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Broad Irony

Filed under: — group @ 13 March 2007

Michael Mann and Gavin Schmidt

[update 3/20/07: The New York Times has run a short letter from us w/ a link to RealClimate for more info (scroll down to 5th letter; the 2nd letter from James McCarthy of Harvard is quite good too, as are some of the others).]

The first rule when criticizing popular science presentations for inaccuracies should be to double check any ‘facts’ you use. It is rather ironic then that William Broad’s latest piece on Al Gore plays just as loose with them as he accuses Gore of doing.

We criticized William Broad previously (Broadly Misleading) for a piece that misrepresented the scientific understanding of the factors that drive climate change over millions of years, systematically understating the scientifically-established role of greenhouse gases, and over-stating the role of natural factors including those as speculative as cosmic rays (see our recent discussion here). In this piece, Broad attempts to discredit Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” by exaggerating the legitimate, but minor, criticisms of his treatment of the science by experts on climate science, and presenting specious or unsubstantiated criticisms by a small number of the usual, well-known contrarians who wouldn’t agree even if Gore read aloud from the latest IPCC report.

Broad starts out by quoting Don Easterbrook (Western Washington University) with a statement,

there are a lot of inaccuracies in the statements we are seeing, and we have to temper that with real data.

Thrown in for good measure is a similarly poorly-supported quote by Kevin Vranes (who is referred to as a climatologist, but who now works on science policy) that

questioned whether his [Gore’s] presentations were overselling our certainty about knowing the future.

Unfortunately, neither Easterbrook’s inaccuracies nor Vranes oversold certainties are mentioned. We reviewed the movie ourselves, looking hard for such ‘inaccuracies’, and could only find one minor area (the explanation of the complex relationship between the global surface temperatures and greenhouse gas concentrations over glacial/interglacial cycles) where justified criticism might be levied (and here, the accusation was only that Gore simplified a complicated relationship, something that is arguably unavoidable in a movie intended for mass popular consumption).

Broad then draws upon the same false dichotomy used previously which seems to equate the mainstream of scientific opinion (that global warming and climate change is real, almost certainly in large part anthropogenic, and likely to lead to substantial and potentially deleterious changes in our environment if no action is taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions) with “alarmism”, and places contrarians at the very fringe of scientific thinking on an equal footing with mainstream scientists. He goes on to trot out a number of the usual suspects, reciting the usual specious claims and half-truths.

Among the worst, is this one

Mr. Gore, who highlights the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and cites research suggesting that global warming will cause both storm frequency and deadliness to rise. Yet this past Atlantic season produced fewer hurricanes than forecasters predicted (five versus nine), and none that hit the United States.

This is dishonest in at least two different ways. First of all, Broad conveniently forgets to mention that the 2006 Hurricane season was accompanied by a moderate El Nino event. It is well known that El Nino events, such as the 2006 El Nino, tend to be associated with stronger westerly winds aloft in the tropical Atlantic, which is unfavorable for tropical cyclone development. The season nonetheless produced a greater than average number of named storms in the tropical Atlantic (10), 3 more than the typical El Nino year. But El Ninos come and go–more or less randomly–from year to year. The overall trend in named tropical Atlantic storms in recent decades is undeniably positive. We can have honest debates about the long-term data quality, but not if we start out by misrepresenting the data we do have, as Broad chooses to. Additionally, this is a clear misrepresentation of what Gore actually stated in his book. Gore indicated that it is primarily Hurricane intensities which scientists largely agree should be expected to increase in association with warming surface temperatures, and specifically notes that

There is less agreement among scientists about the relationship between the total number of hurricanes each year and global warming.

Next. Roy Spencer, best known for his satellite work arguing against warming of the atmosphere (which turns out to have been an artifact of a combination of algebraic and sign errors), criticizes Gore for pointing out that recent warmth appears to be anomalous in at least the past 1000 years. Spencer does this by both mis-characterizing the recent National Academies Report on the subject which indeed pointed out that there are numerous lines of evidence for precisely this conclusion, and by completely ignoring the recently-released IPCC Fourth Assessment report, which draws the stronger conclusion that the warmth of recent decades is likely anomalous in at least the past 1300 years.

