World Atmospheric CO2

Early this year, a journal called Health Physics published a paper on World Atmospheric CO2, Its 14C Specific Activity, Non-fossil Component, Anthropogenic Fossil Component, and Emissions (1750–2018). The paper concluded that

Our results show that the percentage of the total CO2 due to the use of fossil fuels from 1750 to 2018 increased from 0% in 1750 to 12% in 2018, much too low to be the cause of global warming.

As you can imagine, this gained some traction amongst those who dispute that anthropogenic emissions drive global warming.

In the June edition of the journal there were 4 letters criticising the article, the authors of which included Pieter Tans, Ralph Keeling and Stephen Schwartz. The July edition then included a letter from myself, Gunnar Schade and Mark Maslin.

The letters point out that the paper’s assumptions about 14CO2 are inconsistent with observations, that it ignores the impact of the bomb tests in the 1950s and 1960s, and ignores that there are large exchange fluxes between the atmosphere, ocean, and terrestrial biosphere. It’s very obvious that the increase in atmospheric CO2 since the mid-1700s is almost entirely due to anthropogenic emissions and it’s rather surprising that a bunch of physicists don’t get that if you want to consider the detailed evolution of atmospheric CO2 concentrations, you really do need to consider all of the fluxes.

The authors of the original paper, of course, think that the criticisms don’t actually address their assumptions, methodology, or results, and they stand by [their] methodology, results and conclusions. Somewhat bizarrely, the authors still seem to think that the increase in atmospheric CO2 can only be anthropogenic if all of the CO2 that makes up this increase has a direct anthropogenic origin, rather than (obviously) the increase would not have happened in the absence of anthropogenic emissions.

The editor of the journal has also responded to say that they stand by their decision to publish the paper and invited readers to examine the original paper, the criticisms in the Letters in this issue, and the authors’ responses to these criticisms and come to their own informed conclusions of this work. This is all good and well, but understanding why the rise in atmospheric CO2 is almost entirely anthropogenic is pretty straightforward, it’s been well established in the relevant field for a very long time, and the only people who dispute this are justifiably described (in my view) as science deniers.

I don’t expect the letters to really change the minds of those who still dispute that the increase in atmospheric CO2 is almost entirely due to anthropogenic emissions, but I do think it’s useful for them to have been published. They at least provide something to highlight when people promote the original paper. Since ours isn’t fully public, if you’re interested in reading it, you can download the accepted version here.


I should have acknowledged that there were some who provided useful comments on drafts of the letter. So, thanks to Dikran, Bob L. and A.N. Other for their comments that helped to improve what we submitted.

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106 Responses to World Atmospheric CO2

  1. Chubbs says:

    If natural CO2 were increasing, we have no scientific explanation or control options and are really in trouble.

  2. Dave_Geologist says:

    “The author [editor-in-chief] declares no conflict of interest”.

    Tortuous contortions to claim the topic is not out of scope notwithstanding. The cynic in me smells an AGW-denying editor and pal review. Or reviewers who haven’t got a Scooby. The scientist in me hopes for a swathe of editorial resignations, but the cynic in me says probably not.

    Ah, bless. A quick Scholar search finds that his hobby-horse is radiation-harm response curves, arguing that there is a minimum safe dose, that as low as reasonably possible is costly and unnecessary, and that, wait for it: “low radiation doses stimulate natural biological defense mechanisms to provide a mild protective effect”. Bet he also thinks CO2 is plant food. A large proportion are advocacy pieces, not new science. Sound familiar?

    Note that while I’m not competent to assess the hormesis claim, (it sounds a bit unicornish for ionising radiation – how does damaging only a few DNA strands make you healthier? What’s the biological or health-physics mechanism?), it’s the anti-regulation advocacy expressed over decades which is the red light for me. I skimmed a couple of studies he references and there was obvious scope for confounding factors: for example nuclear dockyard workers are better paid and probably have better health insurance than the wider population, and get regular health checks that others don’t, so unrelated cancers are caught early; and of course they currently benefit from ALARP. Fukushima shouldn’t have been evacuated because more people died of allegedly evacuation-linked causes than of radiation. And of course we don’t need seat belts or airbags in cars because look how low the RTA death toll is these days (OK, that was mine).

    Hilarious how he claims the Letter writers can’t know whether the reviewers were competent. Basically, the acceptance of Flat-Earth science demonstrates that either they were not, or that they were blinded by prior beliefs which are not hard to guess.

    The idea that JGR could not find competent reviewers for what is basically decades-old undergraduate science beggars belief. I smell porkies somewhere in the chain. Unless they said “I can’t even begin to review this nonsense, it’s Not Even Wrong”.

  3. Dave,
    If it’s true that JGR couldn’t find reviewers, it was probably because they couldn’t find any who were willing to spend their time reviewing a paper that was obviously flawed, rather than because there weren’t any possible reviewers who were competent (there must have been competent people who could have been asked).

  4. Dave_Geologist says:

    As a general comment I noticed towards the end of my career that editors were becoming little more than letterboxes, as I was sent stuff that was barely readable, and received diametrically opposed and irreconcilable reviews of a paper where I was second author. In my editorial days I’d have sought a tie-break review in that situation, and/or applied my own judgement on the merits of the reviews and notified the authors. Sometimes it is very obvious that there is personal animus behind the scenes, or that someone just doesn’t accept an entire established field like sequence stratigraphy. In one case a review was basically a rant that industry scientists contributing to the scientific literature in their free time were taking bread from the mouths of academics. Oops, shoulda looked up my affiliation 😉 . Actually I used my work address in the covering letter, so it was probably also a sideways rant at me…

    I also rejected a number of papers without review as out of scope. It was a UK/international journal, publishing lots of overseas stuff of international interest, but some things of local interest about the UK were in scope and the same thing about Thailand out of scope. That’s not uncommon – I checked the GSA Bulletin and five out of thirty papers were about the USA. I judge four of them not to have global/international implications and I bet similar papers about the UK would have been rejected as out-of-scope. If something was unreadable I sent it back and said (more politely) make it readable, with the help of a native-English-speaker if that’s the problem. On more than one occasion I made my own linguistic suggestions. Authors could always appeal to the Editor-in-Chief, but I was never over-ruled. We had Subject Editors deliberately chosen from all the main sub-disciplines, and papers were sent to whoever the E-i-C though was best qualified. In general the papers I got were papers I’d have been competent to review myself. I probably sent a couple back to the E-i-C saying they were just too far outside my competence, and that I couldn’t even begin to think of qualified reviewers.

    OK, enough moaning from the grumpy old man 😉 .

  5. Dave_Geologist says:

    Yes, ATTP, that’s what prompted my “Good Old Days” rant.

    An Editor should be sufficiently abreast of the subject to recognise a garbled and incomprehensible submission, or something so obviously flawed it’s unsaveable. If anything the proliferation and specialisation of Journals should make that easier (JGR has about a dozen titles, so an atmospheric scientist won’t get a plate-tectonics paper to edit). We had about a dozen editors to cover the full gamut of geology, geophysics and geochemistry, JGR Atmospheres has a much narrower remit.

    Actually now that I think about it being in industry probably helped there. I had to deal with geology, geophysics and geochemistry even if someone else in the team was doing the legwork. For about half of my editorial term I was working in international frontier exploration, eight countries on three continents. So unlike academics hoeing their own furrow I couldn’t have specialised geographically or topically, even if I’d wanted to.

  6. Dave_Geologist says:

    Yep, those “natural biological defense mechanisms” that are stimulated by low doses of radiation (in context he clearly means high-energy particles or photons in low numbers, and not low-energy, non-ionising ones in large numbers) look very much like unicorns. There should be a site called And Then There’s Biology for physicists to visit and learn.

