A Few Things Ill Considered

A layman's take on the science of Global Warming featuring a guide on How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic.

Monday, February 27, 2006

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Volcanos Emit More CO2

(Part of the How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic guide)

This article has moved to ScienceBlogs

It has also been updated and this page is still here only to preserve the original comment thread. Please visit A Few Things Ill Considered there. You may also like to view Painting With Water, Coby Beck's original fine art photography.



  • At March 13, 2006 5:13 PM, Blogger Glen said…

    I believe this claim originally came out of calculations - some valid, others not so - of the impact of the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo.

    If you rephrase the claim as "One good volcanic eruption can have more impact on the global temperature than a decade of human emissions," the claim seems plausible. But sufficiently good volcanic eruptions are rare and their effects tend to be short-lived.

  • At March 13, 2006 5:37 PM, Blogger coby said…

    But don't forget the distinction between the cooling effects of volcanic SO2 into the stratosphere versus the warming effects of CO2 into the troposphere. This article is just about the CO2 argument, which does come up despite having *no* basis in reality.

    I think it is non-controversial that one good sized volcanic eruption will overwhelm the CO2 signal and cool the planet for a few years.

  • At March 13, 2006 6:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi there,

    I am new to your site, but I have been following the AGW debate for over a year now, but obviously not nearly in the depth that you have been. I have come across many disbelievers and their arguments. I have to say what a fantastic site you have here, I will point them all in your direction!

    Two things about this part of the debate, firstly I had no idea that the amount of CO2 that was man made was even close to being quantified, let alone having the amount produced by humans directly correlated with the amount of CO2 present in the troposphere, where I believe everyone agrees is where it matters. Is this now (or has it been for a while but I haven’t been able to find it) a solid figure? Do we know how much of our CO2 production is making it to the troposphere?

    Also how is it that in your referenced site for the 1/150 statistic it implies that most of the CO2 from episodic eruptions settles in low-lying areas (certainly not leaving the stratosphere) while it is maintained that man-made emissions somehow make it to the troposphere? I thought CO2 was heavier than air in all circumstances?

    I know I'm playing devils advocate here, but believe it or not the volcano argument strikes all sorts of chords with non-believers and some answers to these rather convoluted questions would be a great help.


  • At March 13, 2006 8:11 PM, Blogger coby said…

    Hi Luke,

    Thanks for the kind words!

    There are a couple of good articles on CO2 in the atmosphere on Real Climate here
    and here

    I had not noticed about volcanic CO2 staying low and can not comment on why or if that is different from human emissions, perhaps CO2 from exhaust or smokestakes is already mixed with other gases compared to volcanic emissions...? Once in the air it is considered "well mixed" and aside from a few years difference between concentrations in the southen hemisphere and the northern hemisphere, it is very uniform throughout. I do know that only about half of human emissions are showing up in the atmosphere. There is alot showing up in the oceans (causing acidification, a less well known but very critical problem) but I think it is not well understood where it all ends up. There is a "missing sink" mystery here.

    Re: quantities emitted, wikipedia has some good resources, try this graph for starters:

  • At March 14, 2006 5:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Coby

    I’ve picked up on your web page following the recommendations from Real Climtate. Good on yer, mate.

    If I’ve understood your comment correctly, you can distinguish Anthro carbon emissions from natural ones as burning fossil fuel releases carbon enriched in 12C. This is because photosynthesis preferentially incorporates the lighter isotope. This in turn leads to the atmospheric carbon being relatively depleted in 14C.

    The other point about volcanic emissions: the majority of the activity is in the oceanic spreading zones, which release carbon into the water, but because it is absorbed by the water, the gas isn’t released for some time, sometimes up to 1000 years. So ISTR that this gives a very good idea of the volcanic contribution as the activity in the spreading zones can be checked for recent activity – not that they’re _very_accessible, but that’s another story. The point is that an occasional pinatubo is not a large contributor.

    I stand to be corrected on these points as I’m also only an amateur enthusiast.

  • At March 14, 2006 7:58 PM, Blogger coby said…

    Hi John, thanks for the comment!

    The details of telling natural and anthropogenic CO2 apart are best obtained from Real Climate, here. I always think of it as anthropogenic CO2 is "old" carbon with "young" oxygen, the old and young part being determined by isotope analysis similar to carbon dating.

    I don't know too much about oceanic spreading zones and volcanoes, what you describe sounds reasonable. The other thing to remember is that with the plethora of seismographs all over the world, it is pretty much impossible that there could be a enough massive eruptions going on undetected to drive CO2 as high as it has gone.

    This article topic is really one of those that the only excuse for thinking it is that you never really thought about it and if someone sets you straight and you still hang on, it's because you have no desire to learn whatsoever.

  • At March 15, 2006 9:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Coby, your argument about "spikes" in CO2 records is faulty. Any volcano is a hot spot, therefore it sets a local convection pattern such that the stream of gases goes directly to upper atmosphere. This convection pattern brings fresh air from surrounding areas, so the ground CO2 stations even may not record any changes at all. Since the atmosphere has a mixing time of about one year, all "spikes" from different active volcanos get averaged, so the ground records show no spikes.

    Please try another explanation, if you have one.

