Oh no, not again

Somehow a paper arguing that the increase in atmospheric CO2 is mostly natural has managed to pass peer-review. Gavin Schmidt’s already covered it in a Realcimate post. Gavin Cawley’s paper is, in a sense, a pre-emptive response to this new paper. I’ll make a few comments similar to what Gavin has already said in the Realclimate post and then make a somewhat broader point.

The summary of the paper says

  • The average residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere is found to be 4 years.

The confusion here is between residence time and adjustment timescale. Given the various fluxes of CO2, an individual CO2 molecule will only stay in the atmosphere for a few years before being taken up by one of the natural sinks. However, this doesn’t mean that an enhancement of atmospheric CO2 will decay in only a few years, because there is both a flux of CO2 out of the atmosphere and into the atmosphere – the molecule leaving the atmosphere is replaced. The residence time might only be a few years, but the adjustment timescale of ~100 years, or longer. I discuss this in more detail in these two posts.

The paper then says two related things:

  • The anthropogenic fraction of CO2 in the atmosphere is only 4.3%.
  • Human emissions only contribute 15% to the CO2 increase over the Industrial Era.

The key point is that atmospheric CO2 has increased by about 40% since pre-industrial times and it is all anthropogenic. The short residence time of an atmospheric CO2 molecule, however, means that not all of the enhancement will be made of up of molecules that had an anthropogenic origin. This, however, does not mean that the enhancement is somehow not anthropogenic; without our emission there would be no enhancement in the first place.

I thought, however, that I would comment on something that appears to be often misunderstood. The paper says it is estimated that the removal of the additional emissions from the atmosphere will take a few hundred thousand years and implies that this is wrong (through determining a very short residence time). I discuss some of this in these two posts, but I’ll elaborate a bit more here.

There are quite a large number of timescales associated with drawing down atmospheric CO2, but – in a simple sense – when we emit CO2 into the atmosphere, it mixes between the various reservoirs (atmosphere, ocean, biosphere) until – on a timescale of centuries – it reaches a new equilibrium, which is then drawn down over a timescale of thousands of years via weathering (ultimately taking more than 100 thousand years to fully recover). Some seem to think that it should settle back to the intial concentration, but it can’t because we’ve essentially added new CO2 to the system. Eli has a nice animation in this post.

That it will take more than one hundred thousands years for atmospheric CO2 to return to pre-industrial values is partly based on past changes (such as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum – PETM) and partly on the carbonate chemistry of seawater. If you work through the carbonate chemistry calculation, you can show that there is something that is now called the Revelle factor (which I discuss here). This is the ratio of the fractional change in atmospheric CO2 to the fractional change in dissolved inorganic carbon in the ocean, and it is about 10.

This tells us that if we add CO2 to the system, once it’s distributed through the ocean/atmosphere system, the fractional change in atmopheric CO2 will be 10 times greater than the fractional change in dissolved inorganic carbon in the oceans. I discuss some of this in this post. Also, if you consider the amount of carbon in the ocean and atmosphere, you can show that between 15% and 30% of our emissions will remain in the atmosphere once ocean invasion is complete. At this stage, atmospheric CO2 is further drawn down through weathering, which is very slow and, hence, it will take more than 100 thousand years to ultimately return to pre-industrial levels.

The point I’m getting at is that the long timescale over which atmospheric CO2 will slowly return to pre-industrial levels is a consequence of the carbonate chemistry of seawater and weathering; you can’t assess this by simply considering the short-timescales fluxes into, and out of, the various reservoirs. So, not only does this new paper confuse residence time and adjustment timescale (amongst various other confusions) it also infers things about the long timescale over which atmospheric CO2 will recover using an analysis that is completely inappropriate. If you want to read a paper this does this analysis properly, you should read the atmospheric lifetime of fossil fuel carbon dioxide, by Archer et al. (2009).

Of course, some might argue that this post wasn’t really necessary, as any paper suggesting that the rise in atmospheric CO2 is not anthropogenic is obviously nonsense, but sometimes it’s worth delving into this in more detail, although maybe this is more for my own benefit than for the benefit of others. It is my blog, though 🙂

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70 Responses to Oh no, not again

  1. I meant to add that I’ve also included links to various codes in some of the earlier posts that I highlight in this post. If anyone would like to work through the carbonate chemistry calculations and the significance of the Revelle factor, these codes might help.

  2. I explained the gist of this residency issue to a ‘sceptical’ friend by using the ‘piggy bank’ analogy. It goes like this…

    A young lad has a piggy bank that’s around half full. Every morning the lad takes £1.00 pocket money out of it and in the evening his father puts £1.01 into it. At the end of the year therefore the piggy bank contains an additional £3.65, over and above what was in it at the start of the year.

    If his father then stops putting in the extra 1p each evening, dropping the daily amount down to £1.00; the amount in the piggy bank will then stay at a fixed amount—ie., equilibrium (ignoring the daily ‘natural’ fluctuation). Clearly individual coins will stay in the piggy bank for only a few days on average as the money is turned over, but the additional £3.65 will of course stay there for evermore—or until the such time as the boy decides to increase his daily withdrawal.

    Interestingly this analogy seemed to have an impact on my ‘sceptical’ friend; perhaps because his scepticism wasn’t that really deep rooted.