    A Google search for ‘are tumours clonal’ returns a resounding Yes, with some exceptions which are of interest because they’re exceptions. So there’s no conceivable mechanism by which ionising radiation in low doses can stimulate the immune system, other than by generating a mutated cell which might be different enough to trigger an attack by antibodies or killer T-cells. Which is a helluva risky way to promote the immune system. Any other “effect” is no different from homeopathy. It either breaks DNA and causes a mutation, or it doesn’t. Then it’s either a benign mutation, or one that leads to proliferation. Yes plant breeders luck onto a few beneficial mutations that way, but they have to throw away the vast majority. Giving a thousand people cancer for every person you make immune to AIDS is not the way to go.

  7. Dave_Geologist says:

    … The point being that if there was a threshold effect below which the body can control cancerous cells, but above that there are too many and they run wild, you’d expect most cancers to be multi-clonal because you’d need just the right dose, every time, to overwhelm the defences just enough to let one cell through, but not enough to let a dozen through or a hundred

  8. angech says:

    “The letters point out that the paper’s assumptions about 14CO2 are inconsistent with observations, that it ignores the impact of the bomb tests in the 1950s and 1960s, and ignores that there are large exchange fluxes between the atmosphere, ocean, and terrestrial biosphere.”

    Shooting oneself in the foot it seems.

    14CO2 observations surely must exist and be the basis for their assumptions. They cannot be inconsistent with reality.
    The comment about “large exchange fluxes between the atmosphere, ocean, and terrestrial biosphere.” which would seem to be directed to 14CO2, would however also seem strangely apt to carbon sinks and normal CO2 exchanges which, plants, humans and volcanoes and outgassing,are very hard to accurately quantify.

    I think everybody knows and takes into account the bomb tests, that is one area you could criticize the assumptions safely as no one knows exactly the effects. That is why they are called assumptions.

    In a warming world from a non CO2 causation perspective what is the result of said warming on CO2 levels, acidification and sea level rise.
    If there was warming of 1.5C from 1850 to now what does the science say the outgassing , pH and levels would be?
    It is only after you remove these expected values that you can calculate exactly how much CO2 effect is due to fossil fuel use.
    The difference between that and what we see now would be pure CO2 effect.

    Putting the cart, CO2 rise, in front of the cart, Temperature increase due to other causes if Temperature rises is the horse could be a problem.

  9. Bob Loblaw says:

    The Scrable et al saga continues….

    We need to be careful on what we read into the JGR submission and rejection story. All we have (AFAIK) is Scrable et al’s version, and what they said is (in the Response to Stephen Musolino)

    …it is our understanding that the Journal could find only one willing reviewer…”

    Note the weasel words of “our understanding”, and that “willing reviewer” says absolutely nothing about competent reviewers. They also express the opinion that the one JGR reviewer did not read the paper in detail. A competent reviewer does not need to read it in detail to know that it is crap.

    As for knowing that Health Physics’s reviewers are not competent – that conclusion is not based on their names or what they wrote in non-public reviews – it is based on the observable fact that such a crappy paper was accepted in the journal.

  10. angech,
    Well, virtually all the warming is anthropogenic, so any effect that warming has had on the natural uptake of our emissions is still an anthropogenic effect. Hence, the increase in atmospheric CO2 since the mid-1700s is almost entirely anthropogenic.

  11. Dave_Geologist says:

    Just to expand on clonal cancer, of course that does not mean all cells in one tumour are genetically identical. They replicate rapidly and by the time you take a biopsy there will have been many generations since the initial mutation, with natural selection, genetic drift and hitch-hiking resulting in a range which can nevertheless be traced back through cladistic methods to a common ancestor that is no longer extant. Just as with SARS-Cov-2 strains, maize, mice, monkeys and Homo.

    Skin cancer is a heavily studied exception where, at least prior to metastasis, each tumour has its own Cell Zero. But that doesn’t mean they all started during the same day’s sunbathing. I presume there are also some lung cancers like that, a different origination at different times in each lung.

    This looks like a good summary: Clonal evolution in cancer. Free html version available here.

  12. MarkR says:

    Is there a free .pdf somewhere? I can’t access the paper but have a pretty strong suspicion about what they did.

  13. Bob Loblaw says:

    That’s weird, Mark. When I first heard about it in late January, I downloaded a copy, and I swear it was free at the time. I see that it is now paywalled. I know I did not get it through work (no institutional access from there). It would be weird to think that its access has changed in the past four months. I know I did not pay for it, and I’m pretty sure I did not have to search to find a copy.

  14. Joshua says:

    > I don’t expect the letters to really change the minds of those who still dispute that the increase in atmospheric CO2 is almost entirely due to anthropogenic emissions,

    On the other hand, I don’t expect anyone to start doubting the consensus view because the original paper was published, nor that anyone who’s mind wasn’t already made up to think that the paper is convincing.

  15. Yes, it was certainly public. It seems to be no longer available. I thought I had downloaded a copy, but I can’t seem to find it. However, WUWT posted it in its entirety, I think. I won’t post the link, but it’s easy to find. Mark, it would be interesting to get your assessement.

  16. Joshua,
    Yes, that’s true to. However, responses to these type of papers maintain a balance in the force 🙂

  17. dikranmarsupial says:

    Many thanks ATTP et al, my fictional alter-ego Gavin was considering sending in a letter to the editor, but he couldn’t added anything useful to that!

  18. dikranmarsupial says:

    Shame the animated GIF in the tweet isn’t visible, did I do something wrong?

  19. Dikran,
    It seems to be there. You’re reminded me that I had meant to acknowledge your suggestions in the post. So, thanks for the comments.

  20. dikranmarsupial says:

    Hilarious, they couldn’t find evidence that anyone had quantified anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere. It’s been in *every* IPCC WG1 report!

    “This process does not require consideration of what was transpiring in exchange processes among the atmosphere and CO2 reservoirs”

    Sadly saying that doesn’t mean that it is true.

    The editor has failed again by allowing a response that dismissed the criticisms without giving a cogent counter-argument.

  21. dikranmarsupial says:

    No problem ATTP, excellent job! Funny the tweet contents are visible on my ipad but not this computer!

  22. David B Benson says:

    OT, but Dave the Geologist brought up radiation hormesis. So here is a relevant thread with links to many papers supporting this:

    The mechanism is simple: the DNA repair molecule assembly is up-regulated by a modest amount of insult, including ionizing radiation.

    Those wanting to discuss this matter are encouraged to take their comments to the Brave New Climate site, not continuing here.

  23. Dikran,
    Yes, the response was bizarre.

  24. Mark,
    Bob has emailed me a copy. Can I send it to you using the email address you commented under? I could also use your professional email address, which I think I still have (unless you’ve moved).

  25. Bob Loblaw says:

    In searching for copies, it would help if I had correctly spelled Skrable…. My apologies…

  26. Bob Loblaw says:

    Most of the “replies” from Skrable et al are basically non-responsive – at least from the limited amount I can read without paying for them. A few are short enough that the preview is complete. None of the previews suggest that the full texts are worth buying.

  27. John Mashey says:

    When I see a paper whose technical wrongness is obvious, I usually do a quick check of the references and then check the authors. Over the years I’ve studied how bad papers get into journals, as in the infamous Pal Review in Climate Research (
    See HG6-9 in last year’s thread ( on fiasco at History of Geo- and Space Sciences, in which one non-climate scientist (& involved with very fringe folks) wrote paper accepted by another editor, in out-of-scope journal, with weak peer review. Publisher Copernicus reacted well to complaints, forced real reviews … which were … savage ( and retracted the paper … and apparently the 2 editors.

    So looking at Health Physics article, I wondered what was going on and looked at authors Skrable, Chabot and French, who give UMAss Lowell as affiliation.
    Chabot and French are listed as Emeritus Physics Professors, Skrable was unlisted, was already Emeritus in 2012.
    They’d written quite a few papers for Health Physics over the years.
    The Advice for Atuhrs ( says:
    “Review and Editing Process. After you have submitted your manuscript, a Health Physics associate editor and two peer reviewers (selected by the associate editor) will review it using a double-blind process.”
    This reminded me of the Climate Research case above, in which associate editors basically handled the papers without much control from an editor-in-chief, but at least in CR’s case, the associate editor was identified in the published paper.

