WUWT this week has surely hit rock bottom. It's slithered from the dopey to the absurd.
What is wrong with Anthony Watts? Have his half-coherent fake sceptics deserted him? Has he taken Wondering Willis Eschenbach's words to heart? Has the reality of global warming become so apparent that he's decided to give up on the ideological deniers and target his blog at the wingnuts?
It probably started with the Rocket Scientist from Luna Park, David Evans, and his Force X and the notch. If you thought that was weird enough, since then WUWT's been on a slippery slope to utter nuttery, including Tim Ball and his paranoid fantasies, Wondering Willis Eschenbach and his dismal skirmishes with Economics 101, Willis again and his scathing attack on Anthony Watts and WUWT, Roy Spencer PhD admitting he knows virtually nothing at all about climate science, then Anthony Watts failing junior high school chemistry.
Now Anthony's resurrected Ronald D. Voisin, of OMG it's insects fame (archived here, latest update here). You may recall he suggested we kill off mammals to help reduce CO2. You might also recall his central core nuclear reactor "theory" of climate.
This time Ronald decides, quite arbitrarily, that the oceans are a net emitter of CO2. By implication he's rejecting the notion that burning fossil fuels produces CO2 (although he does list it in a table), that the pH of oceans is dropping. He reckons he's done his sums, but he's neglected to factor in the pluses and minuses. If not for human activities like burning fossil fuels and deforestation, the amount of CO2 absorbed by natural sources (CO2 sinks) would be balanced by the amount of CO2 emitted from CO2 sources.
Back to basics: The Carbon Cycle
Ronald makes a prediction based on a misunderstanding of the fast and slow carbon cycles. As described by NASA:
Through a series of chemical reactions and tectonic activity, carbon takes between 100-200 million years to move between rocks, soil, ocean, and atmosphere in the slow carbon cycle. On average, 1013 to 1014 grams (10–100 million metric tons) of carbon move through the slow carbon cycle every year. In comparison, human emissions of carbon to the atmosphere are on the order of 1015 grams, whereas the fast carbon cycle moves 1016 to 1017 grams of carbon per year.
Ronald gets part of it right, writing:
When we examine the seasonal variation in atmospheric CO2 we see an indisputable clockwork signature. Some ask about this variation: What processes start net CO2 production in September and end net production in May? – As this is how the seasonal variation seemingly goes.
But a much better way to ask the same question is: What CO2 sequestering process slows beginning in September and doesn’t recover till May?
And the answer would be photosynthetic sequestering of the majority Earthly vegetation in the Northern Hemisphere.
How can it be made clearer that CO2 is currently rising and varying for natural cause?
Yes, CO2 goes up and down each year because of photosynthesis in the northern hemisphere. But that doesn't explain why it's going up and up and up each year. If it were only photosynthesis and decay then there wouldn't be any increase from year to year.
I rather like the way that NASA describes the fast carbon cycle (my numbering):
Four things can happen to move carbon from a plant and return it to the atmosphere, but all involve the same chemical reaction.
- Plants break down the sugar to get the energy they need to grow.
- Animals (including people) eat the plants or plankton, and break down the plant sugar to get energy.
- Plants and plankton die and decay (are eaten by bacteria) at the end of the growing season.
- Or fire consumes plants.
In each case, oxygen combines with sugar to release water, carbon dioxide, and energy. The basic chemical reaction looks like this:
In all four processes, the carbon dioxide released in the reaction usually ends up in the atmosphere. The fast carbon cycle is so tightly tied to plant life that the growing season can be seen by the way carbon dioxide fluctuates in the atmosphere. In the Northern Hemisphere winter, when few land plants are growing and many are decaying, atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations climb. During the spring, when plants begin growing again, concentrations drop. It is as if the Earth is breathing.
Here's a video I've shown before that illustrates the earth "breathing":
OMG it's cooling - not!
Ronald D Voisin's prediction is that the earth is about to cool down. Actually, for some weird reason, Ronald thinks the earth has "recently begun to cool". He couldn't be more wrong. He wrote:
Lastly, let me make an obvious prediction predicated on the prediction that the Earth has recently begun to cool and assuming that some appreciable level of cooling (0.1-0.3 degree C) takes place over the next several years.
Atmospheric CO2 is going to spike hard in the coming years. And before it stops spiking it will likely attain an annual contribution level appreciably larger than the then-current anthropogenic emission.
Why? Mauna Loa makes clear that majority CO2 sinks respond significantly to a temperature drop with a short lag-time measured in only months or even weeks. Natural CO2 sources, however, respond much more slowly to the same thermal perturbation (the oceans in particular).
