No rise in atmospheric carbon fraction over the last 150 years: University of Bristol

posted at 8:48 am on January 4, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Science Daily reported on a new study from the University of Bristol released over the holidays that deserves to get wider attention.  In contrast to claims from anthropogenic global-warming activists, this new analysis refutes one of the key principles of carbon-driven warming:

Most of the carbon dioxide emitted by human activity does not remain in the atmosphere, but is instead absorbed by the oceans and terrestrial ecosystems. In fact, only about 45 percent of emitted carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere. …

To assess whether the airborne fraction is indeed increasing, Wolfgang Knorr of the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol reanalyzed available atmospheric carbon dioxide and emissions data since 1850 and considers the uncertainties in the data.

In contradiction to some recent studies, he finds that the airborne fraction of carbon dioxide has not increased either during the past 150 years or during the most recent five decades.

The thumbnail argument for AGW is this: the CO2 emitted by industrialization over the last 150 years has accumulated in the atmosphere, along with other gases such as methane, warming the globe more rapidly than otherwise would have happened.  The continuing emissions of CO2 from industrialized and developing nations will result in an exponential explosion of warming the longer it continues as the CO2 accumulates at faster and faster rates in the atmosphere, both because the previous emissions have not been absorbed and more people are emitting than ever.  Therefore, we have to control emissions just to contain the damage, and it might already be too late!

Of course, that’s why everyone flew private jets to Copenhagen last month — in order to warn about carbon emissions.

If this University of Bristol analysis is correct, CO2 hasn’t been accumulating in the atmosphere at all.  That means whatever warming we have experienced (and we have experienced warming) did not come from increased CO2 in the atmosphere.  That would explain why we have experienced a cooling cycle for the last ten to twelve years despite an increase of CO2 emissions, albeit an increase at a slower rate than before.  The new analysis completely destroys the AGW argument, because if CO2 is not accumulating in the atmosphere, it can’t be causing global warming.

No one doubts the necessity of curtailing particulate emissions into the air.  If anyone did, the Beijing Olympics and the thick & chunky smog would have removed those doubts.  Moving towards cleaner energy and renewables is a laudable goal and a necessary process.  But succumbing to AGW hysteria and destroying the very economy that could produce that type of progress is not just absurd, it’s counterproductive to the goal.

Update: I changed the title of this post to more accurately reflect what UB found – no change in the ratio of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.  One correspondent says that it doesn’t change the fact that we’re still dumping carbon into the atmosphere, where it could cause global warming.  However, if the ratio of CO2 in the atmosphere hasn’t changed in 150 years, then the CO2 is getting reabsorbed, not remaining in the atmosphere to cause global warming.  Unless there are other agents adding oxygen and nitrogen to the air and increasing the volume of all three, then the increased CO2 isn’t staying in the air.  If CO2 accounted for 0.04% of the atmosphere in 1860 and 0.04% today, then CO2 isn’t a cause of warming — at least not now, and not over the last 150 years, as AGW hysterics claim.

Update II:  A friendlier message says this:

The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is increasing.
The percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere is increasing.
However, the percentage of CO2 on the planet which is airborne (as opposed to dissolved in the oceans, trapped in ice, or incorporated into biomass through photosynthesis) is not increasing.  That is the meaning of airborne fraction. It doesn’t mean the fraction of the air which is CO2.  It’s an easy mistake to make, and many others have on other sites.

Why this matters:  One of the claims of the alarmists is that the oceans cannot hold any more CO2, that they are “saturated,” and therefore additional CO2 emissions will increasingly stay in the atmosphere.  This now appears to be false. It undermines the alarmists’ arguments a little, but not too much.  They will simply shift their position to:  “Well, they oceans aren’t saturated yet, but they will be soon.  And then the airborne fraction will increase dramatically.  Just you wait.”

There are a couple of problems with this.  First, AGW alarmists say that increased CO2 in the air causes global warming.  Second, I’m old enough to remember rainforest hysteria, where we were all going to asphyxiate ourselves by chopping down trees that produced O2 from CO2, as we reduced biomass.  If we’re producing larger biomass, then we’re creating more capacity to absorb CO2 and produce more oxygen (and food, too) as a result.  And that’s supposed to be bad?

