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« The Beddington challenge | Main | An argument with George »
Tuesday
Feb222011

Diversionary tactics

A truly Wardian performance by the LSE man at the Grantham Institute site today, taking a pot-shot at Christopher Booker because of his (entirely correct) observations about the inaccuracies in the science in Sir Paul Nurse's Horizon programme. No true statement should ever go unchallenged it seems:

Dr Bindschadler indicated that human activities emit the equivalent of about seven billion tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere each year, whereas natural sources, such as volcanoes, only produce about one billion tonnes.

Christopher Booker, whose weekly column in The Sunday Telegraph regularly recycles the content appearing on 'sceptic' blogs, attacked Dr Bindschadler's statements, describing them as "mind-boggling" and "a grotesque misrepresentation"|.

Mr Booker claimed that natural sources account for more than 96 per cent of annual emissions of carbon dioxide.

So who is right?

With a typical flourish, Ward then proceeds to avoid the question he has just posed and embarks on a lengthy discussion of various aspects of the carbon cycle, but one that never quite gets back to the ratio between human and natural carbon dioxide emissions.

As readers here know, Bindschadler got it wrong and Booker was right. The ratio is nothing like 7:1. Unfortunately, Ward just can't quite bring himself to say that truth.

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Reader Comments (176)

It's no wonder Bob Ward doesn't allow comments to be posted. He doesn't answer the question he poses, and no wonder. Have you alerted Christopher Booker to this article?

Feb 22, 2011 at 8:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Bob Ward is just angling for another of Josh's superb cartoons.

Feb 22, 2011 at 8:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Makes me wonder how many hits that obscure site gets? Actually Phillip, if you look at the bottom of the page you can leave a comment......http://www2.lse.ac.uk/feedback/comment.aspx?url=http://www2.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/Media/Commentary/2011/Feb/sceptical-confusion-carbon-cycle_Ward.aspx&email=S.Offord@lse.ac.uk&title=Sceptical%20confusion%20about%20the%20carbon%20cycle

After you sir ;-)

Feb 22, 2011 at 8:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

This sleight of hand - taking a question about proportions of emissions and turning it into a question about proportions of excess concentrations of CO2 over pre-industrial levels - is designed to cover an extremely embarrassing howler by "Mr Trust Me I'm A Scientist" Paul Nurse.

Human sources of Carbon Dioxide account for about 7 billion tonnes of emissions annually. Natural sources including volcanoes account for more than 150 billion tonnes - http://www.grida.no/publications/vg/climate/page/3066.aspx. But of these volcanoes are responsible for a tiny fraction.

What Ward wishes Bindschadler had said is that human contributions to CO2 emissions outside the natural Carbon Cycle are seven times as great as those from other sources (including volcanoes). So he rubbishes Booker for denying this.

Feb 22, 2011 at 9:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

Pete H: Thanks, I missed that. I've now posted a comment, and am waiting with bated breath.

Feb 22, 2011 at 9:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the freedom to choose his attitude in any given set of circumstances.

Feb 22, 2011 at 9:20 AM | Unregistered Commentereverquest 2 platinum

Note the Wardian phrase, "the natural equilibrium of the carbon cycle".

Some definitions;

Equilibrium - A condition in which all acting influences are canceled by others, resulting in a stable, balanced, or unchanging system.

Fluctuation - To vary irregularly.

Studies of past natural atmospheric CO2;

Over the last 1000 years stomatal studies have shown significant centennial-scale atmospheric CO2 'fluctuations' during the last millennium. The record includes four CO2 minima of 260–275 ppmv (ca. A.D. 860 and A.D. 1150, and less prominently, ca. A.D. 1600 and 1800). Alternating CO2 maxima of 300–320 ppmv are present at A.D. 1000, A.D. 1300, and ca. A.D. 1700.

No natural equilibrium there.

Over the past 600,000 years studies have shown that atmospheric CO2 has 'fluctuated' between 150 and 320 ppmv.

No natural equilibrium there.

Over the past 250 million years studies have shown that atmospheric CO2 has 'fluctuated' between 150 and 2000 ppmv.

No natural equilibrium there.

Over the past 500 millions years studies have shown that atmospheric CO2 has 'fluctuated' between 150 and 7000 ppmv.

No natural equilibrium there.

What we have here is a Wardian lie - there is no such thing as a natural equilibrium of the carbon cycle.

