13 November 2009

Oceans Hungrily Soaking Up CO2, SeaLife Thriving

Despite the growing emissions of CO2 from human activities, the actual airborne fraction of CO2 in the air stays relatively constant!  The ocean's voracious appetite for CO2 appears to be keeping up with everything humans can do to blow it out the tailpipes and smokestacks.  And no wonder!  A recent Dutch study shows that sea sponges live almost exclusively from dissolved ocean CO2.   The sponges consume half their own weight each day in dissolved CO2 without gaining weight!!!  It seems that the sea sponges turn the dissolved CO2 into nutritious waste that it then makes available to the rest of the reef inhabitants for consumption.  In other words, CO2 is the life of the reef.

The graph above (via Anthony Watts) comes from a study by the University of Bristol, which proves using actual data -- not computer models -- that the oceans and biosphere are soaking up CO2 as quickly as humans can emit it.
The strength of the new study, published online in Geophysical Research Letters, is that it rests solely on measurements and statistical data, including historical records extracted from Antarctic ice, and does not rely on computations with complex climate models.

...this data suggests that terrestrial ecosystems and the oceans have a much greater capacity to absorb CO2 than had been previously expected.

The results run contrary to a significant body of recent research which expects that the capacity of terrestrial ecosystems and the oceans to absorb CO2 should start to diminish as CO2 emissions increase, letting greenhouse gas levels skyrocket. Dr Wolfgang Knorr at the University of Bristol, UK, found that in fact the trend in the airborne fraction since 1850 has only been 0.7 ± 1.4% per decade, which is essentially zero. _Hindu
The infant science of climatology became hopelessly entangled in politics in the 1990s. Computer models with faulty assumptions, and proxy studies using bad statistical methodology and cherry-picked data were pushed to the forefront. Actual scientific observations and a dispassionate analysis of findings were forsaken for the addicting and corrupting influence of political and popular fame associated with the "carbon climate catastrophe".

An entire generation of "climate scientists" has been indoctrinated into this faux science of crisis seeking. Like the ambulance chasers of the legal profession, the doom seekers of climate are chasing the prize of quick grants, fame, and the warm cliquish comfort of an empty consensus.

Unfortunately for that "lost generation", true science is proceeding to pass them by.

Here is the full text PDF of Knorr's U Bristol paper, courtesy of Anthony Watts

Here is a physicist's take on the Knorr paper from Lubos Motl. More (14 Nov 09): According to Lubos' calculations, the Earth system is trying to return to a CO2 atmospheric concentration of 280 ppm -- a colder and far less life-friendly level of the vital nutrient [CO2] that plants, sea sponges, and many microbes of land and sea crave.

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