June 16, 2017 at 5:14 am

Ask Randall: Response to remarks posted by David Camacho to “Redemption of the Beast”

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randall carlson, facebook, david camacho, challenge, ask randall, screenshotResponse to remarks posted by David Camacho to “Redemption of the Beast”

Comment posted by Mr. David Comacho

David Comacho: Randall here and Don Easterbrook both claim CO2 increases are insignificant and urge us to consider its low concentration in the atmosphere. CO2 is a trace gas but it is very powerful in its influence and has nearly doubled in concentration since 1850:

You are wrong. We are not releasing ‘tiny amounts’ of sequestered carbon. We are releasing it at 450 times the rate at which our biosphere can sequester it!
We have doubled atmospheric CO2 since 1850, and methane -25 times more greenhouse potent than CO2 is being released in large quantities by our activities and massive quantities from melting permafrost. The danger here is severe, and to deny our role as causers and solvers will be catastrophic.

To which I responded:

David Camacho – Did you actually read the essay in its entirety. Where do you come up with the number 450 times the rate at which our biosphere can sequester CO2? Provide some documentation to support your claims. As to the relative amount of CO2 being released through human activities it is minuscule when compared to the atmospheric composition as a whole. I discuss this in detail in the essay. It appears that your reading of the essay was superficial at best and the main points of the information I presented went over your head.

To which Comacho responded:

Hi Randall, I appreciate your conviction on this issue. I agree with your stance on the harm of war, and the cosmic threat -I was very upset when Australia’s conservative government took away the budget of the Southern Hemisphere’s formost Near Earth Object hunter -Rob McNaught, bringing to an end the work of a dedicated astronomer who was passionate and very good at his job. If you can use your influence to help raise a critical portion of this budget (basically Rob’s living expenses), it could reinstate a significant Southern Hemisphere eye on the sky. Regarding the essay’s treatment of global warming due to CO2 emissions, I’m afraid to say it is jam packed with myth, hyperbole, and other markers of falseness. Use of the words ‘tiny’ and ‘miniscule’ to describe industries CO2 contributions are a gross falsehood, Scientists, environmentalists, pastoralists, and leaders from communities reporting unprecedented and rapid changes to their environments cannot be painted away with terms like Eco-fanatics. The value of the accounts of native peoples with their ancient and intricate relationships to nature is difficult to over-estimate! My information comes from a multitude of sources, as I’ve nurtured a lifelong passion for all of the natural histories from biology to cosmology. As for my specific claim, this is from Tim Flannery’s well referenced book ‘The Future Eaters’. If you’d like to further your knowledge more immediately, you could take a look here: https://skepticalscience.com/human-co2-smaller-than…

My response:

Hello David

I am pleased that you recognize the importance of tracking the cosmic environment as that is, arguably, the greatest threat to the stability of the planetary environment, now, in the past and into the future. Secondly, the opposition to war as the primary human activity disrupting both the natural and human environments is laudable and timely. However, the carbon dioxide induced climate crisis I am afraid is about as real as Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction. It is a manufactured crises pure and simple. The charter of the UNFCCC makes that clear in its mandate to investigate exclusively the anthropogenic component of climate change to the virtual exclusion of natural factors that have been operational on all time scales since the world began.

When you accuse me of hyperbole and falseness I must, once again, assume that you have not read the essay in full or considered the veracity of the decades of research in the peer reviewed literature that were assembled and presented to make the case that there is another side to the carbon dioxide equation, as you make no reference to any of that work at all, you simply ignore it in your comments. While I include over 60 references from the scientific literature I could easily have tripled the number of studies to make my case. As to the relative amount of CO2 in the global atmosphere it IS miniscule when looked at from the perspective of the atmosphere as a whole, which is the only meaningful way its effects can be understood. Since pre-industrial CO2 concentrations hovered around 280 ppm, a doubling, to use your term, would yield a concentration of 560 ppm, whereas the current ambient concentration is right at 400 ppm.

Is that not hyperbole?

As I pointed out, an increase of 100 ppm since the early 20th century constitutes an increase of only one carbon dioxide molecule per every 10 thousand molecules of air. A point I emphasized in the essay is that CO2 concentrations of less than 250 ppm have a negative impact on photosynthesis, particularly on C3 plants which are most trees and food crops. The essay contains copious references, graphs and data to back up any speculating I may indulge in regarding the biospheric role of carbon dioxide and the issue of anthropogenic climate change.

As to the statement that there are “unprecedented and rapid changes” to the environment being reported by “Scientists, environmentalists, pastoralists, and leaders from communities” I would flatly disagree that the climate perturbations of recent decades are “unprecedented” either in their rate or their severity. The only way to understand recent climate and/or environmental phenomenon is to look at the big picture. I have assembled a partial list of a few of the events of the past several centuries that can in no way be blamed upon anthropogenic CO2 emissions. That list can be found here: http://sacredgeometryinternational.com/extreme_weather_pre-agw Extreme weather, climate and meteorological events have been ongoing throughout Earth history and the attempt to now blame every severe weather phenomenon upon the activities of humans has reduced the science to a level equivalent to blaming bad weather on the activity of witches. I will soon be posting an extensive essay on the degree, magnitude and frequency of purely natural changes in the global climate and environment that will provide a much needed perspective on the matter of contemporary change.

