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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

WUWT claim? CO2 is NOT plant food. How WUWT rejects chemistry, biology and photosynthesis

Sou | 5:00 PM Go to the first of 68 comments. Add a comment

Anthony Watts today posted an article on his blog rejecting chemistry, biology and photosynthesis (archived here). The article was written by WUWT "guest" essayist, James McCown, who wrote:

...if the CO2 concentration is accurately measured by Etheridge et al (1996), then it is more likely the result of a natural process than from industrial sources.
James McCown is said to be an "economist with the Toltec Group, an economic consulting practice in Oklahoma and has  a PhD in economics from Ohio State." It looks as if he is the Toltec Group. I'd say he is the sum total of the Toltec Group, which from its website is mainly interested in oil and gas (and flogging a free android app). I'd not recommend commissioning him to do any research relating to climate (or economics).

Most scientists will agree that most of the CO2 concentration changes of the past 1000 years as reported by Etheridge et al way back in 1996 would have been the result of natural processes rather than from industrial sources. The main contribution from industrial sources would have been from the industrial era, since the 1700s. Most of the changes from the several centuries prior to that would have been from natural sources, with only small changes arising from human activities such as deforestation and agriculture. So that's nothing new.

However I don't think that's what James McCown meant. I believe he was trying to argue that plants don't use CO2 in photosynthesis and that burning fossil fuels doesn't release carbon dioxide. It seems to me that he's rejecting plant biochemistry (photosynthesis) as well as chemistry (the reaction of burning hydrocarbons).  What he seems to be saying is that the recent hike in atmospheric CO2 wasn't added by humans.

I put together a chart based on these data from Lüthi et al 2009, just averaging the CO2 over each 10,000 years of the past 800,000 years and adding what's happened in the past 150 years, since we've been burning up fossil fuels and chopping down trees at a greater pace than ever:

Data source: Lüthi et al (2008)

Atmospheric CO2 oscillated between around 180 ppm and 280 ppm over the past 800,000 years as Earth cooled and warmed. It's only in recent decades that it's gone above 300 ppm and has now shot up to 400 ppm. Burning gigantic amounts of fossil fuels is the main reason for this. James hasn't thought it through when he writes: "it is more likely the result of a natural process than from industrial sources". In fact he doesn't even indicate what "natural process" could possibly cause such a stupendously huge amount of CO2 to get into the air all of a sudden.

Most of the WUWT article was about a paper and a comment on the paper. The first paper was by Michael Beenstock and colleagues, published in November 2012.  It was one of those statistical analyses that pop up from time to time wherein deniers try to prove that AGW doesn't exist or is minimal. The paper looks to have been an "it's the sun" claim, with the opening para in the Discussion section being (my bold):
We have shown that anthropogenic forcings do not polynomially cointegrate with global temperature and solar irradiance. Therefore, data for 1880–2007 do not support the anthropogenic interpretation of global warming during this period. This key result is shown graphically in Fig. 3 where the vertical axis measures the component of global temperature that is unexplained by solar irradiance according to our estimates. In panel a the horizontal axis measures the anomaly in the anthropogenic trend when the latter is derived from forcings of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. In panel b the horizontal axis measures this anthropogenic anomaly when apart from these greenhouse gas forcings, it includes tropospheric aerosols and black carbon. Panels a and b both show that there is no relationship between temperature and the anthropogenic anomaly, once the warming effect of solar irradiance is taken into consideration.

The Beenstock paper is pretty well all statistics and econometrics which is beyond my expertise. It wasn't based on climate science. It didn't get much attention, being cited only 14 times so far (according to Google Scholar), with most citations being either refutations mixed with the occasional citation from other science deniers (eg Willie Soon).  At WUWT James is trying to defend the paper against one of the papers that pointed out its flaws, by Pretis and Hendry - who took it on from an econometric perspective. A fight fire with fire approach.

Michael Beenstock has only tackled global warming in one other paper that I found, and that was about tide gauges. I gather he's a climate science denier whose own field isn't climate science but economics.