We also find it amusing that Broad takes anything Robert Carter has to say seriously, given that he doesn’t even believe that current rises in CO2 are human caused (judging from his Senate performance). Sea level rise statements from the IPCC Summary are horribly mischaracterised. Easterbrook’s implication that global temperatures have varied by more the 20 times the medieval temperature anomaly over the Holocene is simply laughable (only if you include the deglaciation might that be true, but since that was before the onset even of settled human communities it seems less than relevant).

This article is very disappointing, not just because it gets things so wrong, but because it misses an opportunity to address a much more substantive issue. It is inevitable that working scientists will find popular presentations of their work lacking in depth and nuance (after all, depth and nuance are what we do!). Whatever you may think about Al Gore’s movie, it is indisputable that it has raised awareness of the issues and left a substantial part of the public hungry for more information. That hunger can only be fed by people who are closer to the science than Gore, and it is inevitable that the AIT will be used as a springboard or contrast for further presentations. A better article would have investigated how that is happening and how that is affecting public awareness of the science. Unfortunately, this article does nothing to improve public awareness, and that is deeply ironic.


[Hat tip to David Roberts for pointing out his own article on the Broad piece. David picks up on some additional morsels we left out]

[Update 3/14/07: See also excellent discussions by Tim Lambert and Andrew Dessler]


166 Responses to “Broad Irony”

  1. 101
    BarbieDoll Moment says:

    RE: 62.)
    …”None of the “30 so-called new diseases” Gore references are attributable to global warming, none.” – Dr. Paul Reiter, “…
    I’m curious to know what IS the truth on some of these issues…perhaps someone reading this can enlighten me? “…

    The gist of the matter is that there are numerous researchers with research work who DO NOT agree with such a view; albeit I am not sure which thirty so called new diseases here we are discussing, however
    other researchers hold opposing views on the matter in relation to climate and the incidence and spread of disease/vector born
    pathogens in relation to climate/weather.

    Climate via weather directly effects a microorganisms ability to
    thrive and or spread via means such as periods of rain after long periods
    of drought by its role as a factor that enables the reactivation of a microrganism which had been previously held in dormant
    conditions and or nonconducive environmental ecosystem. A classic example is the Hanta virus which has outbreaks tied into El Nino patterns.

    It’s a biological given that in order for a disease spreading pathogen to spread, or to survive
    in order to spread or reactivate, that it requires certain beneficial environmental variables.

    Title: An analysis of possible climate change impacts on human mortality in South Central Canada
    Authors: Cheng, C.S.; Auld, H.; Li, G.; Klaassen, J.; Li, Q.; Comer, N.; Campbell, M.; Day, N.; Pengelly, D.; Gingrich, S.
    Source: 16th Conference on Biometeorology and Aerobiology, 2004, 31-38

    Title: Effects of climate on incidence of Campylobacter spp. in humans and prevalence in broiler flocks in Denmark
    Authors: Patrick, M.E.; Christiansen, L.E.; Wainø, M.; Ethelberg, S.; Madsen, H.; Wegener, H.C.
    Source: Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2004, 70, 12, 7474-7480

    Title: Global surface ultraviolet radiation intensity may modulate the clinical and immunologic expression of autoimmune muscle disease
    Authors: Okada, S.; Weatherhead, E.; Targoff, I.N.; Wesley, R.; Miller, F.W.
    Source: Arthritis and Rheumatism, 2003, 48, 8, 2285-2293

    Title: Effects of air pollution and climatic conditions on the frequency of ophthalmological emergency examinations
    Authors: Bourcier, T.; Viboud, C.; Cohen, J.-C.; Thomas, F.; Bury, T.; Cadiot, L.; Mestre, O.; Flahault, A.; Borderie, V.; Laroche, L.
    Source: British Journal of Ophthalmology, 2003, 87, 7, 809-811

