Bag of Hammers II

When it comes to global warming, Murry Salby is the darling du jour of fake skeptics everywhere. His thesis was touted on WUWT, lauded by JoNova, and even earned a “wow” from Judith Curry. And what is his thesis? That it’s temperature increase which is causing CO2 increase, not the other way around. An mp3 of his presentation is here.

I expect that kind of nonsense from Watts and JoNova. Watts even links to this related junk from Spencer, which turns out to be dumber than a bag of hammers. But for some reason I expected better from Curry. True to her usual form, she neither endorses nor disavows — yet — but certainly takes this ludicrous idea seriously. Judith, your credibility is now below zero.

The point Salby makes is that the rate of change of atmospheric CO2 is strongly related to factors like temperature (especially temperature). Knock me over with a feather! We already knew that, and people who study the carbon cycle are seriously unimpressed. He then claims that if temperature influences short-term changes in CO2, it’s natural to expect that it would influence long-term changes. Remind you of anything?

What Salby does not explain is this: total human emissions of CO2 from fossil-fuel burning are far larger than total CO2 increase. In fact, the CO2 increase has only been about half of human emissions. So, the net emission from other sources has been negative, while atmospheric CO2 has been rising. It’s especially ironic that Salby offers up a “bank balance” analogy when it’s obvious he himself has failed to do the simplest possible accounting of the carbon budget.

As for past (as in paleo) changes to CO2, John N-G actually heard Salby’s talk at the IUGG conference in Melbourne and spoke with him afterward. He commented at RC that:

In discussing what his model would mean for past variations of temperature and CO2, it eventually became clear that he believed all paleoclimate data that supported his statistical analysis and disregarded all paleoclimate data that countered his statistical analysis, even though the latter collection was much larger than the former.

I’m confident that numerous readers would like me to scrutinize Salby’s analysis. What analysis? The podcast doesn’t include graphics, the talk itself if nowhere near specific enough to reproduce his results, and there’s no written document. Even Curry notes that it is “frustratingly preliminary without publication, slides, etc.” We’re promised that publication of his analysis is imminent. But until there is something to provide the necessary details, Salby has done nothing but make outlandish, impossible claims. Message to Salby: put up or shut up.

If this is the best they can come up with — if this is what they laud as a “bombshell” — if this is what they actually take seriously — then it reveals just how fake is their “skepticism.” They aren’t the least bit skeptical, they are the epitome of gullibility.

Salby closes by saying that “climate is at the wheel, and to a significant degree, CO2 is at the back of the bus.” Would that be the short bus?

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109 responses to “Bag of Hammers II

  1. I suspect he might want to talk to Richard Alley.

  2. Perfect summary… In any other field, people like this would be imps and rascals.

    But given the ultimate stakes of a human future — with the real risks defined by climate models, I find the anti-science actions of these people to be horrid and immoral.

    We need to name and label and move on.

    Dangerous cranks. Anti-science sociopaths.

  3. There’s a fascination in watching these denialists (and your point about their utter gullibility for anything that suits their needs is well-taken). It’s a bit like watching a car crash – you just can’t take your eyes off it. It *would* be funny, but as richard pauli points out – there are consequences for this stupidity…

    So, is this clown saying there’s no contribution to atmospheric concentration rises from 200 plus years of burning them fossil fuels? Erm, isotopes, much?

    You do great work, Tamino, btw.

  4. “What Salby does not explain is this: total human emissions of CO2 from fossil-fuel burning are far larger than total CO2 increase. In fact, the CO2 increase has only been about half of human emissions. So, the net emission from other sources has been negative, while atmospheric CO2 has been rising.”

    I suspect that the problem is that people like Salby are combining multiple simultaneous misconceptions that together offer a strong defense against understanding reality:

    Misconception 1 (stated outright): the ice core record is flawed
    Misconception 2 (i’m guessing here): the lifetime of CO2 is short enough that the atmosphere and the ocean/ecosystem are roughly in equilibrium on a several year timescale.
    Misconception 3: because the size of the natural carbon budget is much larger than anthropogenic emissions, then anthropogenic emissions can’t matter much.

    Add misconception 2 to misconception 3, and you have a defense against the mass balance argument. The example I’ve been using is that if we were to mine and boil the Ogallala aquifer, and then we measured the atmospheric water vapor content a year later and the change in water vapor was smaller than the quantity that we boiled off, we would not attribute the water vapor increase to the aquifer boiling (despite mass balance) but more likely to the fact that a warmer atmosphere holds more water.

    So, in order to smash the misconception shield, you have to combine the mass balance argument with a convincing long adjustment-time argument. One possibility would be to try and explain the Revelle factor to them, based on carbonate chemistry.

    I would still like to take a couple weeks off sometime to write a stripped down carbon cycle model that is a) based on real physics, b) complex enough to demonstrate the annual cycles and handle 13C and 14C chemistry, and c) simple enough that other people can poke at it and see what it is doing and how it works… perhaps based on Oeschger et al. (1975), with a few updates?

    • I have just had a comment paper accepted by the journal Energy & Fuels explaining why the residence time argument of Prof. Essenhigh (and others) is incorrect. It also includes the mass balance argument as A proof that the rise is anthropogenic. The qualitative arguments are backed up by simulations of a simple one-box model of the carbon cycle that reproduce a short residence time of 4 years, and adjustment time of about 73 years, and a constant airborne fraction in response to exponentially growing anthropogenic emissions. Hopefully it will be of some use in refuting such arguments. I am just attending to the reviewers comments at the moment, so hopefully it will be in “early view” later this month.