Update III: Here’s the summary from Knorr, emphases mine:

Several recent studies have highlighted the possibility that the oceans and terrestrial ecosystems have started loosing part of their ability to sequester a large proportion of the anthropogenic CO2 emissions. This is an important claim, because so far only about 40% of those emissions have stayed in the atmosphere, which has prevented additional climate change. This study re-examines the available atmospheric CO2 and emissions data including their uncertainties. It is shown that with those uncertainties, the trend in the airborne fraction since 1850 has been 0.7 ± 1.4% per decade, i.e. close to and not significantly different from zero. The analysis further shows that the statistical model of a constant airborne fraction agrees best with the available data if emissions from land use change are scaled down to 82% or less of their original estimates. Despite the predictions of coupled climate-carbon cycle models, no trend in the airborne fraction can be found.


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Ed, what with all the updates, this post seems to be taking positions on both sides of the spectrum. You start out making the case that the Bristol findings refutes one of the basic tenets of the AGW zealots but eventually seem to have your own unspoken Emily Litella moment.

Oh well … nevermind.

Sailfish on January 4, 2010 at 12:46 PM

So, CO2 is getting its energy from two sources,

Your understanding of GW is that the CO2 is getting warmer? No wonder you don’t believe it–nobody else believes that either.

Hmmm…. Please explain how my stating the CO2 is getting its IR radiation from two sources, the Sun, and the Blackbody radiation of the Earth, can possibly be constured or misunderstood by any literate person… to say that “CO2 is getting warmer?”

or do you misunderstand on purpose?

Romeo13 on January 4, 2010 at 12:47 PM

Dissolved salt is sufficient to buffer the increases in CO2.

The oceans are going to remain basic, not acidic for many hundreds of years, even if the worst case CO2 increases are acheived.

MarkTheGreat on January 4, 2010 at 10:48 AM

The question is not whether the ocean is basic or acidic — the question is what is happening to the pH overall, and what effect does that have on sea life? The shift in pH is downward. While I disagree that the cause is anthropogenic (nobody has proven that yet), this article covers the problem well:

Similarly, one of the first detailed datasets examining temporal variations in pH at a temperate coastal location found that acidification was occurring at a rate much higher than that previously predicted, with consequences for near-shore benthic ecosystems.

The ocean is not an infinite buffer.

From the oceans does not mean from the water. It references the huge amounts of plankton, etc. in the water.

MarkTheGreat on January 4, 2010 at 10:51 AM

Exactly. That’s why I mentioned algae blooms — algae are a form of photoplankton, as are the cyanobacteria which appear to be responsible for the origin of the first oxygen in our atmosphere. What I’m concerned about is both the buffering of C02 via interaction with water, and the use of CO2 by organisms which, in some locations, are not the types of organisms we want to be stimulating into growth. Of course, as the plankton (and their preditors) die, the majority of the CO2 they sequestered is re-released into the oceanic waters.

I understand your point — that the ocean includes things other than water — but that’s what complicates this issue so much.

unclesmrgol on January 4, 2010 at 12:48 PM

While I agree that AGW is a huge scam I’m curious as to why you think it has anything to do with the nuclear power industry.

Oldnuke on January 4, 2010 at 9:50 AM

I do not wish to accuse anybody in the nuclear industry or fossil-fuel industry of lying about climate change. However both the oil and nuclear industries stand to benefit greatly from a climate change scare.

The nuclear industry can benefit by being the replacement for fossil fuels.

The oil corporations can benefit because they know that their main product will stay in demand until it runs-out sometime within the next 100 years. Because of this natural expiry for their product they actually have nothing to gain by opposing a reduction in fossil-fuel use, but they can use the global warming band-wagon to get concessions from environmentalists and grants from tax-payers to fund the research needed to find their next energy ‘product’. Their industry is not just about extraction, but also distribution and within a couple of decades they will begin to need a new product to distribute.

They might not have created the climate-change wave, but it gives them an opportunity to ride.

YiZhangZhe on January 4, 2010 at 12:50 PM

Most of the O2 is produced by phytoplankton (plants) in the oceans.

riverrat10k on January 4, 2010 at 10:52 AM

I’m looking for a source for your assertion. It’s similar to the one MarktheGreat made earlier.

unclesmrgol on January 4, 2010 at 12:50 PM

Ed, climate change alarmists couldn’t have asked for a better post to help them paint the other side as deniers who jump to conclusions without understanding the science. Atmospheric CO2 is indisputably increasing… This study seems to be discussing the rate of change of the function–how much does atmospheric CO2 increase per unit emitted.

