It’s not warming, you nitwit — it’s cooling

icicles in Germany

All right, so it might not be getting down to out-of-the-ordinary freezing temperatures, but it’s certainly not unduly warm, which is the claim we’re constantly hearing in the mainstream media, even now. Even after all the contrary evidence. Here’s more.

To show that there is scientific data backing up the refutation of strong, even dangerous, warming brought on by our over-indulgence in the famous capitalist mind-altering industrial pollutant, carbon dioxide, the NZ Climate Science Coalition just issued a press release. The 2009 paper from McLean, de Freitas and Carter shows the uncanny correlation between the Southern Oscillation Index and global temperature several months later. The press release shows how the paper “predicts” the current temperature plunge.

And I really mean plunge, because McLean et al speculate this year could be the coldest since 1956. Brrr!

Now be my guest: show how wrong it is! Show us how the correlation is not really a correlation. It’s a free world!

Oh — and you’ll also have to demonstrate, of course, that global temperatures are NOT following the SOI graph from about seven months ago (please don’t forget that part). The press release is next.

Press release


The New Zealand Climate Science Coalition

Hon Secretary, Terry Dunleavy MBE,

10 March 2011

Recent cooler temperatures were predictable

It is likely that 2011 will be the coolest year globally since 1956 or even earlier, according to the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition. Global temperatures in February just past continued to fall in a manner consistent with the findings of a peer reviewed paper by John McLean, Professor Chris de Freitas and Professor Bob Carter that was published in 2009.

The paper showed that the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI), a measure of El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions, is a very good indicator of average global atmospheric temperatures seven months ahead, except when sporadic volcanoes cause short-term cooling.

“The global cooling that started in October 2010 is merely a reflection of the La Nina conditions that began last April,” says Mr McLean, “and the delay means that the average annual temperature in 2010 was due to the warm El Nino conditions that preceded the switch.”

The Coalition says several previous scientific papers have discussed the delayed response, including two by critics of McLean’s paper. Although the other papers used different data sources they came to similar conclusions about the delay. “The key question is how much influence the ENSO has on average global temperature. Although this can be difficult to determine because both can be affected by short term events such as wind, clouds and tropical storms, the sustained relationship in the data of the last 50 years shows the effect is significant,” says Mr McLean.

“The historical data also casts serious doubt on the hypothesis that carbon dioxide causes dangerous global warming. Since 1958 there’s been a 30% increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide. If this had a major influence on temperature we’d expect to see clear evidence of the temperature line rising relative to the SOI line, which is not apparent.”

“The Australian Bureau of Meteorology reports that ENSO models are suggesting that the La Nina will continue well into the Southern Hemisphere autumn and fade slowly to neutral conditions by June. Taking into account the seven-month time lag it is likely that 2011 will be the coolest year since 1956 or even earlier. Also, records show the oceans absorb more carbon dioxide during a La Nina event than during an El Nino, which means that the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide in 2011 is likely to be less than in recent years,” Mr McLean concludes.


More information

Combined graph of SOI and temperature

Combined graph of the Southern Oscillation Index, a measure of ENSO conditions, and the average global temperature in the lower part of the atmosphere.

Further background at John McLean’s web site, including discussion of criticism of two sentences in the less important part of the paper.

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57 Thoughts on “It’s not warming, you nitwit — it’s cooling

  1. Richard C (NZ) on 11/03/2011 at 9:48 am said:

    “The key question is how much influence the ENSO has on average global temperature.”?

    We all know that correlation does not prove causation so that leaves just one probable cause – 97% of climate scientists agree that CO2 obviously causes ENSO to lead temperature by 7 months because there are no known natural causes.

    CO2 also causes heavy rain and snow. This is proved conclusively by the fact that both have occurred recently when neither was predicted. The only conclusion to be drawn is that CO2 is to blame.

    To remedy this situation, a tax must be applied to CO2 (or more precisely “carbon”). This will ensure a stable climate and perfect weather, not too hot, not too cold. The sooner the tax is applied to every CO2 emitting device, the sooner we will be able to enjoy planetary utopia.

    • Andy on 11/03/2011 at 10:50 am said:

      Yes I agree Richard. I would be happy to continue to live without power, water and sanitation in Christchurch, and divert the proceeds of rebuilding Christchurch into mitigating 0.0005 deg C of potential temperature rise based on uncalibrated computer models.

      It really is time these selfish deniers got their priorities right. Would someone please think about the cheeeldren!!

  2. QuentinF on 11/03/2011 at 1:33 pm said:

    Tax the breath of the politicians. I’m sure they’ll all be willing to pay up large!

  3. QuentinF on 11/03/2011 at 1:35 pm said:

    Well done on the graph too, proves a great correlation.. But dont let facts ruin a politicians day..esp this Gillard woman over here!

    • Andy on 11/03/2011 at 2:53 pm said:

      Speaking of unpopular politicians, I see that UK deputy PM Clegg has just ordered a 2 million pound steel wall to be built around the venue of his party political conference, after threats of kidnapping by student activists. Goes nicely with his GBP 300,000 bomb-proof car. Given that his party came 6th in Barnsley recently, trailing the UKIP and the BNP, one wonders how much longer the Cleggerons can stay in power.

      Gillard’s lot probably won’t last much longer either if she continues to push the carbon tax.

      Interesting times indeed.

  4. Richard C (NZ) on 12/03/2011 at 8:29 am said:

    Ross Garnaut is racheting up the alarm in OZ saying Sydney “could” be swamped by sea waters once a year instead of once every one hundred years, if nothing is done to address climate change.

    What an idiot, there’s nothing that OZ or NZ can do to avoid that even if it was a credible threat. Meanwhile in the real world, he’s been gazumped by a 10m tsunami in Japan.

    The low lying islands of the Pacific are far more vulnerable to a tsunami than the 1.3mm/yr sea level rise. A TV report said one island escaped the tsunami threat because it had been evacuated because of rising sea levels “caused by global warming” (they had to lever that in somehow) but they have decades to prepare for something that “could” happen. No such warning for an earthquake and only an hour or so for a tsunami that “is” happening..

    Ross Garnaut should get real.

  5. On 5th March I “Googled” to see if any deranged individuals were trying to link the devastating Christchurch earthquake with AGW. That took me to the blog of New Zealand journalist and author Gareth Renowden on his Hot Topic “the Climate Show – Kevin Trenberth .. ” thread ( I watched his A/V until the end of Kevin’s offering (having frequently visited John Cook’s “biased-science” blog and been banned for my unwelcome contributions I didn’t wish to hear any more of his attempts to talk science that even scientists have a poor understanding of).

    Gareth was very naughty, trying to get Kevin to support his biased opinion about the CAUSE of the nasty weather events we have been hearing about during the past year. Gareth likes pushing the idea that these are all down to Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Change (CACC). Kevin nearly fell into the trap a few times but did leave himself enough wriggle room for the future when global cooling really sets in.

    Trenberth’s contribution runs from 29 – 50 minutes. CACC-promoting Gareth first tried to prompt him into attributing the Australian flooding events this year to our use of fossil fuels. Trenberth immediately turned to those worse-than-useless climate models, acknowledged that they aren’t perfect but still claimed that they were useful enough to indicate a human influence on climate due to warming. Fair enough to that point as no claims regarding how significant a role that influence might be (so always future wriggle room available over that response).

    Gareth then tried to “up-the-anti” by likening increased water vapour to pouring petrol on a fire – well, like death by drowning (, death by fire is very scary. Obviously Gareth has taken to heart what sadly departed CACC disciple Professor Stephen Scheider said:

    “… we need to get some broad-based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.” (

    Again Trenberth was sensibly guarded, simply saying that tropical cyclones are affected by moisture content but sub-tropical by temperature gradient. Gareth then tried to link the claimed “hot” 2010 with the extreme flooding weather events in Queensland and elsewhere in the world (we in the UK had similar ice cycles to those in your photo’, not just this winter but last one too). Now Trenberth played clever, linking the unusually strong El Niño with the small amount of warming without making clear that there is no way of knowing how much impact the claimed global warming (natural plus any human contribution) had, compared with El Niño.

    Trenberth then tried to steer away from the real problem (the poor scientific understanding of the processes and drivers of global climates) and claim that the problem was not being able to communicate with lay people. He also tried to say that Australia, which had been experiencing serious droughts, was suddenly having extreme flooding because of warming. Considering that there has been virtually no increase in mean global temperatures (no warming) during the past 12 years and the floods have only just happened, that one needed further explanation, but it wasn’t forthcoming.

    Gareth then brought in “turning the null hypothesis around” and Trenberth did what he often does, invoking the sanctity of AR4. “The IPCC said in 2007 that global warming was unequivocal and very likely caused by human activity.” Trenberth went on to say “global warming is happening,” but no mention at that point that warming had stopped around 2005 ( despite human activity continuing its upward trend and no mention of any concerns about this “travesty”. Trenberth made it very clear that he is very much in favour of the onus being put on scientists to prove that human influence on global climates is insignificant, but is that a surprise? He knows full well that it cannot be proven either way with the current high level of scientific uncertainty about the processes and drivers of those different global climates.

