Dr Neil Hutton Chapter 3 CO2 Global Warming. Freind Of Science.


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Climate Change was originally published as a ten-part series in the Canadian Society
of Petroleum Geologists’ monthly magazine, The Reservoir, between January and
November 2009.
The CSPG thanks Dr. Neil Hutton for his work in making this series possible.

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cover designed from images of the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio


Carbon Dioxide
 by Dr. A. Neil Hutton
It is curious that this gas, which is the
fundamental building block of life, has
become vilified as the culprit of an
impending Climate Catastrophe. With
visual media, at this point, on screen
would appear a nest of stacks belching
forth great plumes of “pollution.” The fact
that this is mainly water vapour, the Earth’s
primary “greenhouse gas” responsible for
somewhere between 85-95% of
atmospheric warming is never
What do we really know about CO2? From
my experience, the general public is
poorly informed. When asked to specify
the content of CO2 in the atmosphere,
and given a choice of 37.9%, 3.79%, or
0.0379% the great majority opts for one
of the first two values. However carbon
dioxide is a trace gas representing less
than 1% of the atmosphere, currently 379
parts per million by volume (ppmv). To put
this in perspective, only 38 out of every
100,000 molecules of air are carbon
dioxide. Then consider that it takes up to
five years of emissions created by humans
to add 1 molecule to every 100,000
molecules. Moreover, in the media and
other reports, it is commonplace to read
that humans emit 14.5 gigatons (GT) of
CO2 annually. This sounds enormous, but
it is never stated that this represents only
1.25 parts per million by volume annually
of the total atmosphere.
To provide some perspective on the
numbers, it is useful to compare the
relative amounts of carbon contained
globally in the atmosphere, the surface,
and the oceans. The atmosphere contains
750 GT C, vegetation soils and detritus
contain 2,200 GT C, the surface ocean
contains 1,000 GT C, and the intermediate
and deep ocean contain 38,000 GT C.
(Schimmel, 1995) These amounts, of
course, are not fixed and static as there
is a continuous exchange between these
global carbon reser voirs. Thus it is
estimated that each year the atmosphere
and the surface ocean exchange 90 GT C;
vegetation and the atmosphere, 60 GT C;
marine biota and the surface ocean, 50
GT C; and the surface ocean and the
intermediate and deep oceans, 100 GT C.
(Schimel, 1995). Therefore the human
contribution of 5.5 GT C represents only
a very small amount within the totality of
the carbon cycle. However, it is the annual
increase of 3 GT of carbon annually which
drives the hypothesis of anthropogenic
global warming (AGW).
Carbon dioxide is significantly denser than
the other elements of air. It is almost 60%
denser than nitrogen and 40% denser than
oxygen. Happily, gases do not segregate
gravitationally, otherwise we would all
suffocate in a layer of CO2 some 400 to
500 meters thick. Molecular activity in
gases known as Brownian Motion causes
rapid diffusion and mixing of the different
molecular components. This is also aided
by convection as well as global
atmospheric circulation such that the
components of the air are relatively
constant globally. There are variations
regionally and – especially in the southern
hemisphere – where some fluctuations
are attributed in part to La Nina and El
Nino events, but the variation amounts to
only a few parts per million by volume. In
general, the southern hemisphere stations
have values about 5 ppmv lower than in
the northern hemisphere.
As a medium to warm the atmosphere,
CO2 seems like a very poor candidate.
First, because it is a trace gas forming less
than .0379 % by volume of the atmosphere
and, second, because it’s thermal
conductivity is extremely low. Thermal
conductivity is a property which measures
how much heat per time unit and
temperature difference flows in a medium.
Most gases have such low conductivity
values that they are excellent insulators
in the absence of convection. The
conductivity of CO2 (0.009) is less than
half that of air (0.024), and it is only 15%
of the conductivity of water (0.058).
Comparatively then, the capacity of CO2
