[Coral-List] Pseudoscience

Douglas Fenner douglasfennertassi at gmail.com
Tue Nov 6 22:11:57 EST 2012

*your post gives no calculations to show how the 0.64C figure was derived,
nor any empirical evidence that it is true.
*it is not true that the amount of infrared which CO2 absorbs in saturating
with increasing concentrations of CO2, as revealed by modern scientific

First, in your post after the quote from Arrhenius from page 267, there is
a statement about what this means.  It says that the temperature change
would only be 0.64 C.  I assume that since that section isn't in quotes,
that it does not come from the Arrhenius paper.  Where does it come from?
Can you show us how that number is calculated?  What empirical evidence
shows that is correct?  Or is that just something that was included in this
piece that you copied off some political website (or a friend sent you),
for which there is no documentation or evidence?  Why should we accept it
without evidence?  You're just the messenger?  Ask Arrhenius?  He's long
dead, though the person who wrote this is probably very much alive.  Should
we accept whatever your friends send you, without being critical, like you
seem to?

This comes under one of the headings of the standard (ie, frequently
repeated) arguments which climate change deniers make.  On the Skeptical
Science website (http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php), it is
listed as number 73 (out of 173 listed).  Titled "CO2 effect is
saturated."  The short version of the reply is "If the CO2 effect was
saturated, adding more CO2 should add no additional greenhouse effect.
However, satellite and surface measurements observe an enhanced greenhouse
effect at the wavelengths that CO2 absorb energy. This is empirical proof
that the CO2 effect is not saturated."  There is a longer more technical
explanation given lower on this page, copied from the same page of
Skeptical Science.

  Arrhenius did point out that without the warming effect of natural levels
of CO2, earth would be too cold for life.

    I notice that "it's the sun" is listed as skeptic argument number 2,
both you and more recently Bill Raymond have used that argument.  Number 76
is the "CO2 is just a trace gas" which is your recent statement that there
is only a tiny amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.  I think they need to
update number 5, though, the latest I heard on the news was that mid-year
last year to mid-year this year was the hottest year on record ever.  So
much for "global warming has stopped," an argument I seem to remember you
using.  Any one interested in the "sun" or "trace gas" arguments might take
a look at the pages of Skeptical Science explaining why those are not valid

Anyhow, so this is one of the 173 standard arguments that climate change
deniers make over and over, no matter how many times they have all been
disproved, to convince the public that doesn't know better that humans
aren't causing global warming or other climate change, in spite of the
massive amount of evidence that humans are now the main cause of climate
change.  Or at least to sow enough doubt in the public's mind that there is
no support for doing anything about it (the stated goal of the fossil fuel
industry).  A propaganda effort that has been amazingly successful, since
the actual facts are complicated enough that the general public doesn't
understand them, and can be easily misled.  Misled by some of the same
people who claimed tobacco doesn't cause cancer.

The relevance to coral reefs comes in number 61, "corals are resilient to

Cheers,  Doug

The long explanation given on the same web page as the short explanation
(and feel free to follow the link in the third sentence to the Nature paper
that it is based on):

If the CO2 effect is saturated, adding more CO2 should add no additional
greenhouse effect. However, observations continue to find an enhanced
greenhouse effect as CO2 levels rise. The paper Increases in greenhouse
forcing inferred from the outgoing longwave radiation spectra of the Earth
in 1970 and 1997 (Harries
to find out. In 1970, NASA launched the IRIS satellite that
measured infrared spectra between 400 cm-1 to 1600 cm-1. In 1996, the
Japanese Space Agency launched the IMG satellite which recorded similar
observations. Harries 2001 compared both sets of data to discern any
changes in outgoing radiation over the 26 year period. The resultant change
in outgoing radiation was as follows:

*Figure 1: Change in spectrum from 1970 to 1996 due to trace gases.
'Brightness temperature' indicates equivalent blackbody temperature (Harries
2001 <http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v410/n6826/abs/410355a0.html>).*

What they found was a drop in outgoing radiation at the wavelength bands
that greenhouse gases such as CO2 and methane (CH4) absorb energy. The
change in outgoing radiation over CO2 bands was consistent with theoretical
expectations. Thus the paper found "direct experimental evidence for a
significant increase in the Earth's greenhouse effect".