At the end of his article, Ronald invites readers to examine his wonderful theories. I'll break with my own rule and post a link - because some readers might be fascinated, not just by his magical "science" but by his style of writing. Also, Ronald will probably be tickled pink if someone actually goes to read his musings. I doubt that many people from WUWT will read it. They don't usually follow links. Here's a sample - his first two paragraphs:
Let’s examine, at a high and salient level, the positive-feedback Anthropogenic Global Warming, Green-House-Gas Heating Effect (AGW-GHGHE) with its supposed pivotal role for CO2. The thinking is that a small increase in atmospheric CO2 will trigger a more consequential increase in atmospheric Green-House-Gas water vapor. And then the combination of these two enhanced atmospheric constituents will lead to run-away, or at least appreciable and unprecedented – often characterized as catastrophic - global warming.
This theory relies entirely on a powerful positive-feedback and overriding (pivotal) role for CO2. It further assumes that rising atmospheric CO2 is largely or even entirely anthropogenic. Both of these points are individually and fundamentally required at the basis of alarm. Yet neither of them is in evidence whatsoever. And neither of them is even remotely true. CO2 is not only “not pivotal” but it is not even clear that atmospheric CO2 influences climate in the least measurable way. And the current spike in atmospheric CO2 is clearly not primarily human caused. Factually, atmospheric CO2 cannot be beneficially changed by human behavior, regardless of what actions we might take. And climate will always continue to change in significant ways that will most likely be poorly predicted.
How much wrong can you find in the above? Here's some for starters:
He starts off badly. A small increase in atmospheric CO2 will not cause runaway warming. A doubling of CO2 will likely cause a rise of around 3°C (between 1.5 and 4.5°C). That will be difficult enough - but that's not a "small increase", that's a doubling - and it's nowhere near "runaway" global warming. A quadrupling - an increase from pre-industrial CO2 to four times that is a huge jump. That would lead to a rise in surface temperature of between 3°C and 9°C. At the high end, that would bring some areas of land past the limits of human tolerance, But it won't be runaway warming.
Global warming doesn't depend on the source of CO2. It doesn't matter whether additional CO2 comes from burning fossil fuels or from super-volcanic eruptions. The atmosphere doesn't care. CO2 will follow the same laws of physics no matter where it comes from.
CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Increase it and the earth radiates energy to space more slowly. The earth warms and affects the climate. Global warming leads to climate change.
The current rise in CO2 is from human activity. There is no other source or someone would have noticed. There've not been any supervolcanic eruptions. There's not been a massive die-off of organic matter. If there were another massive source of CO2 then there must also have been a massive sink of CO2 - both undetected - which is utterly implausible. Burning fossil fuels releases CO2, it's basic chemistry. Clearing forests reduces carbon storage and increases decay (or loses CO2 by burning). We know approximately how much fossil fuel has been burnt. We know approximately how much deforestation has occurred. Add it up and it comes to about twice the amount of extra CO2 in the atmosphere. The rest has been absorbed at the surface - in the oceans and on land.
What does Ronald mean by "Factually, atmospheric CO2 cannot be beneficially changed by human behavior"? Your guess is as good as mine. But if he's alleging that pouring billions of tonnes of CO2 into the air each year won't add to atmospheric CO2, then he's nuts. All that extra CO2 hangs around. The surface can only absorb so much each year. It can only absorb around half of what we're adding to the air. The rest accumulates and hangs about for a very long time.
(In case you're wondering, I didn't venture past the first two paragraphs of Ronald's 20 page document of magical "science". My time is better spent elsewhere.)
From the WUWT comments
Here's the latest updated archive. Would you believe there might be an almost, but not quite sensible comment from paranoid conspiracy theorist Tim Ball, who says:
July 15, 2014 at 12:27 am
The human production figure is produced by the IPCC and is a gross figure. if you are talking about the impact you have to use the net figure and it is estimated we remove 50 percent of our annual production primarily with agriculture and forestry.
Even if we use the 8 – 9 PgC shown in the table notice that is within the range of estimates of five of the natural sources. If we use the net figure it is within the range of estimates of all of them.
Finally, I am confused by the claim of continued increase of atmospheric CO2. If the predicted cooling occurs then the oceans will cool and their capacity to absorb more CO2 will increase. Since they are the largest sink, it would appear the CO2 levels should decrease.
