTP,
    It appears you’re relying on circular reasoning to support the idea that while CO2 molecules leave the scene in a few years the overall % stays up for thousands of years.
    In a separate note, is it at all ironic to you that I woukd be banned or censored at your site while you freely post here?

    Liked by 1 person

  66. beth,
    Yes. They do whatevah indeed.
    The magical nature of CO2 created by humans is amazing.
    CO2 from forestfires, ocean temp changes, termites, are all good.
    But human produced CO2 us not only bad, but the bad lasts for millennia. And apparently the significant greening of Earth’s biosphere is unimportant to the climate concerned. Because it has involved human generated CO2, I guess.
    A secular version of the mark of Caine, or original sin.
    Btw, have you seen how Jennifer Marohasy has been up to some real good?
    She has shown clearly and objectively that the Australia BOM has been fiddling with the numbers to “enhance” the temperature for many years.

    Liked by 1 person

  67. Hunter,

    It appears you’re relying on circular reasoning to support the idea that while CO2 molecules leave the scene in a few years the overall % stays up for thousands of years.

    Umm, no. The residence time of an individual molecule largely depends on the flux out of the atmosphere. The adjustment time for an enhancement depends on the net flux (i.e., the flux out minus the flux in). This gives two different timescales. The residence time is quite short (years) the adjustment time is much longer (many decades to a few centuries). Consider the case of the concentration being in a steady state (i.e., the flux in matches the flux out, so that there is no net flux). The residence time for a molecule would still be years, but the concentration would be fixed.

    In addition, if we add enough new CO2 to the system (by, for example, burning fossil fuels and emitting the CO2 into the atmosphere) there is limit to how much can be taken up by the fast carbon sinks (oceans/biosphere). Hence there is a residual that remains for thousands of years until it is drawn down by the slow carbon sinks (weathering).

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s