  3. Not got much further than the abstract, but the author is struggling to count the number of co-authors. Not a promising sign.

  4. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: Re the second sentence of the OP…

    Gavin’s already covered it in a Realcimate post.

    Suggest that you make it clear that “Gavin” is “Gavin Schmidt”.

  5. Magma says:

    @ richard telford

    Perhaps it’s the formal ‘we’, which has tripped up authors in the past.

    Hetherington wrote that after giving the [editorial] issue “an evening’s thought,” he decided the paper was so good that it required rapid publishing. Unwilling to go back and replace the plural voice in the document, he did the next best thing and just added a second author: his Siamese cat, Chester. Of course just listing “Chester” as a co-author probably wouldn’t fly, so he invented the name F.D.C. Willard. The “F.D.C.” stood for “Felix Domesticus, Chester.”


  6. Pingback: “Oh no, not again” (from … And Then There’s Physics) | Hypergeometric

  7. JH,
    Thanks, I’ve done that.

    I think you could have just stopped at “the author is struggling”.

  8. Willard says:

    I don’t know why, but I like this cat.

  9. Bob Loblaw says:

    johnrussell’s comment at 5:34pm is eerily similar to the one I added over at RealClimate earlier today..

    An analogy (limited to the strength of analogies…)

    I am a poor student, working a part-time job that barely covers my expenses. I get paid each week, directly into my bank account, and I withdraw funds during the week to pay for everything. The average residence time of my paycheck is about 4 days – from the time it goes in, until the time I take it out. Life is tough.

    Fortunately, I have a generous Grandma. She sets up a trust fund, and that fund sends an extra $100/month into my account. I continue a frugal life, but I spend half of it each month on a few luxuries. The other half stays in my account. The $100/mo is quite small compared to my regular paycheck and expenses.

    After four years of school, I find that I have accumulated $2400 in savings, which works out to an average of $50/mo.

    Where did the money come from? By Harde’s argument (and Essenhigh’s, and Salby’s), money only stays in my account for an average of 4 days, so virtually all of my Grandma’s gift to me is gone. Grandma’s trust fund is not a factor in the growth of my bank account.

    Those of us that are sane think “If it weren’t for my Grandma’s generosity, I would not have that extra $2400 in the bank today”.

    Also have a friend, who gets paid the same wage as me, but she only gets paid once per month. As for me, she lives from hand to mouth and spends every penny she earns. The average residence time of money in her bank account is about 15 days. She also has a generous Grandpa that sends her $100/mo, and she also spends half of it to treat herself. After four years, she also finds that she has $2400 more in savings than she would otherwise.

    Following Harde et al‘s logic, the quadrupled residence time of money in her bank account alters the extent to which a generous grandparent has helped us save. She, like me, however knows that the $2400 availble after four years would not be there if it weren’t for Grandpa.

  10. Willard says:

    Nice try, Bob, but if we consider daily transaction errors, your Grandma may actually be sucking both you and your friend dry.

    Welcome to the world of alternative facts:


  11. verytallguy says:

    One graph to rule them all and in the darkness bind them

  12. verytallguy says:

    Willard, Judith is very busy. Expecting her to call out the crap Rose publishes in the Mail on her tipoff, or Kip or Fred publish on her blog or the GWPF publish with her name on it or, or, or, or, or, would be ridiculous.

    There just aren’t enough hours in the day for that quantity of effluent. Her hands are full solving the crisis of integrity in climate science, dammit.

  13. verytallguy says:

    W., we crossed.

    I fear I haven’t delved into the 2nd Javier Conjecture.

    The first left me quite breathless as it was.

    A wonderful case study of Integrity at Judith’s salon of all the talents.


  14. Nick Stokes says:

    The Journal “Global and Planetary Change” is an Elsevier journal, but seems to have a weakness for crackpottery.

  15. vtg.

    But for the few people who go to Judith’s to correct the nonsense, but for them,
    the place would rapidly descend into pure nuttery.

    Of course it is easy to avoid if you are banned or moderated.

  16. Willard says:

    Speaking of Elsevier:

    In 2012, I signed the Cost of Knowledge pledge, and stopped reviewing for, and publishing in, all Elsevier journals. In the four years since, I’ve adhered closely to this policy; with a couple of exceptions (see below), I’ve turned down every review request I’ve received from an Elsevier-owned journal, and haven’t sent Elsevier journals any of my own papers for publication.

    Contrary to what a couple of people I talked to at the time intimated might happen, my scientific world didn’t immediately collapse.



    I simply linked to Javier’s contrarian counterpoint because Richard Telford may have missed it. I had an exchange with Javier that turned into SpeedoScience ™:

    > You are not a scientist and it shows.

    I’m just a ninja, dear Javier. and as far as I’m concerned, you’re just a pseudonym on a screen. You could be dog for all I care. If you want to claim authority, post your citations record.

    And no, what you’re talking about is not even science.


    Seems that Sierra Jim piled on since the last time I checked.

  17. There’s quite a lot about Elsevier on Tim Gower’s blog.

  18. @Nick Stokes, the ‘Journal’ that Harde published ‘his flawed 2 layer climate model’ paper in in 2014 , was a predatory pay-to-publish Journal which only ever published a total of 12 ‘papers’. Harde’s was the last.