DaveS on January 4, 2010 at 12:55 PM

2) Y’all (y’all know who y’are) discount the hundreds of scientific studies that suggest AGW is true, yet pounce on this one scientific study that suggests it might not be. Is that not terribly hypocritical? If peer-reviewed journals are all lying on the topic, why trust this one? If this one study can be

Has this one been shown to have been based on manipulated information and a biased selection of data in order to arrive at a selected conclusion? If so, what is your evidence of that claim, and if not, then no..it doesn’t seem hypocritical imo.

Itchee Dryback on January 4, 2010 at 1:01 PM

YiZhangZhe on January 4, 2010 at 12:50 PM

Your argument seems valid, until you think a little outside the box. You’re actually speaking of the Electrical production industry. In that sense both the nuclear and fossil energy suppliers are the same people. In a nutshell the electrical producers will always use the fuel that is most economical for them whether that be coal or nuclear. All of them would really like to use hydro exclusively but there just isn’t enough flowing water to dam up.

Oldnuke on January 4, 2010 at 1:03 PM

While I agree that AGW is a huge scam I’m curious as to why you think it has anything to do with the nuclear power industry.

Oldnuke on January 4, 2010 at 9:50 AM

Don’t bother asking. They don’t know either. It just seems right to knock the “nukes” somehow. Old habits I guess.

BobMbx on January 4, 2010 at 1:03 PM

BAAAAAHYYYAAAHHMM!!!

CynicalOptimist on January 4, 2010 at 1:18 PM

Obviously, the lack of atmospheric carbon fraction rise over the last 150 years is a clear indication of man-made global warming. You’re just not looking at the data correctly if you don’t see it!

olesparkie on January 4, 2010 at 1:33 PM

While I agree that AGW is a huge scam I’m curious as to why you think it has anything to do with the nuclear power industry.

Oldnuke on January 4, 2010 at 9:50 AM

They see an opportunity to steal the thunder of ‘dirty’ power like they have for the past several decades from solar, wind, fusion, etc.

Dark-Star on January 4, 2010 at 1:35 PM

Wouldn’t it sound like a great idea to simply put some sand into the coal energy gears?
The rest was history…

TomB on January 4, 2010 at 11:15 AM

No it wouldn’t since the same people who own and operate nuclear plants own and operate coal plants as well as gas turbines, natural gas plants, hydro plants, and wind farms and just about anything else that will produce a megawatt.

Oldnuke on January 4, 2010 at 1:41 PM

As a college teacher for forty-six years, it occurs to me that one reason for “No rise in atmospheric carbon fraction over the last 150 years.” is that most students no longer burn the midnight oil.

Dr. Charles G. Waugh on January 4, 2010 at 1:49 PM

There is a difference between what the scientists studying the matter say, what the media reporting on the scientists studying the matter say, what the environmentalists running scared based on the media reporting say, and what the politicians pandering to the environmentalists say.

hicsuget on January 4, 2010 at 12:15 PM

Which is why you have to read the studies themselves, and not rely on others to tell you what the studies say.

Before you can evaluate whether a study is any good, you must examine the raw data and the methods used to manipulate the raw data.

Which is why all of the so called AGW studies fail. They refuse to release the data and methods so that independant scholars can review it.

On the other hand, the hundreds of studies that have found little to no global warming have been quite open with their data.

MarkTheGreat on January 4, 2010 at 2:16 PM

“How To Make Idiotic Comments Sound Profound”.

hicsuget on January 4, 2010 at 12:21 PM

Silly me, I thought you had already copyrighted the concept.

MarkTheGreat on January 4, 2010 at 2:18 PM

Why is the asphalt warmer than the grassy field the road is next to?

Irrelevant to the question of what blackbody radiation is.

All of it gets radiated back? Instantaneously? Srsly?

Of course all of it. If any fraction were being retained, the earth would be warming up at a constant rate until it vaporized.
He never said instantly, that’s your pathetic attempt at a strawman.

Your understanding of GW is that the CO2 is getting warmer? No wonder you don’t believe it–nobody else believes that either.

Once again you demonstrate that your reading comprehension is non-existant.

Ignoring this…

…and this… maybe the next bit will be coherent enough to respond to.

The only thing you continue to demonstrate is that you are just blustering through on concepts you barely comprehend. Both comments were cogent and well within recognized science. Just because you couldn’t understand them …

All of it? And it’s all being radiated back into space instantaneously? And there’s nothing anyone can do to alter these processes? (Think real hard, until it hurts, about the asphalt road and grassy field mentioned above)

Of course all of it is being absorbed. Read up on the concept of optical length. Not one single photon of IR energy radiated from the ground makes it through to space. Not directly. It is absorbed by the atmosphere, re-emmitted, absorbed, re-emitted, hundreds of times before it makes it to space. Why do you insist on embarassing yourself so thoroughly.