Feb 22, 2011 at 9:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

What is interesting about the stomatal studies over the past 1000 years or so is the CAGW hypothesis demands that higher concentrations of atmospheric CO2 above 280ppmv have supposed 'irreversible effects'. The planet should still be feeling the greenhouse impact of higher concentrations of CO2 maxima from A.D. 1000, A.D. 1300 and A.D. 1700.

Past and present atmospheric CO2 concentrations are a real scientific nightmare for alamists and warmists for their theology demands such things as (un)natural equilibriums and for the planet to now differentiate between natural and man-made CO2 emissions for them to retain their faith.

Feb 22, 2011 at 9:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Och. The man's an idiot.

Feb 22, 2011 at 10:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

What "the natural equilibrium of the carbon cycle" means to climate science is what the steady state theory meant to astronomy: a 'natural' order that is perfect and unchanging.

Feb 22, 2011 at 10:02 AM | Unregistered CommentersHx

What "natural equilibrium of the carbon cycle" means to climate science is what the steady state theory meant to astronomy: a 'natural' order that is perfect and unchanging.

Feb 22, 2011 at 10:05 AM | Unregistered CommentersHx

Ward wrote:

So who is right?

Just for the record, pertinent data are summarised on p 234 of Essex and McKitrick’s Taken by Storm (a book BTW that I find reads even better second time round than it did the first).

There are about 750 GtC of CO2 in the atmosphere. The stock of CO2 fixed as carbon in land biota (plants, animals, and soils) is about 2,000 GtC, in the oceans it is 40,000 GtC, and in fossil fuel reserves it is 5,000 to 10,000 GtC. CO2 is constantly being exchanged between the surface and the atmosphere. Plant respiration and decomposition releases and withdraws about 60 GtC (plus or minus 2) annually into the atmosphere. The ocean releases and withdraws about 90 GtC (plus or minus 2). These are very large additions and withdrawals from the atmosphere: this is what [it is believed we] contribute in fossil fuel-based emissions, only about 7 GtC, or 5 per cent of the total land and ocean emissions. Minor variations in natural release and withdrawal can swamp anything that we may have contributed.
. . . As long as these huge natural sources and sinks stay strictly balanced, the small contributions from fossil fuels can tip the balance, like a feather placed on one of two identical bowling balls balanced on a scale. But the large sources and sinks have not typically been balanced.
In short, it looks like Ward (and Paul Nurse) are way out and Booker has it about right. Well, there’s a surprise.

Feb 22, 2011 at 10:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterDaveB

Ward would have been wiser to keep his trap shut, but being the mouth and trousers that he is, he has confirmed to me that he is not a free agent, but has been instructed by his handler & paymaster to write something, anything, to demonstrate the adage, "never let the truth get in the way of a story". He may think he's being clever, but karma will have its way. Live a lie, die unloved. Cognitive dissonance shortens life by a greater margin than smoking cigarettes and who is to gainsay me? It's a theory, as valid as CO2 being designated a pollutant.

Feb 22, 2011 at 10:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterPerry

Your Grace --
Did you ever get any more information about the source of Dr Bindschadler's one-gigatonne figure for annual natural emissions? At the time, the only connection was an ACIA graph which had a similar figure for land-use change. And the IPCC's figures show that "natural" sources/sinks are in net negative.

As to Mr Ward's article, he does an excellent job at presenting figures which support Booker's argument, and then magically comes to the opposite conclusion by netting out natural sinks and sources. Plus throws in a nice diversion with reference to volcanic emissions which don't relate to anything in Booker's article. Truly exemplary.

Feb 22, 2011 at 10:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterHaroldW

Dose Bob Ward believe in the theory of 'cognitive dissonance'

Feb 22, 2011 at 10:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

DaveB

"large (CO2) sources and sinks have not typically been balanced."

That is why there is no such thing as a natural equilibrium of the carbon cycle.

The past 500 million years has shown that these imbalances in sources and sinks have resulted in huge fluctuations in atmospheric concentrations of CO2.

The notion that the climate of this planet was hunky-dory, stable and unchanging until industrial man came on the scene is utter nonsense.

Feb 22, 2011 at 10:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

He does know, I suppose, that Bindschadler himself admitted he'd made a mistake..?

Feb 22, 2011 at 10:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

If you want a definitive answer to this question, why not rely on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ( how more trustworthy can we get?).