    - Alexei

  • At March 15, 2006 10:17 AM, Blogger coby said…

    Hi Alexi,

    No, that is pretty consistent with what I mean, I meant we would see global spikes if large eruptions like Pinatubo dwarfed anthropogenic emissions. You are correct that it mixes and gets averaged and we just need to add that it is insignificant compared to human emissions and is balanced by carbonation of rocks.

    WRT the convection patterns you describe, check the "Potential effects of volcanic gases" section of the first link in the article.

  • At March 15, 2006 12:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    So, for one reason or another, your original rebuttal about spikes has no basis to reality. Therefore, you should withdraw it from the initial text.

    Now, about relative amount of CO2 contributions. All enviromental articles say "scientists have calculated". I looked into the multitude of "scientists". It appears that this estimation comes from a single work of Gerlach, T.M., 1991, "Present-day CO2 emissions from volcanoes". Hardly many "scientists", as the typical wording implies.

    Then, the other estimation, the anthropogenic carbon emissions, also comes from a single US government research group, "Marland et al", who established 25 years ago some tables of carbon emissions from different types of fuels (I could not find the table itself, nor methodology used to arrive at the numbers). Since then, they collect UN statistical data on fuel consumption, and generate yearly scary reports on total emission. Two single sources, both coming from government labs, interesting I would say. That's the impression I have, correct me if I am wrong.

    Now, what about the convection I described? I didn't find much in the article, does it disagree with nature, or what?

  • At March 15, 2006 12:38 PM, Blogger coby said…

    Hi Alexi,

    No, there is nothing wrong with that rebuttal. The argument goes "big eruptions like Pinatubo put out more CO2 than a decade of human emissions." The rebuttal is that if this were true, then the CO2 records would show big jumps at the time of big eruptions, and they don't. Human emissions over a decade add ~15ppmv CO2 to the atmosphere. If the argument being rebutted were correct, we would see 15 ppm jumps in CO2 in years with big eruptions, maybe requiring a couple for hemispheric mixing and a couple more for global mixing but definately very apparent. Unless you are suggesting that there is no anthropogenic CO2 in the air...?

    I don't know if you are correct that there is only one such study on global volcanic emissions, google scholar returned a few likely candidates but I would have had to purchase the articles. There certainly are studies about individual eruptions and there certainly are many sources of information about global CO2 production. Regardless, unless you find some research that show the numbers that went into the 1/150th fraction (either volcanic or anthropogenic) to be off by a factor of at least 10 then I think all the points stand.

    Are you just trying to help me make the argument more airtight or do you think volcanic emissions are causing a significant portion of the rising CO2 levels? I frankly don't think this particular belief is worth that much effort, and of all the places to attack AGW theories, the cause of CO2 rise is the least likely place to find any cracks in the scientific basis.

    Re: the convection, I only thought it was interesting about CO2 from volcanoes staying low and going into the soil. I have no information beyond that.

  • At April 13, 2006 12:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm a GW agnostic and saw this posed on a Sciam blog...

    If its correct that the estimated co2 output by humans is around 22.5 billion tons a year, these volcanic erruptions outputted that and more PER DAY. These are not small numbers and you would see a corresponding increase, even if delayed, in temp.

    ----Sciam posts---

    I didn't see this mentioned: 74,000 years ago, the Toba volcano erupted in a VEI 7 explosion that pumped more than 10,000 times as much CO2 into the air as Mt. St. Helens did. At the maximum, Mt. St. Helens was giving off 22,000,000 kg of C02 daily, so Toba was putting out at least 22 billion kg per day. The ash cloud was so thick that it caused cooling that nearly wiped out the human race.

    There are indications in the ice core records that show the cooling from Toba, but where is the global warming that should have resulted from all the CO2 put into the atmosphere? According to what I've read, the CO2 should have remained in the air long after the ash settled and that should have caused at least a warming spike, but there's no sign of extraordinary warming in the climate records. Shouldn't there always be a cooling/warming cycle after a volcano erupts? Cooling from the ash cloud, warming from the CO2 that lingers?

    Same thing with the Yellowstone caldera eruption 650,000 years ago that would have put 220 billion kg of CO2 into the air (10 times as much as Toba). There's no sign of global warming in the years following the eruption.

    Where is the severe ice age that should have followed the Dinosaur-killer meteor impacts at Chicxulub crater, Silverpit crater, and Boltysh crater about 65 million years ago? The records I've seen show the average global temps remained steady at about 22 degrees C for several million more years.

    When castrophic events like these don't make an appearance in the records, how reliable can those records be?

  • At April 13, 2006 7:48 PM, Blogger coby said…

    If you are looking for past analogies to today, I recommend learning something about the Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum. As for the Yellowstone Caldera (I'm just taking your figures on this) it is really just a matter of the numbers. Human emissions of carbon total over 6500 million tonnes per year (this is roughly the same as your CO2 figure). 220 billion kg of CO2 is 220 million metric tonnes of CO2 which is equivalent to 60 million metric tonnes of carbon. So that extraordinary volcanic event was a little over 3 months worth of global emissions at today's levels.

    Ok, re-reading I see this is supposed to be a daily rate. Do you have a reference for that? We would need a total emissions figure for a meaningful comparison, but it still strikes me that it would take a lot of days to make the equivalent of human emissions since the 1800's, assuming high variability rather than constant output at maximum rate.