    Health Physics didn’t do that, and that raises a question:
    It may only be a coincidence, but one of the associate editors is UMass Lowell’s M. A. Tries, whose 2000 PhD (UMass Lowell) supervisor was Chabot, and committee included Skrable and French.

  28. Willard says:

    EM reached similar conclusions in January at Roy’s, Mash:

    Read this.

    Note the connection to the Heartland Institute.

    Note the comments and publications on a climate sceptic theme.

    Note the advocation of opening up oil drilling prospects.

    Note the links to the Health Physics Society and its journal Health Physics. (That last was how I found him.) His influence at Health Physics allowed the publication of Berry’s papers and Skrable et al. Their low quality would make them hard to place elsewhere.

    To a cynical warmist like myself that is the classic profile of an expert recruited by the fossil fuel lobby as a discreet lobbyist for their cause.

    I myself emphasized the following paragraph:

    Here’s a version of the paper:


    Note the website. Also note sentences such as “The word delta represents the change or difference of a quantity from some reference quantity” and Bulwer Lytton Fiction Contest paragraphs such as this one:

    This claim by the authors has no foundation. It is disputed by our analysis of the underlying equation for the d13C statistic in section 2.3.1, the values of quantities in columns F through L in rows 21 through 27 in Table 1 that might be affected by changes in values of the d13C statistic from one year to the next, and the sensitivities and relative sensitivities of the d13C, D14C, and S(t) statistics for the detection of changes in the anthropogenic-fossil component, CF(t). It is a clear example of the misuse of the d13C statistic as a means to validate fossil fuels as the major source of increases in atmospheric CO2.

    Here’s the resource it tries to criticize with its curve fitting:

    That’s not serious stuff.

    There are Ed Berry’s fans amongst the Sky Dragon Cranks at Roy’s.

    Audits never end.

  29. russellseitz says:

    Shades of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness—Google Scholar shows the authors past publications have promoted hormesis and downplayed promethium in tobacco as a factor in lung cancer.

    Their present attempt to rewrite the history of anthropogenic CO2 reflects their 2020 effort,

    Click to access Skrable-article.pdf

    which concluded :

    “Plots of values for the d13C and D14C statistics presented at the NOAA, Wikipedia, and other websites, likely have misled persons in the public, government, and scientific communities throughout the world to believe that elevated levels of anthropogenic-fossil CO2 have caused global warming. This false belief has severe potential societal implications and presses the need for very costly remedial actions that are misdirected, presently unnecessary, and completely ineffective in curbing global warming.”

  30. russellseitz says:

    I made an elementarey mistake about Skrable downplaying tobacco radioactivity as a factor in lung cancer.

    It’s polonium, not promethium.

  31. verytallguy says:


  32. Dave_Geologist says:

    Bob and ATTP, in the Editor-in-Chief’s excuse note he says they left it open access for eight weeks, so it could get external scrutiny (presumably from people who actually knew and understood the topic). Then pats himself on the back for doing a public service. Pretty sure there were heated exchanges in the Editorial Board and some or all of the Associate Editors recognised it as nonsense on stilts, out-of-scope, or both. Making it open access may have been a compromise to stave off a spate of resignations. Shame they didn’t do the same with the Letters and Replies; some journals do that with all Discussion segments. The previews are enough though.

    In my experience it’s unprecedented for an Editor (Musolino) to write a Letter effectively criticising the acceptance of a paper in his own Journal. Other than a resignation letter. I suspect there were some tense negotiations to keep him on board. Especially as someone at a prestigious Physics institution who also has a government regulatory role would be, pardon the pun given that role and the journal’s core topic, a resignation of nuclear proportions.

    Also, a Journal publishing a scolding like “Unfortunately, unless withdrawn this paper now becomes part of the peer-reviewed literature. That is not something Health Physics should be proud of.” is unprecedented in my experience. That sort of criticism would normal be filleted (the same with personal criticism). You normally treat the failing as a Series Of Unfortunate Events, without explicit blaming, in the formal literature. Oh to be a fly on the wall when they discussed whether or not to leave that in!

  33. Dave_Geologist says:

    The editor has failed again by allowing a response that dismissed the criticisms without giving a cogent counter-argument.

    Oddly enough, dikran, that is not too unusual and I’ve experienced it both as an author and an editor.

    They do have a right of reply, and if they want to make a fool of themselves in the Reply, more fool them. As long as they don’t make it personal, abusive or libellous.

    In my day (dead-tree era) the readership would be experts in the field, reading the article in an institutional library, and perfectly able to see that the authors had failed to respond adequately to a cogent criticism. The community would tacitly award a defeat by walkover to the original authors.

    Nowadays of course the community is much wider, mostly ignorant, and often interested only in hearing what they want to hear.

  34. Dave_Geologist says:

    Thanks for the link David.

    I won’t go further down that rat-hole, other than with a general comment that Radiation and Reason triggers me the same way German Democratic Republic and Centre For Evidence Based Medicine triggers me.

    I’d go in expecting advocacy, not science.

  35. Dave_Geologist says:

    Google Scholar shows the authors past publications have promoted hormesis

    Honest, guv, no rat-holing.

    But so does the Editor-in-Chief in his publications, and in out-and-out advocacy pieces. Join the dots.

  36. dikranmarsupial says:

    “They do have a right of reply,” they shouldn’t have a right of evasive reply. The editor does have a job to do to ensure that the discussion is not misleading. I’ve also had this experience in my one foray into paleontology. There was two rounds of back and forth before the editor said “no more”, but the comments from the original authors were just restating their original errors. The original authors had published a string of papers making the same error in various other applications of allometry and this wasn’t the first time their error had been pointed out to them, and my comment paper didn’t stop them writing further papers on the same theme. Oddly enough, they were emeritus profs.

    The response by Harde to his comment paper though failed peer review, and wasn’t published. That is how it should be done IMHO.

  37. Dave_Geologist says:

    Heh heh. I feel a Kate-Bush-lyrics quote coming on Russell:

    Chips of promethium polonium plutonium are twinkling in every lung…

    (From her paean to Nuclear Armageddon, Breathing. If you watch the video stay to the end for the first hit of the Second Strike, just when she and her pals thought they’d made it through.)

    Hmmm… wonder what brought a 42-year-old song to mind?

  38. Dave_Geologist says:

    I suppose it depends on Journal policy dikran, which in turn depends very much on the Editor-in-Chief. I always tried hard to get a cogent Reply, often going through more back-and-forth than with a full Paper. I think the only Reply I blocked was after several failed attempts to get that author to cut out the personal abuse and accusations. And I preempted an appeal to the Editor-in-Chief by sending him the paper trail and asking if he endorsed my rejection (which was a no-brainer, it was a case were the Journal might be legally exposed, not just a matter of politeness – unsubstantiated allegations of scientific misconduct).

    Nowadays I’d be more inclined to reject a brush-off Reply, because like it or not some subjects have an impact outside the academic ivory tower.

    I was happy with my no-reply Letter because it was referenced a dozen times as a standalone paper* over the next five or ten years, so my message had obviously got through to those who mattered in the late 80s and early 90s. Hmm, only five times on the publisher’s website (Elsevier) – all to their own publications. Never noticed that before. Do they operate a closed shop in their citation service?

    Even worse, of course, are Journals that don’t allow Discussion or Comment submissions.

    In this case I rather think that the same hand(s) which let the nonsense on stilts though also let the non-reply Replies through.

    * It wasn’t just “you got it wrong”, but “when you look at this in a wider context…”, detailing the wider context with new data.

  39. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Even worse, of course, are Journals that don’t allow Discussion or Comment submissions.”

    Indeed, IMHO that is an indication that they don’t take quality control seriously. Failures of peer-review will happen, so there must be a mechanism for dealing with them. The best recipe for errors is thinking you don’t make them!

    My dinosaur comment paper has been cited more than some of my “proper” papers (as has my comment on Essenhigh’s paper). Justifies the time spent writing them, but it isn’t always the case.