MarkTheGreat on January 4, 2010 at 2:25 PM

The oil corporations can benefit because they know that their main product will stay in demand until it runs-out sometime within the next 100 years.

YiZhangZhe on January 4, 2010 at 12:50 PM

Make that 1000 years, not 100. Maybe not even that soon.

MarkTheGreat on January 4, 2010 at 2:27 PM

They see an opportunity to steal the thunder of ‘dirty’ power like they have for the past several decades from solar, wind, fusion, etc.

Dark-Star on January 4, 2010 at 1:35 PM

Nobody can steal thunder that never existed. Solar, and wind will never be major players in the electricity market. Fusion is a technology that is 30 years away from maturation, and has been for 50 years.

MarkTheGreat on January 4, 2010 at 2:30 PM

So, is it OK to exhale or should I keep holding it? Please respond quickly as I’m feeling a bit dizzy.

Extrafishy on January 4, 2010 at 2:37 PM

So, is it OK to exhale or should I keep holding it? Please respond quickly as I’m feeling a bit dizzy.

Extrafishy on January 4, 2010 at 2:37 PM

That depends, are you liberal or conservative?

MarkTheGreat on January 4, 2010 at 2:46 PM

So, is it OK to exhale or should I keep holding it? Please respond quickly as I’m feeling a bit dizzy.

Extrafishy on January 4, 2010 at 2:37 PM

It’s safe to exhale freely, but please don’t fart without permission. We will begin issueing personal carbon credits which will be tracked by a credit card based system. PCC may be deducted for fossil fule based activities and flatulence.

bitsy on January 4, 2010 at 2:49 PM

No it wouldn’t since the same people who own and operate nuclear plants own and operate coal plants as well as gas turbines, natural gas plants, hydro plants, and wind farms and just about anything else that will produce a megawatt.

Not exactly “the same people”, since the technology is quite different (except for the final stage of the turbine and generator). Also there is a competition between coal mine owners and uranium mine owners (also “the same people”??)

TomB on January 4, 2010 at 3:07 PM

Not exactly “the same people”, since the technology is quite different (except for the final stage of the turbine and generator). Also there is a competition between coal mine owners and uranium mine owners (also “the same people”??)

TomB on January 4, 2010 at 3:07 PM

So every electric company that has one nuke plant, is by definition 100% nuke?????

How much influence do you think the owners of uranium mines have in this country?

Are you also under the impression that no company that owns uranium mines could also be the owner of a coal mine?

MarkTheGreat on January 4, 2010 at 3:40 PM

Not exactly “the same people”, since the technology is quite different (except for the final stage of the turbine and generator). Also there is a competition between coal mine owners and uranium mine owners (also “the same people”??)

TomB on January 4, 2010 at 3:07 PM

Exactly the same people as in Duke Power, TVA, South Carolina Power and light, Dominion Energy, Florida Power and Light, Southern California Edison and on and on. The same damn companies that own nuclear power plants own coal fired power plants. If they ran PR campaigns to screw with coal they’d be cutting their own throats.

As for the coal mine owners and uranium mine owners they don’t really compete. Besides there would be no incentive for one to run a PR campaign aginst the other.

your comment

since the technology is quite different (except for the final stage of the turbine and generator)

tells me that you’ve probably never set foot into either one.

Oldnuke on January 4, 2010 at 3:41 PM

Does the University of Bristol understand they and Knorr will be attacked savagely by the enviro-communists?

They’re welcome to try, but I’d advise against it. The Earth Sciences Department is in the same building as the Law faculty.

Grunchy Cranola on January 4, 2010 at 3:51 PM

tells me that you’ve probably never set foot into either one.

Oldnuke on January 4, 2010 at 3:41 PM

I thought he was referencing a coal fired boiler vs. a nuclear reactor.

Though his claim that because the technologies are different, they can’t possibly be owned by the same company is one of the most absurd claims I have ever heard.

MarkTheGreat on January 4, 2010 at 4:01 PM

I thought he was referencing a coal fired boiler vs. a nuclear reactor.

Though his claim that because the technologies are different, they can’t possibly be owned by the same company is one of the most absurd claims I have ever heard.

MarkTheGreat on January 4, 2010 at 4:01 PM

From his comment I thought he was saying that except for the turbine and generator everything else was different. That’s just not the case. If he meant just the heat sources were different I’d buy that but I don’t think that’s what he meant. The second part about a power company owning both is simply a misconception, shared by lots of folks, that the nuclear industry is somehow segregated from the rest of the electric production industry. Can’t really hammer somebody too much for that it’s just something most people never have to think about.

