See addendum below for more muddle-headed thinking by richardscourtney.
What first caught my attention was this comment from Pippen Kool who quoted richardscourtney and wrote:
October 28, 2013 at 4:41 pm
richardscourtney says: “atmospheric CO2 concentration has reduced to dangerously low levels for the survival of plant species. Hence, an unprecedented extinction event induced by lack of atmospheric CO2 is a real possibility for the first time in the history of the planet”.
Good one. Are you trying to get your comment on the hotwhopper site?
How could I resist?
Richardscourtney is a self-appointed playground monitor at WUWT. He's also a "scholar" of the Cornwall Alliance, which rejects climate science and takes an alarmist stance on climate mitigation.
Being of a religious bent, I suppose richardscourtney thinks it was nothing short of a miracle that plants thrived during most of the Holocene prior to industrialisation, given that CO2 was almost 30% less than it is today.
Richardscourtney doesn't just think that it's low levels of CO2 that will lead to extinctions, it looks as if he rejects this chemical reaction (update: I could be wrong here - see addendum below):
hydrocarbon + oxygen ---> CO2 + H2O
Richardscourtney writes this non sequitur - twice for good measure:
The AGW-scare is based on the hypothesis that the observed rise of atmospheric CO2 concentration since the industrial revolution results from emissions of CO2 from human activities.
If the observed rise of atmospheric CO2 concentration since the industrial revolution results from volcanic and/or biological introduction of sulphide to the ocean surface layer then the entire AGW-scare is refuted. And the paper under discussion says that sulphide variation in the ocean surface layer does alter concentrations of O2 and CO2. October 29, 2013 at 1:33 am and October 29, 2013 at 6:11 am
So that takes us back to the paper that prompted Anthony Watts to write the headline:
The big stink 93.9 million years ago – blame CO2The paper apparently describes how a deficit of oxygen and surfeit of hydrogen sulphide in around five per cent of oceans led to a major extinction of marine life. The reason the WUWT-ers take such exception to the research is because it mentions high levels of CO2 in the context of a warmer atmosphere and oceans. The oceans lose oxygen as they warm. (They'd normally lose CO2 as they warm, too. But these days there's just too much of it in the air so the oceans are absorbing about half our waste CO2.)
The press release stated:
“Today, we are facing rising carbon dioxide contents in the atmosphere through human activities, and the amount of oxygen in the ocean may drop correspondingly in the face of rising seawater temperatures,” Lyons said. “Oxygen is less soluble in warmer water, and there are already suggestions of such decreases. In the face of these concerns, our findings from the warm, oxygen-poor ancient ocean may be a warning shot about yet another possible perturbation to marine ecology in the future.”Now that goes against all that WUWT-ers hold sacred. Forget oxygen deficits, it's the CO2 reference that got the mob riled. CO2 is plant food after all. It can do no harm.
How about socialism and CO2?
The socialism diversion started with the second comment in the thread, from R Taylor and went on for dozens of comments:
October 28, 2013 at 3:06 pm
Wilful misinterpretation of cause-and-effect between temperature and CO2, from temple priests of the Church of Socialism.
That got richardscourtney going, because he reckons he's a socialist. This in turn prompted dbstealey (aka Smokey) to write in sympathy (excerpt):
I am not a Socialist. But I think most Socialists have their hearts in the right place. The problems come in when evil schemers try to take power for their own self aggrandizement. October 28, 2013 at 8:14 pm
The thread is a crazy compilation of mixed up politics, mixed up ideology, lots of pseudo-science and multiple accusations of trolling. The last is almost all by richardscourtney, who falls back on "troll, troll go away" every time he comes across someone writing anything remotely resembling real science. Here's the link to the archived article again.
Addendum. Richardscourtney's non-explanation for rising atmospheric CO2
Richardscourtney, in a wonderful example of doublethink, rationalises his assertion that human activity may or may not be causing a rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide in a long comment at WUWT - comment archived here (time stamped October 29, 2013 at 9:16 am).
His first piece of evidence is that he got a paper published in E&E - which is about on par with his claiming to be an expert reviewer for the IPCC. Both may be true and neither says anything about his credibility in climate science (although it would be fair to say that if one publishes in E&E then one probably does not have much credibility as a climate scientist):
In our two 1995 papers we considered all the available evidence (sadly, there is not much) concerning the behaviour of the carbon cycle. One of those papers specifically assesses whether the data can determine a natural or an anthropogenic cause of the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration as measured at Mauna Loa since 1958.
(ref. Rorsch A, Courtney RS & Thoenes D, ‘The Interaction of Climate Change and the Carbon Dioxide Cycle’ E&E v16no2 (2005) ).
His next piece of evidence is an assertion. That's it. He doesn't explain how the carbon cycle speeds up so much. Probably because it hasn't.
We determined that the dynamics of the natural sequestration processes can cope easily with ALL the CO2 emissions both natural and anthropogenic of each year. From this we determined that rise is not accumulation of part of the anthropogenic emission (as is asserted by e.g. the IPCC and Ferdinand).
Next he acknowledges that the evidence doesn't match his conclusion and asks why not:
But the natural sequestration processes do NOT sequester all the CO2 emissions (both natural and anthropogenic) of each year. If they did then there would not be a rise. This leads to the important question; i.e.
Why don’t the natural sequestration processes sequester all the CO2 emissions of each year when their dynamics indicate they can?
To try to figure out why not, he says he built a model. That's right. A WUWT-er used a model to test his hypothesis:
We addressed this paradox by modelling the system behaviour with six different models three of which assumed a natural cause of the rise and the other three assumed the anthropogenic emission was the cause of the rise.
All six of ourmodels each matched the empirical data of the atmospheric CO2 concentration for each year to within the stated measurement accuracy of the Mauna Loa data. Thus, each of our models is better than the Bern model used by the IPCC because the IPCC uses unjustifiable 5-year smoothing to get its model to fit the empirical data.
This match occurs because – according to each of our models – the total CO2 emission of any year affects – and is affected by – the equilibrium state of the entire system. Some processes of the system are very slow with rate constants of years and decades. Hence, the system takes decades to fully adjust to a new equilibrium.I don't know what he was going on about with his five year smoothing. Nor can I follow his conclusions:
This leads to a direct answer to your question. The anthropogenic emission cannot directly add to rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration because the rate of that rise is limited by the rate constants in the processes of the carbon cycle. But the anthropogenic CO2 may possibly be the cause of the rise because the addition of anthropogenic CO2 may have caused the change in the equilibrium of the carbon cycle which is providing the rise. However, that possible cause is only a possibility. The six models which each provide that indication are three models which each assumes a natural cause of the change and three which each assumes the anthropogenic CO2 emission is the cause of the change.
I think he is trying to argue that pouring gigatonnes of CO2 into the air each year can't add to the amount of CO2 in the air. But then again maybe pouring gigatonnes of CO2 into the air each year can cause the amount of CO2 in the air to increase. And he's taken a 50:50 bet on the subject. This muddle-headed interpretation is supported by richardscourtney writing:
Hence, the only factual statements that can be made on the true cause of the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration are
(a) the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration may have an anthropogenic cause, or a natural cause, or some combination of anthropogenic and natural causes, but
(b) there is no evidence that the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration has a mostly anthropogenic cause or a mostly natural cause.
In other words, richardscourtney is none the wiser after building his models and writing papers for E&E.
Nevertheless, he continues to argue that adding billions of tonnes of CO2 to the air each year can't possibly add billions of CO2 to the air each year (and have half those billions of tonnes of extra CO2 absorbed by the ocean).