      • You submitted a comment paper to Energy & Fuels? I guess I can stop working on my version then. I’m a little sad, because I put a lot of time into it, but my boss would probably be happier if I didn’t publish it.

        Did you note that his result of a different lifetime by a factor of 3!!! for 14C and 12C is totally and completely inconsistent with the difficulties of isotope separation? Also, he totally ignored the Revelle factor, and the development of diffusive ocean models because the well-stirred approximation was recognized as being wrong at least 35 years ago? (Oeschger, 1975)

        And he forgot to include land-use change emissions in his historical estimates, and used a straw-man exponential decay function for the “IPCC model” (I mean, at least he could have used the Bern cycle approximation!). And, he equates 5.135 x 1018 kg with 5.66 x 1015 megatons, because he doesn’t realize that megatons are inherently based on metric tonnes, not short tons. And I could just keep piling on…


      • But what I didn’t do was actually write up my own model. I’d be very interested in seeing yours… and also, I’d be very curious about which reviewers got chosen, and what they say, because I’m presuming that the reviewers the first time around were out of their depths. My yahoo email address is marcusmarcus, if you’d be willing to send me details, and I can send you my un-submitted draft which you’d be welcome to take from if any of it was useful to you.


      • My paper doesn’t deal with isotopic arguments in any detail, but it does include land-use data. E&F asks the author to suggest some qualified reviewers, which is a system that can be abused if the paper is not in the mainstream for the paerticular journal.

        btw, I am not THE Gavin, just a Gavin.

  5. I expressed my frustration with Judith Curry’s games of “this is interesting!!!!” on her blog, and apparently she dedicated a blog post as a response to me (and others who questioned her along similar lines, including Thingsbreak; Eric Steig also left a comment or two). She has shown an irritating incapability to judge the quality of anything she posts about, doesn’t answer anything, and then proceeded to misrepresent one of Gavin’s comments about the Salby stuff.

    As for Salby, this presentation is simply irresponsible and the conclusions are demonstratively physically bunk on only basic considerations. The only reason Curry crowd and the other (more noticeably insane) blogs have jumped on it is because it isn’t IPCC— not because any one of them has put 10 seconds thought into its implications.

  6. LazyTeenager

    Over at WUWT I pointed out the equivalent thing: that as far as I know oceanic CO2 is going up. Went in one ear and out the other.

    I probably need to make this more definite with a lit search for measured trends in CO2 concentration over an extended time period.

    I thought to mention ocean pH trends but whenever that happens they squeeze their little eyes shut, ball their little fists and stomp their little heels on the floor. Or end up discussing conspiracy theories revolving around the word “acidity”.

    There was a hand waving argument about the temperature dependence of Henry’s law which was thought to prove the idea to be correct, but no actual calculations of course. That would be far too risky.

    • arch stanton

      LT – Most of the CO2 absorbed by the oceans reacts in seawater to form carbonic acid ((H2CO3).

      • LazyTeenager

        The best value I can find is 93% is in the form of bicarbonate at the pH of seawater. Most of the rest is CO2 rather than H2CO3 due to the value of the hydration constant.

      • arch stanton

        Good point. I think you are you are citing numbers for how carbon is stored in the ocean (long term equilibrium). I was thinking shorter term. I could have been clearer.

        My point is that if you look for an increase in CO2 in the ocean you won’t find much of one, it reacts to form other molecules.

  7. Judith Curry’s credibility is hitting new record lows with nearly every article on her blog.This has no longer anything to do with her once established objectives, to openly discuss uncertainties and shortcomings of current climate science. While this would be a legitimite and good idea, she now is promoting more and more often pure crap.
    For heaven’s sake Judith, you are a climate scientist. You should be able to see after a little investigation into his arguments, that Murry Salbys claims are nearly certainly plain wrong and most likely not “wow”. This has nothing to do with skepticism, this is just throwing garbage over and over onto science and hoping, that something will stick. This is indeed the clear opposite of skepticism, because skepticism means being skeptical in both ways. But Judity Curry is so far away from skeptically investigating deniers claims, she just promotes them… you really think this helps the case, Judith?

  8. It becomes increasingly clear that it matters little how ridiculous an idea is, as long as it somehow tells people that humans are not responsible for global warming and we can continue burning fossil as if there’s no tomorrow. Anthony Watts introduction is particularly inane, “In a nutshell, the issue is rather simple, yet powerful. … Salby is no climatic lightweight, which makes this all the more powerful.”

    Perhaps we need a few more ridiculous hoaxes, like the “Hoax bacteria study tricks climate skeptics” in November 2007, reported here:
    It might at least make them a little more careful, but ,on reflection, perhaps nothing would work now. We have witnessed other periods in human history when large numbers of people have become wedded to pathological ideas when faced with unpalatable circumstances: what horrors such pathologies produce!

    • Slioch.

      I think that it is worth linking to the actual ‘paper’ itself. After all, there may be readers here who weren’t around the traps in ’07 when that delicious parody hooked more than a few denialists, and I myself chuckled anew over it again today.

      As I have previously said when linking to this, it warrants reading carefuly right to the references; one of my favourite children’s television programs garners an honourable mention, even if it is slightly camouflaged.