The comment on the paper was by two economists, F. Pretis and D. F. Hendry, who argued there were errors in the Beenstock paper, which they discuss under six main headings. Anyway, that's enough of that. This HW article isn't about the merits or otherwise of the different papers. The papers themselves rely on technical analysis which is beyond my expertise and they aren't really about climate science, they are about statistics/econometrics. I just thought it was mildly interesting that WUWT has another article rejecting basic science. In this case, rejecting chemistry and biology.

From the WUWT comments

One of the commenters at WUWT goes even further and disputes the denier meme that "CO2 is plant food". Doug Proctor says (extract):
June 24, 2014 at 11:15 am
Have a look at the details of the Keeling CO2 curve. There is a very odd SINGLE cycle to the rise and fall during the year. The peak is in late April, and the lowest level, in end September, beginning October. The annual rise is the difference between the rise and fall, of course, and attributed to power-plant, fossil fuel use. The cycle is attributed to “natural causes”. Yet what processes start net CO2 production in September and end net production in May? And why only one?
What processes indeed!

Beenstock, Michael, Yaniv Reingewertz, and Nathan Paldor. "Polynomial cointegration tests of anthropogenic impact on global warming." Earth System Dynamics 3, no. 2 (2012): 173-188. doi:10.5194/esd-3-173-2012

Pretis, F., and D. F. Hendry. "Comment on" Polynomial cointegration tests of anthropogenic impact on global warming" by Beenstock et al.(2012)–some hazards in econometric modelling of climate change." Earth System Dynamics 4, no. 2 (2013): 375-384. doi:10.5194/esd-4-375-2013

Etheridge, D. M., L. P. Steele, R. L. Langenfelds, R. J. Francey, J‐M. Barnola, and V. I. Morgan. "Natural and anthropogenic changes in atmospheric CO2 over the last 1000 years from air in Antarctic ice and firn." Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres (1984–2012) 101, no. D2 (1996): 4115-4128. DOI: 10.1029/95JD03410

Lüthi, Dieter, Martine Le Floch, Bernhard Bereiter, Thomas Blunier, Jean-Marc Barnola, Urs Siegenthaler, Dominique Raynaud et al. "High-resolution carbon dioxide concentration record 650,000–800,000 years before present." Nature 453, no. 7193 (2008): 379-382. doi:10.1038/nature06949


  1. Looking through the wuwt comments it seemed that the few genuine sceptics that post there (and annoy the anti science rabble) were silent. I wonder if they were still trying to decode a badly written article, or if they have been driven off.

    The Proctor comment was a face palm moment: something more suited to a school playground than an 'adult' discussion.

  2. "I put together a chart based on these data from Lüthi et al 2009, just averaging the CO2 over each 10,000 years of the past 800,000 years and adding what's happened in the past 150 years, since we've been burning up fossil fuels and chopping down trees at a greater pace than ever:"

    So you are comparing a resolution of the average over 10,000 years to that of just 150 years. Typical alarmist mathematics there. you have no clue at all do you?

    1. This "alarmist" (i.e., me, Marco) can follow links and look at the full data set. That full dataset, which ranges from about 50 to 5000-year resolution, looks essentially the same. There is not one single data point in that full dataset where the CO2 concentration is above 300 ppm

    2. For your 'point' to be relevent you'd need to cite some kind of natural mechanism that could cause an abrupt change in CO2 levels. Some kind of super super mega volcanism perhaps? No - because it has to be the same natural mechanism that is causing the CO2 rise today without us being able to notice it. And then you'd need a mechanism to get all that CO2 out of the atmosphere in double quick time.

      And then you'd need a reason why that natural mechanism stopped producing spikes in the last few thousand years, only to suddenly decide to produce a spike that coincides - by some mind boggling coincidence - with our fossil fuel use.

      And the thing is, we know what's putting the CO2 in the atmosphere: we know how much carbon we are ripping out of the ground and burning. So that's what is causing the rise in CO2.

