2011-02-10 05:52:22Skeptic argument re temp over past 570 million years
John Hartz
John Hartz
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One of my nemeses on Politco.com, Tom Genin, posted the following response to one of my posts on the comment thread to the article, "Bush EPA chief prepped climate plan."

http://dyn.politico.com/members/forums/thread.cfm?catid=1&subcatid=55&threadid=5064054&start=1¤tPage=1


"But, as we all know, Global climate isn't measured in periods of time cherry picked to suit your argument. Let's look at the global temp over that last 570,000,000 years.

geologic global temp.jpg (83013 bytes)

"More to the point, the last 3 Million years have been very unstable as we're in a series of ice ages, 23 or so, since the Panama isthmus changed ocean currents. But none of that even changes the fact that the average global temp now is 56F, when the average over the last 570 Million years is a straight line 72F, barring the four global freezes. We're also at all time lows for average CO2 levels, as it's 385ppm now, where it was 900-3,300ppm during the last warm period.

"Go peddle man's involvement at Al Gores Beach house, which was awfully gutsy of him given his predictions of suddenly increasing rise in ocean levels."


My initial rebuttal:

"Your plot of the Earth's  global temperature over 570 million years tells us nothing about how mankind's activites, (i.e., primarily the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation)  have impacted the Earth's climate system* since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. 

"BTW, what was the configuration of the Earth's land masses during the geological periods shown on your plot?

"When did homo sapiens arrive on the scene?"


I could not find a rebuttal article posted on SkS that either covers the entire 570 million year period of the graph, or the 3 million year time period since the Panama Isthmus changed ocean current. Did I miss it?

Other thoughts? 

2011-02-10 07:00:16
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
98.207.62.223

I was just looking into this temperature map.  It's by a geologist by the name of CR Scotese.  He has lots of papers out on continental drift and this, as far as I can tell, seems to be a side project.  I can't find it in any of his papers (not that I've looked that hard).  

There are no citations attached to the methodology they describe.  And this certainly doesn't jive with... I think it was Tripati etal 2009.  (Alley mentions the Tripati paper in his AGU lecture).

I'm no expert but those upper and lower boundaries look very strange to me.  Why would global temperature stop for a 100 million years at exactly 22C?  And why no uncertainty range?  

Overall, I'd say this is highly suspect. 

2011-02-10 07:09:53Rob Honeycutt
John Hartz
John Hartz
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Thanks for the feedback. This is not the first time that Tom Genin has posted this graph on Politico.com -- one of the few media sites that alows graphics to be posted on its comment thread.

Does this graph warrant a SkS rebuttal? 

2011-02-10 07:19:46
Paul D

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This is the page that he got the graphic from:

http://www.lakepowell.net/sciencecenter/paleoclimate.htm

added: For such a long period you wouldn't have a lot of detail in the graph.

Even the straight bits would have a lot of noise if they were measured temperature data. If you took the last 100 years of data and you measured another 10 million years, then the last 100 would be the equivalent of 1 data point (probably not even that) on that 10 million year graph. eg. 100 years would suddenly be insignificant.

2011-02-10 10:07:54The Ville
John Hartz
John Hartz
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Thanks for the link.

The last paragraph of the explanatory text following the graph is:

Long Term Climate Changes (millions of years) - Our best guess today is associated with the very slow process known as "Plate Tectonics" and its influence on the atmospheric greenhouse effect. Over the time scale of 300 million years (back to the last known Great Ice Age - the Gondwanan), the continental plates have moved greatly. The question remains as to why the temperatures dropped. Perhaps the answer lies in changes in the natural (non-biogenic) production rate of carbon dioxide - the number one greenhouse gas. We know that CO2 is produced in volcanoes and in the mid-ocean trenches. It is lost by being slowly absorbed in the oceans. Both of these processes are very slow - about the right time scales to explain the great Ice Ages.

Enough said!

2011-02-10 12:16:45CR Scotese
John Hartz
John Hartz
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CR Sotese's website, PaleoMap Project, contains a "Climate History" section that includes the methodolgy he and his colleagues used to create the graph of Earth's temperature over the 570 million years -- see my initial post on this thread.