      I have to admit, I’d be interested to see if someone could troll a denialist site with a link to the pdf, to see if any newbie Denialati can be suckered before the scam is blown. If the less-unintelligent among the body of denialists were not quick off the mark to alert their more ignorant brethren, I reckon that quite a few could be netted again…

      • Bernard J
        Thanks for the direct link to the paper.
        I was rather fond of the report to which I linked because here in Scotland the named denier who fell for it (Neil Craig) was not only a (hugely unsuccessful) parliamentary candidate but someone I had had numerous tussles with on environmental issues in the Scottish press blogs.

      • Slioch, do you have a link to Neil Craig falling for this hoax? He’s recently become active again, in particular over at Coby Beck’s place (illconsidered). He briefly tried something at stoat, but that didn’t work out well…

    • Slioch, Is it this Neil Craig: ?

      I quite like the dichotomy between his science misrepresentation (if it is he) and these statements of his manifesto:

      We also believe that virtually all economic progress follows from scientific & technological progress, that high technology is inately more efficient & thus less polluting & that scientific progress embodies the best of the human spirit.

      And I particularly love the essential Scottishness of “High Technology” with its resonance of “High Tea” (although it’s not clear what “High Technology is “inately more efficient and thus less pollluting” than – “Low Technology” perhaps?).

      He loves Sarah Palin and considers endorsing the BNP – what’s not to like?

  9. Gavin's Pussycat

    Yep, tamino does great work, but in this post his skills are seriously underemployed. I mean, debunking a “result” that is both absurd and effectively non-existent? Heck I could have done that :-(

  10. The comments in in Curry’s post are priceless. Knowing the characters, one could almost write the posts for them. Where’s the skepticism? Ocean pH anybody?

    • I tried my hardest to bring some sanity into that thread, as did a few other people. It was pretty much hopeless. It was turning into a full time job.

      That was the first time I’d visited Curry’s blog in ages. I knew there would be some WUWT-style loons there, but I was not prepared for such a low ratio of informed commenters to idiots. It was a pretty depressing experience.

    • Do we even need to mention ocean pH? The amount of CO2 we produce each year is about double the annual increase in the atmosphere. There would have to be some sort of magic sequestrator that sent all “our” CO2 instantly into the ground, oceans, and biosphere and yet allow about half that amount of “natural” CO2 to go in the opposite direction. Some magic trick that would be!

  11. When the paper does come out, I would look forward to the Tamono treatment, though.

  12. The claim is that anthropogenic CO2 is similar to anthropogenic H20, only the removal is a bit slower, but still pretty quick.

  13. I am afraid that the only conclusion one can arrive at is that the learning curve of the average denialist has a negative slope: presenting them with evidence against their position merely strengthens their belief in it. Salby’s thesis is so patently absurd that it is hard to believe his colleagues let him embarrass himself in public. And yet I know a lot of very smart people–people I respect in their realm of expertise–who believe along similar lines.

    Frankly, it makes me despair about the human race. If the smartest among us cannot learn the elementary lesson that the experts in a field will likely have a better understanding that dilletantes , then what hope is there. Lately, my wife and I have been taking the “optimistic” position that perhaps climate change will kill off the human race before we really f*** things up.

  14. The claim is that anthropogenic CO2 is similar to anthropogenic H20, only the removal is a bit slower, but still pretty quick.

    It’s called the carbon cycle, read all about it, and for individual CO2 molecules yes, they’re cycled through the cycle regardless of origin.

    This has nothing to do with the net increase in CO2 in the atmosphere, however.

  15. Gavin's Pussycat

    Just listened to the first 10 minutes of Salby’s talk (I know I know, life is short) and was struck by the… well, denialist quality of the argumentation. You hear it also in folks like Monckton or Plimer talking: arguing from policy back to “science” rather than presenting the science, transparently telling what people want to hear, stress (and exaggerate) uncertainties where it suits them, etc. Anyone else notice?

    BTW does he bring up 14C later on? 13C, schmirteen…

    • Of course. It is the typical “the IPCC didn’t consider this…” and pretending he is the first person to think of any of the big issues. There is a whole chapter involving carbon cycle though. Silliness.

      • Yeah, but I’m only used to hearing scientists say that while stroking a cat and ending with “Bwaaahaaahaaahaaa!” before they try to dump James Bond into a tank of sharks.

    • Ray, wouldn’t that be sharks with LASERS!

      • Probably, frickin’ lasers, if you want to get technical.

        [Response: You guys have left out the quotes around "lasers".]

      • No, Tamino. You just couldn’t see my finger quotes through the intertubes.

    • GP asks: 14C?


      Meanwhile (a cheap semantic shot) @ ~ 1:45min he talks about having been “agnostic”… but then …(he is vague)…are we talking the Church of the Anti-Gore here?

      • Gavin's Pussycat

        GP asks: 14C?


        That’s my point, for those wondering. 13C only suggests that the carbon was pulled down photosynthetically; it doesn’t tell you how long ago that happened. 14C, being radioactive, tells you precisely that (and seems Salby didn’t like the answer).

  16. Marco | August 7, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    “link to Neil Craig falling for this hoax? ”
    I’m afraid all I had is the Reuters article linked to above but I seem to remember pulling his leg about it afterwards. A bit of Googling turned up this:
    and I’m sure there is more.
    Thanks for the tip off about Craig at Coby Beck’s place: I’ll take a look.