They say, in 'The Scientific Basis (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press,2001', that 770 gigatons of CO2 is produced globally from natural sources against only 23 gigatons from human activity. You can see these figures online as reproduced by the US Dept.of Energy

Here, See Table 3 ( On 26th. Page of the pdf).


So, according to the most reliable pro-warming sources, 97% of CO2 put into the atmosphere each year arises from natural sources. So Christopher Booker is correct and Bob Ward is ....what you expect?

Has anyone yet seen a correction from Paul Nurse, or the BBC?

Feb 22, 2011 at 11:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterBomber_the_Cat

This is getting daft. I think I've said all I can face saying on the numbers here, but I am aghast at Ward. What the hell is he playing at? Can't the man count?

Bomber - yes, I've been wondering about that since when this all blew up. I said then - and believe now - that either Nurse or the BBC needs to issue a clarification or even an apology for the mis-statement.

Feb 22, 2011 at 11:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Y'all don't seem to realise that CO2 from humans is bad CO2. You are talking of good CO2 (which is beneficial to us), and thereby diverting attention from those bad humans who produce the other kind. They do that by breathing, eating, and combusting things to keep comfortable or make stuff. That is why the climate campaigners want to do us all in. Then the bad CO2 will go away. And tranquillity will follow such as has never been seen before. Hallelujah, brothers and sisters, join with me in visualising that glorious future in our minds. But do it soon, they'll have to be switched off in due course to help with the transition.

For Your Eyes Only - Carbon Campaigners: a small core, 'the chosen', the elect if you like, will of course have to remain to keep an eye on things, and generally ensure that no pockets of 'progress' start appearing in any surviving communities. We don't want to go back along that road. Since the elect will not, of course, have time to do any real work, a slave class, currently in production in our schools, will tend the windmills, waterwheels, weaving looms, and, whisper it, greenhouses for their support. Ancient Greece, here we come! Of course, our multicultural awareness and diversity-suppression-through-correct-thinking, will prevent those internecine wars the ancients wasted so much of their carbon on. Can't you just taste those grapes, feel those sofas, enjoy those symposia? Now, stop reading this and get back to issuing press releases, or scaring the ill-informed, or whatever else you have been tasked to do for the cause! Never forget that many are called, but few are chosen.

Feb 22, 2011 at 11:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

"Who is right?" Well probably the IPCC is right, so do we have a case of deliberate misinformation of scientific facts?

Feb 22, 2011 at 11:19 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

One thing you have to admire about Bob Ward is his ability to dance on a head of a pin. Unlike George Monbiot who has spent his entire life sitting on one.

Feb 22, 2011 at 11:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

@ DaveB

GtC Excuse my ignorance, but what units are these? Is this a notation for gigatonnes / millions of tonnes that I'm unfamiliar with?

Feb 22, 2011 at 11:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

J4R

GtC = gigatonnes of CARBON, frequently confused in this mess with GtCO2 eg annual anthropogenic emissions total ~7GtC vs ~23GtCO2.

It all adds splendidly to the confusion.

Feb 22, 2011 at 11:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

I posted the following but it hasn't appeared:

Bob,

You gave a statement and asked the question "Mr Booker claimed that natural sources account for more than 96 per cent of annual emissions of carbon dioxide. So who is right?"

You didn't answer your own question. However, you gave figures for natural flows of 90 billion and 120 billion tonnes of carbon with 7 billion tonnes from human causes. Now (90+120)/(90+120+7)= 0.968 = 96.8%.

So from your own figures, Mr Booker's claim that natural sources account for more than 96 per cent of annual emissions of carbon dioxide is correct.

Feb 22, 2011 at 11:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Justice4Rinka:

GtC Excuse my ignorance, but what units are these?

The omission was mine - apologies. As E & M explain just prior, GtC is Gigatonnes Carbon Equivalent or, less pompously, “carbon in some form, more or less”.

Mac

The notion that the climate of this planet was hunky-dory, stable and unchanging until industrial man came on the scene is utter nonsense.

I couldn’t agree more. The AGW agenda is ahistorical as well as mathematically obsolete. It is also (or so one hopes) the terracentric cosmology’s very last fling.

Feb 22, 2011 at 11:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterDaveB

This guy makes you puke. He dare not answer the question, "So who is right?". Not that he can't - he very well knows that Booker is right.