Oldnuke on January 4, 2010 at 4:15 PM

I thought he was referencing a coal fired boiler vs. a nuclear reactor.

MarkTheGreat on January 4, 2010 at 4:01 PM

Ah ha! Old Nuke is right. You see, nuclear power stations don’t have boilers. They have steam generators. And all the pipe joints are welded.

(Hyman was a genious, politically)

/sarc

BobMbx on January 4, 2010 at 4:24 PM

Oldnuke on January 4, 2010 at 4:15 PM

I have no personal experience with power plants, but just how different are the turbines and generator in a nuke vs. coal plant?

Do coal plants need back up in case there is a loss of coolant? Seems to me that total loss of coolant would be bad news for a coal fired boiler. No radiation leaks (obviously) but the thermal stresses would be pretty bad.

MarkTheGreat on January 4, 2010 at 4:26 PM

This is why I am so glad to report that Michael Mann – creator of the incredible Hockey Stick curve and one of the scientists most heavily implicated in the Climategate scandal – is about to get a very nasty shock. When he turns up to work on Monday, he’ll find that all 27 of his colleagues at the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University have received a rather tempting email inviting them to blow the whistle on anyone they know who may have been fraudulently misusing federal grant funds for climate research.
Under US law, regardless of whether or not a prosecution results, the whistleblower stands to make very large sums of money: it is based on a percentage of the total government funds which have been misused, in this case perhaps as much as $50 million.

J_Crater on January 4, 2010 at 4:41 PM

One way to look at the differences between conventional and nuclear generation is that in a nuke plant, the coolant is actively cooling the reactor. In a conventional plant, the coal/gas is heating the “coolant”.

It sounds a bit strange but keep in mind the physics behind the nuke plant. You can’t just shut it off. You can’t shut off a coal fire either, but you can vent it to the atmosphere and it will eventually cool down by itself, and it doesn’t keep getting hotter.

A reactor will do the opposite. Take away the cooling, and you get (simplistically) a Chernobyl or TMI.

Chernobyl was absolute human failure. TMI was a design flaw; no human failures in the cause of the accident.

BobMbx on January 4, 2010 at 4:43 PM

MarkTheGreat on January 4, 2010 at 4:26 PM

I’m speaking in generalities here since no two plants are the same. For all intents and purposes the turbines and generators are the same. The coal plant utilizes superheat which means their HP turbine has to be designed to handle the higher pressures and temperatures. Fossil plants also capture reheat energy in the exhaust gas by routing the steam from the HP turbine back through the boiler and then into an intermediate turbine. From there the steam is routed into the LP turbine. Nukes (PWRs) don’t do this so they don’t have intermediate turbines. They utilize a steam reheat system and route the steam exhaust from the HP turbine into these reheaters and then into a couple of LP turbines. The generator in a nuke is no different from a generator in a fossil plant other than the protective relaying. Nukes have protection schemes tied to the turbine generator that dirt burners don’t have. That said the hydraylic control systems are identical for both the fossil and nukes. Same pumps, valves and coolers. Seal oil systems are identical as are all the other related secondary systems such as feed water and condensate. Any old fossil fuel operator could walk into a nuke turbine building and feel right at home. Firing a coal boiler without water is a disaster. I know one plant I worked at did just that and no I wasn’t the one operating it :-) To put it simply it just melted. Took months to repair.

One little tantalizing tidbit just for you Mark :-) A full blown double ended guillotine coolant pipe shear LOCA (loss of coolant accident) is not the limiting accident for a PWR. The limiting accident is actually an unisolable small line break of around 1/2″ diameter. Think about that one.

Oldnuke on January 4, 2010 at 5:07 PM

Ed, thanks for your interesting post.
The results as reported by Science Daily are very puzzling. Many measurements show that the percentage of atmospheric CO2 has significantly increased since record-keeping began in the 1950s (the famous Keeling curve), and these measurements have been replicated at numerous places around the world. It will be interesting to see if and how the Bristol results square with the Keeling data.

westernflyer on January 4, 2010 at 5:08 PM

J_Crater on January 4, 2010 at 4:41 PM

LOL!!!!! Thats GREAT!

Romeo13 on January 4, 2010 at 5:09 PM

TMI was a design flaw; no human failures in the cause of the accident.