    I looked up the ‘Journal’ at the time. It was on Beal’s list of predatory publishers. It was started in 2014 along with a bunch of other journals’ using the same templates and editors. Also the physical address was a suburban address in the US shared by a Chinese paint company. The FAQ was full of silly grammatical errors etc.

  19. Joshua says:

    Y’all are being much to hard on Judith. It isn’t her fault if she promotes bad analyses. It is evidence of “the scientific community failures.”

    We can see how this works In reference to Trump’s views on vaccines:

    Pamela Gray | February 26, 2017 at 3:00 pm | Reply
    That Trump wrongly presents causation in 2012 is not evidence of his failures. It is evidence of the scientific community failures.

  20. @Magma

    I can see why Harde’s cat declined to be a coauthor of this paper. The beast is obviously brighter than its owner.

    I mean, he is citing Salby for the decline in bomb 14C (yes he is citing a presentation as Salby never published his nonsense – missing a trick). Salby’s graph showing the 14C decline is extremely misleading.

    Salby’s 2013 presentation was given at Helmut-Schmidt-University Hamburg. Perhaps not co-incidentally, that is where Harde works.

  21. He also cites John Daly’s website, and he cites Essenhigh (2009) but fails to cite Gavin Cawley’s response to Essenhigh (2009).

  22. from CE

    “I tend to lean towards skepticism about the consensus on climate change, but I find the amount of misinformation and fanaticism in comments at WUWT these days positively frightening.”

    if you just leave CE alone it will quickly degenerate into crank wars.

  23. Willard says:

    Follow the contrarian network that tweets the paper:



    I added “An alternative concept of carbon cycle reduces the anthropogenic influence to little” to the Lots of Theories page of my Contrarian Matrix:


  24. Harde thinks that glacial-interglacial temperature difference is 8°C – that’s about twice the generally accepted figure (http://www.clim-past.net/9/367/2013/). Suspect like a typically foolish fake climate sceptic, he is confusing temperature change over Antarctica with the global difference.

    I do wonder who invited this paper – I’ve looked at the editorial board – plenty of names I recognise but no-one I associate with denialism.

  25. RT: If you look at the author instructions, authors are encouraged to contact the editor before submitting an article. If they do so, the article is marked as “invited research article”. So it basically means nothing.

  26. I have not read this article, but it is remarkable that it is an “invited research article”. Does this mean that there is a really new approach? Where has this research been presented before?

    One possibility to model the carbon cycle with completely different results than with the current carbon cycle models could be to make radical assumptions about the chemical reaction equilibrium involving carbon dioxide, bicarbonate ions and carbonate ions. The results will differ very much depending on what assumptions are made on the fate of the hydrogen ions produced when carbon dioxide is absorbed in sea water (BE59, Bolin and Eriksson, 1959).

    BE59 at first point out that if the hydrogen ion concentration were kept constant, the relative changes would be the same in the sea as in the atmosphere (see their equation (5)). As the total amount of carbon dioxide in the sea is about 50 times that in the air, practically all excess carbon dioxide delivered to the atmosphere would be taken up by the sea when equilibrium has been established. One cannot, however, assume the pH is uninfluenced by changes in the total carbonate concentration in the sea.

    BE59 instead, like Revelle and Süess earlier, find that it is reasonable to assume that the alkalinity, based on the total electrical charge of carbonate and bicarbonate ions, is constant, while hydrogen ion concentration is variable and rising the more carbon dioxide is absorbed. In such a case the combination of equations (5), (6) and (8), assuming that the change in alkalinity equals zero, gives equation (9) showing that an increase of carbon dioxide in the air by 12.5 % would only increase total inorganic carbon in the sea by 1 %. This is the Revelle effect that drastically reduces the capacity of the sea to absorb carbon dioxide to less than 10 % of its value if the hydrogen ion concentration would be constant.

    Thus, different assumptions about the fate of hydrogen ions may drastically change the result. Though it may be advisable to assume the worst case scenario at present, before more is known to science, it would be interesting to investigate if different assumptions in this respect produce carbon cycle models with different abilities to explain observations. This type of fundamental research I think should be welcomed, though presently in the application of climate science for policy, as in the context of the Paris agreement, the worst case scenario for the Revelle effect should be assumed.

    Bolin, B., Eriksson, E., 1959. Changes in the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere and sea due to fossil fuel combustion. In: Bolin, B. (Ed.), The Atmosphere and the Sea in Motion. Rockefeller Institute Press, New York, pp. 130E142

    Click to access Bolin58.pdf

  27. @VV

    It means that the editor wasn’t competent to recognise the idea was nonsense

  28. izen says:

    It is clearly impossible to gain weight by eating more food.

    Most of the molecules in the food we eat are used to provide energy and the breakdown products excreted within hours-days.
    Some is retained to repair and renew tissue and some is stored as fat. But even the fat storage has a rapid turnover with 10% replaced/year.
    So within a few years at most very little of the extra food you ate when younger is present in the body.
    Therefore it cannot be responsible for your current obesity.

  29. Yes, no idea how much information the email to the editor contained, but whether it was “invited” or not, the editor apparently did not select the right reviewers. It is a journal where you are asked to provide your own list of reviewers. If the editor selected those or maybe one other bad apple himself, that would explain this enormous peer review failure.