So the whole point and purpose of the article is to leave his readers with the impression (if they are dense and gullible enough to be taken in by such a writer) that Booker is wrong, though that is not what Ward himself thinks. Well, that's pure propaganda, but you know even the Nazis believed some of their propaganda, yet Ward surely can't believe this one.

Just think - Ward had to sit down and think about how to write this, what craft he could use to make people believe a lie without actually telling one. How he can best manipulate and deceive people. That's the craft that Bob Ward is paid for. It's completely unethical, though. Ward is being paid to obfuscate and attack a position he knows is true, because the truth is unhelpful to his paymaster Jeremy Grantham. If anyone who is a scientist supports this kind of prostituting behaviour then they are simply trashing science.

Utterly, utterly sick, mercenary, unethical, despicable.

Feb 22, 2011 at 12:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterScientistForTruth

Mac, Bomber, BBD, Phillip: helpful summaries of the numbers, thanks.

I'm sure others have seen the latest from Richard Black on how light is being shed on the carbon cycle by the meticulous observations of Captain Scott and team in the early days of the 20th century. There is much to admire in the article - the Scott contribution in particular. But it also reminded me of Corinne Le Quéré, who's shared between the Tyndall Centre at UEA and the Global Carbon Project. Do people know much about Ms Le Quéré? Wouldn't it be helpful if someone like that was to speak out against the misuse of data about the carbon cycle in such a public way?

Feb 22, 2011 at 12:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

RD

What this BAS study shows is that we know very little about natural CO2 sinks, there extent and scope in absorbing and storing CO2. Here we have evidence that post 1990 there was an uptake in CO2 being locked away. Yet again we see that the notion of a natural equilibrium of the carbon cycle is nonsense. Atmospheric and oceanic CO2 concentrations have always fluctuated on a seasonal right thru to a geologic-periodical basis.

Feb 22, 2011 at 1:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Ah! Our favourite Attack Chihuahua, little Bob Ward is yelping his master's tune again.

How's the Paleopiezometry thesis going, Bob?

Any Progress?

No pressure........

Feb 22, 2011 at 1:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

Richard Drake

Possibly the most valuable source of historic ocean floor samples is the Challenger collection in the Nat Hist Museum. Many years ago I once was granted the privilege of examining some of those unique slides and residues under the microscope.

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/research/historical-marine-collections/nhm-collections/challenger/ocean-bottom-deposits/index.html

Feb 22, 2011 at 1:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

Richard Drake; MAC

There's something that bothers me about what Corinne le Q said. It was the bit about the increase in wind speed over the Southern Ocean over the last 50 years.

Does anyone know if this is a 'factoid' or is it backed up by several decades of decent quality observations? I am aware of studies that show a decrease in NH wind speeds, and I have heard the Southern Ocean claim mentioned before, but never seen it validated.

It's just slightly worrying that there are no witnesses to the SO claim (which I have only ever heard in an alarmist context - ie AGW forced change), and plenty to back up the drop in NH wind speeds.

It's like anything to do with the high Southern Latitudes - I no longer trust what I am told.

Feb 22, 2011 at 1:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Sterling "on message" effort by Bob Ward yet again.

Worthy of a complementary e-mail from Beddington, and a pay rise from his employer.

I am sure that all advocates and scientists associated with AGW are reassured to have such a man on their team.

With Bob on their side, how can they win?

Feb 22, 2011 at 1:39 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

Just to play devil's advocate for a moment, would it really be unreasonable to say 'emissions' when you mean 'net emissions'? Isn't the net emission more important than the gross, for the present purpose?

I haven't seen the full context of Bindschadler's remarks, but if he was talking about the reasons for the increase in C02 concentration, a 'net' approach would be appropriate. And I don't think it is disputed - is it? - that the majority of the *increase* of C02 in recent decades is anthropogenic.

To draw a rough analogy, if a financial commentator were talking about the 'income' of a business, it would not be unreasonable (if a bit vague) to use that term for the profit of the business, and it would hardly be fair to flay the commentator alive just because you think 'income' must mean 'sales'.

Feb 22, 2011 at 1:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavidB

BAS British Antactic Survey

Given that William Connelly used to work for BAS, are BAS involved with warming the antarctic in a Steigian manner or are they more reliable?