    Title: Climate index for West Nile virus
    Authors: Kunkel, K.E.; Novak, R.
    Source: Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 2005, 86, 1, 18

    [edited. sorry, we can’t allow lengthy lists because every one elses comments just get lost. If you have lengthy material you’d like to cite, please place it offsite and provide a link here. thanks]

  2. 102
    Eli Rabett says:

    You really gotta know where the nonsense comes from. In #47 Bob Carter was quoted as saying

    “That said, there is a paper in preparation by a German scientist which shows a strong relationship between temperature and carbon dioxide between the early 19th and late 20th century.”

    This is almost certainly the good Diplom Beck who needs to read Keeling about why all those 19th and 20th century CO2 measurements were the equivalent of standing on top of a smokestack. (see references in link).

  3. 103
    Craig Allen says:

    Re #62 Climate change and diseases:

    The Harvard Medical School provides a very readable report on this here. Careful if you have a slow internet connection, it’s a big pdf.

  4. 104
    BarbieDoll Moment says:

    RE: 73)

    …”but because caol sequestration technology does not exist”… “isn’t anyone in congress or the senate listening to the IPCC and GISS/NASA????? ”

    But it does. And the congress, senate and U.S. president
    has been investing heavily in the technology and conducting
    implementing projects and more research on such.

    IPCC Special Report on Carbon dioxide Capture and Storage
    http://www.ipcc.ch/activity/srccs/index.htm
    IPCC, (2005)
    …”As of mid-2005, there have been
    three commercial projects linking CO2 capture and geological
    storage: the offshore Sleipner natural gas processing project
    in Norway, the Weyburn Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR)1
    project in Canada (which stores CO2 captured in the United
    States) and the In Salah natural gas project in Algeria. Each
    captures and stores 1â??2 MtCO2 per year. It should be noted,
    however, that CCS has not yet been applied at a large (e.g.,
    500 MW) fossil-fuel power plant, and that the overall system
    may not be as mature as some of its components.”…”In addition to the CCS projects currently in place, 30
    MtCO2 is injected annually for EOR, mostly in Texas, USA,
    where EOR commenced in the early 1970s. Most of this CO2
    is obtained from natural CO2 reservoirs found in western
    regions of the US, with some coming from anthropogenic
    sources such as natural gas processing. Much of the CO2
    injected for EOR is produced with the oil, from which it is
    separated and then reinjected. At the end of the oil recovery,
    the CO2 can be retained for the purpose of climate change
    mitigation, rather than vented to the atmosphere. This is
    planned for the Weyburn project.”…

    Global Climate Change
    The White House
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/ceq/global-change.html
    …”The President is also investing in carbon sequestration technologies and practices that can capture carbon dioxide from fossil energy systems or the atmosphere, and store those greenhouse gases in forests, plants, and soils, or in geologic reservoirs underground.”…

    DOE News Release, â??President Requests $863 Million for Fossil Energy Programs: FY2008 Fossil Budget Request One of Largest Since Taking Office.â?? February 5, 2007
    http://www.fossil.energy.gov/news/techlines/2007/07004-FY_2008_Budget_Request.html

    …” A core Fossil Energy program receiving heavy emphasis is Carbon Sequestration. Sequestration research and development increases its budget from $74 million in FY 2007 to $79 million in FY 2008. This budget request will allow for continued research and development into carbon dioxide capture and storage, as well as measurement, monitoring and verification technologies and processes. The program will focus on developing capture and separation technologies in order to lower the costs and energy requirements for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from fossil-based (especially coal) energy generating plants. Of primary importance is to dramatically lower the cost and energy requirements of pre- and post-combustion carbon dioxide capture.”…” To view a chart of DOE’s Fossil Energy Budget for Fiscal Year 2008, go to:” http://www.fossil.energy.gov/aboutus/budget/08/FY_2008_Budget.html

