Guessing At CO2 Emissions

Supposedly, human activity is responsible for the detected rise in atmospheric CO2 levels over the past century. But do we really know were gas emissions come from and how great they are? As it turns out, greenhouse gas emissions are measured using statistical data without testing the results against the actual increases of these gases in the atmosphere. Regardless, climate change alarmists insist that human emissions must be reduced. A revealing perspective article in the June 4, 2010, issue of Science states “this is like dieting without weighing oneself.” Currently, science is only guessing at where CO2 emissions come from.

Scientists are coming to the realization that claims about greenhouse gas emissions can have integrity only if verified by direct atmospheric measurements. Emissions data are produced by greenhouse gas emitters of all sizes—farms, factories and entire nations. These emissions are often quoted with high precision but, as Euan Nisbet and Ray Weiss state in their article, “misreporting still occurs, whether by simple error, ignorance, or intention.” They claim that carbon-equivalent emissions are currently assessed by “bottom-up” methods, which are made up from a variety of local statistics such as fuel consumption or numbers of cows. When these measured “bottom-up” emissions are rolled up to a global scale, the amounts can disagree by factors of two or more when compared with direct atmospheric measurements.

How can you control GHG emissions when you cannot accurately identify their sources? And how can you blame the rise in atmospheric CO2 solely on humanity if you cannot reconcile actual emissions with atmospheric measurements? The answer is that you cannot. To try and shore up the case for emissions control—including all those calls for “cap and trade” and a carbon tax—the authors want to establish a global network to provide a “top down” assessment of anthropogenic emission.

To carry out "top-down" assessment, that is, using atmospheric understanding to quantify emissions, an approach that integrates several methods is needed. First, the atmosphere must be measured at high spatial and temporal resolution via networks of ground-based stations and aircraft. Second, remote sensing is needed, both from satellites to give global coverage and from the ground to calibrate the satellite data. Third, modeling synthesizes the results and assesses budgets. As the data collection network and data interpretation through modeling improve, we can begin to envision their use to test and validate bottom-up inventories.

Such a network is much easier to envision than to actually build, and interpreting the data collected by such a network is even harder. Most emissions sources and many sinks are on or near the ground, in what scientists call the atmospheric boundary layer. While gases in the atmosphere soon become “well mixed” and fairly uniform world-wide, local conditions can vary greatly.

For example, the average global CO2 level is currently about 388 parts per million. But this can be significantly reduced in some locations by the springtime growth spurt of deciduous trees or dramatically increased during rush hour in major cities. To obtain long-term local data, air must be collected from instruments that continuously record regional greenhouse gas variations. Current records are spotty and incomplete at best.

The solution, claim Nisbet and Weiss, is better monitoring. Aircraft studies are important, as are satellites and terrestrial sensors. New models will have to be developed and new factors incorporated into the existing crop of wonky GCM. There is also some basic science to be done: for CO2, much needs to be done to quantify biological fluxes. The list of tools, activities and improvements goes on and on. But all of these instruments and people to staff them will cost money.

Climate science wants more airborne sensors.

“[C]ompared to the scale of the climate problem, in situ measurements, and even satellites, are relatively small investments,” insist the authors. “But verification of emissions demands a sustained multiyear effort that can be anathema to current approaches to research support, especially as the work has a strong discovery component.” In short, they need greater funding on a long-term basis.

This always seems to be the result when climate scientists are asked for more accurate predictions. The IPCC and climate change alarmists say they are confident that human emissions will have an effect on future climate. But, when asked to be more specific, the data are not accurate enough and the probabilities for specific outcomes become unreliable.

The solution, they say, is to send more money. More money for more instruments, more money for more studies, and more money for more computer models. In the meantime, governments and the public are expected to take concrete actions to curb GHG emissions based on climate science's self-professed inaccurate predictions. They guess and everyone else sacrifices.

This goes back to the three pillars of climate science: incomplete theory, erroneous computer models and inaccurate data. Here is an admission that the connection between human activity and CO2 emissions has not been accurately measured. Climate scientists have inferred mankind's contribution from measurements in overall atmospheric content, blaming humanity for the sharp rise in GHG levels even though there is considerable evidence that levels of such gases have been higher during previous interglacials than they are today. New sources and new sinks are being discovered every day, and nature's response to changing CO2 levels is to change itself. No wonder climate scientists haven't guessed right yet.

