2010-10-03 04:27:10ADVANCED 42: CO2 isn't a pollutant
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
71.137.148.215
I drafted up the advanced rebuttal to "CO2 isn't a pollutant".  I spent a bit of time discussing legally how it's determined what's considered an air pollutant.  That part's not scientific, but I thought that was important to establish in order to show that CO2 meets the necessary criteria.  Let me know what you think.
2010-10-03 10:39:25
Riccardo

riccardoreitano@tiscali...
93.147.82.79

There are two aspects (legal and scientific) of the problem that you correctly cover. It's unavoidable. Also, the difinition of pollutant often is not clear. You did a good job clarifying both.

When you show Meinshausen et al. findings you need to specify that you refer to total (integrated) emissions. Also, it could be worth to add that we are already there.

It's night here right now, need to think about it a little bit more. Tomorrow. :)

2010-10-03 16:42:56
Ari Jokimäki

arijmaki@yahoo...
91.154.102.68

If you want to go to extreme, here are some articles on CO2 as a toxin:

Non-volcanic CO2 Earth degassing: Case of Mefite d'Ansanto (southern Apennines), Italy - Chiodini et al. (2010). "Mefite d'Ansanto, southern Apennines, Italy is the largest natural emission of low temperature CO2 rich gases, from non-volcanic environment, ever measured in the Earth. The emission is fed by a buried reservoir, made up of permeable limestones and covered by clayey sediments. We estimated a total gas flux of ∼2000 tons per day. Under low wind conditions, the gas flows along a narrow natural channel producing a persistent gas river which has killed over a period of time people and animals. The application of a physical numerical model allowed us to define the zones which potentially can be affected by dangerous CO2 concentration at breathing height for humans."

http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2010/2010GL042858.shtml

The 1986 Lake Nyos Gas Disaster in Cameroon, West Africa - Kling et al. (1987). "The sudden, catastrophic release of gas from Lake Nyos on 21 August 1986 caused the deaths of at least 1700 people in the northwest area of Cameroon, West Africa. Chemical, isotopic, geologic, and medical evidence support the hypotheses that (i) the bulk of gas released was carbon dioxide that had been stored in the lake's hypolimnion, (ii) the victims exposed to the gas cloud died of carbon dioxide asphyxiation, (iii) the carbon dioxide was derived from magmatic sources, and (iv) there was no significant, direct volcanic activity involved. The limnological nature of the gas release suggests that hazardous lakes may be identified and monitored and that the danger of future incidents can be reduced."

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/236/4798/169

There are plenty more papers if this interests you.

2010-10-03 16:59:43integrated emissions?
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
71.137.148.215

Riccardo, can you clarify what you mean by total integrated emissions?  Are you talking about emissions for all greenhouse gases perhaps?  I'm also a bit confused by the 'we're already there' comment.

Ari - not sure if I want to go there.  Anything can be toxic in excessive quantities, but anthropogenic CO2 emissions aren't anywhere near that level.  The issue is really whether CO2 should be considered a pollutant in terms of anthropogenic emissions, so I'm not sure it's worthwhile to discuss the effects of much higher emissions levels.

Though hypothetically it could become an issue if we pursue carbon sequestration and there were a system failure which released large quantities of CO2.  But still, outside the scope of this rebuttal I think.

2010-10-03 18:56:06
Riccardo

riccardoreitano@tiscali...
151.97.21.237

OK, now it's morning. Chances are my mind is clearer. Take the previous comment as a memo for myself. :)

 At least in the first sentence of that section you should say you are talking about cumulative emissions. Maybe you can drop "global anthropogenic".

The emissions you quote are in Gt CO2 while the graph is in Gt C. They should be coherent.

 You should point to the red bar in the graph that says that even at constant emissions, let alone in a BAU scenario, we are (probably) beyond 2 °C.

2010-10-03 20:15:12
Ari Jokimäki

arijmaki@yahoo...
91.154.102.68

I agree, Dana, I just wanted to offer you the option. :)

2010-10-04 05:58:50cumulative
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
71.137.148.215

Riccardo - I made those changes, but I'm still a bit confused.  Can you explain what the difference is between saying "CO2 emissions" and "cumulative CO2 emissions"?

Ari - thanks, I appreciate the input.

2010-10-04 07:42:13
Riccardo

riccardoreitano@tiscali...
93.147.82.99

Dana,

what you wrote was correct.  I'm being a bit too pessimistic on the ability of people to pay attention to these details. Or I'm getting pedantic ... :)

Usually the emissions are quoted in terms of Gt/yr, like in "in 2009 we emitted 30 Gt of CO2", and the numbers are much lower. People think accordingly and may tend to compare 30 Gt  with 1000 Gt  disregarding the units of measure. They may say hey, we're still far very from there.


2010-10-04 09:35:04aha
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
71.137.148.215
Oh I see, you're just trying to clarify that it's 1000 Gt total over the 50 years as opposed to 1000 Gt per year.
2010-10-04 13:05:39Thumbs up from me with some tiny comments
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.186.160.198

Very tiny nit: the encyclopedic definition isn't strictly saying pollution is harmful - the 'harmless' is refering to whether it can be stored harmlessly. Not quite the same. I know, I'm being picky :-)

Other inconsequential comment - personally, I'd split this sentence into two: "Thus we know that human emissions are increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, which as a greenhouse gas, in turn increases the greenhouse effect, which increases the amount of energy (in the form of longwave infrared radiation) reaching the Earth's surface.". But that's just me, I don't like long sentences.

Incidentally, just posted a new blog post that touches on this:

http://www.skepticalscience.com/What-constitutes-safe-global-warming.html

It's up to you whether you want to include anything in your 'How much warming is dangerous?' section about this - perhaps a single line enhancing the "danger limit" theme by mentioning that 2C is expected to cause sea level rise of around 6 to 9 metres.

2010-10-04 15:00:27good addition
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
71.137.148.215
Thanks John, that's a good addition to the rebuttal.  I'll probably publish tomorrow morning (my time) while you're a-sleepin'.
2010-10-04 16:40:00
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.46.226
Looks OK
2010-10-04 17:12:10Publish anytime
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.186.160.198
Don't think I'll be posting anything else today so feel free to go anytime - you've got the website to yourself for the next 20 hours or so :-)
2010-10-04 18:09:45
Riccardo

riccardoreitano@tiscali...
192.84.150.209

yes Dana, in my very involved wording that's what i meant.

And i forgot the thumb ...

2010-10-04 21:44:22Feel free to email to the mailing list
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.186.160.198

Dana, after you set the blog post to Available and hit Save, you should see a "Send to Subscribers" link. Feel free to click this then send your blog post to the mailing list.

For the record, we just crossed over 1000 subscribers a few days ago. It might not sound like much but I've been sweating on crossing that threshhold - we've been languishing in the 900's since May.

2010-10-04 21:54:57Big Picture on homepage
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.186.160.198
Oh and you'll be pleased to learn I *finally* got around to putting "The Big Picture" button on the homepage :-)
2010-10-05 02:29:44cool stuff
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
38.223.231.249
1,003 subscribers is pretty good!  I published and sent out the email.  Front page buttons look good too - way to knock stuff off that 'to do' list.
2010-10-05 08:12:10mislabeled CO2 figure
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
38.223.231.249
John, it was pointed out in the comments that the CO2 figure (which I took from the intermediate version) is mislabeled.  Taylor Dome should be blue and Law Dome should be green.  Think you could fix that?
2010-10-08 17:14:20Updated
John Cook

john@skepticalscience...
124.186.160.198
Labels fixed, thanks for the tip.