  17. Lars Karlsson

    Curry also quotes Andrew Bolt’s comment on the Salby paper. Twice. Yes, Andrew Bolt at the Herald Sun.

    • Yes the Herald Sun, a Murdoch subsidiary. From Wikipedia:

      “The Herald Sun is a morning tabloid newspaper based in Melbourne, Australia. It is published by The Herald and Weekly Times, a subsidiary of News Limited, itself a subsidiary of News Corporation.”

      What a surprise.

  18. Horatio Algeranon

    “Cumulative Hammers”?

  19. Horatio Algeranon

    Point of clarification

    “Cumulative Hammers” is merely as a superficial juxtaposition of the last two post titles.

    It is not meant to imply that the “cumulative sums” idea falls in a class with what Salby is proposing (which is just goofy)

  20. John McLean:
    “If the SOI accounts for short-term variation then logically it also accounts for long-term variation.”

    Murry Salby (around the 28th minute of the podcast)
    “The correspondence [between the CO2 and temperature] makes it difficult not to conclude that sources involved in changes of CO2 on short timescales are also involved in its change on long timescales.”

    • Gotta give a lot of credit to the poster by the name of “Obscurity” – he adds a much needed dose of sanity to the comment thread!

      • And has managed to shut up roy, for the moment, at least.

      • “Obscure’s” efforts were truly remarkable, and managed to be done in a very agreeable way.

        And that’s always the dilemma. As futile as it is to engage at “skeptic” sites, it is useful to have a record of a strong challenge to the various posts in the comment thread.

      • arch stanton

        “But I just handed my pinball crown to him.”
        (I mean, I would if I had one).

  21. Horatio Algeranon

    Gomer’s Pile
    – Horatio Algeranon’s take on the Gilligan’s Island theme song

    Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale,
    A tale of a “skeptic” trip,
    That started from an IP port,
    Aboard this Titanic ship.

    The Mate was a mighty weather man,
    The Auditor brash and sure.
    Five passengers set sail that day
    For a Surface Station tour. A Surface Station tour.

    The icebergs started getting big,
    The “skeptics” downed more beer
    If not for the hubris of the clueless crew,
    The ship would still be here. The ship would still be here

    The ship set down on the sea-floor, underwater by a mile
    With Anthony,
    The Auditor too,
    The Lord Viscount and his tripe,
    The Cucci man,
    A Professor named Murry and,
    The rest of Gomer’s Pile.

    Now this is the tale of iconclastaways,
    They’re here for a long, long time,
    They’ll have to make the best of things,
    It’s an uphill climb.

    The first mate and the Auditor too,
    Will do their very best,
    To make the others comfortable,
    In their final place of rest.

    No physics, no stats, no analysis,
    Not a single luxury,
    The “science” of climate “Skeptics”
    Is primitive as can be.

    So join us here each week my friends,
    You’re sure to get a smile,
    From seven stranded iconclastaways,
    And the rest of Gomer’s Pile.

  22. Philippe Chantreau

    Love it :-)

  23. Iconoclastaways, perhaps?

    Can’t wait for Salby’s paper. E&E bound?

  24. We are really wondering how you can determine that the net emmssions from “other sources” has been negative.

    [Response: We are really wondering how Murry Salby can fail to figure it out.

    Human emissions = x. "Other sources" emissions = y. Net = x+y. But Net = x/2. Do the math.]

  25. Some thoughts (comments welcome!):

    It is, of course, the case that human emissions of CO2 to the atmosphere exceed the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere in recent times. The figures I use (from the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Centre: are that between 1850 and 2000 human emissions of CO2 totalled c.1620 billion tons, whilst CO2 in the atmosphere increased by ‘only’ c.640 billion tons. This also, of course, means that the [oceans and the terrestrial] environment has acted as a net absorber of about a trillion tons of CO2 during that period and the observed decrease in ocean pH is consistent with the ocean absorbing CO2.

    However, those facts alone are NOT sufficient to enable a categorical assertion that the observed rise in atmospheric CO2 has resulted from those human emissions. For that assertion to be made with confidence requires two further pieces of information:
    1. the equilibrium relationship between the atmospheric CO2 concentration and average global temperature, d[CO2]/dt, (assuming constant total CO2 in the oceans/atmosphere/terrestrial environments), and
    2. the time taken to achieve that equilibrium.

    It seems to me that those (like myself!) who have relied purely on the fact that human emissions of CO2 have been greater than the increase in atmospheric CO2, make the implicit assumptions that d[CO2]/dt is SMALL and that the time taken to achieve equilibrium is LONG. Whilst I have no doubt that those assumptions are correct, it might be helpful if they were stated and quantified, because misunderstandings about the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 sometimes seem to be based on vague misunderstandings about those two assumptions.

    So, what are the figures? Looking at the Vostok core, for example, see:
    for the transition to the last interglacial (Eemian) gives an increase in CO2 from c. 180ppmv to 290ppmv and temperature from -8C to +3C, which assuming a polar amplification of 2x would give d[CO2]/dt = 110 x 2 / 11 = 20ppmvCO2/degC. But that’s just me squinting at a graph – I’ve seen lower figures, but can someone point out a more rigorously obtained result?
    As for the time to establish equilibrium, several hundred years (800?) appears to be generally accepted.

    Clearly, if such figures are any way near correct, they give no comfort to those clinging to the belief that the recent increase in atmospheric CO2 is due to warming rather than human emissions, since the former would then account for less than 20ppmv of CO2 increase (out of about 100ppmv) since the nineteenth century, even assuming equilibrium is rapidly attained. But Salby’s ‘contribution’ might usefully give rise to this being more authoritatively pointed out.