to warm the atmosphere conductively is
negligible. Furthermore, examining the
isochoric thermal diffusivity (a measure
of how rapidly a temperature change will
spread) demonstrates that doubling of
CO2 has a negligible effect. Based on these
fundamental physical attributes, CO2
 can not be the vehicle of atmospheric
warming. (Gerlich and Tscheuschner,
This, then, leaves only radiation heat
transfer as the principal vehicle for
atmospheric warming by CO2
. Radiation heat transfer occurs as a result of the exchange of thermal radiation energy
between two or more bodies that arises
as a result of a temperature difference.
No medium need exist between the two
bodies for heat transfer to take place,
since Photons traveling at the speed of
light are the intermediaries of the
electromagnetic radiation with a
wavelength range of 0.1 to 100 microns,
encompassing the visible light spectrum.
Atmospheric warming is believed to occur
as a result of the fact that the atmosphere
is essentially transparent to short wave
radiation in the visible light spectrum –
0.38 to 0.75 microns. However, global
warming theory suggests that long-wave
infrared radiation is preferentially
absorbed by certain gases in the
atmosphere, which causes it to warm. The
principal atmospheric gas causing warming
is water vapour and cloud with 85-95% of
the warming attributed to it. The other
gases in order of relative importance are
carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide,
and ozone.However, carbon dioxide has been
identified in the global warming hypothesis
as having the fundamental characteristics
of absorption and emission of infrared
radiation (IR) and, as a result, it is claimed
that it is a potential driver of global
climate. The carbon dioxide molecules do
not have a simple single response to IR
radiation. Four modes of molecular
vibration, or spin occur in response to
photon stimulation. Carbon dioxide is a
linear molecule with the carbon atom
situated in line between two oxygen
atoms. The linear molecular structure
allows a vibrational response in which the
carbon atom oscillates between the
oxygen atoms. This particular response
has the ability not only to absorb infrared
radiation but also to emit radiation;
however, only some 5% of molecules
actually radiate at room temperatures. The
ability of CO2
 to radiate has been utilized
in the development of lasers and in the
thermodynamics of combustion chambers
but this quantum state depends on
elevated temperatures and electro-
magnetic stimulation. Alfred Schack, a
pioneer in industrial thermodynamics, as
early as 1972 indicated that the radiative
heat transfer capabilities of CO2 at
atmospheric temperatures were
negligible. The other quantum states of
 are capable of absorbing infrared but
do not radiate. Carbon dioxide absorption
of IR radiation occurs in four narrow
bands at 2, 3, 5, and 13-17 microns. CO2
occupies only about 8% of the infrared
band and, given its levels as a trace gas,
does not in itself have the capacity to
change the climate. This point is, in fact,
conceded by climatologists but they rely
on the concept of feedbacks to amplify
the effect. Feedbacks are unproven
assumptions that the warming by CO2
cause changes in clouds, water vapour, and
precipitation systems amplifying the
warming. The positive feedback
assumptions have been incorporated into
climate models which are typically the
major basis for global warming
predictions. All leading climate models
forecast that warming by increasing CO2
would cause an increase in cloud,
especially high altitude cirrus clouds,
which would then amplify the warming. A
recent publication by Spencer et al. (2007)
has shown these assumptions to be
incorrect. In fact the feedback is negative
so that as the tropical atmosphere (of the
study area) warms, cirrus clouds decrease.
That allows more infrared heat to escape
from the atmosphere to outer space.
Because CO2
 absorption occurs over a
limited range of the IR spectrum it is
generally accepted that 99% of the
radiation in the CO2
 absorption bands is
absorbed within only a few tens to
hundreds of meters of the source. In
other words the absorption capacity of
 is saturated within a few hundred
meters above the Earth’s surface. Thus
doubling of atmospheric CO2
 will reduce
the saturation distance, causing only a
