Monday, March 21, 2016

The CO2 Baloney

Belief is much maligned. A belief or two came in for some knocking in the P&B this morning. Knowledge is transient and incomplete, although there are some 'scientists' - perhaps pseudo-scientists would be a more accurate term - would have us believe otherwise, so sure are they that what they know is the end of any argument. 

The science is settled, they say. 

Sheer hubris.

The great CO2 debate is stiffled by such certainty. Nobel Prizes are sometimes given for sheer Ego-size and that is a Fact. One can be forgiven for speaking up about what one knows but unless it is qualified by a nod to the  'T'was-ever-thus' Fact that what we know is very soon going to be improved upon, refuted and replaced, we can establish very expensive 'Policies' that blow up in our faces.

So it is with the great Global Warming scam which keeps so many lab-coat manufacturers in business.

We are told as a 'Fact' that Mankind (no, make that 'MENZ !!! (tm)  ) - is responsible for Global Warming. Wimminz are the ones that suffer the most from it, is another factoid we are told to swallow. 

Industrial mankind has 'caused' a HUGE rise in CO2 on our Planet. We are told. By 'scientists'.

We are to believe it. Or else.

But what of volcanos ?  a skeptic might ask; or a denier as they are more commonly called.  Don't they pump out a bit of CO2 too? And weren't they pumping it out long before we bipedals 'evolved' to the dizzy heights of pumping oil?

"Ahh, but Volcanos are a mere also-ran contributor", say the Anthropological GW blamers. 

Now, in the Tavern's bars comes a challenge to 'best' knowledge and Belief.

Robin Wylie, from University College London  was having a swift pint and telling the morning imbibers.
Long Invisible, Research Shows Volcanic CO2 Levels Are Staggering 
 Until the end of the 20th century, the academic consensus was that this volcanic output was tiny — a fiery speck against the colossal anthropogenic footprint. Recently, though, volcanologists have begun to reveal a hidden side to our leaking planet.
That new scientific paradigm, 'consensus' has much to answer for. And we forgive a UCL chap's grammar too. The research was not 'long invisible': the CO2 levels were simply under-rated and overstated. One of the 'T'was-ever-thus' facts. Still.......
The exploding hills really give the game away: We've always known the Earth is a smoker. The true extent of its habit, though, is only just beginning to surface.
Before the human species found its talent for pyromania, atmospheric levels of the Earth's greenhouse superstar, carbon dioxide (CO2), were controlled, for the most part, by volcanoes.
Since our planet emerged from the debris which formed the solar system, some four and a half billion years ago, a lifetime supply of primordial carbon has been locked away in the mantle — against its will.
Oh dear. CO2 does not have a 'Will'. Unless one is willing to anthropomorphise gasses !  Still... read on.
Partnering with oxygen and smuggled as a dissolved gas in liquid rock, it breaches the surface at our planet's volcanic airways: CO2, then, has been seeping into the planet's atmosphere for as long as there has been one.
Exactly how much CO2 passes through the magmatic vents in our crust might be one of the most important questions that Earth science can answer. 
Volcanoes may have been overtaken in the carbon stakes, but in order to properly assess the consequences of human pollution, we need the reference point of the natural background. And we're getting there; the last twenty years have seen huge steps in our understanding of how, and how much CO2 leaves the deep Earth. 
But at the same time, a disturbing pattern has been emerging.
In 1992, it was thought that volcanic degassing released something like 100 million tons of CO2 each year.
And believed as a Fact. 
Around the turn of the millennium, this figure was getting closer to 200 [million]. 
The most recent estimate,released this February, comes from a team led by Mike Burton, of the Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology – and it’s just shy of 600 million tons. 
It caps a staggering trend: A six-fold increase in just two decades.   
These inflating figures, I hasten to add, don't mean that our planet is suddenly venting more CO2.
Humanity certainly is; but any changes to the volcanic background level would occur over generations, not years. The rise we’re seeing now, therefore, must have been there all along: As scientific progress is widening our perspective, the daunting outline of how little we really know about volcanoes is beginning to loom large.
The 'rise' there all along?  I hope that is simple grammar too and not a less than firm grasp on what he speaks about. I put it down to his youth, m'self, and his education in our oh-so dumbed system. He means, of course, that we measured it poorly in the first place and have been getting better at it. That is the 'rise'. 