BobMbx on January 4, 2010 at 4:43 PM

Not quite correct Bob. There were human errors at TMI contributing to the accident. It did start as equipment failure but deteriorated. One big difference between Chernobyl and TMI though is that at TMI the safety systems worked despite the errors to contain the accident. Chernobyl was placed into a condition where their safety systems actually contributed to and multiplied the severity of the accident.

Oldnuke on January 4, 2010 at 5:12 PM

Oldnuke on January 4, 2010 at 5:12 PM

My vague recollection regarding TMI was that after the equipment failure, the operators became confused and as a result took the wrong action. The fault was blamed on the way information was passed to the operators, too much information presented in a manner not easily understood.

When I was an undergrad at GaTech, I worked on a system for GaPower’s plant Vogle (spelling could be off, it was 30 years ago) We were designing a computer driven display system to combine multiple data inputs into a more manageable, graphic display. Full milspec computers, I can’t even tell you the number of hours I spent writing on E size paper, documenting every single wire, from sensor, through every single junction box, until it reached the computer.

Regarding Chernobyl, I thought the operators actually disengaged the primary safety systems, then pushed the reactor into an unstable mode.

MarkTheGreat on January 4, 2010 at 5:28 PM

MarkTheGreat on January 4, 2010 at 5:28 PM

Vogtle. That system you worked on is probably the one we called SPDS. Safety Parameters Display System. One of the many useful tools that came out of the TMI aftermath. Believe it or not TMI turned out to have some silver in it’s lining. If you’re interested here’s the NRC backgrounder on the TMI accident

Regarding Chernobyl, I thought the operators actually disengaged the primary safety systems, then pushed the reactor into an unstable mode.

Chernobyl, in the configuration they placed it,had what is called a positive void coefficient. This made any reactivity excursion devastating it would have and did cause the power level to rise uncontrollably. They had also placed the unit in a condition that caused a positive reactivity addition for some significant travel length of the control rods. When the operator pushed the trip button instead of shutting the plant down it inserted a large amount of positive reactivity into the core this multiplied by the positive void coefficient became a self propogating uncontrolled excursion resulting in large and copious amounts of Iodine being relocated to the cornfields.

Here’s an sequence of events that explains this a lot easier than I can type it.

Man are we off topic or what?

Oldnuke on January 4, 2010 at 5:59 PM

Some posters and even Ed seem to have misunderstood this article a bit. It really has nothing to do with the amount of CO2 in the air or the basic assertion that it is causing warming. What it debunks is some hysteria that there is a self reinforcing feedback process of ever increasing warming.

Resolute on January 4, 2010 at 6:53 PM

Now what does all this science and reason have to do with global warming. Enough of your damn facts.

Mojave Mark on January 4, 2010 at 7:08 PM

The ocean is not an infinite buffer.

unclesmrgol on January 4, 2010 at 12:48 PM

When you compare the amount of calcium in sea water to the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, it’s not infinite, but it’s close.

MarkTheGreat on January 5, 2010 at 7:51 AM

Man are we off topic or what?

Oldnuke on January 4, 2010 at 5:59 PM

We are off topic, but one of the things I like about this site is the ability to pick the brains of people who know things I don’t.

MarkTheGreat on January 5, 2010 at 7:54 AM

About That Compost Pile

Oxygen is essential for the metabolism and respiration of aerobic microorganisms, and for oxidizing the various organic molecules present in the waste material. At the beginning of microbial oxidative activity, the O2 concentration in the pore spaces is about 15-20% (similar to the normal composition of air), and the CO2 concentration varies form 0.5-5%. As biological activity progresses, the O2 concentration falls and CO2 concentration increases.
Cornell Waste Management Institute ©1996 Dept of Crop and Soil Sciences 101 Rice Hall, Cornell University

In other words…

A compost pile is a microcosm of what happens in nature.

“Conventional wisdom” is, that trees and other plants emit oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide.

This is true… As long as you leave out the part about what happens to the leaves, and other detritus, at the end of their cycle – when the plant material reverses the process in decomposition.

At the end of the day, it’s prob’ly close to a net zero sum, over the life-time of a tree.

And, if you’re a environmentally conscious gardener with a compost heap, you’re actually raising the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

You can’t win for losing.

franksalterego on January 5, 2010 at 9:58 AM

The thumbnail argument for AGW is this: the CO2 emitted by industrialization over the last 150 years has accumulated in the atmosphere, along with other gases such as methane, warming the globe more rapidly than otherwise would have happened.

AGW = AlGorbal Warming?