Judging from the dates of materials posted on the PaleoMap Project's website, I suspect that Sotese retired a few years ago.

http://www.scotese.com/climate.htm

2011-02-10 13:50:45
Glenn Tamblyn

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Badger

Take a look at the intermediate Argument for 'CO2 was higher in the past'. http://www.skepticalscience.com/co2-higher-in-past-intermediate.htm The comments above about this particular graph are valid but as a very rough indicator it is useful enough for debating with him. What is missing from the graph above is 2 things - CO2 levels, and Solar Output, although your opponent does mention the first briefly.

CO2 has been much higher in the past, with dips during the cold periods. Taking CO2 & Temps alone there seems to be a valid sceptic argument - how could temps have stayed so stable when CO2 was much higher and also changing over these periods.

The missing piece of the puzzle is Solar Output. At the dawn of the Earth, 4+ billion years ago the Sun's output was only about 70% of its current level. And has been rising steadily ever since. So divide 30% by (X Million years ago / 4 billion years) gives you how much lower solar output was at different points on his graph. With lower solar output, it would need more CO2 and hence more GH warming to have the same temperature. Remember also that the GH effect of CO2 is logarithmic so each doubling of CO2 only supplies the same increment of additional radiative forcing. So very much higher levels of CO2 were needed in the distant past. This solar warming is not to be confused with the very much shorter 11 year solar cycles we see - wee are talking slow change over millions and even billions of years.

This was first spelled out in a paper by Sagan et al in, I think, 1972 on the subject of what is now called 'The Faint Young Sun Problem (or Paradox)' - read about this in Wiki. That the early Sun wasn''t strong enough to allow liquid water to exist on the early Earth, yet geology is very clear that it did exist. Even today it is unclear that the GH Effect of very high levels of GH Gases - CO2, Methane, Ammonia, and others - would even then have been enough to keep the early Earth warm enough and this is still an area of active research.

If your opponent queries the change in Solar output, tell him to go look into Stellar Physics, the entire field of studying stars. And the central theories of Stellar Physics, embodied in the 'Standard Solar Model'. The slow rise in heat output of stars such as our sun is directly predicted by that theory and is backed up by observations of 100's of 1000's of stars. It is driven by the fact that the core of a star is continually loosing mass as it is converted to energy by Nuclear Fusion.

If he asks why the CO2 level would change over time to keep things RELATIVELY stable, 'Is this some sort of GAIA BullShit', the answer is yes, sort of. You need to do some reading about the Carbon Cycle & Weathering.

Short term cycling of carbon in the environment involves the atmosphere, absorption by the oceans, plants & soils. This occurs on time scales of decades to millenia. But there is another component to the carbon cycle that is slower, operating on time scales of 100' of 1000's to 10's of millions of years - Weathering. CO2 reacts with water in the atmosphere to produce weak Carbonic Acid. This rains out and reacts with various types of rocks to extract minerals from the rocks. This is not to be confused with erosion which is a more mechanical process. All this ends up in the oceans where this can slowly be deposited on the sea floor as various carbonate rocks. Continental drift means this is then steadily transported deep into the Earth, removing carbon completely from the surface environment.

Balanced against this is that vulcanism is continually releasing CO2 back into the environment. Again not short term like the 'Volcanoes are the source of the extra CO2 in the last 200 years' argument, but slowly over millions of years.

So Solar output is slowly rising, If the balance between the rates of CO2 removal due to Weathering vs CO2 addition due to Vulcanism can be made to adjust, long term CO2 can compensate for the changing Sun's output. And that is exactly what happens due to a negative feedback in the weathering process. Since it is a chemical reaction it is temperature dependent. As temp's rise the reaction goes faster, drawing more CO2 out. So eventually the weathering draws down excess CO2. Conversely, if it is cold, the weathering slows and CO2 can rise due to Vulcanism. It is a crude thermostat.

It can be overwhelmed by other events; periods of massive vulcanism (not just a single volcano), The sudden evolution of mass plant life in the Devonian/Carboniferous, major continental movements such as the formation of Pangaia etc. But it is always ticking away in the background, acting to restore a thermal balance - acting quite blindly I might add, no need for any Gaia mysticism here.

And long term this thermostat lowers the CO2 level to balance the slow rise in the Sun's output. But with some major periods of disruption to this.

It is believed that the evolution of what is called the C4 gene for photosynthesis, found in some plant that makes them more productive than plants with the older C3 gene came about as an evolutionary adaptation to falling CO2 levels.

And as the sun continues to warm the thermostat will keep dropping the CO2 level. In around 500 Million years, CO2 levels will be too low for plants to photosynthesise. So curtains for Plants and then Animals, returning the Earth to its rightful owners - Bacteria. But that is a long ways off. We are dealing with the short term - the next few decades and centuries.