    “DOE Releases 2006 Carbon Sequestration Technology Roadmap, Project Portfolio” DOE – Fossil Energy Techline (Aug 22, 2006)
    http://www.fossil.energy.gov/news/techlines/2006/06049-Sequestration_Roadmap_2006.html

    …”The Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships have progressed to a validation phase in which they will conduct 25 field tests involving the injection of CO2 into underground formations where it will be stored and monitored.”…

    CO2 Capture and Storage R&D Database
    http://co2captureandstorage.info/search.php
    IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme

    Carbon Sequestration-Reference Shelf
    http://www.netl.doe.gov/publications/carbon_seq/refshelf.html
    NETL: National Energy Technology Lab

    Greenhouse gas ocean burial can start Feb 10
    Alister Doyle
    Scientific American.com, (09 Feb 2007)
    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa003&articleID=428365DE6E004C615FE51282A0B8D9DB

    Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) – Documents & Data
    http://www.rggi.org/documents.htm

    Burying climate change for good
    http://physicsweb.org/articles/world/19/9/3
    Physics World – PhysicsWeb, (Sep 2006)

    2007 Carbon Capture & Sequestration Conference is in “Coal Country” Pittsburgh, PA–May 7-10.
    http://www.carbonsq.com/

    The Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF)will meet in Paris, France on March 25-28, 2007. For further information about this CSLF meeting and to view detailed information about the organization, see: http://www.cslforum.org/mar252007.htm.

    May 15-17, 2007, Third International Conference on Clean Coal Technologies for our Future, T Hotel and Conference Centre, Cagliari and Sotacarbo Coal Research Centre, Carbonia, Sardinia, Italy.
    http://www.cct2007.it/

    The Carbon Sequestration Newsletter (monthly)
    National Energy Technology Laboratory
    http://www.netl.doe.gov/publications/carbon_seq/

    “Successful Sequestration Project Could Mean More Oil and Less Carbon Dioxide Emissions” The National Energy Technology Laboratory – U.S. Department of Energy 11-15-05
    http://www.netl.doe.gov/
    “Scretary Samuel Bodman today announced that the Department of Energy (DOE)-funded â??Weyburn Projectâ?? successfully sequestered five million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the Weyburn Oilfield in Saskatchewan, Canada, while doubling the fieldâ??s oil recovery rate. If the methodology used in the Weyburn Project was successfully applied on a worldwide scale, one-third to one-half of CO2 emissions could be eliminated in the next 100 years and billions of barrels of oil could be recovered.”…

    Popular Science, â??Turning Black Coal Green.â?? Feb 2007 FutureGen, a $1 billion project sponsored by The Department of Energy (DOE) in partnership with 11 leading energy companies, may become the model for future coal-burning power plants.
    http://www.popsci.com/popsci/science/3e2f391531470110vgnvcm1000004eecbccdrcrd.html.

    Prospective Evaluation of Applied
    Energy Research and Development at DOE (Phase Two)

    http://books.nap.edu/catalog/11806.html_
    …”At the request of Congress, the NRC has undertaken a
    series of studies using quantitative indicators to evaluate the
    effectiveness of applied energy R&D at DOE.”…”These are: the carbon sequestration, the
    integrated gasification combined cycle technology R&D, the natural
    gas exploration and production, the distributed energy resources, the
    light-duty vehicle technology R&D, and the chemical industrial
    technologies programs.”…..

  5. 105
    BarbieDoll Moment says:

    RE: 101 RE: 62.)
    …”None of the “30 so-called new diseases” Gore references are attributable to global warming, none.” – Dr. Paul Reiter, “…
    I’m curious to know what IS the truth on some of these issues…perhaps someone reading this can enlighten me? “…

    “[edited. sorry, we can’t allow lengthy lists because every one elses comments just get lost. If you have lengthy material you’d like to cite, please place it offsite and provide a link here. ]”

    My sincere apologies to the posters, readers and RC.