DannoJyd on January 5, 2010 at 11:13 AM

Simply put…WE DON’T KNOW!
But we do know this is the coldest darn winter I have ever seen…we need more global warming…all my plants are dying…

right2bright on January 5, 2010 at 11:28 AM

We don’t know. However, everyone is for a clean environment. Let the Chinese and Indians choke in the smog that their bustling economies will generate.

We need to rebuild our electrical grid and put new nukes online ……… and the Japanese need to stop whaling!!

SC.Charlie on January 5, 2010 at 1:00 PM

We need to rebuild our electrical grid and put new nukes online ……… and the Japanese need to stop whaling!!

SC.Charlie on January 5, 2010 at 1:00 PM

Why is everyone so worried about our electrical grid?

Oldnuke on January 5, 2010 at 1:42 PM

Unless there are other agents adding oxygen and nitrogen to the air and increasing the volume of all three, then the increased CO2 isn’t staying in the air. 

D’Oh! Now ya done it!

Get ready for: AGPB

“Were pumping the atmosphere up like a big balloon! And and and like any balloon if you keep pumping it up it’s gona pop!

And and and were all gona die!”

AGW is now AGPB (Anthropogenic Global Pumping Balloon)

DSchoen on January 5, 2010 at 3:01 PM

To be slightly OT, everyone has heard about the ice at the South pole and the North pole, but I bet you haven’t heard of the third pole:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091214173646.htm

Dark-Star on January 5, 2010 at 3:32 PM

Oldnuke on January 5, 2010 at 1:42 PM

All those GE commercials telling us we need a SmartGrid ’cause the current one wastes 50% of the power generated!

Al in St. Lou on January 5, 2010 at 3:41 PM

All those GE commercials telling us we need a SmartGrid ’cause the current one wastes 50% of the power generated!

Al in St. Lou on January 5, 2010 at 3:41 PM

Really? Haven’t seen them here. Are they of any merit or is this another industry-rigged ‘study’ to rustle up business?

Dark-Star on January 5, 2010 at 3:45 PM

“Why is everyone so worried about our electrical grid?” Oldnuke on January 5, 2010 at 1:42 PM

From what I understand it needs to be made smarter and more efficient……..more computerization that would enable the operators to stop brown-outs and black-outs.

Personally, I would like to know when it is cost-beneficial to replace appliances with newer more efficient ones. My refrigerator is about 20 years-old and my heat-pump is about ten years old…..heck my car is 10 years old and gets 30 mpg and supposed to only get 25 mpg.

SC.Charlie on January 5, 2010 at 3:46 PM

Dark-Star on January 5, 2010 at 3:45 PM

I have no idea. I usually fast-forward through them, but I’m sure they don’t contain useful info. They’re just marketing BS.

Seems like Oldnuke might know, though.

Al in St. Lou on January 5, 2010 at 3:50 PM

Really? Haven’t seen them here. Are they of any merit or is this another industry-rigged ’study’ to rustle up business?

Dark-Star on January 5, 2010 at 3:45 PM

Just GE looking for another handout from The Won and The Won looking for another way to scare the American people into giving the government more power. The last time I checked ‘The grid’ is mostly owned, operated and maintained by private concerns, that being the various electrical utilities. The electrical utilities make their money insuring that electricity gets to the user. If it doesn’t get to the customer they don’t get paid. GE makes their money selling stuff to the electric utilities. One way to insure that GE gets more bucks is to have the government mandate that the utilities buy stuff from them. The transmission network is being continuously maintained and upgraded by the people who rely on it for their income. The utilities that own them. Ask yourself one question. If you don’t believe Barrack Obama about healthcare, TARP, the Freddie/Fannie fiasco, bank bailouts, auto industry bailouts or GITMO why in the world would you believe him when he says “Our grid is falling apart! If we don’t fix it immediately we are all doomed!” Not saying the transmission network doesn’t need some work and upgrading just saying it’s better left to the folks who have a vested interest in moving the megawatts down the line. The places where the electrical grid are in most need of fixin’ are places with the most government restrictions and mandates.

Oldnuke on January 5, 2010 at 4:24 PM

Just GE looking for another handout from The Won and The Won looking for another way to scare the American people into giving the government more power.

Oldnuke on January 5, 2010 at 4:24 PM

Pun intended? 8)

In all seriousness, thank you. I thought I smelled another ‘OMG Emergency!!!’ attempt in GE’s ads.

Dark-Star on January 5, 2010 at 4:27 PM

My vague recollection regarding TMI was that after the equipment failure, the operators became confused and as a result took the wrong action. The fault was blamed on the way information was passed to the operators, too much information presented in a manner not easily understood.