      My brain hurts: I'm trying to communicate with somebody who doesn't seem to accept things that I'd have thought we all know. Which planet is Anonymous on?

    3. This "alarmist" (i.e., me, Marco) can follow links and look at the full data set.

      So you failed miserably at maths too Marco?

    4. Marco: not *entirely* correct -- there's one point where they find anomalously high values (339ppmv), except that's an artefact caused by an incident during the drilling process. that they make a fairly major point of this is....interesting. (for comparison, CO_2 levels haven't been that low since the 1980s).

    5. "And then you'd need a reason why that natural mechanism stopped producing spikes in the last few thousand years, only to suddenly decide to produce a spike that coincides - by some mind boggling coincidence - with our fossil fuel use"

      No Millicent you'd need to understand the difference in the resolution of a graph, maths is obviously lost on you.

    6. coming from someone going daily to a site (WUWT) not able to understand a baseline, I'm not sure how to understand that sentence.

      Anyway, as a member of the troll confrery, I would award 2/10. Used tactic, obvious bait, no interaction with people to be baited. Tsss.

    7. After anonymous learns how to follow a link, he might learn how to use Google (or a library).

      Then he might find out that there is substantial evidence that burning hydrocarbons releases CO2 (it's not just a theory :D); and that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. (And that plants use CO2 in photosynthesis.) And that there is substantial evidence that CO2 levels haven't been as high in 800,000 years, regardless of the resolution of the chart I put up and none to suggest there is the remote possibility that it could have been as high in the past 800,000 years.

      Of course that would require an interest in learning. It's pretty obvious that anon despises knowledge and particularly knowledge about the natural world. He'd have to disavow his membership of the Scientific Illiterati Society and give up his slogan "proud to be ignorant".

    8. "No Millicent you'd need to understand the difference in the resolution of a graph, maths is obviously lost on you."

      I'm sorry, you see what I did there? I assumed you had the minimal amount of intelligence required to understand the point I was making without me spelling it out so that a nine year old could understand it. I was wrong: you really are that stupid. So I will explain.

      Unless you can tell us what natural mechanism can create a spike so short in duration - and with the limits I have already described - then there is no need for a greater resolution to detect a natural phenomenon that does not exist.

      Quite what maths has to do with that is beyond me, lol.

    9. "Quite what maths has to do with that is beyond me, lol."

      Obviously it is beyond you. What is it about the "averaging over 10,000 years" that you do not understand, a nine year old would run rings around you Millicent.

    10. "What is it about the "averaging over 10,000 years" that you do not understand, a nine year old would run rings around you Millicent."

      It's a thing so simple that anybody can understand it. I think we can all understand that an averaged value might hide a short term peak. So have we got that out of the way? Can we move on? Dearie me, is this so very hard for you?

      Can we try and address my point now? is that possible?

      Or do you want to talk a bit more about averages because thats the limit of where your wit can take you?

    11. Well try to understand the graph that I pointed out Millicent and tell me how you can reconcile the resolution shown.

    12. Right, so you can't get beyond the painfully simple. My comment at 9.11 will remain unanswered because you refuse to go beyond the 'maths' of a nine year old and consider that - god only knows how - to be the sticking point.

    13. Well, looks like anon has answered your question, Millicent. His limit doesn't extend to the carbon cycle.

      And, like so many deniers, he isn't able to comprehend illustration of a point.

    14. My math skills are clearly immensely better than those of anonymous, and I do not consider myself a math genius. If a data smoothing routine like the one Sou did returns a curve that is essentially the same as the underlying data without the smoothing, there is no problem using that smoothed graph. It just provides a picture that is easier to understand for most people.

      ligne: I was aware of that, and anomalous data with very good explanations don't count in my book.

    15. "My math skills are clearly immensely better than those of anonymous, and I do not consider myself a math genius."

      I'm glad you don't consider yourself a maths genius Marco, because let's face it you are not and if you cannot spot the problems in the graph your skills are way short of mine.