Why not replace hubris with humility.
The exhalations of our planet can be spectacularly obvious.
The fireworks, though, are only part of the picture. We now know that the CO2 released during volcanic eruptions is almost insignificant compared with what happens after the camera crews get bored. 
The emissions that really matter are concealed. 
The silent, silvery plumes which are currently winding their way skyward above the 150 or so active volcanoes on our planet also carry with them the bulk of its carbon dioxide. Their coughing fits might catch the eye — but in between tantrums, the steady breathing of volcanoes quietly sheds 
upwards of a quarter of a billion tons of CO2 every year. 
We think. Scientists' best estimates, however, are based on an assumption. It might surprise you to learn that, well into the new century, of the 150 smokers I mentioned, almost 80 percent are still as mysterious, in terms of the quantity of CO2 they emit, as they were a generation ago: We've only actually measured 33.
If the 117 unsampled peaks follow a similar trend, then the research community's current projection might stand. But looking through such a small window, there's no way of knowing if what we have seen until now is typical or not. 
It's like shining a light on a darkened globe: randomly, you might hit Australia, and think you’d seen it all – while on the edge of your beam, unnoticed, would be Asia. Our planet's isolated volcanic frontiers could easily be hiding a monster or two; and with a bit of exploration, our estimate of volcanic CO2 output could rise even higher.
You'd think that would be enough. That might be my fault — I tend to save the weird stuff until the end. Recently, an enigmatic source of volcanic carbon has come to light that isn't involved with lava — or even craters. It now seems that not only is there CO2 we can't get to, there's some we can't even see.
Carbon dioxide is always invisible, but its presence can be inferred in volcanic plumes — betrayed by the billowing clouds of water vapour released alongside it. Without the water, though, it's a different story. The new poster-child of planetary degassing is diffuse CO2 — invisible emanations which can occur across vast areas surrounding the main vents of a volcano, rising through the bulk of the mountains. This transparent haze is only just beginning to receive proper attention, and as such we have very little idea of how much it might contribute to the global output.
Even more incredibly, it even seems that some volcanoes which are considered inactive, in terms of their potential to ooze new land, can still make some serious additions to the atmosphere through diffuse CO2 release.
Residual magma beneath dormant craters, though it might never reach the surface, can still 'erupt' gases from a distance. Amazingly, from what little scientists have measured, it looks like this process might give off as much as half the CO2 put out by fully active volcanoes.
If these additional 'carbon-active' volcanoes are included, the number of degassing peaks skyrockets to more than 500. Of which we've measured a grand total of nine percent. You can probably fill it in by now — we need to climb more mountains.

Flashes of bright light illuminate our knowledge and what we Believe. 

A bit of a Revelation, in fact.

Now, I have to admit something here: I am a Knight. And a Tavern Keeper. I was a King. I have travelled. I have even tried Hermiting, Psychomancy and being a bit of a Monk, but my vast experience has not included being a climate scientist. But I can assess evidence.

An occasional customer, Lloyd, can too.

Now, again to be fair in this, he did have a few more things to say so I will let him take us out while I pull him a pint.

And remember, our drinks in this Tavern do not contain CO2. They have their own special Fizz !!



  1. The wonderful world of the CO2 debate and it is quite enthralling. We survived global warming even though there is no evidence of temperatures rising over the long term and those who screamed loudest were the largest beneficiaries of Government largesse with our monies. The Murray-Darling Basin still produces food despite dire prognostications predicting eternal aridity. The rivers still flow despite us being warned that the rain that falls will be insufficient to permit this. Dams have not emptied and water desalination plants lay idle at around one million dollars of our money being spent daily to keep them “mothballed”. We still manage to produce enough food to enable us to throw most of it away. We need a new scare and that dreaded CO2 fills the bill very nicely. Never mind that our plants thrive on the stuff. There are plenty of people who can transfer their attention in this direction and bolster their personal coffers while lecturing the taxpayer that they will be so happy if they allow CO2 experts to abolish the stuff by handing over their money. I’m still trying to figure out what this CO2 stuff does that is so dire, apart from make drinks fizzy. Silly me, I was more concerned about nitrogen. Wrong again!
    Peter H.

    1. We'rrrrrrre all dooooomed, ah Tell ye. The plants are going to get so strong and plentiful that we shall have to stop them at the borders. I would have them placed in holding beds all around Volcanos, m'self, as a deterrant.

  2. And if it loses an oxygen atom, we're in trouble.

    1. Hmmmm. Well we need CO2 and if all CO2 molecules became COs we would be in strife. And we would not even go out on an oxygen high, being as there is so little CO2 to start with.


Ne meias in stragulo aut pueros circummittam.

Our Bouncer is a gentleman of muscle and guile. His patience has limits. He will check you at the door.

The Tavern gets rowdy visitors from time to time. Some are brain dead and some soul dead. They attack customers and the bar staff and piss on the carpets. Those people will not be allowed in anymore. So... Be Nice..