  40. Dave_Geologist says:

    I did notice previously that the journal in question has changed the name from Letter to the Editor (which sounds generic and permissive of introducing new data, not just countering mistaken arguments or referring to pre-existing work which may have been ignored) to Comment and Reply. Which led me to wonder if an expansive Letter/Comment would be allowed nowadays, or if they want to strictly limit it to discussion of the original paper, to limit discussion to one page, etc.

    I checked and the most recent Comment is very like my Letter. Three pages discussing a very detailed paper on a 200m-wide outcrop, putting it in a wider context with new data (map and field photographs) which complements publications the original authors had not referenced. In addition they point out a conceptual error not unlike Skrable’s. Uplift vs. unroofing in an orogenic belt. Often confused which is why people looking at cooling dates of surface rocks or elevation changes based on geomorphological features disagree with people working with thermodynamic PT estimates and radiometric dates. They’re not measuring the same thing, and are using the same words for different things. To get it right you need to juggle half a dozen balls at once, and need a multi-disciplinary team who know the pitfalls in their own fields.

    Hats off to Elsevier (or to that Journal’s Editors). Sometimes the best place to publish a nugget of new data, which is too small to make a standalone paper but bears on an active topic, is in a Comment. That keeps it tied to the original paper and adds to it. The original paper also provides the context, ready-made.

  41. izen says:

    So who IS the target audience for the Skrable paper? It is obviously not going to convince anybody who has understood the source and subsequent increase of CO2. The continual exchange with ocean/land sinks and sources makes the tracing arguments just look foolish.
    It is unlikely to change the mind of the ideologically convinced that there is a ‘climate crisis, so that leaves the dwindling cadre of contrarians at places like WUWT. No surprise therefore that it is one of the few places it was fully published and publicised.

  42. Bob Loblaw says:

    Well, izen, there is always the small collection of “scientists” that regularly provide meat for groups like Heartland, GWPF, and the committee meetings run by climate-change denying politicians that will welcome any excuse to say “yes, we have peer-reviewed publications that disprove AGW theory”.

    They can ignore the comments and only cite the original paper. If someone cites the comments, they simply say “but those were all rebutted – none are valid”. And they can use it as evidence that their intellectual superiority can only see the light of day when they can get around the oppressive gatekeeping of the AGW cabal. And the comments can be dismissed as a failure by the cabal to control the message – how great it is to have an editor that sees the cabal for what it is and is willing to stick his neck out, at great danger to his reputation, and speak The Truth To Power ™.

  43. russellseitz says:

    DG: ” Hmmm… wonder what brought a 42-year-old song to mind?”

    Possibly the quote from a 2500 year-old play in which Aeschylus fired the first shot of the Climate Wars, lamenting that until Prometheus taught mankind to think about cause and effect,:

    “Of stormy winter and the coming of spring hey had no certain knowledge on which they could depend, and not knowing, they wrought all things in confusion ”

    — Προμηθεὺς Δεσμώτης,

  44. David B Benson says:

    So I just now put together links to 3 sources about the climate forcing due to CO2 and also other so-called greenhouse gases):
    which concludes with Tamino’s beautiful statistics wherein we see, without the slightest use of so-called climate models, the current TCR, transient climate response.

    So we can be quite certain of just how big our current heap-big-trouble is.

  45. Dave_Geologist says:

    Actually Russell, it was Putin’s nuclear sabre-rattling. Although the quote can be made to fit Russia’s misconceptions about Ukraine.

    I was very aware in 1980 that the Doomsday Clock was as close to midnight as it had been since Cuba. We had a second-generation Polish lab tech who had access to samizdat, and clued us in. The most worrying thing was just how panicked the Communist authorities were by Solidarity, and by the more underground dissent in the USSR.

    The fear, as now, was that they’d do something crazy.

  46. Dave_Geologist says:

    I read your allometry paper dikran. I’m with you, not with the original authors. Fetishising OLS on untransformed variables, even though it clearly gives nonsense-on-stilts results in-sample let alone out of sample, is reminiscent of economists fetishising closed-form solutions, even though they’re unphysical and in direct contradiction to the real world.

    I think the bigger problem with mammal controls is that it’s become increasingly clear that pretty much all dinosaurs, even sauropods but excluding the semi-aquatic Spinosaurids, had hollow, pneumaticised bones like birds. And a one-way air circulation system*. A structural uncertainty, not noise. In both senses of the word (the bones are not hollow like a tube BTW, they have internal bracing struts).

    You must have felt you’d been Skrabled by their reply. Basically, yes you’re right, our alternative formulation is complete rubbish and gives nonsense results, but the standard way of doing it is still wrong (so we might as well all just pack up and go home?).

    They’d have had conniptions over one of the geobarometer calibrations I did in my PhD thesis. I plotted -RTlnK-PΔVs against temperature to adapt a published one to my rocks** by calibrating against my “best” existing estimates. It caused a hassle because my external examiner didn’t like it (the original authors had done it a different way), and it had been a couple of years since I’d done the work and I was blindsided and couldn’t remember why I’d done it that way. I checked my notes later and after some correspondence it was agreed that I had used a valid method, but I should insert a footnote saying why I’d departed from the established script.

    * The Just-So Story has been that that was to lighten them so they could fly. But I’d make it about getting huge: the cube-square law required them to evolve a skeleton that didn’t require them to drag around three quarters of their body weight in bone, and a highly efficient oxygen exchange system.

    ** The activity coefficients were unknown at that time, but expected to be large based on ionic sizes and charges, so any calibration had to be over a small compositional range where they’d be reasonably constant. I treated them as 1, and the missing factors were subsumed in the empirical calibration. I used it to extend the range of samples I could use to ones that lacked a key mineral required for the primary calibration.

  47. dikranmarsupial says:

    Dave_Geologist Indeed, mammals are not necessarily a good model for dinosaur body masses, but as you extrapolate out to the body mass of sauropods, the error bars are so wide they are saying that the model doesn’t have anything to say that you didn’t know already. I was going to write a follow up paper called “Bayesian Allometry of the Body Mass of Dinosaurs Suggests Broad Posteriors” to point that out (but mostly for the terrible statistics pun), but never got round to it (too much “real life” to deal with). Packard’s model is useful for some applications (but definitely not this one, or most of the others they published on) and you need out-of-sample evaluation and tests of model assumptions to determine which to use.

    The other way of going about it is to make a model of the dinosaur and estimate its volume and work out it’s mass using a reasonable assumption of it’s density (which could include pneumatic vertebrae etc.). A more modern approach is to do the same with CAD modelling. My bookshelf space devoted to paleontology (these days I am more interested in invertebrates) is about four times that of climatology – it’s a fascinating subject!

    The ironic thing is that the “bias” of conventional allometry that they were complaining about was *exactly* the reason why it works, but they just couldn’t see it. A bit like Skrable (and many before them), they don’t know that they gave a big gap in their understanding, and so confident of their understanding that they are totally impervious to correction. I hope I never “go emeritus” (assuming I haven’t already).

    Sauropods had pneumatic skeletons as well, and they were definitely not evolving towards flight! IIRC for sauropods their long necks might have required the efficient one-way “avian” breathing system. Using mammalian style lungs the volume of air in the trachea never reaches the lungs. Not a significant problem for most mammals, but if you have an 11m long neck, it might be different!

  48. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Using mammalian style lungs the volume of air in the trachea never reaches the lungs.”

    Rather badly put. It is more that when you breathe out, the trachea will be filled with air from your lungs that has already had some oxygen taken out and CO2 added. That will be the first air that gets to your lungs when you breathe in, rather than a lung full of fresh air Ideally sauropods would have evolved nostrils at the base of their necks rather than on the tops of their skull*, but there is a limit on what evolution can do! ;o)

    * ISTR reading this may be so they don’t get twigs poked up their noses when browsing in trees for food. I made a point of checking that out when Dippy made a visit to Norwich Cathedral. I’d not seen her for about 45 years, she seemed to have shrunk somewhat. ;o)

  49. Dave_Geologist says:

    A good suggestion there re neck length dikran. Although theropods didn’t have that problem. I’d be thinking it dates back in some form to their common ancestor (but post the split with crocodiles as they have a different one-way breathing system). Although as all modern crocs are aquatic that might be a secondary adaptation to their current lifestyle. You’d have to look at their terrestrial, cursorial ancestors and see what they had.