    16. Your math skills are sorely lacking, anon. Get out your fingers and toes and calculate how much CO2 would need to have been released to get a spike of atmospheric CO2 to 400 ppm in the past 800,000 years before industrialisation. Then see if you can get some science skills to explain the mechanism by which that could have happened without ever having been detected. Then use more science and math skills to work out the mechanism by which that same huge amount of CO2 could have disappeared again with no trace of it ever happening.

      (Sorry, folk. I shouldn't have allowed these comments because anon is actually banned for past infringements. But I'm in the sort of mood where I'm getting satisfaction from seeing him make a complete and utter fool of himself in public.)

    17. *mathematically* it's possible that there are sharp peaks in the CO_2 record that aren't visible at that resolution (or in the higher-resolution reconstructions that Sou didn't link to). *physically* it's incredibly implausible that levels could have increased and then deacreased by >100ppm while not leaving any evidence.

      if you disagree, please acknowledge Millicent's challenge from 9:57 PM and propose a natural process wherby hundreds of billions of tonnes of CO_2 can be added and removed from the atmosphere over the course of just a few hundred years.

    18. Anonymous' blathering about averages and resolutions falls for more reasons than just for needing to explain what might cause CO2 spikes of the magnitude of the contemporary increase. You see, for any period where such an undetected spike occurred there's need to be an accompanying crash in CO2 in order for the proxies to average as they do, and there are two profoundly problematic issues that arise.

      Firstly, there is no physical mechanism that can account for such a rapid dropping of CO2, especially one that acts multiple times but remains completely absent from the historical record and from the suite of multiple, independent pre-history proxies.

      Second, if such a drop did occur there'd be numerous plant extinctions recorded in the fossil record as many flora species became unable to fix sufficient amounts of the carbon they require, given that many species begin to struggle much below 250 ppm, and oddly enough there are no such extinction events recorded...

      There are many words to describe this anonymous's staggeringly eye-watering inability with basic intellectual rigour, but none of them are polite and as there are ladies and gentlemen present I will leave it to the reader to imagine what those words may be, as they see fit.

    19. Oh, I see that ligne pre-empted my first point - I should have refreshed before posting.

    20. Hey Anonymous

      Do you accept that looking at the complete dataset and seeing there are no values over 300 (pace 1 anomalous outlier) makes the graph quite an acceptable representation of the data?

    21. Anonymous, if I can overlay the actual data and the 10,000-year averaged, and see only very minor differences, I know the smoothing introduced by the 10,000-year averaging has no effect on the conclusions that Sou draws.

    22. @Anonymous

      Waiting, Waiting ...

  3. Don't like having your stupidity pointed out do you?

    1. Huh? You didn't even wait for a reply. Or do you really think there are people constantly monitoring this site and they are sat around thinking you actually have a point? That's kinda funny, in a sad sort of way.

    2. "Of course that would require an interest in learning. It's pretty obvious that anon despises knowledge and particularly knowledge about the natural world. He'd have to disavow his membership of the Scientific Illiterati Society and give up his slogan "proud to be ignorant""

      To present a graph as you have says one of two things,

      a) you have absolutely no idea about maths and statistics and should cease all blogging claiming to know what you are talking about.

      b) you know exactly what is wrong with your graph but you published it anyway making you a complete fraud.

      You Choose.

    3. There is nothing at all wrong with the chart. I explained it well, provided a link and also explained that the raw data (before averageing) oscillated between around 180 and 300 ppm over the past 800,000 years. In my comment I elaborated that there is no evidence atmospheric CO2 ever spiked as high as now in that period. Nor, as Millicent has pointed out to you, is there any possible explanation for how such an event could have happened without a real scientist noticing.

      The fact that you seem to think that CO2 could have been as high as it is now in the past 800,000 years is sufficient evidence to show you are ignorant of science. Combine it with other nonsense you've written here in the past and the evidence points quite clearly to you being a climate science denier and a paid up member of the illiterati.