minor change in temperature.
Climatologists accept that the
temperature will change by less than 1°C.
Nevertheless, as was discussed above,
they claim that doubling of CO2
 will trigger
positive feedbacks, although – to this date
– there is no measurable evidence that
this occurs. Currently we are 40% of the
way to doubling pre-industrial levels of
CO2; nevertheless, there has been no
warming this century.
If CO2
 is saturated, that is to say incapable
of getting any warmer by any further
absorption of IR radiation, then how does
the warmed gas behave? At this point
convective heat transfer will take over and
Figure 3.1. This figure is a plot of Historic Climate after Lamb included in the report of the IPCC, 1990 showing
the well defined Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age. This chart of temperature variation is compared
with Proxy CO2
 data from the Siple Dome in Antartica. What is noteworthy is the complete disconnection
between the proxy CO2
 data and climate. Although the ice core proxies are claimed to be a direct measure
of atmospheric CO2
, they do not reflect well established climate trends. The decline of CO2
 proxies is coincident
with burial depth and unrelated to climate. This should be compared with the data from Siple Dome Ice Core
in IPCC, 2007 Synthesis Report, p. 38, Figure 2.3., in which the horizontal scale has been unduly compressed
and the data gap between Siple Dome Proxies and the real CO2
 values from Mauna Loa eliminated.
the gas will rise to be replaced by cooler
air molecules. Since carbon dioxide, is to
a large extent, a product of combustion
its vertical ascent along with water vapour
is a common feature of our winter
landscape. As the warmed air ascends the
pressure drops and the molecules expand,
which causes a drop in temperature.
When gas is compressed it generates heat,
as in the inflation of a tire, and when
decompressed it loses heat, the property
utilized in snow-making equipment. If the
volume remains the same and pressure is
decreased, then the temperature will
drop, which is the case in the global
atmosphere. The determining factor in
atmospheric pressure is the mass and
weight of the gas in that part of the
atmosphere above the point of
measurement. Air pressure increases
continuously from the top of the
atmosphere to the Earth’s surface and so
does temperature. This behaviour of the
atmosphere is described as adiabatic
because there is no actual change in heat,
but only pressure and temperature. The
rate at which temperature changes in the
atmosphere is called the lapse rate. The
theoretical lapse rate for a dry
atmosphere is 9.8°C per kilometer but
this is only for extremely dry atmosphere
such as in desert and arctic climates. The
effect of high humidity and cloud is to
reduce the lapse rate to an average of
about 6.5°C per kilometer. As a result it
is normal to find aircraft cruising at 10,000
meters (32,000 feet) experience air
temperatures of -65°C. Given an average
sea level temperature of 15°C the
temperature at 2,500 meters altitude is –
1.25°C, which is why mountains maintain
snow cover and glaciers. This means that
some 80% of the lower 20 kilometers of
the atmosphere (the troposphere) is
between 0 and -65°C. Therefore, in the
predominantly subzero temperatures of
the troposphere with the atmospheric
pressure progressively diminished by
adiabatic expansion, the kinetic energy of
the gases is greatly reduced. As a result,
quantum molecular activity causing IR
emission is reduced substantially.
Irrespective of the discussion above, the
IPCC 2007: Historical Overview of Climate
Change (p. 115, Figure 1) suggests that
some infrared radiation passes through
the atmosphere but most is absorbed and
re-emitted in all directions by greenhouse
gas molecules and clouds. The effect of
this is to warm the Earth’s surface and
the lower atmosphere. This statement
conflicts with the Second Law of
Thermodynamics, which indicates that
energy will always flow from a higher to a
lower energy state. Heat can not flow from
a colder body (the atmosphere) to a
warmer body (the Earth’s surface) without
work being applied. This is a fundamental
problem with the Global Warming
Hypothesis which unaccountably never
seems to be challenged. Clouds have the
capacity to absorb infrared radiation but