    Back when the three dinosaur groups split they all looked the same – like mini-Allosaurids. That’s why I think the Baron et al. paper that put the bird-hipped dinosaurs in with theropods and hence birds was not as big a deal as was made out. The problem is that the split into two then three happened so early, back when they all looked and acted the same, it’s like discovering that one second cousin hundreds of times removed is another’s brother and not their first cousin. If the second split had been delayed by 20 My, the relationships would have been obvious.

  50. dikranmarsupial says:

    I suspect it is difficult to determine whether it was present in a common ancestor or convergent evolution as there isn’t much evidence left in the fossil record.

  51. Dave_Geologist says:

    That’s the trouble with Just So stories dikran.

    Nostrils on the top of their heads, enormous weight, they must spend most of their time submerged, like hippos. And of course the long neck opens up really deep water habitats. IIRC that’s how they were depicted in dinosaur books when I was a kid. Now we know they’d have floated, like a plastic model in the bath.

  52. Dave_Geologist says:

    I’m slightly more hopeful as there are a lot of museum skeletons which were too valuable to cut open but haven’t been CT scanned yet. But most won’t have the internal preservation required so it will be pot luck

  53. dikranmarsupial says:

    We need a Jurassic Herculaneum where lots of dinosaurs breathed in a lot of ash from a pyroclastic flow to record their airways ;o)

    BTW I think you are right about non-aquatic crocodilians, ISTR there were some with legs underneath their bodies, with a more upright stance.

  54. Dave_Geologist says:

    It’s thought to have derived from crocodilian “high-walking”, dikran (lots of videos on the Tube). Poposaurus was a two-leg you’d mistake for a dinosaur if you met it in a dark alley. Although at 2m long excluding the tail you wouldn’t want to meet it 😉 . It was obligately erect but its hip modifications were different from those of dinosaurs so convergence is indicated.

    Erpetosuchus was four-legged but more gracile than marine crocs, and the Lossiemouth Sandstone ones lived in a semi-desert. I’ve seen bipedal tracks there, but it was probably Saltopus which is early on the dinosaur branch.

    Euparkeria predates the croc-dino split and was a fairly upright walker. In fact skeletally, it could have crossed its legs, although the authors say probably not with flesh on the bones. So I reckon modern crocs are secondarily sprawling, and their ancestor would have been a routine high-walker ideally placed to evolve either to crawling or fully upright.

    The trouble with taking Linnean classification into the past is that when you get back to the time of the split, the whole damn lot of them look the same! Which of course is exactly what you’d expect of evolution.

  55. Dave_Geologist says:

    There’s something close to Herculaneum dikran, which I think I came across on the SV-POW website. Dinosaur air sacs with pathology indicating an airborne pathogen, implying connecting to the pneumatic system not just weight-saving.

    This recent review suggests that the air sacs were originally for weight saving and not connected to the respiratory system, and were later co-opted into a one-way breathing system during a period of low oxygen. By then crocs and dinos had split and they implemented it differently from the same starting point (which they can’t rule out having been slightly pneumatised). So convergent evolution but with an exaptation already present for evolution to work on.

  56. MarkR says:

    For independence here’s my response to the paper before reading the comments: lol. It’s one of the standard “blog science” things just as expected.

    Imagine there’s a dammed lake by a town whose water level is 2 metres below the rim of the dam. A mega rainstorm comes along and rises water levels by 10 metres, so it floods.

    The normal conclusion is that the storm caused the flood. These authors would look at the individual floodwater molecules and conclude the storm wasn’t to blame because some of the floodwater was actually in the lake *before* the storm. That is their paper’s argument and it’s very very silly.

    The editorial response is at least useful, I guess, in that it’s a big flashing sign that this is probably an F-tier journal?

  57. John Mashey says:

    MarkR: I don’t know ifr it’s an F-tier journal in its field, but as per my May 20 post, for sure it looks like Pal Review, with authors who’d often published there, a scheme similar to the early Climate Research case, where an Associate Editor handles everything, and where “out of scope for this journla” wasn’t applied to old friends of the journal.

  58. Mark,
    Yes, that’s roughly what we were trying to get across in our response. It basically interpreting the anthropogenic nature of the increase in atmospheric CO2 in a way that isn’t consistent with what is actually meant and don’t seem willing to recognise this pretty basic error.

  59. Dave_Geologist says:

    My PhD hassle was bugging me yesterday dikran, so I checked it out this morning. I had used the same formula as the original authors. And my copy of the thesis has no footnote! What a cheapskate I was. I had to get the spine unbound to make the insertion, and must have decided to only do that for the University and British Library copies. Actually the original paper has even less documentation of what they’d done than my thesis had. It was in a specialist journal, and per my comment on how in those days journals were intended for a closed, expert community, the reviewers and editor probably felt there was no need to point out the obvious. And they have a typo in the key formula in the key figure caption!

    Reverse engineering my thesis and their paper, I think the issue was probably that the x-axis should have been TΔS, not T. But the heat capacity impact on ΔS is negligible for solids, so if you treat fluids separately as was normal practice, TΔS is a linear function of T so you still get a straight line. Just a different gradient and intercept, which doesn’t matter for an empirical calibration.

    There, that’s one earworm slain! And I can still do thermodynamics so haven’t gone emeritus 🙂

    Incidentally, “why that function?” has a similar answer to your intuitive allometry argument. Per the title of this blog, if you understand the physical, chemical or biological process you’re describing and can predict its functional form, you’re on much more solid ground than if you just make a series of cross-plots and pick the one that gives the best straight line and R2. In this case you can predict the form from the Gibbs and Van ‘t Hoff equations.

    Of course if you completely misunderstand the physical, chemical or biological process in question, you get nonsense like Skrable et al.

  60. MarkR says:

    John Mashey: I obviously don’t know whether it’s an F-tier journal in its field but the Skrable paper’s conclusions are completely unsupported by its evidence. The editorial response to such obvious rubbish is inconsistent with that of a journal that is (i) competent and (ii) prioritises scientific rigour.

    IMO this sort of behaviour is a very strong piece of evidence that the community should think of evidence published in the journal as being more like blog posts and assume there has been no quality control.

  61. John Mashey says:

    Oh, for sure the paper was instantly recognizable as junk, why I quickly dug into the background to figure out how this happened … clearly Pal Review, backed by weak E-i-C.
    I’ve seen this before a few times. The Climate Research case is famous, although there was no E-i-C, but the publisher backed Chris de Freitas, causing many resignations.
    Recall the E-I-C of CSDA accepted out-of-scope paper by Said, Wegman, et al, with no peer review, and when plagiarism was proven, tried hard to save it (see p.11 below, we have the emails), but was overridden by Elsevier.

  62. John Mashey says:

    Ken: you folks clearly are being stonewalled by the E-i-C.
    Back in 2011, Ted KirkPatrick, David Graves & I purused the Wegman-Said plagiarism in their own journal, first to the WIley publisher, then the executive staff and finally to the Board, which after some stonewalling led to action.
    Likewise, at Skeptical Science, Ari Jokamaki led an effort that took 3.5 years to get Florides et al retracted, after a new E-i-C took the job.

    So, maybe consider collecting as many of the authors as interested, with affiliations & copies of their letters, and a cover letter including some of the side oddities and contact the publisher & marketing manager (this kind of thing does journal reputation no good).

  63. izen says:

    “So, maybe consider collecting as many of the authors as interested, with affiliations & copies of their letters, and a cover letter including some of the side oddities and contact the publisher & marketing manager ”

    That would get the response that it is Woke, Cancel Culture, and an effort by ‘Them’ to censor alternative voices.
    As Bob pointed out there are always a small group of emeriti prepared to supply ‘peer reviewed’ papers for the contrarian crowd.
    Short term economic considerations Trump long term problems. In the UK the Bank of England recently warned business would suffer a loss of £340bn from climate change impacts. The media has replied that such Green factors need to be ignored in the face of inflation and the fallout from the Ukraine war and supply chain problems.
    That is a more significant problem than a obscure paper in a F-grade journal.