      Anonymous, you chose (for yourself) ignorance over learning and knowledge. You probably chose that path long ago. It's obvious you despise the acquisition of scientific knowledge. No need to inflict your personal choice on others. Go back to WUWT with the rest of the quacks. There you'll enjoy some back-slapping and can snigger with your mates and mock people who aspire to improve the world.

    4. "There is nothing at all wrong with the chart."

      If Watts had produced such a dodgy chart you would have been all over it like a cheap suit, as I said, if you stand by this piece of garbage you are nothing but a fraud.

    5. "Anonymous, you chose (for yourself) ignorance over learning and knowledge."

      No Sou, you choose to follow a religion that is dying as we speak.

    6. Don't like having your stupidity pointed out do you?

      I don't like having to read your stupidity and fake outrage. It's perfectly reasonable to present that graph as is, fully captioned with linked refs. Your angry act is entirely diversionary.

      As has been pointed out, follow the links. The resolution of the ice core samples is much higher, and a passing knowledge of the carbon cycle prior to anthropogenic bulk use of fossil fuel, and the speed of drawdown mechanisms suggests that fashioning a 130ppm rise and fall and concealing it is unlikely in the extreme. Are you going to explain how that 130ppm can be removed from the atmosphere inside 1000 years? Are you going to offer a physical mechanism to inject and then extract 130ppm [or more] CO2 that magically avoids all the sample points in the ice record? Are you going to explain,using your doubtless profound knowledge of the earth sciences, that the ice core record really constantly conceals these huge transients, and the 'shape' of published trace is just a fluke.

      When you return to your idiot collective at Watts, perhaps you can hold your fellow idiots to your apparently lofty presentation standards....and ask them to provide some physically plausible pushback against McClown's nonsense.

      Oh, and there you go with the 'AGW=religion' meme...great work, original thinking indeed. Can't you cretins lift your game?

    7. Anon, show me what is wrong with the chart. It's not dodgy at all. I explained the chart and linked to the data. The chart is illustrative. You need to show evidence for it not being representative of atmospheric CO2 of the past 800,000 years. You can't so you don't.

      BTW, the reason I could use averageing was because there was very little variation in the raw data. I checked. You didn't. Not that I needed to, since I'm familiar with the science. You're not.

      You still haven't explained why you believe that hydrocarbons can burn without releasing CO2. Or why you think that plants don't use CO2 in photosynthesis.

      I stand by the article (and the chart) and am not a fraud. You, on the other hand, are coming across as an utter nutter of the WUWT kind who doesn't even understand the carbon cycle.

    8. "The resolution of the ice core samples is much higher"

      So why wasn't the higher resolution presented in the graph stupid?

    9. "Or why you think that plants don't use CO2 in photosynthesis."

      Perhaps you could refer me to where I said that "plants don't use use C02 in Photosynthesis"

      But you can't can you? You just made that up like the rest of your rubbish.

    10. Waiting, Waiting...

    11. Anon, are you now trying to claim that plants do use CO2 in photosynthesis? But you can't quite bring yourself to acknowledge that burning hydrocarbons (made from plants) releases CO2?

      All might not be lost totally, despite your efforts to reject science. Baby steps... Soon you'll be claiming that CO2 is a greenhouse gas and more of it warms the world. (Okay, that's probably expecting too much.)

    12. No Sou, I want you to point out where I said

      "plants don't use use C02 in Photosynthesis"

      Should be easy if in fact I had said it, so put up or shut up!

    13. Ah, well done Sou, when you know your goose is cooked, the only course of action is to ban those who you cannot challenge!

    14. "Waiting, Waiting..."

      I have been waiting since 9.11 for you to answer my point. And yes dear (just in case) I do know what averages are.