    Trenberth went on to talk about lots of the things that we need to know more about but made no mention of the primary one – the science that describes climate processes and drivers. One thing that I did agree with him about was the need for far better measurement capability but he should have said not only better but over a much longer period (30+ years?) and under tight and independent scrutiny.

    I’ve posted several comments on Hot Topic since but have now been banished to Gareth’s “The Twilight Zone” thread. Today I submitted a comment that includes a challenge to his Otago University supporters to show why, due to its smaller kinetic diameter, CO2 is not able to migrate through ice long after the pores have become too small for the larger O2 and N2 molecules to pass through. I doubt very much if anyone will try because I have already asked “expert” paleo-climatologists like Richard Alley, Jeff Severinghaus, Michael Bender, etc. to do this and all they could offer was “empirical evidence shows that”.

    Real experts in the area of molecular migration in porous substances, like gas purification specialists in the energy industry, appear to use this smaller kinetic diameter to good effect in commercial systems. I am puzzled why paleo-climatalogists choose to base their conclusions on the larger collision diameter, which I see as being inappropriate during the later stages of compression of ice as “close-off” occurs.

    Are there any on this blog who are knowledgeable in this area and could shed some light on it?

    Best regards,
    Pete Ridley.

    For those unsure about the mechanics (and that includes me): if the CO2 molecule was shown to be capable of migrating through the smaller pores in the slowly compressing ice, it would be tantamount to acknowledging that CO2 levels in the past were higher (perhaps very much higher) than they are said to have been, which would destroy the conventional storyline that only our modern industrial and transportation processes, burning fossil fuels, have pushed the CO2 levels so “high”. – Richard T

    • Hi Pete,

      That’s an enjoyable account of Renowden’s talk with Trenberth, thanks. Gareth is a well-known climate denier and seldom gets things right.

      You raise a matter of the physics of gas molecules I know nothing about, but the ramifications are very important, so I hope you draw some replies. There’s at least one physicist lurking around here — in fact, you do a lot more than just lurk, don’t you, Bob?

    • Hi Richard, thanks for posting my comment. You correctly spotted the whole point of my hypothesis about preferential fractionation of CO2 from air pockets in ice. I argue that it is due to the smaller kinetic diameter of CO2 (.33nm) compared with O2 (.36) and N2 (.38) that results in CO2 migrating down the pressure gradient towards the surface of the ice long after O2 and N2 are too large to get through the pores.

      I’ve debated this a fair bit in the blogosphere, starting at Chris Colose’s blog then on to Josh Halpern’s (AKA Eli) and elsewhere. Even the “experts I mentioned previously did not comment on the specific issue of Kinetic v collision diameter.

      As Zbiniew Jaworowski said in a recent E-mail, this aspect if molecular migration (I steer away from referring to it as diffusion because that can cause confusion) is “terra incognito” to paleo-climatologists. He took advice from a petroleum engineer when writing on the subject years ago. Hartmut Frank is another who I understand considers this to be a factor which distorts the historic record (significantly) to produce another “Hockey Stick Illusion”.

      If you want me to expand on what I have then please ask. This comment ios rushed because its my wife’s birthday and I hear her calling.

      Best regards, Pete Ridley

  6. Richard C (NZ) on 12/03/2011 at 2:22 pm said:

    It had to happen. Reuters are trumpeting a (rather tenuous) link between global warming and earthquakes etc
    (Reuters) – Quakes, volcanic eruptions, giant landslides and tsunamis may become more frequent as global warming changes the earth’s crust, scientists said on Wednesday.

    Climate-linked geological changes may also trigger “methane burps,” the release of a potent greenhouse gas, currently stored in solid form under melting permafrost and the seabed, in quantities greater than all the carbon dioxide (CO2) in our air today.

    “Climate change doesn’t just affect the atmosphere and the oceans but the earth’s crust as well. The whole earth is an interactive system,” Professor Bill McGuire of University College London told Reuters, at the first major conference of scientists researching the changing climate’s effects on geological hazards.

    “In the political community people are almost completely unaware of any geological aspects to climate change.”


    Speakers were careful to point out that many findings still amounted only to hypotheses, but said evidence appeared to be mounting that the world could be in for shocks on a vast scale.
    Grist couldn’t resist a bit of opportunism either
    Today’s tsunami: This is what climate change looks like

    So far, today’s tsunami has mainly affected Japan — there are reports of up to 300 dead in the coastal city of Sendai — but future tsunamis could strike the U.S. and virtually any other coastal area of the world with equal or greater force, say scientists. In a little-heeded warning issued at a 2009 conference on the subject, experts outlined a range of mechanisms by which climate change could already be causing more earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic activity.
    Mans CO2 emissions (the bad CO2 – 0.04 of 0.00039 parts of the atmosphere)) really are an incredible force that triggers every conceivable disaster if these guys are to be believed. I’m sure many will not only swallow the meme hook line and sinker especially at Hot Topic where scientific scepticism is an alien concept but will go on to explore whole new alarming scenarios and apprehensions that we really MUST cower under in abject fear until entire economies are taxed into oblivion to allay the terror (no room in that mindset for the biblical admonition to “have no fear”).

    Strange though, that natural CO2 (the good CO2 – 0.96 of 0.00039 parts of the atmosphere) doesn’t have the same effect (and neither does lunar gravitational effects, ocean tidal movements, tectonic action, aging planet etc). No, it’s only anthropogenic CO2 emissions that are the powerful catalyst for catastrophic geological disasters in the future, the like of which the world has not yet witnessed and too terrible to contemplate.

    It’s much, MUCH worse than we thought. The stability of the entire universe is at stake for the sake of a few human conveniences. Is the burden of fear and anxiety at the mere thought of the impending peril that scientists say “may become more frequent” really worth clinging to the lifestyles to which we have become accustomed?

    Or could it be that: slavery to fear, alarm, anxiety, imagination, speculation and paranoia fueled by opportunists with a vested interest in maintaining a heightened state of quivering public timidity and acquiescence to whatever actions that are demanded by those who perpetuate the fictional crisis, is the root of this latest round of alarmism? To keep the fear alive, they must create ever increasing scenarios of doom to best or at least coat-tail the real disasters that are capturing eyes and minds on 24/7 MSM and relegating the doom merchants to irrelevancy (and highlighting their absolute uselessness in the face of such).

    Sure they will capture and enslave some minds (mostly the young and malleable) but keeping the shackles locked when reality dawns is not so easy. Fortunately, the more shrill and bizarre the alarmists claims are, the easier it is for enslaved minds to pick the locks.

    • Andy on 12/03/2011 at 2:28 pm said:

      Methane may cause earthquakes? Is this the same methane that has stayed at a roughly constant level for the last few years?

    • Richard C (NZ) on 12/03/2011 at 2:49 pm said:

      No, these are methane “burps” that “may” be triggered by carbon dioxide and methane emissions (not the natural kind) – far more alarming (and a bit confusing).

      I don’t think there has been a “burp” yet but we will know when it happens because the local vicinity will be incinerated as soon as the gas is exposed to a naked flame thereby nullifying any earthquake threat. So I don’t think there is anything to worry about except for the fire hazard of course.

    • Andy on 12/03/2011 at 3:05 pm said:

      Gosh that sounds scary. Better dash off and sacrifice some virgins.

      Btw, if you want a giggle, check out the Australian Greens climate manifesto,.

      They want a mere 40% reduction in emissions from 1990 levels by 2020.

      Beam me up Scotty.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 13/03/2011 at 12:49 am said:

      The first climate change and energy “Principle” only presents climate change as something that “poses” (i.e. offers for our consideration) the greatest threat in human history, then the second defines it as a crisis.

      The Australian Greens believe that:

      1. climate change poses the greatest threat to our world in human history and requires urgent local, national and global action

      2. we have only 10-15 years to use our collective human intelligence to address the crisis of climate change and to prevent catastrophe.

      I guess the distinction is moot for those that believe the principles, although belief in “our collective human intelligence” might be a bit naive given the spectrum of human intellect and the state of it in many individuals.

      Principle 1 lacks imagination I think. Surely there are greater threats to be imagined: invasion by despotic space goblins bent on planetary conquest sounds frightening, so does en masse spontaneous combustion or the thought of being slowly sucked into a black hole. Climate change is more like a tropical holiday all year round in comparison to those threats

      MadJak at JoNova puts it another way:-

      “I really don’t understand why in prosperous times, well off people seem to have a propensity for creating non existant problems. Meanwhile the majority of the world is too busy finding their next feed to be concerned about anything that isn’t real.”