    You also do not need much competence. This is far away from my field, but even I noticed several obvious problems and zombie myths. It is surprising this manuscript was not simply bench rejected and not send out not to waste the time of reviewers.

  30. Eli Rabett says:

    Pehr, the total amount of CO2/HCO3-/CO32- in the oceans is huge, but almost all of it is below the thermocline, so the amount available for rapid (like 100-1000 year) interchange with the atmosphere is about the same as that in the atmosphere.

  31. angech says:

    Much better topic.
    “The average residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere is found to be 4 years.”
    Been there,argued that, so I will not bite, yet.
    Analogies do not always work. izen means:
    “It is clearly possible to gain weight by eating more food.”
    Like global atmospheric temperature will gain by having more CO2.
    The trouble with the first statement is that while eating more food has a natural affinity with the idea of weight gain there are caveats needed for picky people* and other considerations sometimes known as negative feedbacks.
    * provided the person is in at least a neutral weight with the food he is currently intaking at the time of the comment. If he was losing weight he might just lose weight more slowly.
    Metabolic rate is very important in turnover of food and whether it goes into weight or energy.
    Taking thyroid tablets could compensate for increased food intake, as would exercise. If the amount of exercise needed to catch the extra food demanded more food than the extra food caught?
    Fortunately caveats and negative feedbacks are never needed for CO2.

  32. izen says:

    The Revelle effect is a secondary influence on how the contents of the carbon cycle are partitioned. It does not change the total amount of ‘stuff’ in the cycle. If Harde’s analysis were right it would have implications for other chemical cycles (S P N)?

    If this Paper was a useful novel approach it is unlikely it would be so easily eviscerated by even the informed onlooker.
    Which raises the question why this repeatedly staked and beheaded zombie concept was reanimated again. It is clear it is not going to overthrow the current understanding of the carbon or geochem cycles. It will have zero influence on the well established science in this area. It calls into question the integrity of the publishing process rather more than the accuracy of the understanding of the Carbon cycle. So why publish something that you would have to be delusional to think would have any scientific impact?

    As Willard has pointed out discerning motive is murky.
    Observing effect is easier. Does this paper do anything other than elicit a chorus of disapproval?

  33. angech says:

    Bob Loblaw says: February 26, 2017 at 7:10 pm
    I am a poor student, working a part-time job that barely covers my expenses. I get paid each week, directly into my bank account, and I withdraw funds during the week to pay for everything. The average residence time of my paycheck is about 4 days – from the time it goes in, until the time I take it out.
    Confusing Residences perhaps. The paycheck lasts 1 week, not 4 days, You could take it out in 1 minute or 6.99 days but the money lasts 1 week before it is consumed.
    “Fortunately, I have a generous Grandma. She sets up a trust fund, and that fund sends an extra $100/month into my account.”
    Well grandma is now paying $100 dollars a month to keep you at Uni. Your part time job is now letting you accumulate savings. I think “If it weren’t for your strong work ethic you would not have that extra $2400 in the bank today”.

  34. angech says:

    ATTP the paper states.
    “The anthropogenic contribution to the actual CO2 concentration is found to be 4.3%,—– its fraction to the CO2 increase over the Industrial Era is 15%—- and the average residence time 4 years.”
    The paper seems to be saying that anthropogenic contributes 15% over the Industrial Era , is this not similar to your own understanding?
    “an individual CO2 molecule will only stay in the atmosphere for a few years before being taken up by one of the natural sinks.”
    Hence at any one time the actual anthropogenic CO2 is only 4.3% is also in agreement?
    Noone is conflating the 2 percentages.

  35. izen says:


    I am well aware of all the flaws in the analogy between eating/obesity == CO2 warming.
    Yes there are innumerable caveats that dieters can invoke about metabolism and exercise.
    But when it comes to the difference between residence time and perturbation time, while the financial examples can be persuasive, there is a large segment of the population who are very familiar with the reality that whatever modifications they can make to their metabolism, the hard numbers of calories in, are inescapable. IT is an intimately familair example of the difference between turnover and total weight. Many are aware that while they may burn off the chocolate they just ate, it is total intake that matters.
    “a moment on the lips forever on the hips”

    While the Geocarb cycle has limited plasticity (Greening?) the human metabolism is also constrained. You cant change it that much, there is a certain ‘baseload’!
    Consider why you cannot THINK yourself thinner. It is the most energy hungry organ in the body consuming far more than the heart for example. A small percentage change in the energy demand of the brain would have a large effect on overall consumption. But it doesn’t work. For the same reason that the “WE only use 10%…” is nonsense.

  36. Eli, the total amount of dissolved inorganic carbon in the ocean is around 50 times the preindustrial amount of carbon in the form of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (this is from BE59). If anthropogenically emitted carbon would distribute in this proportion most of the emissions would be absorbed. However, due to the Revelle effect the ocean has only the capacity to absorb around 10 % compared to proportional distribution, so at equilibrium the distribution of emitted carbon between ocean and atmosphere will be 5:1, that is roughly 20 % of the emissions will remain in the atmosphere for many thousands of years according the present scientific understanding.