    15. table 3 of supplementary information, pointed out conveniently by our host (contrary to WUWT customs), shows the graph you are eagerly waiting for.
      In short : - temporal sampling is uneven, usually around 500 years (sometimes lower, sometimes as high as 2000 years from eyeball Mk1)
      - highest measurement is around -350 000 y, with a measure at 300 ppm
      - from eyeball mk1, CO2 could rise around 20-30 ppm per 500 years - to be compared to the 100 ppm rise and counting in 150 years

      In short : Sou has made the data smoother, I suppose because 20 ppm changes are not significant, but she didn't let anything significant apart. And she made the data available in 3 clicks (click on link, click on excel file, click on third tab).
      So, wtf ? Instead of hitting F5 as if you were on /b/, you could have spent the 4 minutes between your last answers to do that. Wtf ?

    16. Ha ha - anon can't bring himself to admit that plants use CO2. He can only go as far as to deny denying it. I guess that's because he can't bring himself to admit to simple chemistry. That burning organic material made from plants releases CO2.

      And he's not even attempted to explain how he thinks scientists could have missed a huge disruption to the carbon cycle causing an enormous spike and fallback in atmospheric CO2 in the past 800,000 years.

      Just another wacky science denier, like I said.

    17. "Ha ha - anon can't bring himself to admit that plants use CO2. He can only go as far as to deny denying it."

      When have I ever denied that plants use Co2 you simpleton?
      As I said before provide a link or shut the F@#& up!

    18. Well I have decided I am in sympathy with Anonymous: if we only need to consider ourselves limited by mathematics and don't concern ourselves with the petty problems that physical limits impose then life is so much easier.

      I was going to walk up to my mum's later. But now I'm going to fly there by flapping my arms.

    19. Anonymous has, quite intentionally I'm sure, drawn us into the same neverending vapid discussion we had when Marcott et. al. 2013 was published. McIntyre throws a spitball out there saying that there could be spikes that weren't detected due to the temporal resolution of the proxies...

      But since McIntyre doesn't do science, he can't propose a physical basis for these spikes (for reasons well discussed by several posters above), so he just leaves that bit of doubt hanging there for all the McIntyre/Watts sycophants to latch onto, and the result is years of having tired old arguments with no basis in reality flung at you by the likes of Anonymous in the hope that it will stick - much like flung poo occasionally sticks to the wall... or so I'm told.

      It's the way McIntyre rolls, still getting mileage out of MBH98 over 15 years later even though his attacks on it have been thoroughly discredited by multiple sources.

    20. Well I had a bit of a trial flight. I flapped my way up to 2km above my garden. I grew a little bit alarmed, and my arms were a bit tired, so I came down again.

      I only flew for a nano second or so: So short a time that human senses could not detect it and my average height above the ground was effectively zero on any timescale that humans would recognise. The accelerations/decelerations involved made my head spin: I might have a headache later.

      You'd think that absolutely everybody would think that all I have written above is nonsense. But to our anonymous pal, who doesn't require physical explanations of how things occur and who doesn't care for physical limits, there is no reason to doubt me.

    21. "Don't like having your stupidity pointed out do you?"

      Classic reflection.

      Stupid anonymous, can you explain the mechanism of extremely rapid spike-and-crash that would be required for CO2 levels to reach contemporaneous values but to appear as the 250-280 pre-Industrial Revolution average that characterises the record (and that reflects the CO2 levels to which most plants are adapted...), and can you explain how many plant species didn't become extinct during the spectacular CO2 crashes that would need to have occurred in order to keep the detected CO2 trajectory at the average levels indicated by the resolution of the proxies?

      Interested, scientifically-literate readers want to know...

  4. amazingly, Willis isn't the most insane person there, even making some sensible comments about Beck's physically impossible CO_2 swings, that just so happened to stabilise at the point when Keeling started his measurements.

    P@ Dolan's, on the other hand, is quite....exciting. why is there an annual cycle?

    "The Earth reaches perihelion in December. The peak could be a process, the results of which have a lag from the event, and the source of the CO2 rise could be sub-oceanic basalt volcanoes reacting to the increase in the sun’s gravitational effect due to the reduced distance between the Earth and the Sun. Other apparently chaotic effects in the cycle could be modulation of the signal by the gravitational effects of the other planets as their configuration constantly changes due to their motions in the solar plane."

    so there you go: the carbon cycle is a Taurus, or possibly a Gemini.