      I’d be among the first to concede the possibility that man influences climate via land use changes so I don’t agree that man-made climate change is entirely non-existent but I need more than belief to persuade me that the threat is anything like what the Australian Green principles espouse. If they were proposing tree plantations to stop soil erosion and restore micro climates to barren landscapes I might get interested but their extreme posturing on a future scenario that is anything but certain will not win me over and I suspect has a limited appeal in the electorate.that falls far short of them ever being able to govern alone.

      The ALP is discovering to their cost that Green Party demands do not appeal to every ALP voter either. I’ll be very surprised if Gillard keeps the govt together. Disappointing to see Abbots U-turn from “climate science is crap” to a new belief for the Coalitions sake. No doubt Nick Smith understands his predicament having performed a similar metamorphosis.

    • Andy on 13/03/2011 at 9:16 am said:

      One suspects that, if the Aus Greens continue with their plans to de-industrialise their country, they’ll head the same way as the Irish Greens.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 13/03/2011 at 10:00 am said:

      Meantime the other parties are falling over themselves to appear “Green” (as are many corporates) but they are missing the bigger picture in the process and alienating their core constituency.

      I see Nick Smith’s scepticism applies to earthquake prediction:-

      Christchurch earthquake: Sceptics take aim at Ken Ring

      Smith and the Skeptics Society are planning a lunch in one of Christchurch’s highest, oldest, stone buildings – on the day that “moon man” Ken Ring says the city will be hit by another devastating earthquake. Ring’s prediction of another earthquake on March 20 – a week today – has caused alarm among some Cantabrians, who have said they will flee the city.

      But the minister, who has a doctorate in geotechnical engineering, said he took a very dim view of people causing alarm with no scientific underpinning.

      “I believe in free speech but just as people should not stand up in a picture theatre and scream fire, people should not be making phony predictions of major earthquakes.”


      “It is important that such nonsense is exposed and people with good science point out the flaws in those who claim they can predict when earthquakes can occur.”

      Why doesn’t he apply the same criteria to climate prediction?

    • Andy on 13/03/2011 at 6:33 pm said:

      Shub’s latest post has a great screen cap from Joe Romm’s Climate Progress on how to build a “device” to destroy or disable a power station.

      So it’s not OK to write a comment that disagrees with Joe, but this stuff gets through moderation.

      One step beyond the Red Button …

    • Richard C (NZ) on 15/03/2011 at 8:57 am said:

      Abbott hasn’t changed his position at a personal level (still a “denier” as Combet puts it).

      Carbon dioxide not the bad guy, says Abbott

      March 15, 2011 – smh

    • Richard C, when I “Googled” for those trying to make that connection between the earth quakes (never been known before of course until recently – that “Ring of Fire” nonsense is just a myth) the only other blogs that I came across were religious ones. Your closing comment that “ .. they will capture and enslave some minds (mostly young and malleable) ..” is the thing that we have to keep fighting. Al Gore has his machine working on this and the feedback I get from my grand children makes me very worried. They are being indoctrinated with this nonsense and parents are taking no interest.

      Best regards, Pete Ridley

  7. Andy on 13/03/2011 at 9:39 am said:

    Getting back to the topic of the thread, I see that Aussie Green Steve Meacher has been proudly showing off his letter to the ABC on HotTopic. Apparently, he takes issue with Bob Carter’s recent statements in Quadrant Online and believes that the national broadcaster should not air the views of Prof Carter.

    Conversely, I imagine that Mr Meacher feels that his personal views on climate change are worth listening to.

    His qualifications in this area are no doubt impeccable, as a trained teacher.
    Whether Prof Carter’s PhD in Paleoclimatology from Cambridge is more relevant than Mr Meacher’s teaching degree is, no doubt, the subject of vigorous debate

    • Mark on 13/03/2011 at 10:30 pm said:

      Also a bit off-topic but….

      Have you seen this story from Australia. It has made it into the Bishop Hill Blog and Telegraph. The story of the bullying of a student for expressing doubts about global warming.

      A rather sad tale.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 14/03/2011 at 10:52 am said:

      Mark, this is right on topic. The public and school students are not being presented with science such as the graph that Richard T has posted and the original McLean, de Freitas and Carter 2009 paper that documents a temperature correlation that beats CO2 hands down.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 14/03/2011 at 10:56 am said:

      Even worse that the paper is being actively suppressed and vilified by a certain faction of climate science and their New Zealand connections in Universities and science societies.

    • Andy on 14/03/2011 at 11:10 am said:

      Even worse than that, the folks at our favorite warmist hangout have been actively defending the indoctrination of children.

      They seem to find no problem in frightening children to forward their political agenda.

      It’s child abuse, plain and simple.

  8. Richard (Treadgold), following up on my comment about treferential fractionation of CO2 and “Another Hockey Stick Illusion”, I had a response on Gareth Renowned’s Hot Topic blog ( from Otago U geologist Mike Palin which told me absolutely nothing. You may be interested in my further comment there, posted today.

    QUOTE: .. Now let’s get back to the much more challenging issue of the migration of CO2 in ice. You claim that “the scientists who do research on these problems have developed corrections for thermal and gravitational diffusion effects on the molecular proportions of the gases using isotopic fractionations that must accompany these processes. More recently, Jeff Severinghaus has found that the molecular proportions and isotopic compositions of the heavier noble gases Kr and Xe exhibit excellent preservation in the ice cores. This would not be the case for a kinetic process of the type you envision”.

    Since you were reluctant to provide a link to your source or even a paper title, I make the assumption that you are referring to the 2006 paper “Fractionation of gases in polar ice during bubble close-off: New constraints from firn air Ne, Kr and Xe observations” by Severinghaus & Battle. In their paper they suggested that in ice cores “This size-dependent fractionation during bubble close-off must be taken into account by ice core studies that employ Ne, O2 or Ar. Importantly, no evidence for close-off fractionation is seen for molecules larger than 3.6Å. This is true for the noble gases Kr and Xe as well as the greenhouse gases CO2, CH4 and N2O, confirming the integrity of the ice core archive for records of these atmospheric gases”.

    I refer you to their Table 1 (Page 482) for collision diameters and to “VUV absorbing vapours in n-perfluorocarbons” by E. Albrecht et al. Table 3 (Page 268) for kinetic diameter ( ).

    Xe is shown as having a collision diameter of about 0.40nm and a kinetic diameter of about 0.40nm.
    Kr is shown to have a collision diameter of about 0.37nm and a kinetic diameter of about 0.36nm.
    O2 is shown to have a collision diameter of about 0.35nm and a kinetic diameter of about 0.35nm.
    N2 is shown to have a collision diameter of about 0.38nm and a kinetic diameter of about 0.36nm.
    CO2 is shown to have a collision diameter of about 0.39nm and a kinetic diameter of 0.33nm.

    Note that for Xe, Kr and O2 there is little difference between the two measures, for N2 the kinetic diameter is slightly smaller but for Co2 there is a significant difference, the kinetic diameter being much smaller. More importantly, CO2 has a kinetic diameter which is much less that the 0.36nm for which Severinghaus and Battle concluded “ .. no evidence for close-off fractionation is seen for molecules larger than .. ”.

    I refer you to my comment of March 11 at 6:47 am QUOTE: .. I have asked ice core reconstruction “experts” like Richard Alley, Jeffrey Severinghaus and Michael Bender about why the paleo-climatologists pay no attention to the fact that CO2 molecules have a smaller kinetic diameter than do O2 or N2 but have not received a satisfactory response. All that they seem prepared to say is that empirical evidence supports their opinions. I find that to be a strange attitude for scientists who have been made aware that experts in the gas purification industry use kinetic rather than the larger collision diameter. … ”. Your response to that question is even less helpful than those of experts Severinghaus, Bender and Alley in their recent E-mails to me. You (and they) made no attempt whatever to explain why the smaller kinetic diameter of CO2 molecules is irrelevant. I suspect that the simple reason is that you have no idea whatsoever, as was suggested by Zbiniew Jaworoski. ..

    Is there anyone out there who can give me a sensible response to my question “why is CO2 not able to continue to migrate through the ice at the stage where the closing pores are too small to allow O2 and N2 to pass through them but are still large enough to allow CO2 through?” UNQUOTE.

    BTW, can anyone tell me who Carol Cowan is. She waxes lyrical about climate change but I can find nothing of scientific interest by her. Am I correct in thinking that she has no scientific or engineering qualifications whatsoever?

    Best regards, Pete Ridley.

  9. Richard C (NZ) on 14/03/2011 at 1:43 pm said:

    To help those curious about alternatives to AGW and how McLean, de Freitas and Carter 2009 fits into the big picture I’ve compiled a linked list of papers and articles that document natural climate driver hypotheses under the headings of what I consider primary and secondary.

    H/T Andy for the Google Docs idea and tutoring.

    Those that have already seen it might like to update their copy because it’s in a better form and I’m adding to it when I come across anything worthwhile.

  10. I have just had a response from Mike Palin on the issue of “Another Hockey Stick Delusion” and presented some further thoughts for his consideration. Is there anyone on this blog interested in following this up? If not I’ll stop bothering you.

    Best regards, Pete Ridley.