  64. Bob Loblaw says:

    Note that if you follow John’s link to the Health Physics page, there are few clues about who the publisher is. The publisher, marketing person, etc. all see to have email addresses at, which appears to be an IT company.

    At the bottom of the page, there is a publishers address in Philadelphia (“LWW Business Offices”) with a link to a web page That leads you to:

    …which in the middle of the page says “Lippencott.The leading publisher of journals in medicine, nursing, and allied health”. At the bottom of the page, it mentions “Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.”

    It is feasible to think that a big name publishing company would be worried about their reputation. The Lippencott main page has a link to their Open Access policy,

    Their publishing services promise (part way down the page) claims to provide “rigorous peer review”.

  65. The short and effective critique of papers where the peer review is not really rigorous and the papers itself is pushing nonsense is to simply say, nonsense paper with pal review. Keep it simple. Don’t engage with the authors or pals as if they are are acting in good faith, we have every reason to believe they are not. Call them out. Keep it short and simple so that laypersons reading and trying to understand the science don’t get tricked into thinking there is a serious scientific disagreement about the underlying mechanics of global warming. I think that simple dismissive response is the best way to help the public understand the science accurately. These folks like TWF or JC or Pjr are like Paladin, have beaker, will travel. Scientific hacks for hire.

    So, the short version response to this paper, its authors, the publisher: Merchants of Doubt. Publishing nonsense pseudoscience backed by pal review. Science for hire. Flat earth science.

    What is everyone thinking about the heat waves? Can we talk about the climate, the warming, the impacts and our situation?


  66. Willard says:

    For the nth time, Mike – you don’t get to decide on what AT should spend his time.

    If you want to talk about heat waves, go ahead. No need to bait anyone.

  67. Willard says:

    Also, Kluwer is a well-known academic publisher:

    Wolters Kluwer N.V. (Euronext Amsterdam: WKL ) is a Dutch information services company. The company is headquartered in Alphen aan den Rijn, Netherlands (Global) and Philadelphia, United States (corporate). Wolters Kluwer in its current form was founded in 1987 with a merger between Kluwer Publishers and Wolters Samsom. The company serves legal, business, tax, accounting, finance, audit, risk, compliance, and healthcare markets. It operates in over 150 countries.

  68. [Playing the ref. – W]

    I think the current heat waves in a non hot EN cycle are worthy of discussion.
    Anybody have any thoughts about the heat? Is anyone thinking about the heat records that are going to happen with the next hot enso cycle? I have it on pretty good authority that the heat is clearly linked to the global level of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. Something about physics and the greenhouse effect. And the evidence is overwhelming that the rise in these gases is related to the activities of our species. No reasonable person is questioning the greenhouse effect or how/why the greenhouse gas levels are rising.



  69. russellseitz says:

    Mike,we’re always open to illuminating revelations about pal review. Do tell us more about the friends of Merchants Of Doubt.

  70. Dave_Geologist says:

    Bob, I had not come across them before Covid-19, but the name was familiar because I’d seen some Covid papers in their journals. The bought a bunch of publishers two or three decades ago, but sold all but the Lippincott imprint which mainly seems to be US-based medicine, healthcare and health technology focused.

    There are some aspects which might be concerning unless they have effective Chinese Walls in place. For example they offer presumably-paid-for supplements on health-care topics in their journals, which could turn into industry advertorials unless peer-review is rigorous. But the same could be said for the Nature portfolio. The difference being that WK have their fingers in a number of other healthcare pies, such as clinical IT and telehealth systems, remote learning, education systems and student/course management, a library search system, indexing systems etc. SpringerNature, of course, does not.

    There is a lot of scope there for favouring their own products over others, or for an industry-connected editor (or an academic with a patent) to pull strings.

    If they do it right, they should actually be better at avoiding and resolving conflicts of interest than most, because there are so many obvious potential ones in their wider business and they’d have had lots of practice. And they’re in a regulated sector where transgressions could have worse consequences than bad PR. Even without regulation, a reputation for dirty dealing in one of their journals could lead to loss of trust in their non-publishing portfolio. Or rather, a reputation for not dealing with it correctly when it is pointed out.

    OTOH there are probably lots of clinicians, especially in the USA, who are no more qualified to evaluate the errors than the ward cleaner, and who will judge the affair based on their AGW-denying preexisting attitude and take it as vindication that the Climate Mafia silences the honest guys. Medical doctors certainly feature a lot in those “lists of independent scientists”, alongside the retired nuclear physicists and engineers.

  71. Dave_Geologist says:

    If I may be permitted a short OT for dikran’s benefit, amusement or bemusement, here are the links for the sauropod with the infected pneumatic vertebra. Both have follow-on links and references.

    Oh, and to share the bad pun 😉

  72. Bob Loblaw says:


    It’s hard to tell to what extent their publishing model is based on profit motive. The web page does look like an advertisement for IT and other services, more than a journal publisher.

    On the Open Access page I linked to earlier, there is a link to the pricing for their “hybrid open access” offerings (where authors pay for open access).

    Health Physics is there under the “Radiology” specialization, and costs $3,625 for their more restrictive version and $4,400 for full open access. I don’t see any pricing model for “open access for eight weeks, and then no longer open access when things get interesting”. You had commented (May 21, 11:06 am) on the editor’s note on this change (part of the editor’s “excuse note”). The editor does not mention whether the Open Access fee was waived (or not selected), and they gave eight weeks of free access out of the goodness of their hearts, or whether such a fee was refunded when they closed off access, or what. It smells odd. Certainly another sign of “special treatment” by a friendly editor.

  73. Bob Loblaw says:

    Another comment on the editor’s “Excuse note” , now that I’ve read it again:

    The editor claims that “both peer-reviewers were selected specifically for their expertise in atmospheric science/meteorology/climate science”. Given that the editor is obviously incapable of understanding the fundamental errors in Skrable et al’s paper, I doubt very much that the editor is capable of of identifying actual expertise in the subject at hand (carbon cycle dynamics).

  74. Dave_Geologist says:

    Bob, although academic publishing is famously profitable, it does look to be a small part of their overall business so on balance I thought they’d want to protect their broader business, even at the expense of some editorial embarrassment at one of their journals. Especially as it will often be the same customers. There would be less crossover if, for example, it was an engineering firm which had picked up a publishing house willy-nilly when they bought a primarily-IT company.

    I think they must see an advantage to their medical products division when professionals in that field see their name and logo on the journals they read.

    I read the eight weeks as being a concession, perhaps to expressions of concern by Associate Editors that the venue and readership would not be able to evaluate the “work”, allowing a short period of “open peer review”. But it could have been a way of advertising it and giving other pals in the press, politics andthe blogosphere a download window. Eight weeks is long enough for word to go round the denialosphere and for the usual suspects to download a personal copy for propaganda use later, but short enough for it to attract little attention from the climate-science community. Even if you’re at a University with a range of faculties, let alone somewhere like NASA or NOAA, unless it has a medical school the library may not even subscribe to the WK medical journals.

  75. MarkR says:

    Bob Loblaw, lol I wonder if the editor actually believes that or is just arse covering.

    I have sympathy for an editor falling for this in the first place, but there’s no way this had unbiased expert reviews. Lots of papers should have been retracted but aren’t, and now those authors are all citing each other to give the impression of expertise. We’re stuck in the position where a non-expert editor might think that Harde and Humlum are sensible reviewer choices for a carbon cycle paper, which is just tragic if you care about accurate science.

    I also understand editors wanting to think the best of people – surely authors would retract papers that are proven to be wrong! But we’ve seen that’s just not true of all these “anti consensus” papers.

    The publication is just about understandable from a relatively poorly informed editor trying to branch out a bit, even if it’s a bit embarrassing. But the response is what I’d expect from an incompetent or maybe even biased journal that shouldn’t be taken seriously as an academic source.