Be safe, enjoy the interglacial and stay skeptical.

anthropogenic CO2

Funny you didn't mention that atmospheric CO2 produced from fossil fuels has a different isotopic composition and this does provide information on man-caused CO2.

You also noted that springtime CO2 levels may be lower than the globally quoted number, but failed to note that the article says the levels may "...rise dramatically in urban winter rush areas."

Missing the point

I'm not sure your post has an overall point so I will address the items of contention as I see them. I will do this in reverse order since the discussion about carbon isotopes in atmospheric CO2 will be more involved than the first answer.

First, you seem to think I was trying to misrepresent the Nisbet and Weiss paper when I “failed to note” that the author's stated CO2 levels may “...rise dramatically in urban winter rush areas.” The correct quote is “urban winter rush hours,” periods of peak traffic flow. What I stated was that levels could “dramatically increased during rush hour in major cities,” removing the winter time qualification. Far from diminishing the authors' statement, this makes the claim of positive side variability more inclusive and is based on other observations.

Second, you say “atmospheric CO2 produced from fossil fuels has a different isotopic composition and this does provide information on man-caused CO2.” This is true, there are two types of “isotope evidence” obtained by analysis of carbon atoms in carbon dioxide in samples of air: 14C isotope data and 13C/12C isotope ratio data. Atmospheric 14C is constantly replenished by radiation striking the atmosphere. That and its short half-life conspire to make it a poor marker so I will assume that you are referring to 13C.

The ratio of the 13C isotope of carbon to the normal 12C form in atmospheric CO2 has been observed to be decreasing at the same time CO2 has been increasing. The “natural” 13C content of CO2 is just over 1.1%. In contrast, the 13C content of the CO2 produced by burning of fossil fuels is claimed to be slightly smaller – just under 1.1%. The concentration of 12C is increased in biological materials because biochemical reactions discriminate against 13C. Fossil fuels are made from organic material, which has resided in Earth's crust for 100 or more million years, and are partially depleted of 13C. Burning fossil fuels should alter the atmospheric carbon isotope ratio. Hence, some people claim that the change in 13C/12C ratio, usually given as δ13C, serves as a marker for anthropogenic CO2 emissions. There are, however, a number of problems with that hypothesis.

Note that, every year, nature seeps more oil into the ecosystem than humanity spills. This oil is accompanied by methane gas that eventually gets broken down into CO2. The oil is consumed by microorganisms in the oceans and so its carbon also rejoins the short term carbon cycle. There are also a huge number of natural coal seam fires burning around the world, as such fires have since time immemorial. The amount of coal consumed each year has been estimated as being equal to the production of Ohio, Illinois and West Virginia. There are also huge deposits of methane clathrates in deep ocean waters and even in some of the larger freshwater lakes. These also leak gas into the water column and, eventually into the atmosphere. And do not forget volcanoes: the second most prominent gas emission from volcanoes is CO2 (after H2O).

Next, consider that terrestrial plants exchange some where around 240 GT of carbon with the atmosphere each year (according to the IPCC 119 into the atmosphere, 120 absorbed by plants). Some of this comes from decaying old plant matter, including newly thawed tundra, all of which will be partially depleted of 13C. Similarly, the oceans exchange 180 GT and some of the absorption processes are biased with regard to 13C uptake. Human emissions are around 7 GT, and not all of this is from fossil fuels—a lot is from biomass and agricultural activity. The point is, there are a sizable number of natural sources of low 13C CO2 out there that are indistinguishable from anthropogenic sources. Once the CO2 gets “well mixed” into the atmosphere, little can be discerned by taking the δ13C at Mauna Loa.

Speaking of Mauna Loa, there are a number of climate scientists who have analyzed the δ13C data and find no human induced trend at all. Dr. Roy Spencer of the National Space Science and Technology Center at University of Alabama, posted a two part explanation of how detrended 13C data show only natural variability. According to Dr Spencer, “The long-term increases in carbon dioxide concentration that have been observed at Mauna Loa since 1958 could be driven more than by the ocean than by mankind’s burning of fossil fuels.” See part 1 and part 2 of his article for details. His own website has a further analysis here.

I personally have no doubt that humans are contributing CO2 to the atmosphere, but the carbon cycle is so complex, the exchange amounts so large and the natural sources so varied using 13C as an anthropogenic marker is a fools game. But beyond that, looking for an anthropogenic marker in the well mixed atmosphere misses the point of the article. Nisbet and Weiss were pointing out that, unless you know the exact sources of human emissions on a local level, it is impossible to regulate those emissions or measure the effectiveness of such regulation. That is why they called for a worldwide network of ground, air and satellite sensors to pinpoint the actual sources of CO2 emissions. You obviously skimmed the article but you did not understand it.