    As for an ice age at the 65million year extinction, don't forget that at that time there was no ice anywhere on the planet, no greenland ice sheet, no antarctic ice sheet, no arctic sea ice. The "Ice Age" that is sometimes discussed as in our near future is actually just another glaciation in the current ice age which began some 2 or 3 million years ago and is onging. It is a much bigger deal to start an ice age than it is to trigger a glaciation in an ice age.

    Also look into the Siberian Traps, that is believed to be a volcanic triggered global climate change.

  • At June 09, 2006 9:47 AM, Blogger Ed said…

    As I read this about the discrepancy between the fact of large CO2 emissions and the lack of CO2 spikes or large climate fluctuations, I am afraid the answer is not going to be good for the Al Gore school of climate:
    CO2 is not only distributed and 'metabolized' by gaia in ways not yet explained very well, it is not a particularly powerful temperture driver.
    It is clear that when the climate changed on the Greenland settlements, it did so fairly rapidly, going from low sea cie to large amounts, and from meadows and fields to not sustainable in a few short generations.
    The argument that so many scientists can't be wrong is a fallacy. Of course they can.
    But what is clear is the religious nature of the mcgw (man caused global warming movement): It is a set of conclusions that cannot be falsified, and whose adherents are more dismissive of anything that obstructs the object of their faith.

  • At June 09, 2006 10:19 AM, Blogger coby said…

    Hi Ed,

    Quite the gattling-gun of arguments there! Just the type of approach that this guide is best for. I will ignore your simple denial of basic physics about CO2 as you don't offer any explanation for your misimpression that I can address for you.

    Re: Greenland, see here.
    I don't recall ever arguing that it is not possible for so many scientists to be wrong.
    For you non-falsifiability red herring see here and perhaps here.

    As for your last bit, are you dismissing all the scientific evidence because "adherents" are too dismissive? You really should have a look the the IPCC TAR and learn just what evidence and data there is, the "religious" accusation is just an ignorant ad hominem.

  • At June 23, 2006 1:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I've heard a sort-of simliar claim that goes "It only takes a hurricane 15 minutes to build up more energy than all the world's nuclear weapons," which is so patently screwed-up I don't even know where to begin.

  • At June 23, 2006 3:34 PM, Blogger coby said…

    That sounds like a garbled and exagerated version of an already impressive reality:

    "A fully developed hurricane can release heat energy at a rate of 5 to 20x10^13 watts and converts less than 10% of the heat into the mechanical energy of the wind. The heat release is equivalent to a 10-megaton nuclear bomb exploding every 20 minutes. According to the 1993 World Almanac, the entire human race used energy at a rate of 10^13 watts in 1990, a rate less than 20% of the power of a hurricane."

  • At September 14, 2006 9:30 AM, Blogger Juli said…

    Hi colby,
    I have been interested in global warming since attention started being paid as to man being the culprit and have been seeking what may or may not be the truth to this phenomina. Your last comment about the strength of and capacity of hurricanes reminds me again that the power of man and the crunching power of computers is minescule when compared to the power of mother nature. Hmmmm.
    I'm all for man cleaning up its garbage. Native Americans had it right. The mother earth created a time and place for man, not the other way around.
    To me, time would be better spent by scientists to help us figure out ways to adapt to what is coming.

  • At September 14, 2006 6:51 PM, Blogger coby said…

    Well, I personally think we will need both.

    Thanks for the vist and the comment!

  • At December 08, 2006 10:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    So from what i've read and understood is that volcanic eruptions vs Human almost amount to the amount of pollution we put out in the past 200 years...

    but what about the forest fires, insects, and plants... from what i've descovered a combination of all these things put out more Co2 and greehouse emmission than we could ever put out. i have no evidence like the arguement posted above but he also has a good statement that Co2 is without a doubt produced by different things let alone what i just listed. email is xxyardmanxx@hotmail.com i'll also check for posts in the next couple of days.

  • At December 11, 2006 4:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    my previous statement is about the controversy between scientists today and emmission related warming.

    This statement is logical and is agreeable and is short all at the same time. Global warming/cooling has been like this for tens of thousands of years and will continue. Perhaps we are helping global warming and if the entire world or at least more than 2/3 of the population cut back we could delay the problem for another generation possibly more.

    My question is why arn't we actualy doing something about this inevitability, coastal cities need to be prepared along with many more preperations to the nations. We cannot assume the entire world is going cut their emmissions down and pretend this very serious matter is going to fix itself. Even if the world did comply it was fairly "recent" that N america looked just like Green Land. Towns have been found underwater from sea levels rising from hundreds of years ago.

    This is not an old issue, and more serious steps need to be taken to prepare than emmission cutting Science will solve this problem by itself if our sceintific trend continues. xxyardmanxx@hot.

  • At December 11, 2006 6:22 PM, Blogger coby said…

    Actually, sea levels have been quite constant for the last 6000 years accept for the 20th century.

    No, climate change has not been like this for the last ~650K+ yrs, it is happening faster now than any known global climate change in the ice core records. All indications are that without human interference, the climate would be stable now, perhaps with a slight cooling.

    Regarding all the other sources of CO2, it is very true that anthropogenic emission are very much smaller than natural emissions, but natural emissions are well balanced by natural sinks. What we are doing is altering that balance and causing a rise in CO2, CO2 than can also be positively ID'd as a product of fossil fuel burning.