He's wrong in part. "We" don't remove 50% of our gross emissions through agriculture and forestry. Up to about 30% is absorbed by the ocean and up to 25% is absorbed on land (plants etc). I can't understand the point Tim's making in his second paragraph. His last paragraph is correct. Except of course that there are only two chances that his fake sceptic's predictions of global cooling will occur - Buckley's and none.
stan stendera is so entranced with Ronald's article that he wants to publish it in his local newspaper:
July 15, 2014 at 1:15 am
This delightful article is exactly why I consider WUWT the world’s best website. It is informative, written in such a way that my limited scientific acumen can grasp, and it supplied new information to even this veteran of the climate wars.
It’s so good that I want to attempt to have it reproduced in my local newspaper. You guys have my E-mail. Tell me what I or the paper have to do to reproduce.
Dr Burns doesn't know that all the evidence shows that rising CO2 is "our fault". There's loads and loads of evidence. Dr Burns says:
July 15, 2014 at 1:39 am
Excellent. I’ve never been able to understand why most people seem to assume rising CO2 is our fault, without supporting evidence. If rising CO2 really is an EFFECT rather than a cause of rising temperatures, it makes a mockery of the many articles describing “climate sensivity”.
Sean P Chatterton doesn't read much about global warming and knows less than nothing, and strangely says:
July 15, 2014 at 1:47 am
I don’t know if you had noticed, but the alarmists are currently moving away from global warming (probably because it isn’t happening) and are now screaming about ocean acidification.
Whats the bet as the oceans cool and absorb CO2 they will be making more overtones that man made CO2 is now causing damage to the oceans.
The alarmist religion won’t accept that it could be wrong, very wrong. So they simply find other things to scream about.
What is really astounding is that the unthinkable has occurred. A rarity. An abnormality. A normal, rational person (other than me and Anthony's thorn in the side, Nick Stokes :D) has ventured to WUWT. Not only that, but he thought enough of the blog to add a comment. John Carter says:
July 15, 2014 at 1:57 am
Amazing how one engineer figured out what no one else has! But seems to not know what most atmospheric and biology scientists know. Carbon is a cycle, a balance. Net additions to the atmosphere don’t just “settle in” to the earth as part of that cycle, and thus leave levels where they otherwise were in the atmosphere.
They rise. We add; they rise. Amazing that for over 800,000 years, basic carbon levels fluctuated around a couple hundred ppm in the atmosphere. And now, concomitant with man’s sudden couple hundred of years or so net additions (to changes in that carbon cycle through sink affect, and direct emittance), they have shot up to levels nowhere close to anywhere that they have been for the past eight hundred thousand years; and that are at least as high, according to scientific consensus, as anytime in the past couple of million. But this happened because after a million or more years, the earth simply, at the exact same microscopic pin prick of time time as mankind’s sudden addition to the atmosphere, added more back through completely natural, and independent channels.
Is it possible to concoct a worse argument? Almost anything will be posted on this site, no matter how scientifically outlandish and misinformed, won’t it. So long as it “sounds good,” and so long as it advances the belief, and fills the desire to believe, that the so called climate change problem is not a significant one, or one that we in fact are inadvertently creating through outdated processes and assumptions.
richardscourtney gets it wrong when he says "it's the oceans". It's mainly plants in the northern hemisphere growing and decaying with the seasons. Sheesh, he's been pontificating on climate for years and he still doesn't understand the basics (extract) (and doesn't know that "thank you" is two words, not one):
July 15, 2014 at 2:47 am
Ronald D Voisin:
Thankyou for your fine article that I enjoyed and I commend to others...
...The oceans do not need to have “dumped” any CO2 into the atmosphere for the oceans to have caused the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration. And the oceans could be either net-CO2 absorbers or net-CO2 emitters while being responsible for the rise.
The reason for this is that the oceans in each hemisphere ‘pump’ CO2 into and out of the air as the hemispheric temperature varies with the seasons. This is the seasonal variation in atmospheric CO2 as measured at Mauna Loa.
johnmarshall needs to learn about carbon isotopes, because he gets it wrong when he says:
July 15, 2014 at 3:02 am
What you reported is blindingly obvious to many on the sceptic side but ignored by the climateer alarmists.
Recent research has shown that volcanogenic CO2 is isotopically identical to that from fossil fuel use. Another blow to those of a nervous disposition.
On carbon isotopes, from an ABC article:
A decline in the 13C/12 C ratio in the atmosphere is also a good indicator that volcanic eruptions do not contribute to the long-term trend, says Fraser.
"Carbon that is released from volcanoes has… higher levels of carbon-13 than it does with carbon that's released from the burning of fossil fuels or the respiration of plants," he says.
PS I've been popping back to see what gems are to be found in the comments. I'll add updates to the comments or the archive version.