    • Andy on 15/03/2011 at 6:41 am said:

      I am interested. Let us know

    • Richard C (NZ) on 15/03/2011 at 8:37 am said:

      I’m interested too, but don’t have knowledge myself.

      It might be a question that could be put to the nanotechnology group at the University of Canterbury.

      Science Outreach contact

      For further information about Nanotechnology research and graduate studies at the University of Canterbury, contact:

      Prof. Simon Brown
      Ph: +64 (0)3 364 2507
      Fax: +64 (0) 3 364 2469
      Department of Physics and Astronomy,
      University of Canterbury,
      Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand.

    • Nobody’s bothered by your contributions, Pete — we’re interested. Of a certainty, the audience here is more interested in your interesting facts about gases in firn and ice than anyone at Hot Topic is.

      At this site, as you’ve probably noticed, we get on and discuss the facts pertaining to climate science in preference to insulting or criticising those holding opposing views. Carry on, sir!

  11. Richard T, Richard C and Andy, thanks for the encouragement to continue updating you on this “Other Hockey Stick Delusion”. In the main I have tried to present my hypothesis in a reasoned manner to Mike Palin, although, being human, I have fallen into the trap of being a little facetious at times. So far all that I have been getting from Mike is hand-waving, which doesn’t help to move the discussion along. The impression that I get is that Mike, like the paleo-climatologists, does not really understand the process of preferential fractionation of CO2 due to its smaller kinetic diameter and is simply trying to defend the faith that CACC disciples and followers have in the validity of that CO2 “hockey stick”.

    These are the comments that Mike has come back with specifically about the process (ad homs removed) QUOTE: ..

    March 13, 2011 at 10:33 am .. it is no news that the molecular proportions of gases in air are fractionated during the process of trapping in ice core bubbles. Fortunately, the scientists who do research on these problems have developed corrections for thermal and gravitational diffusion effects on the molecular proportions of the gases using isotopic fractionations that must accompany these processes. More recently, Jeff Severinghaus has found that the molecular proportions and isotopic compositions of the heavier noble gases Kr and Xe exhibit excellent preservation in the ice cores. This would not be the case for a kinetic process of the type you envision. It appears you have been misled by nonsense. ..

    March 15, 2011 at 3:04 am .. I’ll try to explain this business of CO2 fractionation to you once and for all, so read very slowly for comprehension. Kinetic fractionation of molecular proportions of a gas mixture will necessarily be accompanied by isotopic fractionation within the constituent gas species. It is the “fingerprint” of such a process (think 235U enrichment by the UF6 process for example). So, if atmospheric isotopic compositions of Kr and Xe have been preserved in the ice cores, then it can reasonably be concluded there has been no significant fractionation of their molecular proportions. This is confirmed when it is found that the molecular proportions of Kr and Xe in the ice cores match those in the atmosphere. So the question of CO2 fractionation has been carefully examined using gas species of similar size and there is simply no evidence of the process you envision. It was a reasonable hypothesis, but the evidence speaks otherwise. Get over it. ..

    March 15, 2011 at 2:10 pm .. I’m sorry that you can’t find the right equation to plug and chug the answer for this, but get a freaking life. As I pointed out, the absence of resolvable isotopic fractionation means there is no significant fractionation of molecular proportions. End of story.


    You have already seen my response to his first comment. Comments of mine that you have not seen here yet are QUOTE:

    March 15, 2011 at 5:54 am .. I see that Mike Palin is keeping very quiet about preferential fractionation of CO2 in that nano-porous ice as it approaches close-off. Maybe he’s trying to learn something about the science, although I would expect an “expert” geologist to be aware of such matters. Geologists in the petroleum industry deal with this subject as a part of their day-job and use the science to extract and purify hydrocarbons. As Zbinew Jaworowski said in his E-mail (25th June 2010) “I am also not versatile in diffusion, and writing my paper in 1994 I was advised and enlightened by a geologist from the Norwegian oil industry, who was specializing in diffusion, a subject of great importance for oil industry. This is a highly specialized field of science. My impression is that it is a terra incognita for glaciologists”.

    On 23rd December in an E-mail to Jeff Severinghaus I commented on his 2006 paper and pointed out to him that “ .. the diameters estimated for atmospheric gases (collision/kinetic in Å) are:-
    O2 = 3.5 /3.5; CH4 = 3.8 /3.8; N2= 3.8/3.6; CO2 = 3.9/3.3. Ne = 2.82/2.75 .. It appears to me that collision diameter is relevant during the time in the firn that pores are much larger than the molecules, i.e from macro/ultra-porous to micro-porous, however, as the firn is further compressed until it becomes nano-porous it is the kinetic diameter that becomes relevant. As compression increases during that nano-porous stage pores will eventually become too small for any but the smallest gases to pass, i.e. CO2 and smaller. In other words, CO2 will be preferentially fractionated over N2 and O2, hence distorting the composition of the finally trapped air as well as enriching the air above .. ”.

    Severinghaus responded immediately with the following surprising comment “As you note the diameter of CO2 is larger than that of our inferred effective threshold size of 3.6 angstroms. So one would not expect CO2 to be fractionated, from a theoretical point of view. Taken together these two points suggest that the CO2 records from ice cores are not significantly affected by this process. Also, in the Huber et al paper, we wrote that our findings support the integrity of the records of large-molecule gases such as CO2 from ice cores (pg. 71, conclusions)”. Rather than “note the diameter of CO2 is larger than that of our inferred effective threshold size of 3.6 angstroms” I had specifically pointed out to him that the CO2 kinetic diameter, being 3.3Å, was significantly less than the magic 3.6Å yet he chose to completely ignore that important point. If he had considered that point properly he could not have arrived at the conclusion that “ .. one would not expect CO2 to be fractionated .. ”.

    Severinghaus went on to say “Also, in the Huber et al paper, we wrote that our findings support the integrity of the records of large-molecule gases such as CO2 from ice cores (pg. 71, conclusions)” again ignoring the fact that CO2 has a smaller kinetic diameter.

    It is worth looking at that Huber et al. paper that Severinghaus considered supportive of his opinion on preferential fractionation of CO2. “Evidence for molecular size dependent gas fractionation in firn air derived from noble gases, oxygen, and nitrogen measurements” covers research into “ .. elemental and isotopic measurements of noble gases (He, Ne, Ar, Kr, and Xe), oxygen and nitrogen of firn air from two sites”. The paper talks specifically about a fourth size-dependent fractionation as an additional mechanism which distorts the composition of air that is being gradually “trapped” with ice yet makes not a mention of CO2! Why is this? – in my opinion it is because the researchers overlooked the significance of collision v kinetic diameter for the CO2 molecule. This is highlighted by Table 2 (Page 65) “Molecular properties used in the model and close-off fractionations factors” which shows CO2 having a diameter of 3.9Å and Fig. 8 (Page 69), which show that N2, Kr and Xe effectively enjoy close-off fractionation factors for 1 (i.e. no size-dependent fractionation). This gives the impression, when considering only collision diameter, that CO2 also experiences no such fractionation and end of investigation – but is it? Once again this highly regarded paper gives no consideration to kinetic diameter.

    On 24th December I asked Severinghaus “ .. why you are not impressed by the fact that CO2 has a significantly smaller kinetic diameter than O2 or N2. .. ”. No response, so I E-mailed again on 29th, providing several references to papers that give support to my hypothesis, but again he made no response.

    The area of concern that I have relates to the phase in the compression of the ice where close-off is approached but not reached for the smaller CO2 molecule. Part 3 “Model of the bubble close-off fractionation and lock-in zone” of the Severnghaus/Battle paper, particularly Fig. 3, describes the situation to a degree, including the pressure gradient towards the surface. The text book “Hydrocarbon migration and its near-surface expression: outgrowth of the AAPG” page 174 describes how Ficke’s Law needs to be modified to cater for the migration of molecules within porous media (including sedimentary rocks). I consider that the following extract is relevant to the migration process in ice at this stage of compression “ .. pressure must be taken into consideration as an additional and possible predominant driving force for molecular migration. At the extremely low permeabilities .. a differentiation between volume flow and molecular transport becomes impossible, that is, mass flow can only occur by the movement of molecules .. Knudsen diffusion .. ”.

    In my opinion paleoclimatoligists appear to have misled themselves into assuming that because the CO2 collision diameter is so much greater than other major atmospheric constituents, most of which exhibit little difference between collision and kinetic diameter, preferential size-dependent fractionation of CO2 it experiences close-off ahead of the others therefore need not be considered on its own. I suspect that gas purification specialists would agree – but please prove me wrong.

    Mike, although I’m not a geologist but just a retired Chartered Engineer, I hope that this has been helpful for you, but you will need to double check before getting back. Maybe you should look carefully at those kinetic diameters for the different gases then read those papers again before getting on your high horse.

