Hidden surprises in the CO2 figures
The Mauna Loa CO2 curve fits the cumulative
emissions curve to a remarkable degree. And not only did
I replicate/confirm (and provide a scale to) the fit, but
to my complete surprise, I found, in the maths, a theoretical
absorption constant for CO2 that works hand in hand with
the cumulative emissions curve. Both levels of "fit"
are very high, one might say, seductively high; the "absorption
constant" at 16.4% per decade, and the CO2 rise with
a fixed rate of 57% of the cumulative emissions.
But correlation is not causation.
Our emissions are less than one-twentieth
of the natural annual
CO2 turnover (oceans and biosphere). And the natural
annual turnover is around one-third of the total atmospheric
CO2. From the natural turnover, it looks as if CO2 can only
be resident in a free state in the air for quite a short
time, and it looks as if our tiny level of emissions should
easily get absorbed by an ever-hungry biosphere - as happens
in greenhouses when gardeners pump in extra CO2. So..........
is the 16.4% per decade low level of absorption of
just our emissions - needed to make
the cumulative emissions curve fit the CO2 curve.
This slow absorption / long residence is ridiculously
far off the scale of all the many studies done from
1957 to 1992 to show the average time CO2 stays in
the atmosphere before reabsorption in the natural
cycle. As to separating out natural CO2 from manmade
CO2 - ridiculous. There have to be natural factors
at work. Recent global warming must have caused at
least some of the CO2 rise.
Yet we have this weird mathematical coincidence that
shows CO2 annual atmospheric rise
has stayed at almost exactly 57% cumulative
I believe that this weird 57% coincidence
is the reason IPCC promoted the "100-year residence
time" which covers the 16.4% absorption per decade
needed, if one is to continue to blame emissions.
Since the "fit" of the hypothetical
absorption factors is very high, one feels that both weird
figures should be explored further, to reveal IPCC's logic.
Here are the sources I used:
Mauna Loa Observatory - CO2 seasonally
corrected + fossil fuel trend
Global CO2 emissions from fossil
fuel burning, 1950 - 2000 (CDIAC/BP)
Global CO2 emissions from fossil
burning, 1800 - 2000 (CDIAC?)
Click on pictures
to see originals
CO2 emissions were measured for 1964 and 2004,
from the CDIAC graph for the years 1950 to 2008.
Conversion note: 1 ppm (part per million)
carbon dioxide = approximately 2.12 Gt carbon (2,120 million
Increases of CO2 atmospheric levels were measured
from the slope of the Mauna Loa graph in 1964 and 2004.
Then the ratios of annual increase : annual emissions were
calculated as percentages for 1964 (57%) and 2004 (47%).
If the CO2 increase were due to our emissions,
and due to the earth only being able to absorb a certain
proportion, but the CO2 turnover is relatively fast as all
the studies say, my expectation was that the annual increase/annual
emissions percentage in 2004 would be roughly the same as,
or higher than, that of 1964. But the proportion is lower.
Strangely, however, the 1964 annual increase/annual emissions
percentage is 57%.
To test the fit between cumulative CO2 and
atmospheric CO2, I defined the cumulative CO2 quantity as
a geometrical approximation of the area under the CDIAC
graph, and calculated by simple arithmetic the totals for
1950, 1960, etc through to 2010 (a tiny extrapolation).
The figures obtained were plotted on the Mauna
Loa y-axis, using 57% and measuring in ppm (divide GT by
2.13). These figures were found to fit perfectly scale-wise.
This proved two things (1) my measurements were accurate
enough (2) the Mauna Loa red line is indeed the curve of
57% of cumulative emissions.
With this fit, the emissions calibration was
drawn as a second y-axis scale (red), and proved to be displaced
from the CO2 concentration scale by -293 ppm (but at the
But what does this 57% represent, outside
a mathematical theory-box? Presumably the idea is that 43%
emissions are absorbed - but how to figure that? it sounds
suspiciously like a static figure, whereas we have a dynamic
situation with CO2 sequestration. So I built a table, Model
no.1, using both the decade's emissions (column A) and the
cumulative emissions (column E) for each decade from 1960
to 2010, and starting with a century's known accumulated
65 GT in 1950, of which I clearly had to find 57% to get
the hypothetical residual atmospheric amount ie 37 GT.