    See this article.

  • At December 13, 2006 6:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ok so how does nature deal with meteor impacts and volcanoes, i'm sure its not something nature predicts in its natural cycle of exactly how much Co2 leaves a volcanoe or meteor strike. the past 150 years of pumping Co2 i'm sure throws of the cycle but its nothing nature itself can't handle. And you didn't answer the question about the underwater villiges found around the United Kingdom.

    Coby right now you are relying on the fact that the entire world might stop throwing off the natural cycle of Co2 emmission when a very small percentage of the population is actualy following kyoto properly.

    Tell mao of China who kills thousands apoun thousands of innocent people to stop making pollution so we might live a few more generations as human beings. This is one of many dictators that don't give a hoot about emmission. Why does't this site focus on the problem, GW has been happening for a long time we must prepare for the possible negitive impacts. Co2 cuts sucking our tax dollars away and the outcome is going to happen the same... doesn't make much sense to me....

  • At December 13, 2006 7:21 PM, Blogger coby said…

    In general, volcanoes are not major events. But there certainly have been extreme volcanic events and asteroid impacts in the earth's past. When these things happen they are catastrophic to whatever life exists at the time. Nature does handle it, but it can take millions of years, which is nothing much in geologic terms but it is in human terms. Google PETM, or "Deccan Traps" or "Permian extinction".

    WRT underwater villages, can you provide a reference? Whatever it is you are thinkg of, it will not be englich villages from a few hundred years ago submerged by rising sea level.

  • At December 13, 2006 11:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…




    these here are just a few examples of sunken cities around the coast, as for the UK i'm working on that, who knows maybe i'm wrong. But tell me what you think of the links above.

  • At December 13, 2006 11:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    And replying to your statement about Permian extinction, doesn't that prove natures power to repell our Co2 emmission. Doesn't that prove that all our species have seen greater disasters than global warming at a "faster" rate than normal?

  • At December 14, 2006 10:37 AM, Blogger coby said…

    Re sunken cities: thanks, some interesting items! Have a look at this graph of sea level:

    Some of the examples you presented were dated more than 8K years ago, this makes it likely that they succumbed to post-glacial SLR from melting ice. One of the more general pages mentioned geologic factors. Sometime land sinks under an unchanging sea level.

    I think there is a very high degree of confidence in the reconstructions of past sea levels, there will be other explanations for any recently (<6000 yrs) submerged villages.

    Re: nature recovering: sure nature will recover. We could nuke the entire planet and nature would recover. An asteroid strike could incinerate the entire surface of the earth and nature would recover. So what? Does this mean we should not try our damnedest to avoid such things?

  • At December 14, 2006 3:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    yes we should try very hard, but lets do something more constructive, my point is the planets has face FAR FAR greater dangers than global warming.

    The Sea levels have risen in the past 8000 years thats a good point on my bahalf, there was no emmission overload back them from our factories. I spent like 20 minutes finding those sunken cities, there's more i'm sure. And in the WWF site it says that we havn't got this kind of warming for 10 000 years, so how is it possible that coastal cities from 8000 years ago flooded on the coast lines from rising sea levels. And you can't say that it didn't at least contribute cause sea levels rise during warming, you know and i know that the planet is naturaly warming without our help and has been for a long time. And note on the info below " By altering the angles and the distances from which the sun’s energy reaches earth, the three overlapping cycles control the timing of global warming and cooling" This is a very important sentance. things gradualy warm up more and more rapidly as our orbit approaches the sun.

    Dictionary of Scientific Literacy by Richard P. Brennan. Foreword by Dr, F, James Rutherford American association for the Advancement of Science

    “Astronomical Cycle: Scientists believe astronomical cycles touch off changes in the ocean- Atmosphere system that drives the world’s climate. Glacial cycles (ice ages) are set in motion by (1) periodic wobbles in the tilt of the Earth’s rotation, (2) changes in the tilt of its axis, and (3) the shape of its orbit occurring over tens of thousands of years. By altering the angles and the distances from which the sun’s energy reaches earth, the three overlapping cycles control the timing of global warming and cooling, and the long
    term advance and retreat of glaciers. See Climate.”

  • At December 14, 2006 4:53 PM, Blogger coby said…

    The sea level stopped rising about 10K yrs ago, did you look at the link I provided? The submerged villages/cities you have found are from before the end of that rise or are the result of local subsidence of the land. This is not controversial, and not a matter of opinion.

    The orbital cycles you are describing are not causing the warming today. For one thing, those changes were about 10 to 100 times slower than what we see now and for another those cycles would have us very slowly cooling now. The holocene has cooled very slowly and natural factors alone would have us still on the same very slow trajectory.

    You seem to be under the misimpression that because orbital cycles controlled the glacial-inter glacial cycles they must be controlling the temperature now. This is just wrong. Your quoted passage does not say that either, it is quite consistent with the IPCC reports and everything I have learned about climate and is not a contradiction of anthropogenic global warming occurring today.

  • At December 14, 2006 5:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    well i'm positive you have a very informed opinion. But although i've thrown some "myths" on the table, why can't you agree with me that global warming is not a big deal and positive in alot of aspects. Why can't you agree that simply cutting emmissions wont' solve our problem and preperations need to be made?