Feb 22, 2011 at 1:47 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley

scientist for truth

Ward is being paid to obfuscate and attack a position he knows is true, because the truth is unhelpful to his paymaster Jeremy Grantham.
Just one more small piece of evidence that cAGW is faith-based and not scientific.
Remember Timothy Wirth's quote:
We’ve got to ride the global-warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong, we will be doing the right thing in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.
The trouble is that parts of the global warming theory may not be wrong but they will get thrown out with the bits that are when the alarmist and totally unjustified claims are exposed for the lies that they are.

Feb 22, 2011 at 1:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterSam the Skeptic

Dave B

Someone called 'Tom P' tried to twist the argument round along those lines at the very end of the Emissions thread:

http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2011/2/3/emissions.html

Here's my response:

=====================

Tom P

I don’t disagree with your figures or the accumulation of anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere.

But the dispute here is with what was said. The Bindschadler/Nurse exchange misrepresented the annual contribution of anthropogenic CO2 to the annual turnover of the carbon cycle:

Bob Bindschadler: We know how much fossil fuel we take out of the ground. We know how much we sell. We know how much we burn. And that is a huge amount of carbon dioxide. It's about seven gigatons per year right now.

Paul Nurse: And is that enough to explain...?

Bob Bindschadler: Natural causes only can produce - yes, there are volcanoes popping off and things like that, and coming out of the ocean, only about one gigaton per year. So there's just no question that human activity is producing a massively large proportion of the carbon dioxide.

Paul Nurse: So seven times more.

Bob Bindschadler: That's right.

I know Bindschadler swaps from GT CO2 to GT C without a blink:

And that is a huge amount of carbon dioxide. It's about seven gigatons per year right

And this has caused confusion. As has the entire exchange, because the President of the Royal Society and a NASA scientist couldn’t discuss scientific facts in a coherent manner.

Relative annual contributions to global emissions are as stated: >3% anthropogenic to <97% natural.

Bindschadler and Nurse do not misrepresent anything.

Nurse and Bindschadler misrepresented the facts, either through carelessness or intent.

With respect, can we avoid having to go over all this again? It's tiresome.

Feb 22, 2011 at 1:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

The problem with Bob Ward is that he is in love with his boss, $100 billion hedge fund manager Jeremy Grantham . Bob will do anything for him, including telling endless fibs. A dog, but more than a dog.

Feb 22, 2011 at 2:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterE Smith

Feb 22, 2011 at 11:17 AM | John Shade

Ahhhh, a like-minded soul. I've been convinced for some time that there is in fact an elite whose aim is to turn our children into high-tech proletarians. Most American colleges today pay only lip-service to the liberal arts while churning out tens of thousands career-oriented "professionals". The really "hot" subjects? Criminal justice, forensics, police science..... ladies and gentlemen, I give you the future.

Feb 22, 2011 at 2:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobert E. Phelan

So, Ward's job is to get the truth out for the benefit of mankind - in which case he has failed here.

or

Ward's job is to get the policy line out for the benefit of his employer - in which case he has failed here.

or

the subject is beyond his grasp.

Feb 22, 2011 at 2:31 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

BBD

Well reliable weather records only stretch back to the late 1950s for parts of the Southern Ocean, however the windier conditions are considered to be associated with the Antarctic Ozone hole. The lack of complete and long-term weather data and with CFCs peaking in the 1990s means that the jury is still out on that one.

However, it would appear that scientists like Corinne Le Quéré have used the windier conditions to construct AGW scare stories using scant air sample data from the Southern Ocean. Le Quéré stated in 2007, "To me, it is quite scary that we can detect this impact of climate change already", adding, "people are participating in a large and dangerous experiment".

The normal AGW routine really - ignore imperfect and contradictory data and studies, concentrate on the few bits of evidence that will produce an alarmist headline.

Feb 22, 2011 at 2:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

DavidB "To draw a rough analogy, if a financial commentator were talking about the 'income' of a business, it would not be unreasonable (if a bit vague) to use that term for the profit of the business, and it would hardly be fair to flay the commentator alive just because you think 'income' must mean 'sales'."

It would certainly be fair and necessary if he were a financial commentator rather than 'the man in the street', because a financial commentator should know what he is talking about, and would be relied on to be speaking accurately and not misleadingly. It would indeed be quite improper and unreasonable for a financial commentator, or, (to make it a truer analogy) a spokesman for a company to confuse income with profit. We have strict laws against that sort of thing - financial misrepresentation.