    I wasn’t a fan of the weakness of the Global & Planetary Change response to one of these papers but at least the editors had the decency to publish an explanation and what was basically an apology for letting crap through.

  76. first comment from Chubbs: “If natural CO2 were increasing, we have no scientific explanation or control options and are really in trouble.”

    We might really be in trouble, even if it’s not natural CO2 that is increasing. Check in with Pakistan for the particulars: “Daily and monthly temperature records have been broken in many areas. Thermometers have hit temperatures as high as 120°F (49°C), and the heat has been accompanied by abnormally dry weather. Record-breaking heatwaves often coincide with drought, as the dry ground heats up even more without the cooling effect of evaporation. However, the lower humidity has reduced the heat’s threat to human health, though at least 90 deaths have been reported so far, and that number is expected to rise.”

    It’s a dry heat. That is the good news.

  77. Bob Loblaw says:

    I wonder if the editor “selected” referees independently, or whether the authors suggested possible referees. Either way, I am reminded of a book review I read many years ago of a terrible book in permafrost geography. The review started “either the book did not receive adequate technical review, or the author chose to ignore it”.

    I’ve been searching a bit through the maze of web pages related to publishing by Lippincott et al. I did manage to find the following web page:

    …which includes a link to an “Instructions for Authors” page that seems specific to one journal:

    It includes, under “Manuscript Submission”, the following sentence: You may suggest possible reviewers except co-authors, employees of the same institution, and collaborators in the research discussed in the article.

    Since the authors are all emeritus, “the same institution” may not apply, but I presume that they would not choose someone from the institution they are emeritus from. And it is obvious from the paper that any of their collaborators in their real area of specialty are unlikely to know any climate or carbon cycle science.

  78. Bob Loblaw says:

    Found another link. Talks about the role of editors.

  79. jacksmith4tx says:

    I am becoming numb to the suffering of the planet’s #1 apex predator (humans). Perhaps more informative is watching how the rest of the biosphere is handling the extreme climate.
    As bad as this appears I think the 350,000 manmade chemicals we are spewing into the environment are doing far more damage than C02 effect on climate change. Interesting how the decline in human virility correlate with the rise in chemical production.

  80. izen says:

    I fear it is too late to try and shame Lippincott publishing, the Skrable et al paper is already out in the sceptic blogosphere, it was by late January in some. Lippincott also publish 375 separate journals, from A to Urology. I doubt a storm in one paper in one journal is going to be anything than a ripple in their view.
    What I find difficult to understand is how Skrable and co, and their acolytes, can deal with the cognitive dissonance of acknowledging that 1.5Bn tonnes of CO2 have been released from anthropogenic fossil fuel use, but still contend that only a small percentage of the rise in CO2 use is anthropogenic. Most of the fossil fuel CO2 has been absorbed by the ocean/land sinks, which have coincidentally been releasing CO2 because of the Medieval Warm Period with an 800 year lag.

  81. izen says:

    “Interesting how the decline in human virility correlate with the rise in chemical production.”

    I am not sure how you measure human virility, but I doubt the decline in human fertility is closely tied to chemical production. Certainly it does not seem to be a problem to those that put a mind, or whatever, to it. The Duggers, 19 kids and counting, and other quiverfull type folk come to mind.
    More significant is the education of women, the later age of marriage and the use of contraception

    Of course if you want to ascribe the prelevance of Guns, God and General ignorance to chemical pollution rather than sociological factors for the present state in the US I am open to persuasion.

  82. jacksmith4tx says:

    This is not new news. I have been seeing reports since the late 80s that male sperm counts and testosterone have been in decline. Leading suspects may be refined sugar and various synthetic carbohydrates (corn syrup) which leads to obesity (a documented cause and effect). Correlation is not causation, but we are on track to add another 200,000 novel molecules by 2050 so place your bets.

  83. izen says:

    “I have been seeing reports since the late 80s that male sperm counts and testosterone have been in decline.”

    This is largely down to the Levine et al meta-analysis of 2017, although this was based on previous work of dubious methodology. It feeds into assumptions about white males in the West being ‘outperformed’ by brown people from elsewhere.
    There are now alternative analysis like Boulicault et al which dispute it.
    “(they) found that earlier research claimed causal links between declining sperm counts and declining fertility, as well as between exposures to certain environmental chemicals and lower sperm counts. The GenderSci Lab researchers found that neither of these assumptions are supported by scientific or geographic evidence.
    In addition, they argued that the design of the 2017 study relied on racist and colonial hierarchies and assumptions because it categorized data as “Western” sperm counts or “Other” sperm counts.”

    Most of the variability probably comes down to changes in lifestyle, weight, and occupation.

    The work on sperm count was always suspect, the time interval was too short to detect any real change in physiology, beyond inherent variability.

    Sperm count and testosterone do not even correlate well with fertility, it takes pathologically low levels of testosterone and sperm count to cause a reduction in fertility, and male virility has little connection to either.
    It is wise to take any such bio-deterministic research with a pinch of NaCl when it predicts a crisis in the status quo.

  84. jacksmith4tx says:

    I actually rank human low birth rates pretty low on the list of stuff to worry about. If you follow Project Drawdown that’s a good thing precisely for the reasons you mentioned. My comments about chemicals and their long-term effects on the whole biosphere do come off a bit alarmist. It’s the price our technology dependent societies demand. Right now, thermonuclear war has moved up several places ahead of resource depletion. Maybe it’s time for a abrupt displacement of the equilibrium.

  85. jacksmith4tx says:

    Using Google’s ‘Talk to Books’ search engine I found this item that examines both hypothesis:
    “Dissecting the science and ideology
    Boulicault et al propose an alternative hypothesis, not for its intrinsic scientific merit, but because they recoil at the effects on the public discourse unleashed by the scientific findings in the Levine review of a half-century of data. In opposition to what they see as the implicitly racist and Eurocentric view of what they say is Levine’s “sperm count decline hypothesis,” they offer their alternative perspective, which they call the “sperm count biovariability hypothesis.
    To the extent that they frame their own hypothesis as an alternative to Levine’s, they are making a mistake because their central claim that low sperm counts have no implications for reduced fertility is simply wrong. Their second mistake is to restrict their attention to the offending Levine meta-analysis, which itself addresses just one narrow question. By doing so, they fail to consider a number of crucial phenomena.”

  86. izen says:

    I quoted Boulicualt et al not because I think it is ‘right’, but because it presents another viewpoint from the partisan viewpoint of the ‘death of virility’ statements that derive from the suspect sperm count data.
    That Boulicault tries too hard to deny a measurable reduction in sperm count is obvious. That previous research has fallen into the trap of seeing modern Western society as decadently feminizing is also evident. What a pity there are no accurate measures of sperm count from the 1800s, or back to the 1400s.
    That human sperm count is very variable and changes over time with lifestyle is uncontroversial. It is why that gets politicised that is the interesting question.

    The article you linked to ends with this quote;-
    “As a recent article in the Economist asked apropos of another gender theory dispute, “How did an ideology that brooks no dissent become so entrenched in institutions supposedly dedicated to fostering independent thinking?”
    I do wonder which ideology it is referring too, perhaps it is both…

  87. dikranmarsupial says:


    Anybody have any thoughts about the heat? Is anyone thinking about the heat records that are going to happen with the next hot enso cycle? I have it on pretty good authority that the heat is clearly linked to the global level of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

    ENSO causes a modulation of CO2, but it probably isn’t via heat, it is mostly the changes in rainfall that ENSO causes, which affects the growth and dieback of land based plants around the Pacific. This was first noted by Bacastow in the 1970s. However, being a cycle, it doesn’t have much of an effect on the long term rise.

  88. mrkenfabian says:

    Smallbluemike – sea surface temperatures and air temperatures of air masses that pass over them are directly linked. And linked to directions and strengths and the humidity of resulting air flows. In places like Australia el Nino tends to result in more air from the dry centre (from dry downflowing high pressure systems) pushing outwards to the coast, with less onshore air flow. Little humidity and lots of sunny days… which makes it hotter than with cloudier La Nina conditions.

