Like diamonds, CO2 is for ever

the head on a glass of beer

Wrong again, huh?

Hot Topic, in a post endearingly headed “I’ve been wrong before“, berates the CCG for reporting a criticism of the Royal Society. Chemist Dr Klaus L. E. Kaiser published evidence of miscalculations by the RS which was supported by Swedish Professor of Applied Mathematics, Claes Johnson.

But unfortunately the confidence shown by Gareth Renowden in rebutting this criticism of the Royal Society does not extend to admitting the extent of uncertainty about the carbon dioxide cycle. To listen to Gareth, you’d think the science was settled, but in fact there are substantial unknowns.

He introduces his rebuttal (ignoring his opening paragraph, which contains ad hominem remarks) with this:

Unfortunately for Kaiser and Sullivan, the Royal Society (otherwise known as the most august of scientific institutions, 350 years old this year) didn’t make any schoolboy errors. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is determined by the interchange of carbon between the atmosphere, oceans and biosphere. Over the last few hundred years the ocean and biosphere have been doing us a big favour by absorbing two thirds of the CO2 we’ve emitted. The balance has been steadily accumulating, which is why atmospheric CO2 has risen from 280 ppm to 390 ppm.

This seems to be true, although the proportion of human emissions being absorbed by natural processes is specified variously, by different authorities, between about 45% and the 66% Gareth mentions. But whatever figure you take, it does leave a “balance” of an amount which “steadily accumulates”, accounting for a rise in atmospheric concentration from about 280 ppmv to about 390 ppmv now.

But watch the pea under the cup. Continue Reading →