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The Cooling-off of Global Warming: CO2 Concentration FOLLOWS Temperature

2009/09/23

It’s the Kreb’s Cycle, man. 

The long, tedious post that follows began years ago as an experiment of mine – at first – an attempt to model “global warming” from a first-principles approach to explain the warming following the Pleistocene ice ages.  I ran rough numbers and those numbers have remained within the original margins.

Complete amateur, first-year geophysics essay sort of stuff…  The fundamental question I asked was: “What is the mechanism by which CO2 heats the environment and, how much of an effect does it have?”

If the global warming crisis is indeed real, it would be fairly straight-forward to show that CO2 is the culprit and that human-derived CO2 creates significant volumes of miscreant heat.  [And, what if CO2 heating isn’t a measurable factor?] 

[Ecofascists and environazis be warned… it’a long way down after the jump. -Ed.]

I asked this question because my undergrad is in Geology and Physics – I brute-forced an honors degree.  One of the first things we learned in geology is that Earth’s climate has constantly changed … it has never been stable, always the expression of flux between forces in dynamic equilibrium.  The atmosphere’s temperature and indeed it’s very composition has fluctuated wildly over the aeons.  Dig the Carboniferous Period.

This thought-experiment’s genesis was the fear of “coming Ice Age” as promised by the mainstream American media when I was a kid.  When the question about looming glaciers was raised in a first-year geology class, our prof calmly noted that, in his opinion, given the variations indicated in the geological record, we were likely in a warming trend.  Likely, he said, but the trend was something that resembled the stock market for “noise” and variability.  Up and down was dependent upon the time-frame of observation.

Rather than re-hash what modern climate-watchers have said in the last few years, I began – in good geophysical style – by examining the actual composition of our atmosphere, applying the following question: How much of which gasses contribute to the warming phenomenon?  I arrived at some interesting observations.   What follows is a crude first-run “anthropogenic” CO2 / global heating model analysis.  Please feel free to share this with anyone.  I’m hoping to get some critical responses to the method, the data and the questions.

The present situation:
From what I understand, the climate change / global warming crisis, and the political and economic remedies, rest upon a number of assumptions. Being:

1] That Earth’s atmosphere and oceans are warming;

2] That the increasing temperature comes from trapped heat due to thermally reflective gasses – the ‘greenhouse effect’ – of which CO2 is the prime egregious agent;

3] That all other sources of measurable heat gain are irrelevant. i.e. Solar thermal output variations, solar gaseous expulsions, crustal and sub-crustal geo-thermal emission, etc.;

4] That the primary source of ‘greenhouse’ gas is human caused CO2 [from industrial and agricultural activities], exacerbated by anthropogenic methane, ethane and the like;

5] That the increasing biospheric heat is causing irreversible changes to an otherwise stable environment;

6] That all such changes are harmful: thus creating direct threats to organisms and to humankind;

7] That there exists a phenomenon called a “tipping point” at which will occur environmental catastrophe, mass species die-offs, societal collapse and human chaos;

Faced with such a prospect, there are a number of solutions being proposed.  Amongst these are:

8] Taxes on energy sources and suppliers that burn carbon-based fuels and the like. – Cap ‘n Trade, the Chicago carbon bourse, European carbon bourse, etc.;

9] Redistribution of money from ‘have’ nations to ‘have-not’ nations to fund local government programmes;

10] Redistribution of revenues to ‘earth friendly’ carbon-reduced or carbon-free energy sources [wind mills, solar panels etc.] via governmental agencies;

11] Assignment of ‘expert’ panels [scientists, expert citizens, etc.] to oversee implementation, development and distribution of energy and wealth resources;

12] Massive re-education of Western [consumer] values to more ‘sustainable’ hopes and expectations;

13] Legislative control of population size employing various mechanisms;

14] The solution is a World Governing Law that puts strict limits on Human behavior… for our own good, of course.  (i.e. 1984)

A first-order run of atmospheric numbers:
Let’s begin with atmospheric composition concentrations.  CO2 varies somewhat, averaging roughly 1/3 to 1/2 of… 1/10th of 1% by molar concentration atmospheric [0.00038 ~] depending upon location, temperature, altitude etc.  Geophysically it is considered a trace gas.  The mechanism itself is reflection of infra-red (heat) spectra back to the surface.

There are other thermally-reflective gases at play, too.  Methane, for example, though at much lower concentrations and unstable – reduces to H2O and CO2. Concentrations are local, trace quantity and diminished rapidly by sunlight.

Another gas found in the atmosphere that plays on the same infrared spectrum is dihydrogen-oxide.  H2O molecule is highly polar and thus even more effective than carbon dioxide as a thermo-reflective green-house gas because it does not always remain gaseous.  It is also extremely more plentiful in atmospheric concentration at nearly every altitude and every tropic.

