When the Herald reported that an “‘Abrupt increase’ in CO2 absorption slowed global warming” the first question it raised was what sort of increase was an extra “one billion tonnes of carbon per year”. It said:
The earth would have warmed faster in the last two decades had there not been an unexplained rise in the amount of carbon dioxide being absorbed on land, scientists believe.
Fortunately, Jo Nova and David Evans have commented. David describes the billion tonnes of carbon as insignificant. Jo mocks the implication that our selfish warming would have been worse without this previously unknown factor.
The science team call the extra CO2 absorption “abrupt” — they must mean in the same way a shower of rain occurs “abruptly” following a period of non-rain. That is, the fine weather is followed by raining. First it’s fine, nek minute…
But mere abruptness need not cause anxiety or even be unusual.
Here are the team’s graphs allegedly showing the land uptake of CO2 recorded at Hawaii and the South Pole.
But describing it as “abrupt” does not make it significant. In their statement, the scientists call the increase “significant.” Together with their use of “abrupt” (in the paper’s title, no less) they impart a significant sense of anxiety.
It proceeds from their own insecurity. The slight change in uptake might be significant in a statistical sense, but not to us. It doesn’t make it important, for instance, to reduce our emissions of CO2.