    The link below to the Climate and Disease Transmission list of mine below is more extensive and encompassing but it still contains the original climate/human disease abstracts/list that I had originally posted that was too extensive and needed to be edited by RC.

    Climate and Disease Transmission
    Research conducted that contains abstracts with biblio citations topically discussing climate and disease, human, plant and animal.
    http://f1.grp.yahoofs.com/v1/kJr4RY7vYx5S6P6NS6sqI9_TR9oe_O0vMgyfXGHVyAr2bbtN9dNoAaXMotZ1xe4wTFRmpYdXjvZRt_43Rk_t8g/Climate%20and%20Disease%20Transmission

  6. 106
    Mark A. York says:

    Excellent work Elizabeth. I used this study in writing my novel “Warm Front” answering Crichton.

  7. 107
    Chuck Booth says:

    RE # 71 gtpunch,
    You cited the following article,
    Kukla, George J., and R. K. Matthews
    (1972). “When Will the Present Interglacial End?” Science 178: 190-91, as evidence that scientists were apparently unduly alarmed by a short-lived cold spell.

    You seem to have misinterpreted, or are misrepresenting, the conclusions stated in the article (assuming you actually read it). First, the article is a summary of a two day conference on Quaternary geology – it is not a peer-reviewed research paper. Second, it is not clear that the first author, George Kukla, is/was a climatologist – his institutional affiliation is listed merely as the Czechoslovakian Academy of Sciences; coauthor R.K. Matthews is/was in the Dept. of Geological Sciences at Brown University (where the conference was held). But, those are minor quibbles.

    The article does discuss the onset of another episode of global cooling, but on a geological time scale, stating “Global cooling… may be expected within the next few millennia or even centuries.” It also states “However, with continuing human input these effects [i.e., warming due to artificial heating and production of CO2; cooling due to dust production] might eventually trigger or speed climatic change.”
    One of the general conclusion of the conference was that “In man’s quest to produce an adequate supply of food, global climate change constitutes a first order environmental hazard which must be thoroughly understood well in advance of the first global indicators of deteriorating climate.”

    That sounds to me like the conference participants were concerned about the possibility of AGW back in 1972. They were also concerned that dust generated by human activities could result in global cooling, a factor that turned out to be much less important than CO2 emissions.

    Finally, the article noted the general consensus of confernce participants that, in 1972, “knowledge necessary for understanding the mechanism of climate change is lamentably inadequate, and the ultimaate causes remain unknown.”
    I think it is fair to say that scientific understanding of climate change has advanced considerably in the past 35 years.

  8. 108
    Ben says:

    Great reporting on this. And there’s more… This seems to have legs, lots of ‘em.

    The hook of the NYT story is that “rank-and-file” scientists (explicitly “not…skeptics”) are critical of Mr. Gore. Mr. Broad’s first and paradigmatic source is Easterbrook, who in fact doesn’t believe that CO2 causes global warming and actually believes in “global cooling.” Thus the premise of the entire article falls apart–ie the “rank-and-file” guy is actually a climate science weirdo. That’s bad enough. But think about it: are we to believe that Mr. Broad somehow ran into what he thought were some “rank-and-file” scientists critical of Gore and then ran a story on them, not realizing that, in reality, they were all climate change skeptics? That seems next to impossible. The logical conclusion is that Broad intentionally misrepresented his sources. By even Fox news’ standards, that should be ground for dismissal. Here’s a link to one of Easterbrook’s handouts in which he covers “global cooling,” benign CO2, and his dissing of the IPCC. You be the judge: “rank-and-file” scientist or skeptic? And did Broad know or not about his sources? Either answer demands a retraction from the NYT. http://gsa.confex.com/gsa/viewHandout.cgi?uploadid=214

  9. 109
    Hank Roberts says:

    He wrote the book on science fraud. He should be able to recognize it. That’s the nasty part of this.
    William Broad & Nicholas Wade, Betrayers of the Truth. Oxford University Press, 1982