TMI started as a failed relief valve (mechanical). The operator had commanded the valve shut, and the annunciator indicated that it was shut. The valve control and indication circuitry had a design flaw, in that the annunciator indicated the ordered position of the valve, not the actual position of the valve. This led the operator to believe the valve was in the correct position when in fact it had failed and was in the opposite condition. The operator had no way of knowing what the status of the plant was. From this point on, everything they did was based on incorrect valve lineups, meaning nothing they did resulted in the expected response.

So, yeah, the operators made mistakes; but they weren’t mistakes based on the info available to them.

Chernobyl: Children should not be allowed to play with dangerous toys.

BobMbx on January 5, 2010 at 4:43 PM

Oldnuke on January 5, 2010 at 4:24 PM

Thanks. Sadly, its nothing surprising. It’s the government picking winners and losers again with GE campaigning to be one of the winners. Socialism, here we come!

Al in St. Lou on January 5, 2010 at 4:50 PM

So, yeah, the operators made mistakes; but they weren’t mistakes based on the info available to them.

BobMbx on January 5, 2010 at 4:43 PM

Yep, they had a stuck open PORV that was indicating closed. They also had some other feed systems problems and obscured indicators, and if I remember correctly some burnt out indicating lights. During an event of this type the alarm boards light up like a blinking Christmas tree and the alarm horns blare continuously. Very distracting. At this time simulator training was very limited and a lot of plants sent the operators out about once a year to some other plant that had a simulator. Don’t know if TMI had a simulator at that time or not. But it’s very hard to do site specific training on a non site specific simulator. That changed big time! Operators now get so much simulator time that I sometimes thought I had more time there than in the real plant.

Oldnuke on January 5, 2010 at 6:11 PM

But I was told ALL of the deniers were knuckle-dragging-illiterate-mouth-breathing-pond-scum.
Sorry about the pond-scum, I think I added that during homogenization before I “lost” or destroyed the original message.

Blacksmith8 on January 5, 2010 at 7:10 PM

Ask yourself one question. If you don’t believe Barrack Obama about healthcare, TARP, the Freddie/Fannie fiasco, bank bailouts, auto industry bailouts or GITMO why in the world would you believe him when he says “Our grid is falling apart! If we don’t fix it immediately we are all doomed!” Not saying the transmission network doesn’t need some work and upgrading just saying it’s better left to the folks who have a vested interest in moving the megawatts down the line. The places where the electrical grid are in most need of fixin’ are places with the most government restrictions and mandates.

Oldnuke on January 5, 2010 at 4:24 PM

So much truth in so few words. Are you from Texas?
 
To form a general argument, I’d like to restate the obvious:
If you don’t believe l’il Barry Dunham about healthcare, TARP, the Freddie/Fannie fiasco, bank bailouts, auto industry bailouts, Afghanistan, Pakistan, transparency, FOCA, BAIPA, Interpol, TSA, or GITMO why in the world would you believe him about anything?

Blacksmith8 on January 5, 2010 at 7:28 PM

So much truth in so few words. Are you from Texas?

Blacksmith8 on January 5, 2010 at 7:28 PM

Hahaha, No originally from Kentucky relocated to Virginia.

Oldnuke on January 5, 2010 at 8:05 PM

You’re friendlier message still makes no sense.

My brain goes in a straight line, which says in order for something to get into the atmosphere, from earth, it would have to go through the air we breath up to atmosphere to get there. Remember CFCs were a problem because they were migrating from our air into the atmosphere and combining with ozone. Earth is a system enclosed in a universe. Either something must have happened inside the system that causes a change or something must have came in from the universe to cause the change.

So if fractional airborne CO2 was relatively unchanged for 150 years, then that means that the atmospheric composition of CO2 was relatively unchanged for 150 years. The earth stays in dynamic equilibrium, so that means the extra CO2 pumped out was absorbed by some sink on the planet.

How can the atmospheric CO2 increase without CO2 going through the air we breath in some manner?? There had to have been a channel; it didn’t just magically show up.

xax on January 5, 2010 at 8:43 PM

And then of course you have to remember that North America, home of that evil industrialized planet-killing monster known as the United States of America is actually. . .

wait for it. . .

A net carbon sink. That’s right kiddies, evil America actually absorbs more CO2 than it puts out. Thank you big Ag.

Jason Coleman on March 31, 2010 at 7:09 PM

Xax probably wishes they had an edit button right about now.

Jason Coleman on March 31, 2010 at 7:12 PM

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