their capacity to emit is poor. Even if this





were not the case, the cooler cloud can
not warm the Earth’s surface. Clouds
generally, and low clouds in particular, cool
the surface. A point that is clearly made in
the weather records of the Little Ice Age
(Lamb, 1965) and more specifically by
Svensmark and Friis-Christensen (1997).
IPCC in the May, 2007. “Summary for
Policymakers” stated that CO2
 was the
most important anthropogenic
greenhouse gas, that it had increased
markedly as a result of human activities,
and that its atmospheric concentration of
379 ppmv in 2005 far exceeded the natural
range of 180 to 300 ppmv over the last
650,000 years.
This statement is based on proxy CO2
concentration data derived from ice cores
and is based on the assumption that air
inclusions in ice are closed systems
permanently preserving the chemical and
isotopic composition of the gas. This is
one of the cornerstones of the AGW
hypothesis. Why should we doubt this
particular proposition? First, when
examined in detail the CO2
 proxy values
are remarkably invariant within a narrow
range for a period of 10,000 years, during
which the climate oscillated through
several well defined warm and cold
periods. Unlike most substances, the
solubility of CO2 decreases as
temperature increases, thus warm periods
will have elevated atmospheric CO2
because of degassing of the oceans. In cold
periods, like the Little Ice Age, the values
should be lower because of increased
solubility of CO2
. As displayed in Figure
3.1, there is no correspondence between
the plot of proxy CO2
 values from Siple
Dome and the corresponding plot of
Historic Temperature published by IPCC
(1990) following Lamb (1965) Reproduced
in Figure 3.2 is the IPPC (2007) version of
the Siple Dome data (IPCC, Summary for
Policymakers, p. 3 Figure SPM1). The
pronounced hockey stick shape of the
curve is due primarily to the intense
compression of the horizontal scale which
causes the sharp bend and near vertical
trajectory where the ice core proxy curve
intersects with the actual measurements
from Mauna Loa. It also neglects the 83-
year gap between the ice cores and
modern data (Figure 3.1, lower curve).
The most significant trend in the proxy
data at Siple and Taylor Domes in Antarctica
is a drop in CO2
 values with depth as
shown in Figure 3.1 and Figure 3.3. In both
instances there is a nearly linear decline
in proxy CO2
 values with depth, which
bears no relationship to historic climate.
Figure 3.3. This is a plot of proxy CO2
 values versus depth from the Taylor Dome Ice Core. This data together
with data from Siple Dome is used to establish a pre-industrial level for CO2
 of 280 ppmv in the IPCC 2007
report. This core covers an age range from the 17th Century into the Holocene, 8,992BP covering four well
documented warm periods, and yet, shows no variability in concert with the climatic cycles. The most striking
feature of the proxy CO2
 values is the progressive decrease with depth suggesting depletion by diffusion from
decompression and mechanical fracturing of the core during drilling.
The depth corresponds to burial pressure
in the ice where each 100 meters is
equivalent to roughly one atmosphere of
pressure. The burial depth at Taylor Dome
is some 350 meters so that the pressure
at the base of the core is 3 bars, or about
50 psi. When the core is recovered,
decompression and drilling stress causes



a network of fine cracks which attract and
absorb bipolar molecules such as CO2
 and H2O. The cracks become diffusion paths
for trapped gases to leave the ice, or for
some atmospheric gas to enter, thus
causing a depletion of the original CO2
content of the core. (Jaworowski, 2007;
Hurd, 2006). There is also strong evidence
indicating that the CO2
 values in ice cores
are depleted. Stomatal frequency analysis
in fossil birch leaves (Wagner, 1998;
Wagner et al., 2002) show a much greater
variation in CO2
 values from 270 ppmv up
to 323 ppmv (Figure 3.4, top curve).
Furthermore, there is a significant
response to the Holocene cooling event