    March 15, 2011 at 10:21 pm .. Mike, were you simply attempting to wave away the likelihood of size-dependent fractionation within nano-porous media like sediments and firn by throwing in the concept of “kinetic fractionation” and the accompanying isotopic fractionation? I don’t reject this process as being another of the several that can distort the amount of CO2 in air as it journeys from the atmosphere, into the falling snow to the ground and becomes more and more compressed until it becomes “trapped” in a pocket within “solid” ice, but it is a minor process compared with size-dependent fractionation.

    The impression that I get is that you are deliberately introducing an unnecessary complication to the discussion at this stage simply to cloud the real issue of your own uncertainty. Hand-waving away the issue with comments like “ .. the evidence speaks otherwise. Get over it” and “ .. End of story .. ” is not a proper response to the challenge that I put to you and others here. This was “how about resolving that issue about kinetic v collision diameter!” In this discussion the only connection between kinetic fractionation and fractionation arising from differences in the size of gas molecules is the word “kinetic” – end of!

    I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and adopt the stance that you are getting a little confused by the terminology. Let’s recap on what that real issue is, i.e. size-dependent fractionation of the smaller CO2 molecule out of the air mixture “trapped” in ice as close-off is approached. When referring to “size-dependent” fractionation of different gas molecules Severinghaus, Battle, Huber, etc. are not talking about size in terms of mass, but in terms of space occupied. I haven’t had breakfast yet so a food analogy comes to mind. A meat ball may well have the same mass as a sausage but a sausage can pass through a smaller aperture than the meat ball if it is long and thin enough.

    When discussing this issue with others many find it surprising that a CO2 molecule can have a smaller diameter than an O2 or even a CO molecule, but often truth is stranger than fiction (see Table 3 of Muler et al. – When discussing this issue on Chris Colose’s “Richard Alley at AGU 2009: The Biggest Control Knob” thread ( one Marcus initially rejected the notion out of hand (just like you?) until he had words with Josh Halpern (AKA Eli).

    Both Marcus and I learned something from those exchanges, so it worked out well in the end. He doesn’t need to feel bad about his ignorance, any more than you or I should, but please stop ignoring the sterling work that Severinghaus et al. have done in relation to this issue (although they stopped short of properly researching the fractionation of CO2).

    In their paper “Fractionation of gases in polar ice during bubble close-off: .. ” Severinghaus and Battle clearly stated that “ … Ne, O2 and Ar appear to be preferentially excluded from the shrinking and occluding bubbles, and these gases therefore accumulate in the residual firn air, creating a progressive enrichment with time (and depth) in firn air. .. A simple model of the bubble close-off fractionation and lock-in zone enrichment fits the data adequately. The model presumes that fractionation is caused by selective permeation of gas through the ice lattice from slightly overpressured bubbles. The effect appears to be size-dependent, because Ne, O2 and Ar have smaller effective molecular diameters than N2, and fractionation increases strongly with decreasing size. Ne is fractionated 34±2 times more than O2 in South Pole firn air and reaches an enrichment of 90‰ in the deepest sample. The large atoms Kr and Xe do not appear to be fractionated by this process, despite the large size difference between the two gases, suggesting a threshold atomic diameter of 3.6Å above which the probability becomes very small that the gas will escape from the bubble ”.

    At this late stage in the firn compression process the migration of molecules is no longer Fickian but Knudsen and it is kinetic rather than collision diameter that is relevant. As I have pointed out before, CO2 has a much smaller molecular diameter than N2 or O2 and slightly smaller than Ar – as you have said “Get over it.”.

    If you don’t understand the issue well enough and wish to withdraw from the challenge then that’s OK by me. I’m sure that others will be keen to tackle it, however, others who are not commenting here are enjoying our exchanges and learning from them along with us both.

    BTW, you may find it enlightening to read “Materials science of membranes for gas and vapor separation” by Yuri Yampolskii, Ingo Pinnau, Benny D. Freeman, especially pages 8/9.


    What Mike claims to be his final response to me was QUOTE: .. March 16, 2011 at 2:14 am. Pete – You clearly don’t understand the fundamental principal that any physio-chemical process that preferentially enrichs or depletes a particular species from a gas mixture must induce isotopic fractionation. The magnitude of the isotopic shift scales with the relative change in molecular proportions and the mass difference in between the isotopes according to a power law. I’m not going to continue with you any further because it’s like arguing with a puddle of mud. Bye-bye UNQUOTE.

    Are there any physicists/Chemists out there who can comment on that? As I said to Mike in my comment of March 15 at 10:21 pm, I don’t reject isotopic fractionation as one of the processes that distort the historical record but another of my uncertainties is the extent of any such fractionation or its significance w.r.t. molecular size-dependent fractionation.

    It is perhaps worthwhile noting that in his 2006 dissertation “Methane concentration in ice cores: A tool to reveal firn-ice properties and past climate changes” (, Renato Spahni ( Faculty of Philosophy and Natural Science, University of Bern) fell into the same trap of ignoring the relevance of kinetic rather than collision diameter. Making reference to the Huber et al. and Severanhaus & Battle papers he stated in Section 2.3.2 Fractionation of elemental ratios during bubble enclosure “ .. The critical size of about 3.6ºA seems to be an upper limit for molecules to fractionate during the close-off process in the firn. The effect of close-off fractionation is non-existent, or at least very small, for isotope ratios and for large molecules like Xe, Kr, N2 CO2, CH4 and N2O. This is an important confirmation for the integrity of polar ice cores as a climate archive of the ancient atmospheric composition of these gases”. As I have previously pointed out, both of Spahni’s referenced papers ignore the fact that CO2 has a smaller diameter than most of the other atmospheric gases because they ignore kinetic diameter, relevant at this late stage in the compaction process, when the small pore size brngs Knudsen diffusion into play. Of those gases listed by Spahni only CO2 and N2O have a kinetic diameter (3.3ºA) that is smaller than that critical 3.6ºA.

    For those of you who prefer pictures to words, there is a simple animation of effusion that illustrates my line of reasoning quite nicely ( Just imagine that the bubble is an air pocket in the firn, the hole is a pore coated with a layer of CO2 one molecule thick due to adsorption. Compression and adsorption have reduced the pore diameter to 3.4Å. Imagine also that the red balls are CO2 and Ne molecules that have been made visible by painting them. Ne (2.6Å) gets out easily and CO2 (3.3Å) manages to queeze through but N2, O2, Ar, CH4, etc are present in the pocket they cannot escape because their kinetic diameters are larger than 3.4Å. The hypothesis looks plausible to a mere retired chartered engineer so please can you tell me where I’m going wrong.

    As I am not an expert in this area I need to bounce my ideas off someone who is, rather than simply encounter deliberate obfuscation such as Mike Palin offers. I have tried with senior paleo-climatologists like Richard Alley, Jeff Severinghaus and Michael Bender without getting any definitive response to the question of why they ignore kinetic in favour of collision diameter. Experts in the field of gas purification appear to be too busy doing their day jobs to even get interested in what to them must be a side-issue. Maybe I’ll have more success with nano-technology group at the University of Canterbury.

    Sorry that this went on so long but I get quite carried away at times.

    Best regards, Pete Ridley.

    • Andy on 16/03/2011 at 8:39 am said:

      Is it worth contacting Paul Dennis at UEA?

      My research interests lie in the application of natural stable isotope chemistry to environmental and palaeoclimate studies. I am also very active in instrument design, developing new, high sensitivity isotope ratio mass spectrometers (IRMS)in order to analyse small samples with a high degree of precision, measure ‘isotopic clusters’, noble gas isotope ratios and the natural variation of oxygen in the atmosphere.

      In my laboratory we use stable isotope geochemistry to help us understand aspects of past and present climate and environment change. The isotopic composition of fossil rainwater trapped in stalactites and stalagmites collected from caves helps us to unravel details of the climate in western Europe over the past 11,000 years

    • Richard C (NZ) on 16/03/2011 at 9:49 am said:

      Pete, I’ve asked for feedback from anyone at JoNova that might be able to assist (linked to here).

  12. Hi Richard C, thanks for the plug on JoNova’s “CARBON TAX AND TEMPERATURE” thread (March 16th at 6:17 am on – nice summary.

    Best regards, Pete Ridley

    • Richard C (NZ) on 16/03/2011 at 1:28 pm said:

      Cohenite posted this Warwick Hughes link to:-

      “CO2: The Greatest Scientific Scandal of Our Time”
      by Zbigniew Jaworowski, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sc., March 2007

      I haven’t looked at the papers yet to see if your contention is addressed and you may have already come across the link but there is also an easy read statement written for the Hearing before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation that documents other ice core issues:-

      Climate Change: Incorrect information on pre-industrial CO2, March 19, 2004

      Statement of Prof. Zbigniew Jaworowski
      Chairman, Scientific Council of Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection
      Warsaw, Poland

      This interests me because it questions the Law Dome – Mauna Loa spliced climate model CO2 spin-up dataset, quote:-

      “The data from shallow ice cores, such as those from Siple, Antarctica[5, 6], are widely used as a proof of man-made increase of CO2 content in the global atmosphere, notably by IPCC[7]. These data show a clear inverse correlation between the decreasing CO2 concentrations, and the load-pressure increasing with depth (Figure 1 A). The problem with Siple data (and with other shallow cores) is that the CO2 concentration found in pre-industrial ice from a depth of 68 meters (i.e. above the depth of clathrate formation) was “too high”. This ice was deposited in 1890 AD, and the CO2 concentration was 328 ppmv, not about 290 ppmv, as needed by man-made warming hypothesis. The CO2 atmospheric concentration of about 328 ppmv was measured at Mauna Loa, Hawaii as later as in 1973[8], i.e. 83 years after the ice was deposited at Siple.