  10. 110
    Hank Roberts says:

    But then, he’s been called out on this sort of thing before, too:
    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/17731

  11. 111
    Nuna says:

    RE #100. [That sounds like mendacity although I haven’t listened to it; but in the context of RC they can’t rebut evey loony who appears on the radio; they only rebut substantive articles in major newspapers or substantive television documentaries on major channels; and in that context]

    That “loony” is getting Elizabeth Kolbert to participate in the “education” on his site. Also Broad’s Times piece on Gore was not really “substantive” and likely was read by far fewer than those hearing the misinformation on globalwarming101 on Weekend Edition.

  12. 112
    Chuck Booth says:

    Re 107
    I wrote: “They were also concerned that dust generated by human activities could result in global cooling, a factor that turned out to be much less important than CO2 emissions.”

    This is not to imply that dust and other particulates are unimportant in affecting climate on a regional, or even global, scale. For example:

    Richard A. Kerr (2007) Pollutant Hazes Extend Their Climate-Changing Reach (news story) Science 2 March, 2007: Vol. 315. no. 5816, p. 1217
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/315/5816/1217

    Richard A. Kerr (2007) A Dose of Dust That Quieted an Entire Hurricane Season? (news story) Science 9 March 2007: Vol. 315. no. 5817, p. 1351
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/315/5816/1217

  13. 113
    Ike Solem says:

    Yet another critique of this article has appeared: see When Climate Message is Strong, Attack the Messenger”, by Joe Brewer. This article also focuses on political issues…

    This is why realclimate is such a valuable resource – it focuses on the science of climate and offers explanations that are accessible to intelligent people who don’t happen to have a scientific background. It’s also important to remember, as tamino said on another thread, that many people have been subjected to disinformation, and when explaining the topic it’s is easy to get impatient or to assume that the person is trying to spread disinformation themselves. The correct approach is to go back to the basic explanations, maybe using different angles and fresh examples. Obviously, it can seem frustrating to have to explain the same thing ten times, or one hundred times, but that’s what needs to be done – people like science, and do appreciate answers to their questions.

  14. 114
    Paul M. MacKinney says:

    comment by Paul M. MacKinney entered volume of earth water as 144 million cubic miles. The correction is 326 million cubic miles. The amount of water per person (6 billion persons) is still about 50 square mile 6 feet deep

  15. 115
    gringo says:

    Easterbrook was interviewed by Tucker Carlson and he said a few things that are really news to me:

    CARLSON: Have I misstated that? Here�s what I understand. Correct me I�m wrong, that there is a consensus that the Earth, for some reason, is getting warmer, but there is not an absolute consensus as to why. Is that correct?

    EASTERBROOK: That�s very true. Everyone agrees that the Earth has warmed up in the last century, and the big contention is whether or not it has bee caused by man made CO2 or not. And that contention is not congruent with geological facts in the case. So that is why there is some doubt, and as far as a consensus is concerned, you have to realize that the IPCC report, which was published in about February, was made by 143 geologists, not by the hundreds of thousands of scientists around the world.

    So there is no consensus, in the sense that nobody has pulled the world scientists.

    CARLSON: You make the point in the “New York Times” today that Goreâ��s convention that weâ��ve ever seen a climate shift like this ever in history is false, and, in fact, there have been lots of changes in climates down through the millennia. Can you explain that?

    EASTERBROOK: That�s very true. We have excellent data from the Greenland Ice Core, and what we do is measure isotopes that leave a climatic fingerprint, and they show conclusively that at least ten times in the last 15,000 years, we have had climate changes that are more pronounced than what we�ve seen in the last century, and in fact, about 10,000 to 15,000 years ago, they were 20 times as great as what we are seeing now.

    ————-

    So is that true about the IPCC process? 143 geologists?
    And is that true about the Greenland Ice Core? Is there any peer-reviewed paper which confirms what Easterbrook says?