    1. He's missed out the influence of the ether and the great god Mutubu. And I don't see why he should omit these factors as there's as much evidence in support of them.

      And I do feel that Mount Etna and its chums will be feeling a little miffed at being left out. Or did he just use the phrase "sub-oceanic basalt volcanoes" because it sounded sciency.

    2. silly Millicent! unlike those sub-oceanic basalt volcanoes, Etna's eruptions aren't caused by the moon being in the second house, and Jupiter lying with Mars. she only erupts when she's been offered insufficient sacrifices (human or animal -- it's all good. just toss it into the caldera).

    3. Damn it that's just too sciency for me! I feel let down by Etna, who is clearly not working hard enough to protect short term fossil fuel industry profits and slob lifestyles like any decent volcano would.

    4. I have it! Its the dawning of the Age of Aquarius! And Aquarius is the water bearer hence its sub-oceanic volcanoes that are the key. A paper for a dog astrology journal (they are the best sort of journal these days) would seem to be called for.

      Which is probably what this song was all about before Al Gore had the words censored:

  5. I have read the article in question a few times over. I fail to see anything that even remotely suggests that the author disputes photosynthesis, or rejects, in any way, chemistry or biology. This rebuttal is absolute nonsense

    Ed Kurrant

    1. Ed, you missed the quote. Not hard to do. It was the second paragraph of the above article, just under the first paragraph.

      And then you missed the comment by Doug Proctor. Easy to miss, it was way down the bottom of the article. Just above the last sentence.

  6. I saw the quote. How does that support your claim? The commenters remarks are his own and insependent of the author's article. Having said that, I don't see how it supports your rebuttal.


    1. James McCown is arguing (implicitly) that burning massive amounts of fossil fuels doesn't produce carbon dioxide. He's rejecting a very simple chemical reaction. Here is his quote in full:

      "But as can be seen in the graph above, and the tests of stationarity of CO2 I have conducted for the 1850 – 1957 period, the GHG that is widely viewed by the warmists as the primary culprit has a trend-stationary process. This leads me to believe that if the CO2 concentration is accurately measured by Etheridge et al (1996), then it is more likely the result of a natural process than from industrial sources."

      He repeats his rejection of chemistry further down, in a question:

      "If the increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is caused by burning fossil fuels, which has increased significantly during the industrial era, then why don’t we see any decrease, or at least a deceleration, during the great depression of 1929 to 1933?"

      I don't have access to Etheridge96 but there is a more recent paper that has a good chart of CO2, Knorr (2009):

      James McCown doesn't bother with researching the topic any further. He found something he felt put doubt on a very simple, well-known chemical reaction and he ran with it. Close to the end he gave himself a small "out" - but clearly he is lying somewhere in the "doubt" to "reject outright" camp.

      No-one reading his article could think anything other than that he is questioning a very simple, straightforward chemical reaction.

      Doug Proctor is missing the point usually stressed by climate science deniers, which is that plants use CO2 in photosynthesis. There is more land in the northern hemisphere and more plants, which is why the effect in the northern hemisphere shows up in the CO2 record.

    2. ",,, a more recent paper ..." - well, that's just cherry-picking ;)

  7. He implies no such thing. His position is that natural processes are most likely the greater effect than those of human activity. To interpret this as saying that fossil fuels don't produce CO2 is a leap more befitting of Superman.


    1. Ah. I see your difficulty Ed. You don't understand basic chemistry either. You see when you burn hydrocarbons CO2 (and H2O) is released and oxygen is used up in the process.

      Thing is, there's nothing on earth that could cause atmospheric CO2 to increase so much so quickly except for burning fossil fuels. Deforestation only accounts for around 20% of the extra CO2. If there were a whole host of super-volcanoes erupting this past few decades spewing out massive amounts of CO2, someone would have noticed.

    2. I should add that people measure this stuff. There are records of how much fossil fuel is being burnt and observations of how much CO2 is being absorbed by the oceans and land (plants etc). The amount of CO2 in the air is known. The sums work out.