from 8400-8100 BP. The atmospheric CO2
content decreases concurrent with
increased solubility in the cooling ocean.
In comparison the ice cores at Taylor Dome
demonstrate nearly flat values. (Figure 3.4,
lower curve).
Further evidence of the variability of CO2
values has been provided in a review by
Beck (2007) of some 90,000 analytical
measurements conducted before 1958 and
dating back to the nineteenth century. The
CO2 show rather large variations, in
contrast to the ice core data’s flat and
invariant CO2 proxy data. Beck’s summary
of the analytical data documents a large
increase in CO2 values co-incident with
the warming observed from 1920 to 1940
(Figure 3.5). In general, this data is
rejected by IPCC but not on grounds of
analytical accuracy, which is excellent, but
because the values did not fit their
preconceived concepts. Beck’s review is
thorough and comprehensive, and
convincingly demonstrates significant
variability in atmospheric CO2 in contrast
to ice core data.
Although a great deal has been made of
the dangers of CO2 emissions, much of it
is nothing more than fear mongering. The
truth is that CO2 is highly beneficial to
the planet. The measurements at the
Mauna Loa recording station are
demonstrating an increase in amplitude
of the seasonal CO2 cycle (high in winter,
low in summer), which indicates that CO2
fertilization is expanding the biosphere
and, in fact, creating a negative feedback.
Plants use CO2 to produce the organic
molecules which forms their tissues.
Higher levels of CO2 in the air allows
plants to grow bigger, produce more
branches and leaves, expand their root
systems, and produce more flowers and
fruit (Idso, 1989). There is an extensive
amount of published data indicating the
growth enhancement provided by a 300
ppmv increase in atmospheric CO2.
(Poorter, 1993; Ceulmans and Mousseau,
1994; Wullschleger et al., 1995 and 1997).
Fertilization by CO2 causes plants to
produce fewer stomatal pores per unit
area of leaf and the pores are narrower.
This change reduces most plants’ rate of
water loss by transpiration allowing them
to withstand drought conditions more
effectively (Tuba et al., 1998; Idso and
Quinn, 1983).
Similarly in the oceans, CO2 fertilizes the
organisms at the base of the food chain.
The high solubility of CO2 in cold water
explains the rich organic life of the cold15

Arctic and Antarctic waters. Alarms have
been raised concerning acidification of
ocean waters. However, much of this is
unfounded as sea water is not inorganic
brine but is dominated by organic life
which interacts with the oceans chemistry.
Surface waters in particular are teeming
with microorganisms. Cyanobacteria at the
base of the oceanic food chain
photosynthesis CO2
 to provide sugars and
give up oxygen. These ver y ancient
organisms are believed to have provided
the oxygen in the ancient atmosphere,
which originally was dominated by
nitrogen and carbon dioxide, which has
had concentrations ranging up to 5,000
ppmv in the Palaeozoic. These values are
up to 13 times higher than present day
numbers. During the early part of the
Palaeogene Period, from 65 to 34 million
years ago, global climates were much
warmer than today with very little ice at
the poles, and CO2
 levels up to 5 times
greater than today at 1,889 ppmv. (Pagani,
2005). The richness and diversity of life
at this time does not indicate any injurious
effects to the biosphere of significantly
higher CO2
Finally, the IPCC claim that the reported
warming since 1979 is very likely caused
by the human emission of greenhouse
gases (mainly CO2
) can not be supported
because it places an undue reliance on
proxy CO2
 values from ice cores. The ice
core data, because of the low and invariant
values would indicate a prolonged cold
period. This is not supported by well
documented cycles of warming and cooling
since the Holocene. Therefore, one has
to conclude that the ice core data is wrong
or CO2
 has no obvious connection with
climate change. The only coincidental
correlation of CO2
 with warming climate
has occurred in the decades from the
1980s to 1990s. This correlation no longer
appears relevant since there has been no
warming since 1998 and the climate has
cooled significantly since 2007. The failure
to demonstrate a link between CO2
climate change indicates that the policies
being called for to fight climate change
can not be justified and are unnecessary.
To follow this path will result in an
enormous misuse of capital that diverts
from developing more effective and
efficient methods of energy use. The public
debate over climate change has strayed
far from objective science and has been
extremely distorted by the errors and
exaggerations in the reports of the IPCC.
It is a profound embarrassment to science
that hype and spin have replaced reason
in such an important issue.

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