    This decline in capacity for carbon dioxide absorption in the ocean was shown by Revelle and Suess. Bolin and Eriksson BE59 showed that the Revelle effect also will diminish the rate of carbon dioxide absorption from the atmosphere to the deep ocean considerably, because this rate is proportional to the concentration difference between dissolved inorganic carbon in the mixed layer and in the deep ocean. This difference is obviously much reduced by the Revelle effect.

  37. Willard says:

    > is this not similar to your own understanding?

    The very next sentences in AT’s post to the one you quote, Doc:

    However, this doesn’t mean that an enhancement of atmospheric CO2 will decay in only a few years, because there is both a flux of CO2 out of the atmosphere and into the atmosphere – the molecule leaving the atmosphere is replaced. The residence time might only be a few years, but the adjustment timescale of ~100 years, or longer.

    Attribution doesn’t rest on residence time alone. So yeah, Hermann’s “anthropogenic contribution to the actual CO2 concentration” is quite alternative.

  38. angech says:

    “he key point is that atmospheric CO2 has increased by about 40% since pre-industrial times and it is all anthropogenic.”
    Quite a big difference to 15%. Does it really matter if it is all inferential anyway?

  39. angech,
    What do you mean by “inferential anyway”?

    Not quite sure what you’re suggesting. My understanding is that the measured change in ocean pH is consistent with our current understanding of carbonate chemistry.

  40. izen says:

    There is an RC comment that sums it up best.

    the paper misleading conflates the REPLACEMENT rate of CO2 in the atmospheric part of the Carbon cycle (turnover), with The REMOVAL rate of CO2 in the whole cycle (sequestration).

  41. Thanks ATTP, that was an excellent, useful summation.

  42. JCH says:

    I know deep in my heart that Lamar Smith is going to investigate Harde (2017). It’s not called Integrity for nothing.

  43. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:
  44. I have now looked at the paper by Harde. I didn’t become happy of reading it. There is no original new approach in this paper and it has many shortcomings.

    The paper is not appropriately based on previous research. It is claimed in the paper that previous research on the carbon cycle is scrutinized, but most of that research is not at all cited. The simple modelling approach used in this paper was abandoned as inappropriate already in the middle of the previous century. Thus, the paper has a promising title but its content is very disappointing. This is not encouraging further discussion of the fundamentals of carbon cycle science.

    The discussion of the IPPC report AR5 in the paper is remarkable. For example, it is stated in subsection 2.1 as something remarkable that “the IPCC assumes” that 15-40 % of the anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions remain longer than 1000 years in the atmosphere. However, that this is so belongs to the most fundamental principles of current carbon cycle science, based on the seminal papers by Revelle and Suess and Bolin and Eriksson in the fifties, and all advanced carbon cycle models published afterwards are showing the same.

    This paper by Harde should have been rejected. No peer reviewer with some insight in the fundamentals of carbon cycle science would have recommended this paper for publication.

  45. Willard says:

    What’s inferential ain’t observational, AT. Easier to dispute what meets the mind than what meets the eye. Alternative conclusions, if you will.

  46. angech says:

    The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:
    Saw the Weiwei video and Lego mosaic in Melbourne [Australia] of the falling pot, very apt.
    ATTP, What do you mean by “inferential anyway”?
    The figures are so different from the same data that the inferences made in assembling the projections are the cause of the difference rather than the science.

  47. Willard says:

    > the inferences made in assembling the projections are the cause of the difference rather than the science.

    There’s no such thing as an inference-free science, Doc.

    From GavinC’s paper:

    The argument presented in ES09 is essentially that anthropogenic emissions cannot be the cause of the observed rise in atmospheric CO2 as the residence time is short, of the order of only 4-15 years, and hence rather than accumulate in the atmosphere, anthropogenic emissions are rapidly taken up by the oceans and terrestrial biota. The error in this argument lies not in the premise, it is widely accepted (and indeed clearly stated in the reports published by the IPCC2,3) that the residence time (RT) is only about 5 years; but the conclusion drawn does not follow from the premise. The aim of this paper is to explain why a short residence time is completely consistent with the generally accepted anthropogenic origin of the observed rise in atmospheric CO2. The error arises due to a confusion of residence time with the adjustment time, which describes the time taken for the atmospheric CO2 concentration to substantially recover towards its original concentration following a perturbation; unlike other atmospheric gasses, the residence time and adjustment time are not the same for carbon dioxide.

    So in a way you’re right: it’s an inferential matter. In return, please acknowledge that inference matters aren’t a free-for-all.

    To take the weight analogy, even if we know that most of the caloric intake quickly gets out of the system, and even if we assume non-linear metabolic processes, once we know where the calories come from, that’s all that matters in the end. While Dr. Lustig may have revised how the pancreas deals with sugar, he sure hasn’t rewritten thermodynamics.

    I hope that this time I have not misrepresented the gist of your argument, since I am supposed to enjoy the art of distraction.

  48. angech says:

    “Willard enjoys the art of distraction”, perhaps but you are focused at the moment and representative.
    The post How Gaia and coral reefs regulate ocean pH.had “the paper by Matt Ridley showing a 14% increase in greening of the world due to rising CO2.” and JS comment
    “Without CO2’s buffering effect the oceans would have a much higher pH and that would make photosynthesizing even more difficult”
    The point here is how high the pH would be in a CO2 less water world and why.
    There must be a lot of alkaline ions from the the other minerals in the crust to neutralize.
    Which must increase the ability of water to take up CO2 when present.
    In other words the ability of the ocean sink to take up excess CO2 without leaving it in the atmosphere for hundreds of years might be a valid inference.