Why measure CO2 when the greenhouse gas effect has not been prov

Where is the prove that the greenhouse gas effect Exists? To date there is no credible experimental data that proves that the "ghg effect' exists in fact there is experimental data that shows that it does not exist. If a 4th grader can examine the data and show that there is insufficent evidence to show that global warming is occuring how the hell can we believe that CO2 is causeing Mann- made globle warming. This is not the first young person that has looked at the data and came to the conclusion that the IPCC and their ilk don't know what they are talking about. Look up the web-site Ponder the Maunder started by a 17 year old scientist. Below are more references that show that any money spent to either measure CO2 or CH4 in the atmosphere is a fools project.List of references:
The paper "Falsification of the Atmospheric CO2 greenhouse effect within the frame of physics" by Gerhard Gerlich and Ralf D. Tscheuschner is an in-depth examination of the subject. Version 4 2009
Electronic version of an article published as International Journal of Modern Physics
B, Vol. 23, No. 3 (2009) 275{364 , DOI No: 10.1142/S021797920904984X, c World
Scientific Publishing Company,
Report of Alan Carlin of US-EPA March, 2009 that shows that CO2 does not cause global warming.

Greenhouse Gas Hypothesis Violates Fundamentals of Physics” by Dipl-Ing Heinz Thieme This work has about 10 or 12 link
that support the truth that the greenhouse gas effect is a hoax.
from the London, Edinborough and Dublin Philosophical Magazine , 1909, vol 17, p319-320. Cambridge UL shelf mark p340.1.c.95, i
The Hidden Flaw in Greenhouse Theory
By Alan Siddons
from: at March 01, 2010 - 09:10:34 AM CST

The below information was a foot note in the IPCC 4 edition. It is obvious that there was no evidence to prove that the ghg effect exists.

“In the 1860s, physicist John Tyndall recognized the Earth's natural greenhouse effect and suggested that slight changes in the atmospheric composition could bring about climatic variations. In 1896, a seminal paper by Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius first speculated that changes in the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could substantially alter the surface temperature through the greenhouse effect.”

After 1909 when R.W.Wood proved that the understanding of the greenhouse effect was in error and the ghg effect does not exist. After Niels Bohr published his work and receive a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922. The fantasy of the greenhouse gas effect should have died in 1909 and 1922. Since then it has been shown by several physicists that the concept is a Violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Obviously the politicians don’t give a dam that they are lying. It fits in with what they do every hour of every day .Especially the current pretend president.
Paraphrasing Albert Einstein after the Publishing of “The Theory of Relativity” –one fact out does 1 million “scientist, 10 billion politicians and 20 billion environmental whachos-that don’t know what” The Second Law of thermodynamics” is.

The bottom line is that the facts show that the greenhouse gas effect is a fairy-tale and that Man-made global warming is the World larges Scam!!!The IPCC and Al Gore should be charged under the US Anti-racketeering act and when convicted - they should spend the rest of their lives in jail for the Crimes they have committed against Humanity.

Web- site references: Ponder the Maunder
many others are available.

The only thing more dangerous than ignorance is arrogance."
—Albert Einstein

Unscientific Fringe Drivel

Every so often we get a post like this, claiming that some truly well accepted tenent of science is not correct so global warming is a fraud. While I might agree that anthropogenic global warming, as posited by the IPCC and its ilk, is a fraud, or at least bad science, I do not condone the type of unscientific fringe drivel represented by the comment above. I have stated many times before the the greenhouse effect, no matter how inaccurately named, is a proven physical phenomenon. Without it, Earth would be a lifeless, frozen rock.

I take issue with the global warming crowd on the impact that the current and projected increases in atmospheric CO2 will have on temperature change. The IPCC cannot realize their projected increases without the existence of a number of unproven feedbacks in the Earth system. In short, I do not find their case compelling. But this does not mean that greenhouse gases do not help warm our planet. I am a scientist and a skeptic, not a zealot or denier. The assertions made above are in the same league as the zero-point energy wackos, flat-earthers and intelligent design fanatics. Such remarks take the conversation out of the realm of science and into the mindless Internet wingnut zone.