    Its a very logical conclusion your not going to convince the world that global warming is any different from what any other planet experiences during climate change.

    Your not going to convince the brutal rulers of countries to cut down their pollution , and we have to remember we're only "cutting down". Its silly to think that at our current technology that we could cut human emmission in half before its too late. It is too late, we're procrastinating in political propaganda. Your science by the way could be total fiction. Apperently global cooling was fact 25 years ago so whats to say this information is any different?

    The next 100 years our technology will fix global warming; one of Earths least important problems. The planet fixes itself without our science to the combination of the two will equal success at a faster less devistating rate. And thats saying we as a race lives to see the next 100 years.

  • At December 15, 2006 9:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    And another thing coby why doesn't the scientific evidence that i gave you say anything about Co2 setting glacial cycles in motion? If Co2 does indeed have effect on our planets temperature and its a nautraly occuring substance made in mass production by nature i think they are missing a vital part wouldn't you say?

  • At December 15, 2006 12:09 PM, Blogger coby said…

  • At December 15, 2006 1:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    i've been through those and its not very good info at all very bias. N america was an arctic desert, as teh caps receed things grow and flourish. Common knowledge and obviously it happens. As far as this VOlcanos Emit more co2 its a closed subject man just read what youve posted. Co2 emmitted by us approx 50% make it to the atmosphere. I'm sure alot more % of volcanic emmission actualy makes it into the atmosphere than ours does cause there's so much pressure behind the explosion in most cases, making it logical for me to conclude that its very possible that volcanoes exceed our co2 emmission.

    as for that ice age 25 years ago thats my point! i read that bit, not convincing at all. This is just another scare just like the ice age predicted for 2000.

  • At December 15, 2006 1:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    And you've still dodged my comment

    "well i'm positive you have a very informed opinion. But although i've thrown some "myths" on the table, why can't you agree with me that global warming is not a big deal and positive in alot of aspects. Why can't you agree that simply cutting emmissions wont' solve our problem and preperations need to be made?

    Its a very logical conclusion your not going to convince the world that global warming is any different from what any other planet experiences during climate change.

    Your not going to convince the brutal rulers of countries to cut down their pollution , and we have to remember we're only "cutting down". Its silly to think that at our current technology that we could cut human emmission in half before its too late. It is too late, we're procrastinating in political propaganda. Your science by the way could be total fiction. Apperently global cooling was fact 25 years ago so whats to say this information is any different? "


  • At December 15, 2006 5:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    read this too, give your brain something to chew on for a bit.

  • At December 16, 2006 12:13 PM, Blogger coby said…

    I checked http://www.icr.org/article/2836/12/ and am already familiar with the PETM event. I think it is a sober warning and a strikingly close analogy for what we are doing to the planet right now.

  • At December 16, 2006 12:28 PM, Blogger coby said…

    Regarding CO2 and half anthr emission being in the atmosphere, please usderstand that all of it goes into the atmosphere but only half of it stays, the rest goes mostly into the oceans lowering its pH levels in a phenomenon known as ocean acidification. Google that.

    The rest of that bit concluding olcanoes may therefore be a larger CO2 factor than humans is gibberish. You should check this article to understand just how well known it is where the rising CO2 is coming from. Also this one.

    If you can not discern the difference in scientific quality of information between Newsweek in the 70's and the IPCC TAR WG1 report in 2001 then there is little I can offer to convince you that the "70's ice age scare" is not analogous to today's warnings about global warming. You should at lest be able to understand the difference in the quantity of the coverage, it is easily on the order of 1000 times different.

    Ot top of that, don't forget that the sheep were indeed all killed in the story of the Boy Who Cried Wolf.

    And about your political comments, in general, I find it less than useful to discuss potential mitigation or adaptation strategies or the politics of energy etc with anyone who has not yet realized both the reality of the problem and the potential harm it represents. One thing at a time, please.

  • At December 16, 2006 1:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    One thing at a time... how do you suppose this is supposed to happen when there is alot of evidence contradicting yours, and when we finnaly come to a conclusion its too late. I am very confused by all of it. And if there is any time to be preparing for this it would be NOW. I dont' want to give out my taxes to cut emmission and then find out i have to give out more to solve the problem "again". I might not be the smartest person on here but obviously you should know that GW theory has many many many holes in it, cause i do and i'm still in high school and can see that.

    GW is not a scare, it is happening. Although Global Cooling was it still had all that science backing it up and it mostly was BS.

    And there you go the oceans PH is being effected, i bet you that volcanic eruption in the ocean does alot better job of that than we do. There are bigger problems Coby with more sceintific evidence thats real to our climates demise.

  • At December 16, 2006 2:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    and there are living things that release pollution into the ocean called "smokers" they are plants that don't use photosynthesis because they are very far underneath the ocean. you should see the disgusting output of these creatures. i'll see if i can find a link, maybe not anything to do with my arguement, but interesting at the very least.

  • At January 02, 2007 3:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    Greenland was green 1000 years ago when the Vikings discovered it, its climate and land structure was very like the UK. Now studies have shown further thickening of the ice sheet.

    The Swiss/German max plank institute for solar research (not sure on the spelling) says that humans come to #9 on global warming contributors right now i heard it on the radio .