Water varies in concentration from a mere 1% in the driest, coldest arctic regions to roughly 1.5% – 3.5% molar concentration at sea-level in equatorial zones.  By concentration it overshadows CO2 by 250-to-1 at the very least to over 1000-to-1 typically.  H2O’s net thermo-reflective effect – within the norms of present modeling – averages something like 2,500 times the theoretical max for CO2, because water simultaneously exists as vapour, clouded droplets and scattered high-altitude ice crystals.  The problem exists in the measurement error of thermal effects of water: The most precise measurements fall within a 10% margin of error, an error factor 250 time the theoretical extreme for CO2.

At a relative weakness of minus three orders compared to water, CO2 is well below the threshold of background noise behind the thermal effects of H2O: It’s effects simply can not be directly measured. Let me repeat that:

The atmospheric effects of CO2 are too weak to be measured; they remain theoretical.

CO2’s effects are, by convention, scientifically insignificant; unimportant… “watered-down”, so to speak.

Water vapor’s concentration and flux is mapped hourly via global infrared satellite imagery. 
[See http://vortex.plymouth.edu/gE_wv.gif for a classic sample of thermal water-vapor imagery updated every quarter hour.]

Granted, humans contribute CO2 to the atmosphere.  The net concentrations are calculated to be about 1/33 of the 0.00038 ~ a net concentration of 1.1515152e-05.

The biosphere has surprises in store as well.  For example, oceanic algae – especially in cool and frigid waters – directly scavenge CO2 out of the air to photosynthetically produce glucose.  Plentiful supplies of algae mean lots of krill…  Which means schools of small fish…  all the way up to the Blue Whale.  Between algae and land veggies, CO2 is kept at trace gas levels by sheer biological growth.

So I’m asking how claims of CO2’s reputed potency as a cause of “warming” can be taken seriously.

From a first-principles causal view, CO2 doesn’t appear to be a player in the game of atmospheric heat gain.  It’s barely on the sidelines cheering.  That is far more a political problem than a scientific one, because it destroys the need for the proposed “solutions.”

Conclusion and questions:
Given weak concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere, I conclude that it is not understood how CO2 is the major player in global biospheric warming.  Moreover, I conclude that atmospheric warming via anthropogenic contributions to CO2 is not a demonstrable fact.  I go further: Anthropogenic effect is not yet even theory, as there’s just no supporting first-principles evidence.  At the very best, it can be called an hypothesis… but one that stretches credulity.

The numbers experiment appears to support what we learned those many years ago in geology class… that Earth’s atmosphere may be warming or cooling, but it isn’t CO2 caused.  It was the considered opinion of our Prof that the Sun’s many fluctuations and sneezes resulted in Earth’s chills and fevers, but in those days there wasn’t a whole lot of crunched solar data to analyze.

This isn’t peer-reviewed research by any stretch.  The approach is straight out of a basic geophysics class on remote sensing applications in planetary research – the sort one covers in second year geofizz.  Until someone can come up with first-principles data to discount the data and assumptions I’ve used, I’m sticking to the concentrations model.

That fact of trace levels of CO2 suggests something interesting:  Variations of CO2 are therefore lagging indicators of thermal effects.  Excess heat actually reduces photosynthetic activity, a chemical process that thrives best in cooler and cold conditions.  It’s the Kreb’s Cycle!

I’ll close by noting a pattern: 
When I was a kid, the panic was a “coming Ice Age” caused by anthropogenic pollution, and that only draconian measures and unified governmental action could prevent the catastrophe. 

That morphed into “global warming”, with oddly enough, exactly the same solutions.  As the climate data was normalized and examined, the collective “Ooops!” was observed in the subtle shift to “climate change” about eight years ago.  Up or down, it doesn’t matter, same solutions, just move the goal posts.  No one is looking.

Now there’s a new shift emerging… as “climate change” is getting kicked in the ass by new solar data…  it’s Global Environmental Decline!  A NEW crisis!  Shiny new goal posts, too.

Always it’s how species are being eradicated… never how species are diversifying or adapting or thriving.  Always it’s how coastal areas are being flooded… ignoring standard models of crustal flexibility that significantly alter water flow patterns and similar natural causes.  (Note that the land under Toronto, Canada is still rising from post-glacial rebound.  Note as well that sub-crustal magmatic and tectonic forces along coastal areas in Greece and Turkey have submerged and elevated whole islands and stretches of the littoral, and that these example are repeated manifold times around the globe.)   Always it’s how destructively people behave – and why there’s the fierce! moral! urgency! to remove people’s freedoms and to dictate just how they will live, what they may consume and even who may have children.  Always the solution is 1984.

I had to love this line: “In an ideal world, [The Climate Expert!] would surely be right – all of these issues would receive the appropriate amount of political time and action.”  Always the solution is 1984.

The pattern makes itself clear…

One final note:  Caveat Emptor.  The smearing and personal destruction of anyone who remains incredulous, uncooperative or more interested in what’s happening behind the curtain is, too, a fact.  We MUST! have biodiversity… but complete intellectual conformity?!  Always the solution is 1984.

Funny that, yes?  Perhaps not so funny.

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