    [Response: Get real.

    Anybody who seriously believes it's even possible that atmospheric CO2 was stable until the industrial revolution, then began to rise in lock-step with fossil-fuel emissions, but that the cause is something else and the timing is just a coincidence, which is already flatly impossible given the known d[CO2]/dT from ice ages (which is plenty precise even with an eyeball estimate) and the Seuss effect of isotopic changes (which Murry misrepresents horribly), is either an outright liar, a genuine lunatic, or truly dumber than a bag of hammers.

    Let’s not get suckered by fake skeptics into making this a point of contention. Seriously: you might as well suggest that we should give credence to the possibility that lung cancer causes cigarette smoking, not the other way around. That’s how ludicrous the fake skeptics like Murry Salby have made this discussion. He made an argument which is epic stupidity, and he misrepresents the evidence (especially the isotopic evidence) to boot. I’m not letting him off the hook and I’m not legitimizing his lunacy in any way.

    And here’s another message for Salby: I can’t wait until your work is “published.” You can bet we’re gonna show it for exactly what it really is.]

    • Slioch,

      At risk of drawing further Tamino-style dragon fire there are some papers that address your point:

      Frank et al (2010) Ensemble reconstruction constraints on the global carbon cycle sensitivity to climate. Nature 463, 527-530.

      which suggests what I think is an equilbrium median value of around 8 ppm [CO2] per oC temp rise, and:

      Scheffer et al (2006) Positive feedback between global warming and atmospheric CO2 concentration inferred from past climate change Geophys. Res. Lett, 33, L10702

      which suggests a few PPM rise in [CO2] per oC of temp rise on the time scale of a few years, to ~20 PPM [CO2] per oC on the timescale of centuries (rather similar to the ice age transition response calculation).

      So the evidence supports a conclusion that if the Earth had miraculoudly warmed ~0.8 oC all by itself over the last ~century [CO2] wouldn’t have risen by more than around 10 ppm…

      [Response: I have no problem with more precise estimates of d[CO2]/dT, in fact I think it’s important. And I realize that Slioch was just making an interesting point and that I shouldn’t have vented my ire on him. My apologies to Slioch.

      As for the main theme — can Salby’s idea be taken seriously even for a moment? — the answer is NO. And it’s high time we dropped all vestige of Judith-Curry-like “that’s interesting” when no it isn’t, you just have to be stupid to believe it. Then they further insult our intelligence by claiming to be “skeptics” when they are the farthest thing from. Let’s no longer legitimize morons. They are ridiculous, meaning “worthy of ridicule.”]

      • No worries Tamino….I couldn’t agree more – Salby’s presentation is puerile and nasty rubbish. One might be generous in suggesting that he doesn’t actually believe the junk he’s “selling”, and is simply drumming up some publicity for his book….

      • Just my opinion, Chris, but it seems to me that if Salby is ‘just drumming up publicity,’ that would actually be quite despicable of him, and hence this interpretation is actually *less* generous.

      • No offence, Tamino.

        In my experience it is those with greatest integrity and intelligence that get the angriest about this state of affairs. I even get angry myself at times, though I don’t draw any more conclusions from that other than I’m getting cantankerous with age. (And I certainly agree with the comments re. Salby and Judith Curry).

        Thanks for those references, Chris, sounds like just what I need. I think what it boils down to is this: that I have been banging on to AGW deniers for years about the mass of human CO2 emissions being greater than the atmospheric increase, but haven’t used the d[CO2]/dT argument, and trawling through the comments under Salby on WUWT get the impression that it would have been useful to have done so.

      • Slioch,

        I doubt any comment you could leave on WUWT would ultimately make the slightest bit of difference to the bulk of opinion there.

        My favourite canard that they always trot out on CO2-related threads is:

        CO2 always lags temperature by 800 years! (therefore, AGW disproven)

        What they (conveniently) fail to mention is the remainder of that process: for the rest of the ~4200 years coming out of an ice age, CO2 and temperatures work synergistically to complete the work that was kick-started by the back end of the Milankovitch cycle. Further CO2 rises lead to further temperature rises and vice-versa until the whole system eventually stabilises at the pre-industrial temp/280ppm CO2 concentration. At least for the past 800,000 years or so, anyway. But no one on WUWT would ever agree with that bit of… reality? Science?

        What surprised me were the comments over on the thread at Judith C’s blog. Even more inane that those at WUWT, and I didn’t think that was possible.

      • Gavin's Pussycat

        Kevin, whether someone prefers to be called a liar, or prefers to be mocked for shortcomings of a more intellectual nature, actually tells a lot about that person. I for one have acquired a preference for spending my short path on the surface of this planet in the company of those more ashamed of lying. That sounds perhaps surprising from a scientist, but there it is.

      • Hear, hear, GP–hear, hear.

    • Slioch,

      This RC post discusses Frank et al. 2010, which takes a similar approach to analysing the past two thousand years. They find a sensitivity of about 10ppm/deg C.

    • The trouble is, Tamino, that there are a large number of people who are outright liars, genuine lunatics, or truly dumber than a bag of hammers.