As to the use of the term ‘eco-fanatics’ to describe some of the ideological partisans of the climate change issue, to which you appear to take offense, it is thoroughly justified. Personally, I have been vilified on line, called a ‘shill’ and a ‘ringer’ who is on the payroll of the fossil fuel industry, (which is utterly laughable) and repeatedly been called a climate change denier (or ‘denialist’) for simply questioning the so-called climate change consensus. In truth, I am about as far from a climate change “denier” as one could be. I have been screamed at in public by people who have not spent 5 minutes studying the actual science of climate change. I have read numerous articles and have watched multiple clips where supporters of global warming orthodoxy have called for jailing of dissenters, have called for RICO investigations of anyone who dares question the pronouncements of the vaunted IPCC with their thoroughly compromised conclusions, or have called for “Nuremberg type” trials for climate change heretics. There are numerous “environmentalists” who are eager to pull the plug on industrial civilization, regardless of the consequences to the well-being of a few billion people. The fact is there are those who wear their environmentalism upon their sleeve with the same fanaticism as any self-righteous religious zealot. Perhaps you are too closely aligned ideologically to perceive this phenomenon impartially. I am sorry if you find the term ‘eco-fanatic’ offensive but, as they say, if the shoe fits . . .

My information, too, comes from multiple sources − in fact − without exaggeration, it comes from thousands of sources. I have studied the peer reviewed literature about global change for over three decades. I have logged up over 60 thousand miles in the field studying the direct geomorphic effects of climate and environmental change. In fact, I just returned from two weeks studying the “great denudation” of the Colorado Plateau, investigating first hand evidence for environmental catastrophes far beyond anything experienced in historical times, and for which an explanation is still lacking.

I most certainly agree that the accounts of native peoples are of extreme value, and it is ironic, perhaps, that I came to believe in the reality of catastrophic climate change decades ago through immersing myself in the traditions, myths and stories of native peoples from all over the world.

I have noticed a pattern whenever someone disagrees with me on line about climate change. They invariably post a link to the thoroughly partisan, non-objective, agenda-driven website ‘skeptical science’ as if that is the equivalent of presenting a factual, data supported argument. This website is the creation of cartoonist John Cook who is one of the proponents of the completely debunked 97% climate change consensus fiction. (Which, unfortunately, shows up on the NASA page to which you linked.) No university professor would accept an internet link as a substitute for an informed, evidence based argument and any student guilty of such a lazy effort would be awarded a big fat zero. You have to do better than that.

Now, a few comments about those links you provide.

The first link goes to an article on ‘skeptical science’ which references the work of Aradhna K. Tripati, Christopher D. Roberts and Robert A. Eagle, which appeared in the journal Science in 2009. (Coupling of CO2 and Ice Sheet Stability Over Major Climate Transitions of the Last 20 Million Years: Science, Vol. 326, Issue 5958, Dec. 04, pp. 1394-1397)

Here is what the abstract of that paper says (the underlining is mine, for emphasis):

“The carbon dioxide (CO2) content of the atmosphere has varied cyclically between ~180 and ~280 parts per million by volume over the past 800,000 years, closely coupled with temperature and sea level. For earlier periods in Earth’s history, the partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) is much less certain, and the relation between pCO2 and climate remains poorly constrained. We use boron/calcium ratios in foraminifera to estimate pCO2 during major climate transitions of the past 20 million years. During the Middle Miocene, when temperatures were ~3° to 6°C warmer and sea level was 25 to 40 meters higher than at present, pCO2 appears to have been similar to modern levels.

Two things need to be underscored here: The uncertainty regarding the relationship between the partial pressure of CO2 and climate and the fact that during the much warmer Middle Miocene, with sea levels up to 130 feet higher than present (!!) CO2 levels were apparently about what they are now. Therefore, there were other factors involved that predominated over the influence of CO2 in driving global warming. This is a point I have been belaboring for years.

In the second link you provide, also to ‘skeptical science’ John Cook tries to have it both ways. He readily admits that there are multiple forces driving climate change, that global temperatures have, in the past, repeatedly been significantly higher than the present, and, that atmospheric CO2 concentrations have varied considerably, oft times being much higher than now. Again, all of these are points I have been making for years. But then Cook goes on to conclude that “Past periods of higher CO2 do not contradict the notion that CO2 warms global temperatures. On the contrary, they confirm the close coupling between CO2 and climate.” Agreed that there is a coupling, but that does not mean that CO2 is the dominant driving force behind climate warming. And, the pre-eminent unresolved issue is the question of exactly how much climate is actually being warmed by the increase in CO2 over the last century. But in any case, by whatever means the atmosphere warms exclusive of CO2 and provokes a concomitant oceanic warming, the solubility of CO2 in water is diminished with increasing warmth, resulting in CO2 outgassing. When climate cools and the solubility of CO2 in seawater increases there is a reversal of the CO2 pump and carbon dioxide is absorbed. This is consistent with multiple lines of evidence showing that CO2 variability and temperature variability are out of phase in the wrong direction, demonstrating that temperature is driving atmospheric CO2 concentrations and not the reverse.