  49. Bob Loblaw says:

    Angech says:

    Confusing Residences perhaps. The paycheck lasts 1 week, not 4 days, You could take it out in 1 minute or 6.99 days but the money lasts 1 week before it is consumed.

    Only the last $ lasts until the last day. The amount I take out in the first minute lasts only 1 minute. Unless I have a habit of not spending anything all week, the average residence time is less than 7 days. If my spending is fairly uniformly spread across the week, the average is about 4 days, as I stated. Likewise for my friend, who’s last $ will last to the end of the month, but is spending from day one to day 31 – so the average residence time is about 15 days.

    Well grandma is now paying $100 dollars a month to keep you at Uni. Your part time job is now letting you accumulate savings. I think “If it weren’t for your strong work ethic you would not have that extra $2400 in the bank today”.

    …and you fall down the standard contrarian’s rabbit hole, that leads contrarians to think that Harde et al have a legitimate argument. No, Grandma’s money does not go to the university – it goes into my bank account. Once it and my paycheck are both in the bank, you can’t tell which dollars came from which source – and it does not matter. Yes, if money from Grandma’s gift goes to the Uni, it frees up money from my paycheck to spend on luxuries or savings, but the only reason that money is available to save is because Grandma was so kind. Without Grandma’s money, everything I earn gets spent. The sole reason I manage to save $2400 is because Grandma puts extra money in my account and upsets the previous balance between income and expenditures.

    Whether you really believe what you say, or are just playing word games, does not matter to me. You’re just plain wrong.

  50. Willard says:

    > The point here […]

    My point was that his claim there is also ample evidence that lower pH does not inhibit photosynthesis or lower ocean productivity (Mackey 2015) wasn’t substantiated by Mackay 2015. This point is relevant for Sierra Jim’s Gaia hypothesis revival. Since Sierra Jim indulges into SpeedoScience with a minor yet relevant point, why would I venture to go further than that?

    His counterfactual “without CO2’s buffering effect” only appeared in the comment thread, right over the pingback to a post I wrote to celebrate this ClimateBall ™ episode:


    Matt King coal’s crap wasn’t relevant, and this “the point here” has nothing to do with what I was conveying in my last comment. Nice try, Doc.

  51. John Hartz says:

    Speaking of CO2 in the oceans…

    The Arctic is suffering so many consequences related to climate change, it’s hard to know where to begin anymore. It’s warming more rapidly than almost any other part of the planet; its glaciers are melting and its sea ice is retreating; and its most iconic wildlife, including polar bears and walruses, are suffering.

    But that’s not all — a new study, just out Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, indicates that the Arctic Ocean is also becoming more acidic, another consequence caused by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. It’s a process that occurs when carbon dioxide dissolves out of the air and into the sea, lowering the water’s pH in the process.

    Scientists believe acidification is occurring at varying rates all over the world. But this week’s study gives researchers renewed cause to worry about the Arctic, suggesting that a large — and increasing — swath of the ocean may have reached a level that’s dangerous for some marine organisms.

    Scientists just measured a rapid growth in acidity in the Arctic ocean, linked to climate change by Chelsea Harvey, Energy & Environment, Washington Post, Feb 27, 2017

  52. John Hartz says:

    Speaking of inference…

    A new report from the National Acadmies Press;

    Refining the Concept of Scientific Inference When Working with Big Data: Proceedings of a Workshop (2017)


    National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences; Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics; Board on Mathematical Sciences and Their Applications; Ben A. Wender, Rapporteur


    The concept of utilizing big data to enable scientific discovery has generated tremendous excitement and investment from both private and public sectors over the past decade, and expectations continue to grow. Using big data analytics to identify complex patterns hidden inside volumes of data that have never been combined could accelerate the rate of scientific discovery and lead to the development of beneficial technologies and products. However, producing actionable scientific knowledge from such large, complex data sets requires statistical models that produce reliable inferences (NRC, 2013). Without careful consideration of the suitability of both available data and the statistical models applied, analysis of big data may result in misleading correlations and false discoveries, which can potentially undermine confidence in scientific research if the results are not reproducible. In June 2016 the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened a workshop to examine critical challenges and opportunities in performing scientific inference reliably when working with big data. Participants explored new methodologic developments that hold significant promise and potential research program areas for the future. This publication summarizes the presentations and discussions from the workshop.

  53. angech says:

    John Hartz
    “The concept of utilizing big data to enable scientific discovery has generated tremendous excitement and investment from both private and public sectors over the past decade. Using big data analytics to identify complex patterns hidden inside volumes of data that have never been combined could accelerate the rate of scientific discovery.
    Producing actionable scientific knowledge from such large, complex data sets requires statistical models that produce reliable inferences (NRC, 2013).-”
    This is where this can go astray. Inferences cannot be produced from a machine.
    Associations, complex patterns hidden inside volumes of data,can be derived by a machine.
    The relevance though may be entirely felicitous and mean nothing. Study, by humans, means not being fooled by randomness, the bogey of such studies.

    Which is stated.
    “Without careful consideration of the suitability of both available data and the statistical models applied, analysis of big data may result in misleading correlations and false discoveries.”
    Thank you for this.
    Perhaps you could work it into a discussion for ATTP to put up.