      An ad hoc assumption, not supported by any factual evidence[3, 9], solved the problem: the average age of air was arbitrary decreed to be exactly 83 years younger than the ice in which it was trapped. The “corrected” ice data were then smoothly aligned with the Mauna Loa record (Figure 1 B), and reproduced in countless publications as a famous “Siple curve”. Only thirteen years later, in 1993, glaciologists attempted to prove experimentally the “age assumption”[10], but they failed[9].”


    • Richard C (NZ) on 16/03/2011 at 6:05 pm said:

      Another analysis from Cohenite:-

      A Simple Method to Correct Carbon Dioxide Concentrations in Ice Core Data for Ice / Gas Age Difference Perturbations.

    • I have only quickly scanned this paper because it is not directly applicable to the CO2 fractionation issue but the pont that immediately struck me was ” .. the following assumptions are made: 1. Estimates of the gas age are robust .. “!

      If CO2 fractionation takes place as I hypothesise then I can’t envisage this assumption standing up to scrutiny.

      Best regards, Pete.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 17/03/2011 at 10:28 am said:

      Drakes adjustment that might be a pointer though.

      Next page:-

      “To state the obvious, for every year increase in IGD the carbon dioxide concentration drops by 0.02362 ppmv.”

      Drake is proposing that the original CO2 dataset is “compensated” (pg 4) using the formula:

      A = B – (-0.02362 *I GD)

      If CO2 is migrating as you hypothesise, at what rate is it migrating over different segments of the pressure gradient? If the rates are known, the data could be adjusted in a similar manner.

      It seems sensible to me that if there is migration that it would occur at an optimum range of depth and pressure (i.e. it would not be linear.). Above that range there’s not enough pressure to cause migration and below the range there’s too much pressure but the bulk of the molecules would have migrated earlier anyway.

      I’m still stunned by the arbitrary 83 year Siple curve “correction” revelation i.e. that you can make it up as you go along. So I see no reason not to make similar corrective adjustments if CO2 does turn out to migrate through apertures close to its kinetic diameter.

  13. Hi Richard C, thanks again for your support on this issue and thanks to Cohenite (why do people hide behind false names?) for the link. I share your concerns about the splicing of measurements on top of a volcano with attempted reconstructions from air “trapped” in ice for decades, centuries and millennia – brings back memories of a few tree-rings and statistically manipulated measurements of global temperatures themselves of dubious quality. As I’ve said before “Another Hockey Stick Illusion”.

    I started my journey here as a very concerned parent and grandparent after reading environmental activist Mark Lynas’s propaganda booklet “Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet” in 2007. After initially looking up that blind alley I found the route to confirmed CACC scepticism after reading Vincent Gray’s “The Greenhouse Delusion” and the papers by Jaworowski. For about a year now I have been exchanging E-mails with Jaworowski (and one of his co-authors, Professor Segalstad) and Professor Hartmut Frank (who wrote a forward to Jawotrowski’s 1994 paper “Ancient Atmosphere – Validity of Ice Records”) on this “Another Hockey Stick Delusion” issue. Jaworowski only touched on the matter of gas diffusion in ice distorting the historical record and he acknowledged last June that “I am also not versatile in diffusion, and writing my paper in 1994 I was advised and enlightened by a geologist from the Norwegian oil industry, who was specializing in diffusion, a subject of great importance for oil industry. This is a highly specialized field of science. My impression is that it is a terra incognita for glaciologists.”

    (In fact it was the work of scientists and engineers in the mine-gas recovery and purification industry that made me aware of the significance of kinetic rather than collision diameter for this issue.)

    I referenced all of Jaworowski’s papers on Gareth Renowdon’s Hot Topic (March 11, 2011 at 6:47 am on and the only reaction they could muster there was from their “ice-core reconstruction expert” bill on March 11 at 1:30 pm “ .. Zbigniew Jaworowski – that’d be the guy who ‘publishes’ in Lyndon LaRouche’s little (*cough*) journal? (that’s the 2004 article, but the 2007 and 2009 papers are also ‘published’ by the LaRouchies! So much for the 21st century examples provided… More fine company to be keeping… remember what I said about your fellow-travellers, John?”. That comment just about sums up the level of “debate” over there.

    In my previous comment here I quoted from Otago U geologist Mike Palin’s “final” comment “You clearly don’t understand the fundamental principal that any physio-chemical process that preferentially enrichs or depletes a particular species from a gas mixture must induce isotopic fractionation. The magnitude of the isotopic shift scales with the relative change in molecular proportions and the mass difference in between the isotopes according to a power law. I’m not going to continue with you any further because it’s like arguing with a puddle of mud”.

    Yesterday I put this to Hartmut Frank (CC Jaworowski) and today to Physical Chemist Dr Martin Hertzberg and eagerly await a response.

    BTW, Dr Hertzberg is one of the “Slayers” who authored “Slaying the Sky Dragon” and Executive Director elect of the proposed new global scientific association Principia Scientific International dreamed up by John O’Sullivan – but that is a completely different story. Anyone interested could do worse than read the PSI “begging sheet” ( It provides a bit of light relief from this stuff.

    Best regards, Pete Ridley.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 17/03/2011 at 11:11 am said:

      I’m chemically challenged so my synopsis of Palin’s argument might be a little off.

      He concedes that “it is no news that the molecular proportions of gases in air are fractionated during the process of trapping in ice core bubbles” and adds that a power law governs whether CO2 is able to detach (fractionate?) from the gas mixture in the first instance (but he doesn’t mention the role of pressure in the “law”). The “power law” he mentions is irrelevant (despite his preaching) unless CO2 is actually unable to fractionate in the gas bubble under pressure but he has already conceded that it does (Huh?).

      His only support is that other molecules (not CO2) have remained in the same proportion as in air. Not compelling in view of the collision-kinetic diameter differences (i.e. he’s missed the point entirely or more likely trying to make it go away)..

      He does excel in ad hominem, bluster and irrelevancy nonetheless..

    • Andy on 17/03/2011 at 3:25 pm said:

      Speaking of Cohenite, he (?) has a good guest post at

      Definitely worth a read – sums up a lot of the main points.

  14. You may recall me commenting on March 12 at 11:56 am about “ .. any deranged individuals were trying to link the devastating Christchurch earthquake with AGW .. ”. Guess what – QUOTE:
    Live in harmony with nature, says Pachauri: .. Addressing students at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham on the sixteenth Institution Day Celebrations here on Friday, he lauded the efforts of the administration, pertaining to their green drive.
    “Unless we live in harmony with nature, unless we are able to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and adopt renewable energy sources and until we change our life styles, the world will increasingly become unfit for human habitation,” he said .. UNQUOTE (

    Someone please confirm for me that this is a spoof.

    It looks as though Gareth Renowdon has decided to block my comments now, rather than simply posting them on his “The Twilight Zone: a repository for comments that are off-topic, obvious trolling, or from the terminally bemused — a feature of Hot Topic’s new comments policy. Do not expect to find good sense herein — consider it a record of failed communication and fantasy .. ” ( Gareth’s request to others on that thread there in response to one of my comments was “March 17, 2011 at 11:12 am: Note to all: DNFTT”.

    Maybe that is because he’s frightened that now bluff-and-bluster Mike Palin has run away from my challenge over “Another Hockey Stick Illusion” (CO2 in ice) I’ll scare away more of his Otago U “experts”. I submitted a comment on that topic ahead of the one to which Gareth responded and it has not yet appeared so I’ve tried again. I’ll submit it here separately because there is stuff there which may be of interest.

    The more that I learn the more I see Mike’s comment about isotopic fractionation as being nothing but an attempt to put a smoke screen around his own ignorance, rather than simply admitting that he doesn’t know. I see this as being a common trait among supporters of the CACC doctrine. I have just come across a very interesting paper “Knudsen Self- and Fickian Diffusion in Rough Nanoporous Media” by Kourosh Malek and Marc-Olivier Coppens ( which appears on quick scan to be relevant to my hypothesis. It’s rather heavy going but while I’m getting my head around it I’ll try to contact the authors for help.

    Best regards, Pete Ridley

    • Richard C (NZ) on 18/03/2011 at 7:59 pm said:

      “It looks as though Gareth Renowdon has decided to block my comments now”

      Congratulations on your graduation.