    1. Sun (accounts for 90% of global temp)
    2. Water vapor ( accounts for 2% of global temp)
    3. Co2 which has always stayed at .6% in the atmosphere (according to the radio host and i may have misquoted him on that .6% part but he made it clear that its been consistent)
    4. Ozone
    5. Bacteria
    6. Insects
    7. Geothermal vents and volcanoes
    8. N/A
    9. Humans

    According to How Did It Really Happen? a readers digest on pate 31 says... " Sedimentary deposits in West Virginia, for example, show the cycle of the land being under water, then above water as the sea level rises and falls with each successive ice age - hundreds of times over the past 4 million years." pg 31. Ice ages hundreds of times over in 4 million years? Wow that puts a hole in your theory.

    "During the mid-Cretaceous period, some 90 to 120 million years ago, the seawater around the equator had a temperature of 30 to 37 degrees Celsius, which is five to eight degrees higher than the temperature now. This was revealed in research that used a new method to determine the temperatures of oceans in the distant past." http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/12/031222071851.htm

    'What we discovered gave us quite a shock. Carbon dioxide levels were no different 50 million years ago than today's. Yet the planet was incredibly hot - much, much warmer than it is today.'
    Using climate models developed by Britain's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research, Beerling and his collaborator, Professor Paul Valdes, at Bristol University, analyzed the meteorological parameters for the Eocene, including data on carbon dioxide.
    'The conclusion was clear,' said Beerling. 'There must have been much more ozone, methane, and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere then.' http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,6903,1258655,00.html

    I look forward to your reply thx.

  • At January 02, 2007 3:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh sorry i neeed to make a correction #8 is forest fires* and
    The Swiss/German max plank institute for solar research says the sun is hotter than its ever been in the past 1000 years.

    I heard this stuff on the radio thought it was interesting. the rest of the stuff is my own research.

  • At January 02, 2007 4:14 PM, Blogger coby said…

    Hi Anonymous, thanks for the comment. Just about everything in your long list is dealt with one at a time in the "How to" guide.

    In general, your best source for climate related science is the IPCC TAR report linked in the sidebar (Climate Change - the Scientific Basis). Much better than talk radio (in general).

  • At January 03, 2007 10:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Coby, if the earth is warming as a result of increased periodic solar activity (or some other more complex reason) as suggested by the long term cycles mentioned above measured before man was on earth or industrialized, is it posssible that the observed increases in CO2 in the atmosphere are simply coming from warmer oceans, since liquids cannot hold as much gas at a higher temperature than they can at lower temperature? My skepticism is fueled by the fact that the earth has gone through many regular cooling & warming cycles before human industrialization. bigg bill

  • At January 05, 2007 9:31 AM, Blogger coby said…

    Hi bill, thanks for the questions.

    The orbital cycles that drove the ice ages should have us in a long slow cooling trend now. The observed increase in solar this last century was only in the first half and is not enough to explain all the warming we have.


    There is no chance the CO2 rise is from anything other than fossil fuel burning, we know this from the isotope signatures of the actual CO2 molecules.


  • At February 11, 2007 12:30 PM, Blogger zog blog said…

    I don't think there is enough knowledge to decide either way at the moment. But I do think the emphasis always being on CO2 is incorrect. From my understanding CO2 adds about 5% to the global warming effect, the main contributor to our pleasant earthly conditions is water vapour. i.e. water vapour is the main global warming gas.

  • At February 11, 2007 3:40 PM, Blogger coby said…

  • At February 20, 2007 4:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Step 1) Remove Medieval Warming period and replace it with white noise.

    Step 2) Remove volcanoes contribution to the atmosphere.

    Step 3) Remove Earth from the Solar system so no corroborating evidence on Solar Radiation can be used against the Neo-Communists.

    step 4) ..........

  • At March 27, 2007 9:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    To the AC,

    I think you are conflating (and probably deliberately (Peter?)) the volcanoes you are talking about.

    IN THE PAST, volcanic activity has caused a bigger outflow of CO2 et al than human activity directly.

    However, we don't HAVE such eruptions at the moment, yet we are pumping out CO2.

    Now, try your assertion the other way around:

    We have pumped out a significant fraction of the pollution that some of the most devastating activities the world has inflicted on life in it's entire history.

    Since these events destroyed all life for aeons, are we destroying life on earth for centuries?

  • At May 22, 2007 1:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    what is the carbon emissions from 1 volcano????? just wonderin!

  • At May 22, 2007 12:11 PM, Blogger coby said…

    what is the carbon emissions from 1 volcano

    This varies dramatically from volcano to volcano, eruption to eruption.

  • At May 23, 2007 10:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    There has always been people for centuries who yell "THE END OF THE WORLD"
    I remember 20 years ago it was ice age 10 years ago ozone hole and so on...
    There is sufficient fackts to make logical conclusion of the current "crisis"

    1.Human beings are not cause of clobal warming
    2.Earth is warming up (so enjoy the warm)
    3.There is relgius incridient in these "Global warming supportets"

    Religion = something you blindly belive.

    EQ (a Man orginated from cold northern country)

  • At May 29, 2007 4:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    '3.There is relgius incridient in these "Global warming supportets"'

    -There's a religious element yes- there are certain people who are being carried along by the weight of opinion.