      And they all have the vote, and they can all write to their MP/congressman or whatever. So, part of “getting real”, as far as I am concerned, involves trying to see what straws they may be clinging to that enable them to continue with their delusions. And it seems to me that the true value of d[CO2]/dT is something that many such do not appreciate and believe it might provide a way to explain the rise in CO2. My comment was merely that we should make it clearer than I believe has been done thus far that that is not the case.

      As far as letting Salby off the hook for his nonsense, nothing that I have written should be construed as suggesting that.

    • Another-nother way of thinking about this is to look at the [CO2] response to temp changes in the “high resolution” ice core record:

      D. M. Etheridge et al (1996) “Natural and anthropogenic changes in atmospheric CO2 over the last 1000 years from air in Antarctic ice and firn J. Geophys Res. 101, 4115 -4128.

      Column 1 is the year, column 2 is the [CO2] in parts per million

      1006.0000	279.4000	
      1046.0000	280.3000	
      1096.0000	282.4000	
      1146.0000	283.8000	
      1196.0000	283.9000	
      1246.0000	281.7000	
      1327.0000	283.4000	
      1446.0000	281.7000	
      1499.0000	282.4000	
      1547.0000	282.8000	
      1589.0000	278.7000	
      1604.0000	274.3000	
      1647.0000	277.2000	
      1679.0000	275.9000	
      1720.0000	277.5000	
      1760.0000	276.7000	
      1796.0000	283.7000	
      1825.0000	285.1000	
      1845.0000	286.1000
      1861.0000	286.6000
      1877.0000	288.8000
      1882.0000	291.7000	
      1891.0000	294.7000	
      1899.0000	296.5000	
      1905.0000	299.0000
      1912.0000	300.7000	
      1926.0000	305.0000	
      1936.0000	307.9000	
      1948.0000	311.4000	
      1954.0000	314.7000	
      1959.0000	315.7000

      If the maximum of 284 ppm near 1200 was due to the warmth of MWP and the minimum of ~274 ppm near 1600 corresponded to the LIA cooling, that sets a rough bound on the likely [CO2] response to surface temp variation. Given that paleoreconstructions indicate the MWP max temp to LIA min temp variation was likely no more than around 0.7 oC, that suggests a response of the order of ~14 ppm per oC. Of course this requires that the anthropogenic contribution to change in [CO2] were smallish in the period 1200-1600 AD…

      • Chris, they don’t believe the ice cores. I tried that over at Curry’s place.

        Maybe it’s an example of epistemological closure: if you start by assuming that humans are too puny to have an effect on the vast atmosphere, then you have to dismiss any evidence to the contrary.

        Or maybe it’s more of a cultural/psychological thing: because us evil warmists like to talk about the ice cores, they’re determined to ignore them.


    this has bean pussling some… any one got time for a rebuttal?

    • Keenan mixes some reasonable statements with implausible conclusions. For example:

      “The assumption implies, among other things, that only the current value in a time series has a direct effect on the next value. For the global temperature series, it means that this year’s temperature affects next year’s, but temperatures in previous years do not. For example, if the last several years were extremely cold, that on its own would not affect the chance that next year will be colder than average. Hence, the assumption made by the IPCC seems intuitively implausible.”

      True, an AR1 series does not include any direct influence of temperatures two years ago on temperatures this year. However, because temperatures two years ago influenced temperatures last year, there is still a correlation between temperatures in t-2 and t.

      More importantly, Keenan ignores the fact that global mean temperatures are not just a statistical time series. There is real physics involved. The key bit about real physics, is that temperatures don’t just “wander” by themselves very far: if they were some kind of random walk, we would have seen the Earth hit zero degrees or boiling long ago. Most large temperature excursions are forced – by solar changes, orbital changes, aerosol changes, albedo changes, or GHG changes. Interannual variability from ENSO and other such issues can perturb the system a bit, but then there is a return to something like an equilibrium. For example, look at the cooling due to Pinatubo: it lasted a year or two, and then disappeared once the forcing was gone. Ditto for the heating from the El Nino year of 1998.

      So, Keenan finds several papers critiquing the assumption that AR(1) can describe the climate system: true, because the climate system does not have infinite wander (unlike AR(1)), and therefore, for example, one should make the AR(1) assumption when trying to deduce time constants for the system (eg, the Schwartz et al. rebuttal). However, in my opinion, this probably means that AR(1) is actually _conservative_ for detecting significant trends over long time periods: an AR(1) process can, given long enough, wander a lot further than an unforced climatic system.

      This blog’s host could probably give a more sophisticated answer…

    • Magnus,

      Check out this link to the Open Mind Archives post ” To AR1 or not to AR1″ you will see why Keenan’s criticisms are, in my opinion, at best superficial. In fact the very criticism he discusses concerning the IPCC temperature time series AR1 assumption is addressed in the referenced post.

      If that doesn’t work go the archive listing at Skeptical Science which you’ll find at the right of this blog and then search on To AR1 or not to AR1.

      That post may be the best and most precise in terms of what you are looking for but if you search the archives (or post archive blog entries) for AR or auto correlation you will find more on the subject that will undoubtedly be helpful as well.

  27. Human emissions = x. “Other sources” emissions = y. Net = x+y. But Net = x/2. Do the math.

    If Greg has basic high school algebra he’ll be feeling pretty stupid about now.

    I wonder if he’s actually been able to solve the equation? More specifically, I wonder what coefficient he obtained?