      Along with the “Twilight Zone” there is “Permanent Moderation” where anyone that presents any data or notion contrary to the CAGW narrative is effectively silenced. CO2 readings from ice cores are sacrosanct. Questioning them is heresy and you know what happens to heretics don’t you.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 21/03/2011 at 8:53 am said:

      I pity Nick Smith and Gareth Renowden don’t exercise the same degree of scepticism over man-made climate change predictions that they do over Ken Ring’s earthquake predictions.

      E.g. Smith

      “Geotechnical engineer Nick Smith has hit out at natural disaster claims by Ken Ring as “bogus”, saying that future decisions on risk need to be based on rational science.

      The Nelson MP said it is “reckless and irresponsible for people like Ken Ring to be speculating on the timing of future major earthquakes with no scientific basis”.”

      And Renowden

      “These predictions, made by an arrogant, ignorant, and foolish astrologer have somehow persuaded members of my community — friends and neighbours — that there is a real risk of a major earthquake in North Canterbury some time over this weekend. Some have left home, others have admitted being unsettled by the “moon man” and his predictions. For people who have already lived through two major earthquakes, suffered the knife-edge uncertainty of repeated aftershocks, stressed and traumatised by the loss of loved ones, the sort of “opinions” offered by Ken Ring are the worst kind of medicine.”

      He then goes on to bemoan the MSM coverage that Ring is getting

      “But the real responsibility for the stress being foisted on my friends is not Ring’s — charlatan and hypocrite though he is — it lies with the people who give him credibility, the newspapers who publish his weather columns and fishing hints, the radio stations that give him air time, and the TV stations who have credulously interviewed him or reported his earthquake predictions and their impact on the Canterbury population.”

      Their hypocrisy and the irony of of their use of the words “bogus” and “crank” has probably not occurred to either of them.

      samv at HT came up with this

      “Apparently there is a very slight, statistically significant connection between perigee and earthquakes – something like an extra 2% of small quakes happen at perigee according to papers you can find on”

      That’s a better correlation than CO2 levels and temperature.

    • Andy on 21/03/2011 at 10:13 am said:

      The double irony is that after a post stating “Ken Ring knows nothing”, a fairly stiff 5.1 shook the ground.

      I don’t put much store in Ken Ring’s predictions, after all he did used to read cat’s paws, but the complete lack of self awareness on the climate predictions is amazing.

      I can tell you that neighbours of mine were prepared to move away from the beach because of the RSNZ report on sea level rise. This “not based on empirical science” report managed to get a fair bit of MSM coverage and scare the locals too.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 21/03/2011 at 4:45 pm said:

      Did I imagine it or did the TV newsreaders look a bit sheepish reporting the 5.1 after the bashing they gave Ring in the leadup?

      A small slice of humble pie was eaten at HT too.

      The tidal movement of the ocean overburden must have some effect on tectonic movement but I would have thought more as a gradual pressure release than a trigger.

    • Andy on 21/03/2011 at 5:13 pm said:

      Yes, and dumbass comment this morning from Petra Bagust –
      “When did anyone do a witch hunt against the Met Office”

      (in reference to the attacks on Ring)

      Obviously the term “barbeque summer” never crossed her path.

    • Andy on 21/03/2011 at 11:26 am said:

      Keith Hunter chips in too.

      Apparently he and the government chief scientist have done some statistical analysis and shown that there is no correlation between Ring’s predictions and earthquakes.

      This is great to see. Now can we do the same exercise between CO2 emissions and extreme weather events? Can’t be hard.

  15. This is my most recent submission to Hot Topic which Gareth has chosen to block QUOTE:

    Now that Mike Palin has withdrawn is there anyone here who is able to take up the challenge to disprove my hypothesis about preferential fractionation of CO2 from the atmospheric gas mixture “trapped” in ice. Surely all that is require is to demonstrate that smaller CO2 molecules (0.33nm diameter) cannot preferentially escape from the air pockets through 0.34nm diameter pores – leaving behind the larger O2 (0.35nm) and N2 (0.36nm) – and migrate towards the surface down the pressure gradient. I know that this could be difficult to show because energy industry gas purification engineers use to good effect commercially the fact that different gases have different molecular kinetic diameter, e.g. to bring coal mine gas (CMG) – ranging from 25-95% CH4 – up to natural gas transmission system standards (typically no more than CO2 1.5%, N2 2.0% O2 0.05%).

    Come on you expert paleo-climatologists at Otago U, all that you have to do is prove that those numerous commercial systems that have been in operation for years don’t really work and all of that “purified” CMG pushed into the national grids was and is substandard. That’ll be a catastrophe for them of far greater proportions than CACC. It will also be disappointing for the UN, because it’s Economic Commission for Europe said in its 2010 “Best Practice Guidance for Effective Methane Drainage and Use in Coal Mines” ( “ .. the world will continue to depend on coal as an energy source for the foreseeable future. .. CH4 released during coal mining .. is an energy resource lost forever .. ”. Mind you, if you can do no better than Mike Palin then I don’t think the UN or the purification plant manufacturers need to worry too much.

    Green Gas (Beijing) Clean Energy Technology. Ltd. have a helpful slide presentation ( on CMG which includes representative constituent gases, such as CH4 (5-75%), N2 (10-60%), O2 (1-15%) and good old CO2 (0.1-3%).
    Purification processes result in pipeline quality natural gas of 97% CH4 and popular technologies for removing the CO2 is Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) and Molecular Sieve Adsorption (MSA)

    Johnson Mathey Gas Purification Technology ( provide a helpful description of Zeolite/Molecular Sieve Purification which I suspect is a similar process to what occurs in firn. Also, NERC provide the abstract of a paper “Carbon dioxide capture using a zeolite molecular sieve sampling system for isotopic studies (C-13 and C-14) of respiration”. This brings us nicely back to Mike Palin and his claim of March 15 at 3:04 that “ .. Kinetic fractionation of molecular proportions of a gas mixture will necessarily be accompanied by isotopic fractionation within the constituent gas species. .. ”. That NERC abstact appears to say something different with “ .. Results showed that CO2 could be trapped and recovered for both δ13C and 14C analysis by isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) and accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS), respectively, without any contamination, fractionation, or memory effect .. ”.

    Never mind, I’ve asked several recognised experts to advise me, then I’ll get back.


    Best regards, Pete Ridley.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 18/03/2011 at 9:44 pm said:

      “and migrate towards the surface down the pressure gradient.”

      Would not the nanometer diameter apertures only occur in ice and is migration necessarily toward the surface?

      As I understand, the strata is snow then firn (the transition) then ice. The conditions in firn would not be conducive to migration until some level of pressure is reached I would have thought and then the aperture sizes would surely pass air anyway.

      I follow that a free CO2 molecule may pass an aperture diameter in ice that other molecules cannot but it seems to me that with sufficient pressure a molecule will pass in any direction so that it is still present in the surrounding ice core lattice but not in an air pocket that is sampled. In other words, a CO2 molecule does not necessarily migrate to the surface but remains trapped in the ice lattice surrounding an air bubble but is not captured for measurement. I am assuming that only air pockets are sampled but what gas molecules are present in the surrounding ice lattice?

      The analogy of gas purification processes applied to ice under pressure at depth indicates to me that a CO2 molecule could be forced in any direction because the air pocket would be compressed more than the ice lattice (air compresses, ice not so much). I haven’t read the PSA or MSA technology but it seems logical that to purify gas it would forced from a high pressure zone through a molecular sieve to a low pressure zone (i.e. uni-directional). That is not the same as an air pocket trapped in ice under pressure at depth where the pressure is multi-directional due to air pocket compression and a molecule could be forced in any direction (the pressure force is towards the centre of the air pocket from every direction, the reactive force is outwards from the centre of the air pocket in every direction)

      What is obvious is that if a CO2 molecule can pass a molecular sieve aperture smaller than its collision diameter when forced through a molecular sieve then it will pass the same aperture anywhere. What needs to be remembered though is that the ice aperture will not be like a continuous tube or pipe with high pressure behind a molecule and low in front so that it migrates or flows unhindered. The aperture may just be one end of a disconnected cavity in the ice lattice and any migration is dependent on the structure of cavities in the ice lattice.

    • Richard C (NZ) on 18/03/2011 at 11:38 pm said:

      I went searching for electron scanning microscope images of a compressed ice lattice, came across this:-

      Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth. Research Projects.