    -There is also an awful lot of evidence that global warming is caused by humans.

    -If you're from a cold northern country near the atlantic (are you?) you should be aware that one effect that may occur from global warming is the stopping of the gulf stream- the stream which brings up warm water from the south atlantic..so you may find it gets considerably less balmy where you are..

  • At June 27, 2007 10:24 PM, Blogger coby said…

    Hi Matt,

    Your understanding of the greenhouse effect is just missin one crucial detail. Yes, CO2 has exactly the same effect on incoming or outgoing IR, but the vast majority of enrgy incoming from the sun is in non-IR frequencies and outgoing is in the IR. Thus CO2 is transparent to energy coming in and blocks energy trying to escape.

    Thanks for the comment!

  • At July 01, 2007 1:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This is a dumb argument. In and out IR frequencies indeed! The photon is the measuring unit. Photons agitate and create heat. CO2 is not a wave. CO2 is a particle which reflects photon particles poorly. Glass, a particle barrier, in a greenhouse, reflects particles well. When the sky is filled with glass, we will have a greenhouse effect.

    Volcanoes are poorly monitored. Even the Park Service & USGS admit they don't have near enough samplers and no samples from directly OVER the volcanoes, which is where the majority of gases are exuded.

    The atmosphere is colder than it has ever been - a result of what? The Sun is warmer than it has been since the end of the little ice age. Mars is warmer in exact ratio to Earth.

    No, there may be global warming, but you're going to have to come up with real numbers for Earth volumes ten times greater than you're using, to prove humans are the cause. Remember that the atmosphere goes up to 1000 Kilometers, not 100.

  • At July 02, 2007 9:08 PM, Blogger coby said…

    Hi Anonymouse,

    I'm afraid it is pretty clear that you don't know what you are talking about wrt CO2, photons and the greenhouse effect, so I will not argue with you about it. I am however quite curious as to the exact global temperature trend on Mars. If you know it is in exact ratio to earth, you must know what it is exactly, so what source are you using?


  • At August 26, 2007 11:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    A lot of interesting science, but I didn't read anything about solutions? Kill people? Change light bulbs? Switch to nuke power?

  • At September 13, 2007 7:38 PM, Blogger gurujames5 said…

    If the current global warming situation is man made then why is every planet in our solar system experiencing this phenomenon as well?

  • At September 13, 2007 8:09 PM, Blogger gurujames5 said…

    Just to rephrase my last question:
    If the current global warming situation is man made, and/or caused by other natural Earthly factors,then why is every planet in our solar system experiencing this phenomenon as well?
    Surely the MUST be an influence on the WHOLE solar system to be causing warming of this scale!

  • At September 13, 2007 8:24 PM, Blogger coby said…

    Hi gurujames5,

    First of all we have not observed warming on every planet in our solar system. The list of solar bodies this claim is made for includes:

    - pluto: pluto is in its late summer season (it has an almost 300 year seasonal cycle) so the observed warming is by no means anomalous
    - mars: mars has only had warming observed in one area of the southern hemisphere. Model experiments have however indicated it is warming (do you trust the models?) but this warming is caused by changes in its albedo. The current hypothesis about this is that is in turn caused by an increase in dust storms.
    - Saturn: saturn is not warming, there has merely been a huge hurricane observed stationed on the south pole
    - Triton: triton is in its hottest orbital position at the moment
    - Jupiter: jupiter is not experiencing global warming but regional warming near its equator, heat shifted from the poles.
    - enceladus: enceladus is hotter than it should be but no trend has been seen. It is hot because of geothermal activity.

    I may have forgotten some, I may be aware of other claims of warming. Since climates are always changing anyway (another skeptic argument) I think we should expect to see about half of the dozens of solar bodies showing signs of warming.

    Meanwhile back here on earth we are monitoring the sun very closely and it is not changing. That is the only possible common factor, so clearly each body has different things going on.

    Thanks for the comment!

  • At September 18, 2007 12:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "In general, your best source for climate related science is the IPCC TAR report linked in the sidebar (Climate Change - the Scientific Basis). Much better than talk radio (in general)."

    The IPCC is a POLITICAL organisation many independent radio stations are NOT! And previous links by Colby to wikipedia based information? Well there we are then; nuff said!

    Daddy G.

  • At October 09, 2007 1:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    In regards to the rebuttle: the idea behind the measurements at Mauna Loa is that the eruption data can be and IS removed from the data aquired.

    I think the whole thing is stupid anyway, but I thought I'd throw that fact out there. THAT is why there are no spikes in the graph, not because CO2 is not released in mass quantities during eruptions.

  • At February 10, 2008 8:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It is rediculus to think that human activitys cause more poltion than Valcanos, jest becuse the Earth may change doues not mean its from human activitys. The earth has ben changeing ever sence it was created and thair is absolutly nouthing we can do about it. If all these CO2 emisions from humans are ganna cause an ice age, than how do you explain the ice age that took place 10,000 years ago, It must have ben from the Cavemans Cars.

  • At March 09, 2008 6:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm convinced that AGW is a liberal scare tactic used to promote their socialist agenda. It's 100% political.

    The world is fine the way it is. Global Warming is normal and the sea level is not going to rise enough to affect our daily lives. Check this article out: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=164002

    Now, what I'm afraid of is that combustion engines will end up being banned prematurely--before we've managed to come up with a plausible replacement--people's lifestyles will be dramatically altered.