This result has been confirmed by subsequent papers using the latest
satellite data. Griggs
the 1970 and 1997 spectra with additional satellite data from the
NASA AIRS satellite launched in 2003. Chen
this analysis to 2006 using data from the AURA satellite launched
in 2004. Both papers found the observed differences in CO2 bands matched
the expected changes based on rising CO2 levels. Thus we have empirical
evidence that increased CO2 is preventing longwave radiation from escaping
out to space.
Measurements of downward longwave radiation

What happens to longwave radiation that gets absorbed by greenhouse gases?
The energy heats the atmosphere which in turn re-radiates longwave
radiation. This re-radiated energy goes in all directions. Some of it makes
its way back to the surface of the earth. Hence we expect to find
increasing downward longwave radiation as CO2 levels increase.

Philipona 2004 <http://www.agu.org/journals/ABS/2004/2003GL018765.shtml>finds
that this is indeed the case - that downward longwave radiation is
increasing due to an enhanced greenhouse effect. Evans
this analysis further. By analysing high resolution spectral data,
the increase in downward radiation can be quantitatively attributed to each
of several anthropogenic gases. The results lead the authors to conclude
that "this experimental data should effectively end the argument by
skeptics that no experimental evidence exists for the connection between
greenhouse gas increases in the atmosphere and global warming."

So we have multiple lines of empirical evidence for an enhanced CO2
greenhouse effect. Satellite measurements confirm that less longwave
radiation is escaping to space. Surface measurements detect increased
longwave radiation returning back to Earth at wavelengths matching
increased CO2 warming. And of course the result of this energy imbalance
is the accumulation of heat over the last 40

On Mon, Nov 5, 2012 at 4:31 AM, Eugene Shinn <eshinn at marine.usf.edu> wrote:

> Dear Douglas, There may be a problem with item 3 of your posting, You
> said,  "CO2 absorbs infrared radiation (a physical fact not in
> dispute), the more of it is in the atmosphere, the more it heats the
> earth." That statement wrong.  The whole business of CO2 being a
> greenhouse gas started with  Arrhenius 1896, (Arrhenius, Svente,
> 1896, On the Influence of Carbonic Acid upon the Temperature of the
> Ground: The London, Edinburgh, and Dublin Philosophic Magazine and
> Journal of Science, fifth series, p. 267.)
> Arrhenius started this debate with his original work on atmospheric
> gases, but he placed a constraint upon the contention that increasing
> CO2 concentration causes greatly increased temperature:
> "Thus if the quantity of carbonic acid increases in geometric
> progression, the augmentation of the temperature will increase nearly
> in arithmetic progression." (p. 267)
> This statement simply argues that if "carbonic acid" levels were to
> double from today's value, the temperature change would be 0.64 C in
> a dry atmosphere, and 0.22 C in the real, wet, atmosphere. Thus,
> there would be no significant effect of doubling CO2 on temperature
> from the present concentration of nearly 400 ppm.
> To recap, if the present concentration of CO2 was only 100 ppm, the
> effect of doubling would be significant, but at 400 ppm, the effect,
> logarithmically declining, is insignificant.
> Again I am just the messenger. This information was sent to me last
> week. If you disagree take it up with Arrhenius.  Gene
> --
> No Rocks, No Water, No Ecosystem (EAS)
> ------------------------------------ -----------------------------------
> E. A. Shinn, Courtesy Professor
> University of South Florida
> College of Marine Science Room 221A
> 140 Seventh Avenue South
> St. Petersburg, FL 33701
> <eshinn at marine.usf.edu>
> Tel 727 553-1158----------------------------------
> -----------------------------------
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