The known 23 GT emissions for the decade 1950-1960
was added to this hypothetical atmospheric residue to give
The actual cumulative emissions in 1960 are
88 GT, of which 57% is 50.16 GT.
Now 50.16 GT is just 83.6% of the 60 GT (hypothetical
residual + known decadal) emissions. If a natural absorption
process is being represented, one would expect the decadal
percentage absorption to remain constant. Using 83.6% residue
(16.4% absorption) per decade, I multiplied each decade's
residue + new emissions by 83.6% and compared the results
with the known cumulative emissions.
In XLS-type formulas, C2 = D1 + B2; E2 = E1
+ B2; D2 = C2 X 0.836; F2 = D2 X 100 / E2 (%)
||Decade end date
||Decade's emissions GT
Add new emissions to
residual atm. emiss
| 83.6% yields new residual
atmospheric emiss. total
||Total cumulative emissions
as % of cumulative emissions
1 - a half-century of emissions
The residual figure does indeed stay very
close to 57%, quite within the bounds of the accuracy obtainable
Being aware of the huge annual turnover of
CO2 compared with our emissions (which are around 1/30 of
the annual turnover or 1/100 of the atmospheric total) this
result did surprise me. I know the ability of the biosphere
to bloom in response to extra food, to take hold of extra
available CO2; and with such a huge turnover, such capacity
to absorb seems as if it should be a natural. Nevertheless,
the rising CO2 level has a strong correlation with this
hypothetical fixed absorption figure of 16.4% per decade,
and this is weird, to say the least.
Since I still think that part of this must
be due to recent temperature rises, I tried a second "suspect
model" whose figures allow for natural warming CO2
increase alongside emissions CO2 increase. Here I've calculated
the figures for a hypothetical "natural" CO2 rise
factor that is 51.5% of the cumulative emissions total;
the hypothetical "emissions residue" is now 5.5%
of the cumulative emissions (this being the difference between
57% and 51.5%). Using the much higher absorption rate of
80% per decade, this leaves just 20% to be calculated from
the decade's residue (now quite small) and the decade's
In formulas, Hn = (B1+B2+...Bn); G1 = 57%
x H1; F1 = 51.5% x H1; E1 = 5.5% x H1; C2 = D1 + B2; D2
= C2 x 20%. I used column E to check the "fit"
of column D figures, and with fudging, got a fit good enough
to make the point.
||Decade end date
Add new emiss. to residual
| 20% -> residual atmos.
hypoth. residue of emissions
decade's warming (51.5%)
as 57% of cumulative emissions
Total cumul. emiss.
2 - a half-century of emissions + warming
We've lost the simple pattern of model
1, where CO2 (ppm) = cumulative emissions x 57% - 293. I
took the hypothetical "natural" warming figures
as a constant proportion of emissions. This means that the
"natural" CO2 numbers are now very arbitrary.
Nevertheless, there must be a natural factor - planetary
warming must have increased CO2 levels through outgassing
oceans. But the natural factor has weirdly dovetailed with
the emissions pattern to produced a CO2 levels curve that
fits the cumulative emissions curve very closely, and also
fits a constant absorption rate, but leaves no room for
CO2 produced by warming.
One wonders just what strange cosmic powers
could be at work to produce such a mathematical riddle.
Of course, I still do not believe that the
increasing CO2 has any significant warming power, or that
any warming due to CO2 would be anything but beneficial
on balance. But I do now wonder if a significant part of
the increase could be due to our land use changes. At best,
rising CO2 gives a lot more potential for food. But at worst,
if the CO2 rise has been due to temperature rise, and if
levels slump with a colder planet, we may have food problems.
And if supplies of carbon fuels (whether fossil or no) are
limited, we should do out utmost to balance supplies available
with population, and do this without using alarmist techniques
or bad science. We need a science that shows more integrity
and realism, and openness to debate, than that displayed
so far by the IPCC, the alarmists, the science institutions,
and business interests. We need a climate science which
everyone can understand sufficiently well to spot gaffs
and cons. We need transparency of methods and data, clear
language, and a situation where participation by lay scientists
I'd be delighted if anyone can check or improve