    Please read the article.


  • At April 27, 2008 5:39 PM, Blogger dan said…

    Miss information is much ramped here!
    What is truly known about CO2 and it real impact on global warming, not much?
    How much cO2 is actually present in the atmosphere, we don’t have real empirical numbers/ data. MT St.Helens changed the climate for several years, and the landscape for many decades. The CO2 killed many trees and plant life with the overwhelming amounts that came out of the volcano, this includes the pyroclastic cloud witch contains copious amounts of CO2. Further more the notion of “a very smooth trend of amounts of CO2 is present form a volcanic eruption” this doesn’t wash! It is inaccurate based on the changes of weather patterns over several years after an eruption. How could their possible be little impact from CO2 and sulfur dioxide emission with all of the consequences of an eruption? I would recommend talking to real scientist/ weather professionals!
    Good luck on your endeavor to the man and the United States for global warming.

    Dan Wolf

  • At April 28, 2008 6:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    At September 18, 2007 12:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The IPCC is a POLITICAL organisation many independent radio stations are NOT! And previous links by Colby to wikipedia based information? Well there we are then; nuff said!

    Daddy G.

    No, not enough said!

    Whom would you believe more? A report written, reviewed, rewritten, reviewed again, then finally published by over a thousand accredited scientists,
    a disc jockey who doesn't want to stop driving his good ol' Hummer around?

    The IPCC is a scientific organization, with members from every prestigious scientific organization, both government-funded and independent!

    Wikipedia is known for its rather patchy articles, but the graphs he takes from them are based off of scientific studies not based on Wikipedia.

  • At May 18, 2008 4:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I don't know if this is off topic, but if global warming is the result of man, what melted the ice ages? The last ice age enabled man to walk across the Bering Strait and since then the sea level has been rising. Fossil fuels cannot be the culprit, can it?

  • At June 01, 2008 6:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The IPCC has admitted and I quote: "Our objectives are political NOT scientific"
    As far as I'm concerned the IPCC is now irrelevant in any scientific forum.

    I must agree with previous views – the evidence for C02 induced warming is just not in the historic records. Past climatic events would have clearly shown an effect but it is just not there.

    Ever heard of "Ockham's razor". Well after you concider the evidence that does appear in the record is seems the only logical conclusion that can be reached is that -
    "Ockham's razor" – "All other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best."
    Increased levels of C02 does not produce any messuarble temperature effects.
    It is the ONLY reasonable conclusion.

  • At July 04, 2008 6:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    All these articles read like propaganda and spin. They say, Yes, you were correct, but from a certain angle and a certain way of thinking AGW is still happening. I still haven’t found the link that explains away the relationship between observed sun-spots and the emanated radiation which results interrelating with cosmic rays to affect cloud cover and so follows Earth’s service temp. The graph of the before mentioned much more closely correlate with observed temp change. I noticed the proposed “carbon tax” is carefully avoided, and the push for world government is not mentioned. This web-site is clearly one-sided and political. I see a lot of extra words that make the sentences convoluted. I do not sense straight talk. This web-site stinks of wrong-doing.

  • At July 05, 2008 12:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hey Anonymous who said:
    The IPCC has admitted and I quote: "Our objectives are political NOT scientific"

    Can you please show me where I can find this quote?

  • At July 08, 2008 8:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    IPCC as a political organization: http://theclimatebet.com/2008/05/01/ipcc-as-a-political-organization/

  • At July 13, 2008 8:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Okay, my conclusion here is that science CANNOT prove or disprove man-made GW, because there is no agreed upon set of stats to work from. You've got both sides hurling numbers out like grenades. Who's right -- who is wrong?

    In these instances, you have fall back on simple logic. I contend that if our planet was cooling over the past 10 years, there would not be ONE SINGLE GW advocate like Al Gore and his ilk telling us that we need to start pumping carbon into the atmosphere to warm this planet up. Would they be advocating builiding more coal-fired power plants? After all this is simply the inverse of what they are currently telling us.

    Everyone knows the answer to these questions. No way would these so-called experts be advocating inducing warming through carbon emissions. This proves one thing, folks: this is an AGENDA that has nothing to do with science, and the instigators don't even believe the words coming out of their own mouths. If I'm wrong, please prove it!

  • At July 20, 2008 11:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi Coby, thanks for all your comments here trying to educate readers about GW. I have spent a lot of time learning about it and your comments essentially mirror my own findings. It's sad though to see so many people who really have no idea about the science of GW, but rather than try to learn it, they instead turn into politically trendy AGW-bashing skeptics.

    It's one thing to be skeptical yet open to learning, for the purpose of answering questions; that's basically the scientific method. But 99% of these GW skeptics have no intention of learning; they just want to take political jabs at their political opponents, and they latch on to anything they read on the internet which would seem to support their political agenda.

    Seriously people, all of your issues have been addressed by the scientists. If you're jealous of what the scientists understand, or don't like the fact that someone out there might actually know more than you and is influencing policy as a result of their knowledge, then learn about the science, don't demonstrate your stupidity with obviously non-referenced and non-researched ridiculous pseudo theories.

    Here's a wikipedia graph for y'all:



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