  28. James Albinson

    Have a look at previous Tamino posts about the statistical significance of the rise in global temperature in recent times. Basically he puts up a silly strawman argument plus ad-hominem attack.
    The second set of graphs looks like a plain misplotting of data – see the wikipedia entry on Milankovitch cycles – very clearly laid out.

  29. “So, the net emission from other sources has been negative,..”

    Not trying to be pedantic, but It’s the net *flux* that is negative. Emissions (and sequestrations) are always unidirectional and thus “net” applies only to flux. These terms get mixed up a lot, along with sink/source and direction signs.

  30. We’re promised that publication of his analysis is imminent.

    Is it just me, or does anyone else think that, if this nonsensical argument gets refused publication by reputable journals (as it should), the denialati will be screaming from the rooftops about “censorship” of dissenting views?

  31. Pete Dunkelberg

    “… lags by 800 years ….”
    ? Or has it been found to be less? 800 is an old figure. Anyone know?

  32. that could be a fun project for someone to establish the varying lags during various phases of a Milankovich cycles. If I remember correctly the lag has varied by hundreds of years, but I don’t remember exact times for that.

  33. The latest number for the CO2-temperature phasing that I can find is from the following paper:

    Greenhouse gases in the Earth system: a palaeoclimate perspective
    Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A (2011) 369, 2133–2147

    Here is the quote from p. 2142:
    Antarctic temperature appears to start to increase about 400 years before any increase in CO2 occurs. The existence of this lead has been questioned [45] and is close to the uncertainty; however, accepting it as the current best estimate, it implies that Antarctic temperature might have increased by a few tenths of a degree before CO2 responded. This is entirely consistent with the notion that other factors initiated the climate warming in the natural
    case, but that a mutual amplification (positive feedback) then occurred, in which the temperature change caused a release of CO2 (probably primarily through ocean processes discussed above), and the increased CO2 caused further warming.

  34. Pete Dunkelberg

    Thanks for the answers. I didn’t quite get Wolff’s paper but I did find this interesting presentation.
    I thought there something suspicious about everyone quoting 800 years with no source as if it were, ahem, settled science.

  35. Tamino

    I emailed Mury Salby asking some question and today I received this reply:

    From: Jemma Wu []
    Sent: Friday, 12 August 2011 11:15 AM
    To: Jemma Wu
    Subject: Reply From Murry Salby


    Thanks for your interest in the presentation at the Sydney Institute.
    If not torrential (in some cases invidious), the expressions of interest
    have at least been overpowering. Although I would like to respond individually,
    the volume of inquiries makes that unfeasible.

    Several requested illustrations that were displayed during the presentation.
    Many of those illustrations were included in the broadcast which was
    subsequently aired. Others are under publication embargo.
    When that restriction is lifted, they will be made available.

    Thanks again for your interest and good wishes.
    And to those of more eccentric expression: Good luck with that.
    The observed behavior is what it is.

    Murry Salby

  36. This “CO2 lags temperature in the ice core records” denialist meme relies, for its misdirecting power, upon the gullible not realising that, barring a couple of periods of sustained vulcanism, there was never a period before now when sequestrated carbon was desequestrated (dug up) and burnt on an industrial scale. That outpouring of CO2 was matched by acid gases that countermanded any global warming.

    Therefore, in the record, there won’t be much (if any) evidence of CO2 acting as an initial climate forcing – just evidence of it rising as a feedback.

    Apologies if this point has been made before, but I haven’t seen it clearly made when the meme is debunked – the usual argument mentions that after the initial warming, CO2 outgases from the ocean and only then acts to force temperature further which of course the denialist meme doesn’t emphasise…

  37. On the contrary, Nick, there are ample examples of a change in atmospheric CO2, both up and down, driving temperature. For example, the decline in temperature over the last ~50 million years was driven by the slow but steady decline in atmospheric CO2 due to the uplift of the Himalaya and Tibetan plateau and the consequent acceleration in silicate rock weathering.

    The benefits of this example are 1) that it shows the flip side of the relationship — a decline in CO2 can drive a decline in temperature, and 2) it forces them out of the 750,000 year ice core record, which covers a time period when we know that CO2 was *not* the initial driver, and thus exposes their logical fallacy of extrapolating it to all of geologic history.

  38. Tamino, have you looked at Salby’s other recent published work?
    Rebound of Antarctic ozone
    Key Points
    Interrannual changes of ozone hole reproduced by dynamical forcing
    Removing dynamically-induced changes unmasks climate signal of ozone hole
    Reveals rebound of Antarctic ozone, in place since 1990s

    but see
    Science 8 April 2011:
    Vol. 332 no. 6026 p. 160
    DOI: 10.1126/science.332.6026.160
    News & Analysis Environment
    First Detection of Ozone Hole Recovery Claimed
    Richard A. Kerr
    “Although ozone-destroying chemicals have been in decline for a decade now, researchers have long projected that they will not glimpse the first signs that the Antarctic ozone hole is healing until well past 2020. But for the first time, a group of researchers claims they can already see the ozone hole slowly recovering. Many others, however, say the paper, now in press in Geophysical Research Letters, leaves out critical information needed to clinch the case.”

