Over on the history of CO2 thread, that old chestnut of an issue has been raised, namely that there’s this one paper in one journal, notorious for publishing anti-science papers on climate (a field well outside its focus), that has shown wild flucuations in CO2 to levels well above today’s in times as recent as 60 years ago. Therefore….Not the IPCC.
The paper is by Ernst G Beck and the journal is Energy and Environment, 2009 (sorry, all my primary links are stale…anyone?)
Here is the graph, supposedly showing global CO2 levels:
This picture is at-a-glance completely implausible.
To believe this is accurate is to believe that there is some utterly undetected source of CO2 that switches on and off for no reason that can produce so much so fast that atmospheric levels jump from 320ppm to over 470ppm in just over a decade! All of today’s level of human emissions combined cause around one tenth of that in the same period. And that anthropogenic rate of emission is on the order of 100 times faster than that of all volcanic activity on the planet. The geologic record does sometimes show rises of that magnitude or greater, sometimes from uncertain but known sources, but the timescales involved are millenial. So to believe the other Beck, we need to believe in a previously unknown and unobserve source 1000x greater than any that is known today.
What’s more, we need another balancing magic carbon sink that cain suck down that same magnitude burst on similar time scales. This is even less plausible, carbon sequestration is a very long and gradual process, it is pretty much inconceivable that the entire atmosphere can be cleansed of that amount of CO2 in that amount of time. There is no process that, like a volcano beltching on the source side, can suddenly start and stop sucking down relatively massive quantities of CO2. The scale of that timeframe is off by an order of magnitude 10K times too large.
The next blindingly and obviously suspicious feature of that picture is that the magic source, or sources, completely dominating the record from the beginning, cease completely and suddenly at exactly the same time that more careful and accurate measurements are developed. Umm…okay, if the “Energy and Environment” journal says so, pigs do have wings!
You do not need to be even the most lame of a skeptic to immediately question Beck’s conclusion that global CO2 levels can be that volatile and were very recently much higher than today.
What’s more what’s more, the actual measurements are explainable. CO2 levels do vary dramatically on very localized levels. Forests, cities, marshes anywhere in the vicinity have the potential to cause large rises in concentrations that can then be blown away at the next change of wind. Measuring the atmospheric background level takes some care and thought.
On this one, there really is no respectable argument in Beck’s favour. Anyone on this blog, or anywhere, that credulously cites this material instantly loses all credibility as a skeptic, or even as a thinking person.
More details here.