  54. John Hartz says:

    Angech: I’ll pass, but I bet that you could learn a lot by carefully reading the entire report.

  55. JCH says:

    Without careful consideration of the suitability of both available data and the statistical models applied, analysis of big data may result in misleading correlations and false discoveries…

    The stadium wave and the silly, rdiculous notion that the AMO is going to go negative and cool the globe.

  56. Angech: “Which is stated.
    “Without careful consideration of the suitability of both available data and the statistical models applied, analysis of big data may result in misleading correlations and false discoveries.”
    Thank you for this.
    Perhaps you could work it into a discussion for ATTP to put up.

    We already had this discussion. On the other thread your friend Frank was just making the opposite claim, he wants people to ignore your understanding of the climate system when looking at big data, which may result in misleading correlations and false discoveries.

    I hope the reason why you did not argue with Frank there was not because he was critiquing a climate scientist and you liked that. I hope the reason why you bring up this argument here is not only because you like critiquing John Hartz.

    If you read the quote carefully it does not say that the analysis is impossible, just that you have to be aware of the potential pitfalls, which the author clearly is, and be careful in your selection of analysis methods and in the interpretation of the results. I thank you for your concerns.

  57. Relevant post on WWUT.

    “…all ocean acidification models are deeply flawed based on an incorrect assumption that CO2 enters the ocean and is then transported like an inert tracer. But CO2 is not inert! …CO2… is rapidly assimilated into particulate organic carbon via photosynthesis, which raises pH.”

  58. TE,
    How is that relevant? I’m not sure I’m all that interested in the answer.

  59. verytallguy says:

    Relevant post on WWUT.


  60. John Mashey says:

    The real issue seems to be: what is going on with this journal? I didn’t find an Editor-in-Chief, so if there have been other problematical papers there, it reminds me of Skeptics Prefer Pal Review Over Peer Review: Chris de Freitas, Pat Michaels And Their Pals, 1997-2003.

    One of these months I’ll finish off the large report on Salby & the insights gained about skeptics and pseudoskeptics..I’d been waiting until his PhD student finished and then until Salby got crushed in Australian court, but other events suspended it. Still, here’s a quick grab of 2 pages, relevant to Harde & the famous Salby talk in Hamburg that thrilled many.

    Page 1 of 2, column 1
    2013.04.18 Murry Salby–VarenholtHelmut Schmidt U – Hamburg
    ‘Relationship between Greenhouse Gases and Global Temperature’187
    The vodcast188 was popular among some blogs and strongly praised by nontechnical commenters, despite the differential equations.189
    Unlike EGU and Institute Pierre Simon Laplace, the odd arrangement yielded an audience with little or no relevant climate expertise:
     Helmut Schmidt University is a German military academy190 with 4 faculties: Mechanical Engineering, Humanities & Social Sciences, Economics & Social Sciences, and Electrical Engineering (EE).191 It has no faculty in climate science or any equivalent, and as best as known from comments, no climate scientists attended.
     EE faculty Univ.-Prof. Dr. Bernd Klauer192 and (Former) Univ.-Prof. Dr. Hermann Harde,193 Physics / Materials Science were the local sponsors and introduced Salby.
    187 http://www.hsu-hh.de/hsu/index_lUvlwJZ5VO6CTWbl.html
    Initiator: Prof. Dr. Hermann Harde, Fakultät ET
    188 http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=2ROw_cDKwc0 Or see 1000frolly’s YouTube channel, where it is split in 5 parts.
    189 Such are most often late 2nd-year college courses for math/physics/etc students.
    190 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helmut_Schmidt_University the other is in Munich.
    191 http://www.hsu-hh.de/hsu/index_NtVl3TOF5KqXzMqq.html
    192 http://www.hsu-hh.de/ti/index_UpSSnpldMCfbnxRi.html
    193 http://www.hsu-hh.de/laser/index_xf8dd16rfJ6hg6A6.html Ehamalige = Former
    He published physics papers starting in 1974, recent publications were:
    2008: “New optical analyzer for 13C-breath test”
    2009: “Photoacoustic NO detection for asthma diagnostics”
    2010: “Optoacoustic 13C-breath test analyzer”
    By 2011, Harde had shifted into trying to disprove mainstream climate science:
    2011: http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2011/EGU2011-4505-1.pdf
    EGU abstract, strongly refuted, including by experts like Raypierre Humbert: http://rabett.blogspot.com/2011/03/toy-model.html
    2013: http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ijas/2013/503727 http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ijas 564 peer-reviewed, open-access journals.
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindawi_Publishing_Corporation Some issues are raised:
    Many references are old physics papers, few are modern climate science.
    Sometimes mathematical physcists from outside climate science create over-simplified models, declare mainstream science refuted, as in:

    Page 1, column 2
    The talk was actually arranged by Prof. Dr. Fritz Varenholt, Chemistry Professor at nearby University of Hamburg, but involved with German contrarian group EIKE, 194 and well-known to other European contrarian groups, such as Klimarealistene. All this raises questions of venue choice.
    According to an attendee, Rypke Zeilmaker 195
    ‘Salby was invited by Fritz Vahrenholt, writer of the succesfull skeptic book ‘Die Kalte Sonne’ warum der klimakatastrophe nicht statt find’. The German European Institue On Climate and Energie EIKE and the University arranged the lecture,having invited arch-sceptic Fred Singer in Hamburg 2 years earlier.’
    ‘Paper submitted but rejected by JAS According to Salby the ‘Remote Sensing’-affair196 and politics were behind this deciscion. According to JAS there was ‘nothing new’ to Salby’s argument. Carbon Cycle-experts have told me as well: next to the average rise in CO2-content caused by anthropogenic emissions- there is interannual variation in Delta CO2 where temperature influences pe vegetation, respiration and soil moisture and thus release/uptake of CO2: but it is assumed natural resources don’t add to the budget (to the contrary, nature acts as a sink) whereas anthropogenic emissions dó. …
    Lay audience and personal testimonies Unfortunately, only laymen visited the EIKE-lecture. Though EIKE invited climate scientists like Mojib Latif who refused to come. So we ended up with the usual sorry bunch at ‘skeptic’-meetings:
    non-professionals motivated by politics, and annoyed by climate claptrap by journalists in popular media which most of the time is their only source on climate matters. … So we had Laymen and this time a woman, who use question-time as a chance to have their testimony heard in public, in this event someone worried about her schoolgoing daughter. Other people mixed up several other debates, the one on climate sensitivity and sources of CO2.
    They are suspiciously motivated by one reason: we don’t care what the cause is and if it is logically sound, as long as it’s not humans.
    Which degrades any debate into a waste of time.’
    194 http://www.eike-klima-energie.eu German climate anti-science group.
    EIKE has run many posts on Salby, seen by entering his name in search box/
    http://www.eike-klima-energie.eu/fachbeirat Carter,Leroux,Motl,Mörner,Monckton….
    195 climategate.nl/2013/04/19/on-the-post-retirement-revolutionaries-of-climate-science This blog is not supportive of mainstream climate science.
    196 September 2011, http://news.sciencemag.org/2011/09/journal-editor-resigns-over-contrarian-climate-paper Further claims in §Z.80.

    Page 2, column 1
    The February 22 schedule for April197 did not list this talk. EIKE announced it 04/17/13, 198 but showed the invitation from Helmut Schmidt U, dated 03/26/13. Compare versus §C.3-12.
    Signed by
    Prof. Dr. Klauer
    Organized by
    Prof. Dr. Harde

    197 web.archive.org/web/20130222112015/http://www.hsu-hh.de/hsu/index_lUvlwJZ5VO6CTWbl.html
    198 http://www.eike-klima-energie.eu/climategate-anzeige/klima-vortrag-am-18413-in-hamburg-ueber-die-beziehung-zwischen-global-temperatur-und-treibhausgasen/

    Page 2, column 2
    Curious connection with Prof. Dr. Fritz Vahrenholt.
    Among other roles, he is (honorary?) Professor of Chemistry (Chemie) with long history199 at the nearby (12km) University of Hamburg, 200 ~20X larger than the military academy, with many more science departments.
    He spoke 05/13/13 on “energy supply and climate protection”201 listed:202
    ‘Prof. Dr. Fritz Vahrenholt, Aufsichtsratsvorsitzender der RWE Innogy GmbH, Fb Chemie, Universität Hamburg’ (Department of Chemistry)
    He was thus actively and currently engaged with the University, which also supports KlimaCampus Hamburg203 and its graduate program SICSS: 204
    ‘KlimaCampus is the name we have used since 2007 to signify the network of climate research experts in the Hamburg area. This includes scientists from 18 different institutes of the University of Hamburg as well as non-university partners such as the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, the Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht and the German Climate Computing Centre. …
    In addition to that, excellent local services make up further building blocks for the climate research network: the German Weather Service, the Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency and the Climate Service Center.’
    Since U Hamburg has a large, active climate research program and thus many knowledgeable people, why did Prof. Vahrenholt arrange a Salby climate talk via an EE department at far less relevant school?
    Perhaps this was not a typical university tour seeking experts to test and tune new ideas with experts but had other purposes and expected audiences? A video of Salby at U of Hamburg, including Q+A with a knowledgeable group might have been more interesting, but did not occur.

    199 http://www.chemie.uni-hamburg.de/tmc/publikationen/Vahrenholt.html
    200 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Hamburg
    201 http://www.chemie.uni-hamburg.de/gs-smartgrids/Veranstaltungen_e.htm
    202 https://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.aww.uni-hamburg.de/AV_Vorlagen_/400JahreChemie_print.html&sa=U&ei=A_AwUsu0EueBiwKZ14Fg&ved=0CBIQFjAE&client=internal-uds-cse&usg=AFQjCNELmGx78_zAi7uEJe9jvYkCxu9Bsw
    203 http://www.klimacampus.de/klimacampus.html?&L=1
    204 http://www.klimacampus.de/sicss.html?&L=1

  61. “Inferences cannot be produced from a machine.”

    you need to catch up son. Machines infer all the time

  62. guthrie says:

    So basically Elsevier are trolling everyone in order to boost page views and papers published in their journals and thus potential profits?

    [Snip. -W]

  63. Keith McClary says:

    In a bottle of beer, there is some CO2 gas in the space at the top. What is the “residence time” of this CO2 ?

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