And even in your personal life you would not confuse income with savings (the net figure after your expenditure), would you? And you could expect a heavy penalty if you filled out your income tax return by putting your savings figure in the box for income.

The fact that Ward continues to be retained, actually defending false statements that he knows to be wrong, and undermining clarifications that support the truth, speaks volumes for motives of the man Jeremy Grantham, his proxy the Grantham Institute, and his mouthpiece Bob Ward. Truth, honesty, and a desire to be straightforward are clearly not values they care much about.

Feb 22, 2011 at 2:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterScientistForTruth

Bob Ward is no more than a puppet whose strings are pulled by Grantham. He is way past any kind of reasoned discussion so he's best ignored, as one would ignore a spaniel that yaps from behind his master's front gate as one walks past on the pavement. The only reason I comment about him is that someone in Blogland might take him seriously - please don't.

Feb 22, 2011 at 2:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

Mac

Thanks. I had a feeling it would be more of the same old, same old.

IIRC it gets tied in with tripe about 'super-waves' sinking shipping and chewing up the (Australian?) coast.

The much better attested drop in NH wind speeds is, of course, one in the eye for the magic windmill brigade.

Frankly, as soon as I realised that le Quéré was from the Tyndall Centre, I stopped paying close attention.

Feb 22, 2011 at 3:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

It seems like all the comments in the original article have been removed ... ?

Feb 22, 2011 at 3:21 PM | Unregistered Commentermatthu

It seems like all the comments in the original article have been removed ... ?

Feb 22, 2011 at 3:21 PM | Unregistered Commentermatthu

"A dog, but more than a dog"

Less than a dog, I'd say. Dogs don't know any better.

Feb 22, 2011 at 3:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Upthread, Dave B quotes Essex and McKitrick’s Taken by Storm:

There are about 750 GtC of CO2 in the atmosphere. The stock of CO2 fixed as carbon in land biota (plants, animals, and soils) is about 2,000 GtC, in the oceans it is 40,000 GtC, and in fossil fuel reserves it is 5,000 to 10,000 GtC. CO2 is constantly being exchanged between the surface and the atmosphere. Plant respiration and decomposition releases and withdraws about 60 GtC (plus or minus 2) annually into the atmosphere. The ocean releases and withdraws about 90 GtC (plus or minus 2). These are very large additions and withdrawals from the atmosphere: this is what [it is believed we] contribute in fossil fuel-based emissions, only about 7 GtC, or 5 per cent of the total land and ocean emissions. Minor variations in natural release and withdrawal can swamp anything that we may have contributed. . . As long as these huge natural sources and sinks stay strictly balanced, the small contributions from fossil fuels can tip the balance, like a feather placed on one of two identical bowling balls balanced on a scale. But the large sources and sinks have not typically been balanced.

While I can see that in any given year fossil fuel emissions might be counterbalanced by an imbalance in the carbon cycle, clearly the year on year increase in anthropogenic emissions constitutes an ongoing trend that is not matched by any corresponding negative trend in carbon cycle imbalance.

The statement by Dr Bindschadler assumes that we are only talking about contributions to net changes in CO2 concentrations, and Booker and other commentators are being naive and/or disingenuous in quoting those figures in relation to the large (but balanced, over time) contributions from the natural cycle. A year-on-year net addition of 5% of the total is equivalent to one side of an entire annual whole cycle over a period of 20 years, same as if once every twenty years all of the carbon emitted from the entire ocean and land reservoirs stayed in the atmosphere!

Sorry if this obvious point has been made before (I haven't read the entire thread - although David B at 1:44 did mention it), but it bears repeating anyway. The alleged "misrepresentation" by Bindschadler is based on a misunderstanding of assumptions that are often made in scientific discourse. But then Booker isn't a scientist, so how would he know that ;-)

Feb 22, 2011 at 3:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul B

Presumably Grantham didn't become wealthy by continuing to invest in dogs past their expiration dates? (Which may explain Ward's desperation).

Feb 22, 2011 at 3:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

BBD:

Someone called 'Tom P' tried to twist the argument round along those lines at the very end of the Emissions thread:

I don't understand your point here. I neither presented an argument nor "twisted" anyone else's: I cited data from Essex & McKitrick as they were succinct and pertinent.

With respect, can we avoid having to go over all this again? It's tiresome.

So, with equal respect, is knocking at an open door . . .

Feb 22, 2011 at 4:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveB

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