When put together, CO2, the GH Effect, The Weathering Thermostat, and Solar increase, this is actually very strong evidence for the GH effect of CO2. Without it there may well have been no life on Earth. Including a certain Homo Sapiens.

And that is the point of the second graph from Royer in the rebuttal.

If your opponent wants to dispute this, point out that he is now rejecting Astro-Physics, ThermoNuclear-Physics, Qantum Mechanics, Radiative Physics, Geochemistry, Geology, Ocean Chemistry. And probably a whole other bunch of scientific disciplines unrelated to Climate. How much of science ALL has to be proven wrong, just to 'save' him from having to deal with the reality of AGW.

Start out politely, but if he persists give him both barrels. Remember, it is the lurkers you are debating in front of that matter, not your opponent.

2011-02-10 15:50:33Glenn Tamblyn
John Hartz
John Hartz
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98.122.68.19

Muchos gracias. 

I skimmed the SkS article you referenced and its comment thread. I particularly like Muoncounter's comment #6 -- both the graphic and the text.

Once I study your post and the related mateirals in more dtail, I'll be in a good postion to point out the hole's in Tom Genin's assertions about what can be gleaned from Scote's graph.   

2011-02-10 18:48:55
Glenn Tamblyn

glenn@thefoodgallery.com...
143.238.47.162

Badger

Couldn't help myself. I posted over at Politico just recently. Hey, we can tag team it a bit if you like, use time zone differences.

Man, is this guy the Scortese Cheer Squad or what!

2011-02-11 01:14:37
Paul D

chillcast@googlemail...
82.18.130.183

It's almost worth registering just to join in.

2011-02-11 01:35:33
Paul D

chillcast@googlemail...
82.18.130.183

I have joined as SouthyPort.

You should see a comment from me soon.

2011-02-11 02:05:08New comment thread
John Hartz
John Hartz
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Glenn Tamblyn & The Ville:

Thanks for posting your exellent and detailed comments. Unfortunately, the article we have been blogging on is no longer easily accessible on the Politico.com website. I therefore doubt that your posts will be read by many.

A more recent article Politico.com that I am blogging on is: "GOP-EPA fight lives up to hype." I suspect that Dahun and Tom Genin will soon be posting their denial poppycock on it. Please join in if you have the time to do so.

 http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0211/49187.html

2011-02-11 03:25:08
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
98.207.62.223

I think this is a highly effective method of dealing with various blogs and online articles where these discussions pop up.  Flag them, discuss them and then send in the troops to hammer down what are usually just a couple of very vocal people.

It seems like lots of us are doing similar work, cruising comments sections online looking for disinformation to crush.  I spend hours every day doing exactly this.  If we can coordinate better and grow the "team of crushers" then we could address all the anti-science much more effectively.

2011-02-11 04:03:47Rob Honeycutt & the "Crusher Crew"
John Hartz
John Hartz
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Rob,

Your post is music to my ears. I've been advocating the need to create a "crusher crew" for quite some time. I was not however able to get much traction on it with fellow envoironmental activists here in South Crolina or nationally.  

Like you, I spend (much to my wife's chagrin) many hours each day posting comments on articles. One of haunts was the USa Today website where the infamous "NETDR" reigns supreme. In December, he and his cronies ganged up and got me banned from posting. The USA Today is one of the few maninstream media websites that actually enforces its comment rules re "ad hominem" attacks. When one engages the "NETDR" in a martahon blogging session, it is very difficult to keep the lid on. He's both mean-spirtied and stubborn as a mule.

The bottom line, would you be willing to patrol articles posted on the USA Today website?

BTW, I had a pro-climate science blogging buddy on the USA Today website who was also banned at the same time I was. His monicker was "Rob77A". That wouldn't have been you by chance? 

2011-02-11 04:27:04
Rob Honeycutt

robhon@mac...
98.207.62.223

Badgersouth...  No, that wasn't me.  But I do the same thing.  My work right now is licensing a patent, and that involves a lot of waiting for companies to review the patent before they decide to not give me any money for my ideas.  ;-)  (Okay, I've had some success so far.)  But that affords me the luxury of hammering on the climate deniers.

John Cook has also mentioned starting up a rapid response team.  I'm not sure if it's the same thing we're thinking about here but let's start up a separate thread to discuss this.  I'll do that right now.

Titled Crusher Crew.