      So if you reckon there's some new major source of "natural" CO2 then you've got to explain what it is. It's got to be of plant origin because that's what isotopic analysis shows. In addition you'd have to explain what's happened to all the CO2 that's released when fossil fuels are burnt. Where does it go if not into the air, oceans and land?

    3. "His position is that natural processes are most likely the greater effect than those of human activity. "

      Ed and McCown need to concentrate especially on Sou's comment that "people measure this stuff".

      Scientists understand very well the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere, its partitioning into the ocean and the biosphere, the amount of fossil fuel burned, and the concurrent decrease of oxygen in the atmosphere.

      There are only two explanations for the increase in atmospheric CO2: it is generated by the burning of fossil fuels, or there is a magic pixie somewhere taking away from Planet Earth all human emissions and replacing them with increased biospheric emissions whilst at the same time cleverly replacing that lost biosphere carbon except for the bits that humans have destroyed directly. Oh, and not to mention the magical forging of isotopic ratios that indicate that the extra CO2 comes from fossil carbon and not from biospheric carbon, and the coincidence of the contemporaneous relationship between CO2 and fossil fuel use...

      Undersea volcanoes? Erm, no - increased atmospheric CO2 is leading increased ocean CO2, showing that the oceans are collectively a sink for the increased CO2. Also, there's no evidence for increased submarine vulcanism.

      There are more factors that refute McCown, but any interested reader can find the material on sites such as Skeptical Science. This is all old stuff, rehashed time and again, and it only shows McCown, Ed, and the anonymous tanty-thrower for the ignorants that they are.

  8. You're problem is that you presume, and presume badly. Chemistry has nothing do do with your grotesque comprehension on what was communicated in an article. That falls under the category of basic literacy.


    1. Scientific literacy is what's needed, Ed. You haven't explained what's wrong with my interpretation. On the contrary. All you've done is show that you don't understand very simple, well-known science.

    2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. Like so many US Americans, McCown assumes the US is the world and so the Great Depression was global. Industrialisation was proceeding apace in the Soviet Union at the time, and was, ironically, the foundation of the Koch fortune. In the Far East, Japan was developing the Manchurian coal industry to fuel their accelerating war machine. Within the developed world the US experience was peculiarly harsh, not least because of US American economists. Of whom, I notice, McCown is one.

  10. Before Ed graced us all with his motivated word-blindness, ligne and millicent were expounding on this brilliant new theory of astrologically-driven sub-oceanic basalt volcanic activity.

    The thing you have to remember about this piece of genius, is that it is 100% supported by the presence of monthly stadium-wave of volcanic activity circling the globe in sync with the much stronger variations in the gravitational influence of the moon. Oh, wait...

    I'd ask - do these skeptics subject their own notions to even the most basic sanity check - were it not for the fact we all know the answer already...

  11. I thought that Mr Ed was far smarter than this. His innate horse sense has let him down. Sad really. A pedant concentrating on semantics is about a high as he will ever get.
    Has no one considered the problems of elliptical integrals near infinite discontinuities or singularities? I know I have and it has nothing to do with anything here.

    He is just another moron that is no smarter than my dog that keeps chewing a bone in case it has more meat hidden somewhere. Unlike Mr Ed my dog sometimes finds a bit of marrow.

    I know that Sou does not allow denigration on this blog. Mr Ed should be banned because he is his own best denigrator. Bert

  12. Hi Bert

    Perhaps your dog chews on the bone to exercise his teeth? And perhaps that what Anonymous Ed needs to do because his bark is not very effective.

    On the subject of denigration. I do notice how deniers resort very quickly to denigration. Anonymous Ed was very quick to call people simpletons and stupid as he had no real points to make or answers to explain.

    One thing I like about the HotWhopper blog is that people try to engage people until they are beyond the pail but then only resort to snarky and witty put downs which are far more amusing than mindless brickbats. Then eventually moderation kicks in when the visitor is being too inane.


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