    (Gore didn’t use the word history but “our civilization” by the way — at least according to Broad.
    Nor did he argue that CO2 is the only culprit, as far as I know.)

  16. 116

    Comments on relevant excerpts from the Broad article:

    Still, Dr. Hansen said, the former vice president’s work may hold “imperfections” and “technical flaws.” He pointed to hurricanes, an icon for Mr. Gore, who highlights the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and cites research suggesting that global warming will cause both storm frequency and deadliness to rise. Yet this past Atlantic season produced fewer hurricanes than forecasters predicted (five versus nine), and none that hit the United States.

    The drop in the number of hurricanes in the Atlantic was more than likely due largely to the El Nino effect, which drew energy from the Atlantic to the Pacific where several of the largest storms on record were recorded The mere fact that there were such large storms in the pacific has been largely ignored by the American press. Hurricane climatologists know that SST “Sea Surface temperature” affects hurricane intensity and Al Gore pointed this out in his movie.

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/2006/ann/ann06.html

    It estimated that the world’s seas in this century would rise a maximum of 23 inches – down from earlier estimates. Mr. Gore, citing no particular time frame, envisions rises of up to 20 feet and depicts parts of New York, Florida and other heavily populated areas as sinking beneath the waves, implying, at least visually, that inundation is imminent.

    The IPCC reports are intentionally conservative in order to protect the integrity of the report. The lag dictates that the report will always be behind the leading edge of the research. It is estimated that the feedback loops that are in place will likely provide a minimum of 1 meter of sea level rise by 2100. Since the feedback loops are accelerating, it is likely that the sea level rise will supercede the current estimations.

    So too, a report last June by the National Academies seemed to contradict Mr. Gore’s portrayal of recent temperatures as the highest in the past millennium. Instead, the report said, current highs appeared unrivaled since only 1600, the tail end of a temperature rise known as the medieval warm period.

    Roy Spencer, a climatologist at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, said on a blog that Mr. Gore’s film did “indeed do a pretty good job of presenting the most dire scenarios.” But the June report, he added, shows “that all we really know is that we are warmer now than we were during the last 400 years.”

    No data supports this claim. The chart from NOAA/NCDC below shows that there was a gentle warming period between 800 and 1300 then cooling again. There was a small temperature spike around 1600 but it was only about .2 C and still below the temperature of the MWP which is nowhere near the current mean temperature of earths atmosphere.

    2000 Years
    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/pubs/jones2004/jones2004.html

    Medieval Warm Period
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval_warm_period

    “Hardly a week goes by,” Dr. Peiser said, “without a new research paper that questions part or even some basics of climate change theory,” including some reports that offer alternatives to human activity for global warming.

    How many of these “scientific” opinions are peer reviewed?

    Geologists have documented age upon age of climate swings, and some charge Mr. Gore with ignoring such rhythms.

    Movie did not ignore past climate change. Mr. Gore pointed out past climate swings and also showed their correlation to Co2 in the atmosphere.

    “Nowhere does Mr. Gore tell his audience that all of the phenomena that he describes fall within the natural range of environmental change on our planet,” Robert M. Carter, a marine geologist at James Cook University in Australia, said in a September blog. “Nor does he present any evidence that climate during the 20th century departed discernibly from its historical pattern of constant change.”

    First, I’m glad Robert M. Carter (a geologist) is quoting himself from a blog. I wouldn’t want him to have to go to all the trouble of peer review on his opinions, it’s just too much work and research and would take him away from his blogs. While the statement is true, the context and connotation is far from the truth. True, this climate change is in the natural range as recorded history shows. Within the natural range it has been hotter and colder that present climate. The main difference is this is human caused and many of those dramatic climate changes occurred long before humans were around, and one of those dramatic changes wiped out around 95% of all life on earth.

    In October, Dr. Easterbrook made similar points at the geological society meeting in Philadelphia. He hotly disputed Mr. Gore’s claim that “our civilization has never experienced any environmental shift remotely similar to this” threatened change.