    • Hank Roberts | August 14, 2011 at 12:20 pm

      On ozone recovery, stumbled several times on articles suggesting the freon replacements by their sheer quantity have as bad an effect as the original CFCs. And for complete abolition, per this blog entry, the EPA has excluded certain agricultural endeavours from use:

      As an occasional entomologist, the discussion of pesticides caught my eye. It turns out that the EPA allows growers to use methyl bromide on tomato crops (they’re one of four crops the EPA has carved out exemptions for). Methyl bromide is the stuff of legend. If you’re ever at a party with an entomologist (I recommend this), buy hir a drink and start talking about methyl bromide. That shit kills everything. Needless to say, bathing in the stuff can be “problematic” (you can thank Wikipedia for that phrasing).

      Michelle Bachmann was vocal of what she’s wanting to do with the EPA.

      When looking at the Buoys systems put out in the Arctic, it’s interesting that they have an ozone detection function too: (Click on the newly deployed Obouys 5)

      Quiz: How many hammers, the size of a Bastardi, fit in a bag before the bottom drops out? Answer: 1.

      • Yes, the refusal to do anything about methyl bromide’s been an issue in regard to ozone depletion for a long time …

  39. I think there’s more to dig out there:

    “The climate sensitivity of ozone has been evaluated from random changes over a large population of winters. It is applied here, along with other features of the observed record, to interpret systematic changes of ozone that are associated with its trend over the 1980s and 1990s. Systematic changes of ozone are shown to have a close relationship to random changes, which, in turn, vary coherently with anomalous forcing of the residual circulation. Systematic changes of temperature obey a similar relationship….”

  40. Very good point Jim, although I didn’t imply there was no evidence of (pre) historical *reductions* in CO2 levels acting as “an initial climate forcing”.

    Do you have well known examples of past atmospheric CO2 *increases* driving temperature bar the aforementioned periods of sustained vulcanism?

  41. Apologies if this point has been made before, but I haven’t seen it clearly made when the meme is debunked – the usual argument mentions that after the initial warming, CO2 outgases from the ocean and only then acts to force temperature further which of course the denialist meme doesn’t emphasise…

    Another angle on this is the fact that the Southern and Northern Hemispheres have warmed and cooled “in sync” during past glacial/interglacial/glacial transitions.

    The glacial/interglacial transitions were driven by orbital changes that subjected the high latitudes of the NH to more intense summertime solar insolation (and for the NH, more intense average insolation overall), causing the NH ice-sheets to begin retreating. During these glacial/interglacial transitions, the SH was receiving *decreasing* amounts of solar energy, yet it warmed right up with the NH.

    And during Interglacial/glacial transitions, the SH cooled along with the NH, even though the SH was receiving *increasing* amounts of solar insolation during those transitions.

    In summary:
    Glacial->interglacial — NH receives more solar energy, SH receives less. But they warm up together.

    Interglacial->glacial — NH receives less solar energy, SH receives more. But they both cool together.

    CO2 distributes the NH forcing globally, keeping the hemispheres “in sync” during these transitions.

    • Yes. This was an important bit of 19th century science. James Croll, a Scottish scientist, put forward an orbital theory, predicting asynchronous ice ages in the Northern and Southern hemispheres. It was a “beautiful theory,” but as geology progressed it became clear that synchronous Ice Ages were the “inconvenient fact.” American geologist T.C. Croll, who had strong associations with both the University of Wisconsin and the University of Chicago, put forth a theory of CO2-mediated glaciation in 1899, based partly upon that synchrony.

      Of course, in hindsight they were both partially correct, and bits of both ideas survive in a newer synthesis. Very Hegelian!

      • Gavin's Pussycat

        > American geologist T.C. Croll

        Surely you mean T.C. Chamberlin

        BTW Croll was a true amateur scientist, doing science was not in his job description…

      • Of course you are right. Now THAT’S a foolish typo.

        Yes, Croll was self-educated, more or less. But he still got to interact with Lyell!

  42. Has anyone said where and when Salby’s paper is to be published? All I recall is his saying it’s “under embargo” — which doesn’t say much.

    • arch stanton

      In the Q&A part of the talk, he made a remark that about half this information will be out later this year and the other half should be out next year. His text is due out in October, I suspect that his paper that will contain everything controversial “next year”.

  43. Can’t remember where I put last week’s notice about “Fire From Heaven,” the series on the history of observations (mostly) of atmospheric radiation, but since we were hobnobbing about 19th century science up-thread a bit, I suppose this thread will work.

    Anyway, I had promised Part Two this week, and here ’tis:

    Backradiation, climate-related science from 1814, and a trivia question: what do W.C. Wells, Melloni, Tyndall, and Samuel Langley all have in common–apart from a place in the history of climate science? (Hint: also shared with Humphry Davy and James Maxwell, among others.)

  44. They were incredibly British? (Tyndall might object…)

  45. A preview of Salby’s textbook is available for preview at Amazon and Google Books, so I managed to screengrab the relevant pages:

    You know, if Salby’s analysis holds up, this could revolutionize AGW science ;)

  46. So you don’t understand that Salby is wrong purely on account of the mass balance problem?

    • I’d say you don’t have to invoke the mass balance to show he’s wrong. Just look at his model, it predicts that you get 3.5 ppm/a of CO2 rise per degree of warming. The current annual growth rate of atmospheric CO2 is about 2 ppm/a, hence the CO2 growth becomes negative (hence CO2 was higher in the past!) when GMT is 0.6 degree lower than today. If you plug HadCRUT3 data into Salby’s model, you get about 400 ppm in the mid-19th century.
      It’s even more ridiculous when you use Moberg reconstruction.

  47. Nicely done, ds, thank you.
    Yep, he’s overthrown the existing science there