I was fascinated by some of the issues raised and explanations given by Arnost, posted here as a comment late last night in response to a comment from Paul Biggs:
Kudos to you for asking great questions and especially questions that risk undermining your position: I may not be a “solarphile” but by the same token I also believe that there is “something” that we as yet don’t understand which has a significant role to play in the case against CO2.
Food for thought…
Fact: CO2 tends to mix quickly into the atmosphere.
Fact: Anthropogenic CO2 emissions have historically increased at a (relatively) steady rate (in line with population growth).
So when we look at the direct measurements of CO2 at Mauna Loa or at the South Pole we should not expect to see any major spikes and troughs. And in fact we don’t.
But we should expect step increases if there are additional, non anthropogenic emissions. When there are serious volcanic events such as those listed in the following link – we would expect a step increase in CO2 levels ON TOP of the anthropogenic emissions.
We would expect that there be steps corresponding to other natural events like the fires in Indonesia or even the bushfires we had in Victoria early this summer where 100’s of thousands of square km of vegetation was converted into CO2. The list goes on…
We would logically also expect step increases corresponding to Man’s folly such as the burning of the oilfields in the first Gulf War.
Yet, these don’t appear in the record.
So, the inevitable conclusion must be that there HAS to be a signal that overrides this.
Fact: Atmospheric temperatures have increased and the correlated assumption: ocean temperatures have therefore increased proportionally.
Fact: As water heats up, it has less capacity to carry CO2.
Fact: The key CO2 sampling stations are at Mauna Loa (in the middle of the Pacific), and at the South Pole (in a biologically sterile environment that is surrounded by ocean).
Inductive conclusion: The reason that the CO2 measurements don’t exhibit expected “steps” is that what actually is measured is the release of CO2 from the ocean AND that this release of CO2 from the ocean is a stronger signal that masks the other, anthropogenic/natural fluctuations.
Note: Cape Grim is at the northwest point of Tasmania and with the prevailing weather being from the west, really only measures the CO2 from the Southern Ocean atmosphere.
A bit about statistics:
The principal use of statistics is to identify trends and correlations from a “sample” of one or more (incomplete) data sets. It is perfectly acceptable, or even obligatory to exclude outliers from a sample so that any derived trends are not (potentially) distorted.
On this basis, it is perfectly acceptable to discard the data as per Beck as contaminated and unrepresentative.
Unfortunately, science is not statistics.
In fact science is the antithesis of statistics. It is perfectly acceptable in statistics to exclude the observed relativistic perturbations of Mercury’s orbit (using SJT’s favourite example) from an estimation of (not theory of) the force of gravity.
In science this is not the case. It is in the method of science to either show that the observation is flawed or to account for the observation as “data” – and you can never arbitrarily “discard” inconvenient “data”.
So we come to Beck.
I would suggest that nobody disputes the CO2 measurements reported as per Beck’s analysis. What is in dispute is whether these are “representative”.
What Beck does is to bring to light the fact that a “uniform” increase in anthropogenic CO2 emissions does not exit. And if you think about this – this is a rational proposition. Given that the Mauna Loa/South Pole observational data shows “uniformity” this means that there HAS to be some other and stronger signal that masks the non-uniform anthropogenic (and natural) increase in CO2 emissions.
Now to Glassman as per the other thread.
In view of the above, his [Glassman’s] argument has merit. In a cooler environment, CO2 saturated surface water is naturally sub-ducted into deeper and even colder layers which can cope with more CO2 (via the oceans “conveyor belt”), and then brought back to a surface environment (where the water is warmer than that originally sub-ducted). Since in a warmer environment, and this surface is already saturated with CO2 (and therefore can’t hold any more CO2), this will result in a degassing i.e. release of CO2 into the atmosphere.
Given the above, it is plausible that as the water warms and as it gets CO2 rich, water from below the ensuing CO2 degassing is potentially in excess of any anthropogenic/natural emission. This therefore masks the anthropogenic/natural emission signal as measured at Mauna Loa/South Pole.
Given the length of time that the oceanic conveyor belt can take to do the circle, this is also a great explanation for carbon dioxide lagging temperature in the ice core data.
There is a big question that needs to be resolved however: Is the ocean already saturated with CO2 throughout the entire water column and in equilibrium?
If it is, then the CO2 in the surface water can not “sink” with it.
As I said, this is food for thought, I am not going to make any further conclusions/guesses at this point.
It’s too late… readers can extrapolate on this and make their own.
** There has been minor editing of the orginal text/comment to make it hopefully easier to read.