In the link you provided to another skeptical science article Cook references the work of Dana L. Royer, a frequent co-author of Mark Pagani whose work I quoted from extensively in the essay. Cook reproduces Royers figure 1D from page 5667 of his paper which appeared in the journal Geochemica et Cosmographica Acta in 2006. That graph is a variant of the same graph which I included in the essay to demonstrate that throughout Earth history CO2 concentrations have been higher than now and throughout the Quaternary, and I suggested a link between declining CO2 and the onset of ice ages. In that regards it is more than significant that Royers points out that “The correspondence between atmospheric CO2 concentrations and globally averaged surface temperatures in the recent past suggests that this coupling may be of great antiquity.” To which I say that this makes perfect sense. One should expect a coupling. But this does not mean that CO2 is driving climate change. As we all know correlation is not causation. Royers than goes on to state something that was a central idea presented in my essay which apparently escaped your consideration. “Here, I compare 490 published proxy records of CO2 spanning the Ordovician to Neogene with records of global cool events to evaluate the strength of CO2-temperature coupling over the Phanerozoic (last 542 my) . . . A CO2 threshold of below   ̴500 ppm is suggested for the initiation of widespread, continental glaciations . . .”
In the essay I wrote that:

“Throughout the Pleistocene Epoch on Earth, the period encompassing the past 2.6 million years of ongoing glacial ages, carbon dioxide concentrations have been at their lowest in all of Earth history since Precambrian times. Only since the end of the great ice age 11 to 12 thousand years ago did concentrations begin to rise from their depressed Pleistocene state and only within the past century have they risen to more normal amounts when looked upon within the larger context of Earth history.” I went on to say “The information presented here inexorably leads one to surmise that the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere has been preternaturally low throughout the Pleistocene, and, that by releasing a small but significant amount into the global atmosphere we human beings are stimulating a revival of an impaired biosphere, an impairment resulting from a planetary disruption occurring some 2.6 million years ago that initiated the cycle of increasingly erratic climatic and environmental behavior which has continued to manifest since then as the repetitive lurching into and out of glacial ages.”

Royers work demonstrates that ice ages ARE correlated with low atmospheric CO2 levels, but this correlation does not support the conclusion that changing CO2 concentrations are the cause of the ice ages. In my concluding remarks to the carbon cycle essay I asked this question: “Is it possible that through releasing a tiny fraction of the huge amount of stored carbon dioxide the intensity of glacial-interglacial transitions might be ameliorated to some extent?” Royers work could be seen as supporting this possibility by pointing out that “a CO2 threshold of below  ̴ 500 ppm is suggested for the initiation of widespread, continental glaciations . . .”

I would argue that the onset of an ice age is far more detrimental to Earth’s biosphere than a rise of CO2 levels by a couple of hundred parts per million, especially if by so rising the extreme effects of the glacial-interglacial cycles can be ameliorated. Which leads me to ask: Is it possible, then, that by restoring the atmospheric levels of CO2 to 500+ parts per million we are reducing the likelihood of another ice age?

I would argue that the onset of an ice age is far more detrimental to Earth’s biosphere than a rise of CO2 levels by a couple of hundred parts per million, especially if by so rising the extreme effects of the glacial-interglacial cycles can be ameliorated. Which leads me to ask: Is it possible, then, that by restoring the atmospheric levels of CO2 to 500+ parts per million we are reducing the likelihood of another ice age?

This is a fair question and asking it does not make me a “climate change denier” or a “shill” for the oil companies.

In his conclusion Royers states that “Many factors are important in controlling the average surface temperature of the Earth, including solar luminosity, albedo, distribution of continents and vegetation, orbital parameters, and other greenhouse gases. The message of this study is NOT that atmospheric CO2 is always the dominant forcing.”

Again, exactly what I have been saying for at least a couple of decades now: Carbon dioxide is only one variable in a very complicated equation. So thank you for a link to research that actually supports my suppositions in the “Redemption of the Beast” and elsewhere.

May I suggest that you go back and really read the essay, only this time without ideological preconceptions? Also, I can recommend a couple of thousand articles (literally) from the peer reviewed literature if you’d like to further your knowledge about this complex issue.

  • Jeff

    Your always illuminating Randall. Thank you for being you.

  • Seth Sutherland

    Dear Randall Carlson,

    I would like to apologize for David Camacho’s ignorance and lack of intellectual abilities… it’s been very hard “being” David Camacho. Forgive us and carry on your excellent work that you continue to share with all of your readers!