    Is the overall area of warmer sea surface temperatures greatest during a La Nina and global average air temperatures are raised by that? I had thought that but am not sure of it. Could also be reduced average global cloud cover? So it is not clear to me where the impacts of ENSO on global average SAT’s comes from either.

    The CO2 change is probably SST’s that are higher overall irrespective of ENSO phase, from downwelling IR at the surface being raised, plus the air in downflowing high pressure systems will be coming down just that little bit warmer due to top of atmosphere slowing of radiation to space – and perhaps compounded by warmer rising air with low pressure systems feeding the upper atmosphere as well.

  89. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Climatic changes over land during El Nino events lead to decreased gross primary productivity and increased plant and soil respiration, and hence the terrestrial biosphere becomes a source of CO2 to the atmosphere. Conversely, during El Nino events, the ocean becomes a sink of CO2 because of reduction of equatorial Pacific outgassing as a result of decreased upwelling of carbon-rich deep water. During La Nina events the opposite occurs; the land becomes a sink and the ocean a source of CO2.”

    Source <a href=";2 “>doi:10.1175/1520-0442(2001)0142.0.CO;2

  90. “The efficiency and rapidity of El Niño in pushing up the record warm global mean surface temperature (GMST) have been demonstrated in recent decades, notably during the strong 1997/98 and 2015/16 El Niños. As a naturally-occurring phenomenon, an El Niño can cause a strong and transient warmth of the global climate, superimposed on the gradual and persistent warming induced by greenhouse gas (GHG) forcing (Newell and Weare 1976, Pan and Oort 1983, Timmermann et al 1999, Trenberth 2002). The gradual background warming continues to shift the probability distribution of GMST toward higher values, thereby increasing the chance of record-breaking GMST once any internal fluctuation occurs (Wergen and Krug 2010). Recently, Power and Delage (2019) demonstrate the likelihood of a monthly record-breaking surface temperature occuring under different future scenarios. Since 1980, 11 out of 14 record-breaking annual GMSTs have coincided with an El Niño event (Yin et al 2018).

  91. David B Benson says:

    What I have posted in the BNC Discussion Forum thread on climatology
    has been called into question by a non-expert. So I’m asking a favor of the scientists here: could you read what is posted over the several parts and comment here about what might possibly be counter-factual therein?
    I thank you for your time. I hope you don’t find this to be unresonable; anyway, it certainly relats to atmospheric carbon dioxide.

  92. dikranmarsupial says:

    @smallbluemike It isn’t surprising that record GMSTs coincide with El Nino events (which increase sea surface temperatures in the Pacific), the point is that the reason that ENSO affects CO2 as well is not via temperature, but the effect of changes in precipitation over land.

  93. My point, Dikran is that the next El Nino will come with slightly elevated global temps and the EN bump in temp will bring a level of deaths of many species that will make the news. The news stories may or may not lead to any significant change in the way our species creates greenhouse gas emissions, who can tell? My point is that I think we should be talking about these episodes in much the same way that mass shootings with AR15 type weapons are discussed because when it comes to pass, some folks in the public will connect the dots and may join in a more active push to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. I am an advocate. I want to lay things out so that people who are on the fence about global warming get off the fence. I don’t think that we will create much change with endless back and forth with the merchants of doubt, though I recognize that appears to be a very engaging pastime for many folks. Here is a current story to consider that falls into the category of global heat calamity: “Temperatures barely climbed into the 90s and only for a couple of days. But the discovery of the bodies of three women inside a Chicago senior housing facility this month left the city looking for answers to questions that were supposed to be addressed decades ago and are causing alarm as the planet heats.

    The city – and the country – face the reality that because of the climate crisis, deadly heatwaves can strike just about anywhere, don’t only fall in the height of summer and need not last long to be a threat.”

    I guess my position might be: stop playing climate ball and start working at climate catastrophe prep and prevention. Climate ball is quite simple-minded in my opinion and experience.


  94. Willard says:

    [SBM] Anybody have any thoughts about the heat? Is anyone thinking about the heat records that are going to happen with the next hot enso cycle?

    [D] ENSO causes a modulation of CO2, but it probably isn’t via heat, it is mostly the changes in rainfall that ENSO causes, which affects the growth and dieback of land based plants around the Pacific.

    [MF] Sea surface temperatures and air temperatures of air masses that pass over them are directly linked. And linked to directions and strengths and the humidity of resulting air flows.

    [SBM] “The efficiency and rapidity of El Niño in pushing up the record warm global mean surface temperature (GMST) have been demonstrated in recent decades, notably during the strong 1997/98 and 2015/16 El Niños.”

    [D] It isn’t surprising that record GMSTs coincide with El Nino events (which increase sea surface temperatures in the Pacific), the point is that the reason that ENSO affects CO2 as well is not via temperature, but the effect of changes in precipitation over land.

    [SBM] My point, Dikran is that the next El Nino will come with slightly elevated global temps and the EN bump in temp will bring a level of deaths of many species that will make the news.

    Catastrophizing might not be the best way to stop Climateball since it echoes the central square of the Bingo:

    “But CAGW”

    In any event, baiting commenters to opine on stuff that one does not wish to discuss looks suboptimal to me.

  95. [Enough baiting, Mike, and please do not play the ref. -W]

  96. izen says:

    ” Anybody have any thoughts about the heat? Is anyone thinking about the heat records that are going to happen with the next hot enso cycle?”

    I would expect the ‘sceptics’ to be looking forward to claiming; ” No warming for ‘x’ years.” for a period of time after any ENSO warming.

  97. I am genuinely curious why the skeptics don’t refer to the equatorial climate indices (within 10 degrees of the equator, especially Pacific ) more often. These are almost completely flat. Except for the DMI, also called the Indian Ocean Dipole, which does show a noticeable incline. It is strange that DMI has a tilt but that equatorial indices such as NINO34 don’t. Perhaps the Pacific Ocean is a much bigger heat sink and the Indian Ocean Dipole is receiving more of a land impact? Or is something being filtered out — I know the annual signal often is?

  98. Perhaps I can ask a serious question here. We hear about the dramatic rise in temperatures in the Arctic. We hear about rises in GAT. Is there a place to find the average rise in temperatures in other latitude bands? Thanks in advance, a simple link works for a reply.

  99. Tom,
    GISS has northern extra-tropics, tropics, and then southern extra-tropics.

  100. Thanks, ATTP. Much appreciated.

  101. This page describes the extent of the filter on the equatorial Pacific NINO34 index
    The trend removed is nearly 0.8C since ~1850 according to the second chart on the page.

    That factoid is courtesy of University of Miami, apropos a location that has never officially hit 100F — well, maybe once, but that was in 1942. Such is the benefit of being surrounded by a heat sink.

  102. Having looked at it, obviously I have further questions, which I’m sure you can anticipate. It would seem that temperature rises have been very, very moderate outside of the Arctic. Does this in your mind call into question some of the impacts imputed to global warming in areas away from the northern polar regions?

  103. Tom,
    Not really. The warming in the tropics looks like it’s still close to 1C, so it’s not that much less than the global average. Also, this latitudonal dependence is included in the models that are used to estimate the impact. Also, bear in mind that the warming over land is also greater than over the ocean, so the warming averaged over the tropics somewhat under-estimates how much warming has happened over land.

  104. dikranmarsupial says:

    “It would seem that temperature rises have been very, very moderate outside of the Arctic. ”

    Or to put it another [less obviously nuanced] way, there is polar amplification, which was predicted by the models.

    “It would seem that temperature rises have been very, very moderate outside of the Arctic.”

    A lot of ice is in the Arctic, a lot of (not so) permafrost is in the Arctic. We will feel the indirect effects of the warming in the Arctic via seal level rise and carbon cycle feedback.

  105. dikranmarsupial says:

    Oops, second quote from Tom should have been for “Does this in your mind call into question some of the impacts imputed to global warming in areas away from the northern polar regions?”

    It would be nice if sea level rise were restricted to the Arctic, but that isn’t how it works. Same for carbon cycle feedback.

  106. Pingback: 2022: A year in review | …and Then There's Physics

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