      Advanced Microstructural Characterization of Polar Ice Cores
      Funded by the National Science Foundation

      This project aims to fully characterize the microstructure in ice cores, in particular the microstructural locations of impurities, grain orientations and strain gradients. This work will complement the optical observations, electrical conductivity measurement, and precise, detailed measurements of the soluble ion and gas contents that are performed by others. Linking the concentrations of soluble ions and gases, measured to a few parts per billion, to the optically determined annual layer structure and the stable isotope data in ice cores has enabled a great deal to be established about the concentrations and depth/age distributions of particles, trace gases and impurities for several polar ice cores. Ice core studies carried out by several groups contribute immensely to our understanding of paleoclimate and, to our ability to predict future climate change. The work will build on previous measurements and technique development in this area, as well as focusing on new techniques to characterize ice cores. The work will use both scanning electron microscopy (SEM) coupled with X-ray energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) and confocal scanning optical microscopy coupled with Raman spectroscopy (RS) to determine the microstructural locations of impurities and correlate this information with depth/age, and impurity type and concentration for several polar ice cores. The Broader Impacts of the proposed work are that knowledge of the location of impurities coupled with the grain orientation (both c- and a-axis) and grain misorientation information will allow paleoclimatologists to better interpret ice core data and other scientists to understand and model the physical and mechanical properties of natural ice sheets.

      Also this page:-

      Studies in Natural and Artificial Ice Mechanical Properties


      * Advanced Electron Microscopy Techniques for Studying Firn and Ice Cores (PDF)

      Firn Workshop

      Find out more about the Workshop on the Microstructure and Properties of Firn, March 10-11, 2008.

      References [Note these]

    • Richard C (NZ) on 19/03/2011 at 9:50 am said:

      Found this image:-

      Trajectory of CO2 in ice lattice (approx 1.25nm x 1.25nm)

      Seems to confirm that CO2 migrates along apertures for a fraction of a nm, although the image is a simulation. Not only that, but the molecules create their own pathway by distorting the ice lattice.

      From website nanonet

      JAPAN NANONET BULLETIN – 54th Issue – September 29, 2005

      Associate Professor, Department of Industrial Chemistry, Meiji University
      Diffusion of air molecules in antarctic ice-sheet
      (Issued in Japanese: March 23, 2004)

      Diffusion of air molecules in ice was found from Raman spectroscopic study of natural ice from the Antarctic ice-sheet (T. Ikeda-Fukazawa et al., Geophys. Res. Lett. 26 (1999)). The results have important implications for the reconstruction of the paleo-atmosphere from polar ice cores. In order to investigate the diffusion of air molecules in Antarctic ice-sheets in periods of tens of thousands years, I have been studying the dynamics of water and air molecules in ice crystals.

      I have performed molecular dynamics simulations involving the diffusion of air molecules (e.g., N2, O2, and CO2) in ice crystals and observed the diffusion hops for these molecules from a stable site to the adjacent site. The results showed that the diffusion mechanism for the air molecules significantly differs from small atoms, such as He. The air molecules diffuse by distorting the ice lattice (Fig. 2), whereas He atom hops from a stable interstitial site to the adjacent site without distorting the lattice (Fig. 1). The diffusion velocity for this mechanism is a few orders of magnitude larger than the value estimated from the interstitial mechanism. In order to reconstruct accurate records of the paleo-atmosphere from polar ice sheets, I have developed a model for the variation process of the distribution of air molecules in the ice sheets.

      E-mail: fukazawa(AT)

      Web Page

      Ph.D., Applied Physics, Hokkaido University
      M. Eng., Applied Physics, Hokkaido University
      B. Eng., Applied Physics, Hokkaido University

  16. Richard C, it seems that I was too impatient with Gareth because he did post my comment after all. I’ll have to wait for my gaduation. Mike Palin couldn’t keep away and responded with “Damnit Pete, I can’t stand your dumbass comments .. ” followed by some irrelevant waffle on a side-issue. I’ve pointed this out to him but my comment hasn’t been posted yet.

    On your comment “ .. Would not the nanometer diameter apertures only occur in ice .. ”, I think not. I wasn’t able to open the Dartmouth College paper “Advanced Electron Microscopy Techniques for Studying Firn and Ice Cores” but did look at “Diffusion of air molecules in antarctic ice-sheet” by Professor Fukazawa. That one is concerned with migration through the ice after close-off, which is an additional process that distorts the composition of the air “trapped” in pockets in the ice but I’ve E-mailed her in the hopes that she has done research relating to the firn. I’m talking about the situation that arises in the firn at a time before “close-off” when the pores (that exist in the snow from the beginning) have been compressed until they are too small for the larger molecules (N2, O2, CH4, etc – see my comment of March 14 at 10:47 am).

    You ask “ .. is migration necessarily toward the surface? .. ” and I hypothesise that, although there will be migration in any direction where a large enough pore exists, mean flow will be towards the surface because that is the direction of least resistance. CO2, being one of the smaller molecules, will escape from the air pockets and head towards the surface, enriching the levels above with CO2.

    I refer you again to my comment of March 16 at 7:34 am in which I made reference to the 2006 paper “Evidence for molecular size dependent gas fractionation in firn air derived from noble gases, oxygen, and nitrogen measurements” by Huber et al ( In that comment I said QUOTE: The paper talks specifically about a fourth size-dependent fractionation as an additional mechanism which distorts the composition of air that is being gradually “trapped” with ice yet makes not a mention of CO2! Why is this? – in my opinion it is because the researchers overlooked the significance of collision v kinetic diameter for the CO2 molecule. This is highlighted by Table 2 (Page 65) “Molecular properties used in the model and close-off fractionations factors” which shows CO2 having a diameter of 3.9Å and Fig. 8 (Page 69), which show that N2, Kr and Xe effectively enjoy close-off fractionation factors for 1 (i.e. no size-dependent fractionation). This gives the impression, when considering only collision diameter, that CO2 also experiences no such fractionation and end of investigation – but is it? Once again this highly regarded paper gives no consideration to kinetic diameter. UNQUOTE.

    In that same comment I referred to the 2006 paper “Fractionation of gases in polar ice .. ” by Severinghaus and Battle ( In Section 3.1. Permeation model they say “The model is based upon the hypothesis that the close-off fractionation occurs because the ice lattice is slightly permeable to gases, with permeability being much higher for some gases than others”. Their Fig. 3 (Page 478) presents a simplified picture of three firn air bubbles A below B below C as a QUOTE: Schematic of our idealized model for permeation-related fractionation during bubble close-off. Bubble A is in a more advanced stage of compression than bubble B, as is bubble B relative to bubble C, which has not yet closed off. Bubble pressure therefore decreases from A to B and from B to C. It is assumed that most fractionation occurs because of gas permeation through the ice lattice from bubble B to bubble C, through the thin wall of ice separating the two. Gases are assumed to be free to diffuse quickly into the open firn from bubble C. No net fractionation of the bulk ice occurs by the permeation from bubble A to bubble B, because the fractionated gases simply accumulate in bubble B. The model also assumes that bubble C will close off when a constant amount of compression has occurred (5% in the present model) relative to the porosity at the moment that the adjacent bubble (bubble B) closed off, on average. UNQUOTE.

    I hypothesise that size-dependent fractionation of CO2 (and molecules with kinetic diameters smaller than 0.33nm) occurs not only due to permeation through the ice lattice (as investigated by Professor Fukazawa and assumed by Severinghaus ans Battle) but also by Knudsen diffusion through those small pores, leaving moledules of N2, Os and CH4 behind in the lower air bubbles. As compression progresses, bubble A closes off for all air components, the number of pores capable of passing CO2 and smaller molecules to bubble C reduces and pores out of bubble C to higher level reduce to a size that only allows CO2 and smaller to a bubble D. The CO2 that has enriched the air in bubble C is forced into bubble D due to the increased pressure. Effectively the CO2 and smaller molecules are squeezed up the ice sheet towards the surface, a process that takes place over the long period during which close-off is progressing.

    Let’s not forget the staement in the abstract that “The large atoms Kr and Xe do not appear to be fractionated by this process, despite the large size difference between the two gases, suggesting a threshold atomic diameter of 3.6Å above which the probability becomes very small that the gas will escape from the bubble” or the fact that the kinetic diameter of CO2 is well below that majic 3.6Å.

    Now, where does my hypothesis contradict the laws of physics?

    Best regards, Pete Ridley

  17. mk on 20/01/2012 at 5:42 pm said:

    “And I really mean plunge, because McLean et al speculate this year could be the coldest since 1956.”

    Skeptics call out psychics, astrologers, etc. when their predictions don’t pan out … how will McLean’s prediction be treated by those who promoted it, even treating it as fact (“because” above)?

  18. Scott on 09/09/2018 at 7:09 am said:

    It’s 2018, and this paper was CRAZY WRONG!!! CO2 is the driving force, and we certainly did NOT cool. Interesting to visit the sites and “scientist” who really got it wrong and find that they called themselves skeptics. They were simply blinded by their paycheck.

  19. Richard Treadgold on 09/09/2018 at 2:20 pm said:


    Three things: 1. I’ve approved your reply for publication just because you’re a climate sceptic (I won’t call you a denier, as some would). 2. The cooling was predicted in June 2010 for the end of the year, and cooling of about 0.7 °C did indeed occur seven months later. 3. It’s real easy to call it crazy wrong, so I hope it’s easy for you to refute it. I look forward to reading your rebuttal.

    Paycheck? I do this because I love the truth, friend. Nobody pays me.

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