    The truth is that Al Gore was correct. Never before has a species on earth dug oil out of the ground and burned it, adding more than 200 gigitons of Co2 to the atmosphere, an increase of 36% since pre-industrial age. Never before has an industrial based, oil fed, farming operation added an 18% increase of nitrous oxide and a 148% increase of methane. The human species is unique and Mr. Gore is absolutely correct in saying that “our civilization has never experienced any environmental shift remotely similar to this” regarding THIS climate change.

    Nonsense, Dr. Easterbrook told the crowded session. He flashed a slide that showed temperature trends for the past 15,000 years. It highlighted 10 large swings, including the medieval warm period. These shifts, he said, were up to “20 times greater than the warming in the past century.”

    Dr. Easterbrook and Broad are again misleading the reader and actually wrong. There is no evidence that any global mean temperature has been higher than current temperatures in the past 15,000 years. 15,000 years ago we were coming out of the last ice age. The current climate change is .76 C in the past century. 20 times that would be a temperature increase of 15.2 C. That would mean the temperature was as high as 28 C average mean global temperature. Earth at 28 degrees C has NEVER occurred in the past 500 million years according to all data assessments. The hottest temperature known by geological assessments is around 8 C hotter. That was 530 million years ago though. Most life then was multicellular organisms and/or in forms as advanced as trilobite, according to studies. Dr. Easterbrook is referring to the temperature change coming out of the last ice age, then he is still incorrect as that was not a change of 15.2 C, it was more like a rise of 9 C

    The Last 150k Years
    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/globalwarming/paleobefore.html

    Getting personal, he mocked Mr. Gore’s assertion that scientists agreed on global warming except those industry had corrupted. “I’ve never been paid a nickel by an oil company,” Dr. Easterbrook told the group. “And I’m not a Republican.”

    Since he is not being paid, we are left to wonder why Dr. Easterbrook has chosen to misrepresent inaccuracies as facts. His opinions are not peer reviewed on the subjects of which he speaks. And the facts, from our leading US government studies and experts in climatology, do not even remotely support his opinions as stated in this article.

    Biologists, too, have gotten into the act. In January, Paul Reiter, an active skeptic of global warming’s effects and director of the insects and infectious diseases unit of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, faulted Mr. Gore for his portrayal of global warming as spreading malaria.

    “For 12 years, my colleagues and I have protested against the unsubstantiated claims,” Dr. Reiter wrote in The International Herald Tribune. “We have done the studies and challenged the alarmists, but they continue to ignore the facts.”

    In the paper Paul Reiter wrote “Climate Change and Mosquito-Borne Disease” Reiter explains in his abstract “Elementary models suggest that higher global temperatures will enhance their transmission rates and extend their geographic ranges.” He then says “However, the histories of three such diseases–malaria, yellow fever, and dengue–reveal that climate has rarely been the principal determinant of their prevalence or range; human activities and their impact on local ecology have generally been much more significant. It is therefore inappropriate to use climate-based models to predict future prevalence.”
    http://www.ehponline.org/members/2001/suppl-1/141-161reiter/reiter-full.html

    This is a direct contradiction and does not take into account the fact that we already know that: warming is happening; and we know that it is human caused. The contradiction is: he states that models suggest higher temperature will enhance transmission; and then he states, “It is inappropriate to use climate based models to predict future prevalence.”

    Fact: Global warming puts more moisture in the air, albeit regionally dispersed depending on changing momentums. In those areas where moisture increases and gathers, there will be more mosquitos and therefore more “Mosquito-Bourne Disease”.

    Fact: Paul Reiter is not a climate expert as it pertains to Global Warming. He is an expert in how weather affects disease transmission. Context of an argument is important to understand its relevance.

    No one needs to be a scientist to understand the obvious.

  17. 117
    Kat says:

    As an aside to the general readership of RC: I was sent here by a fellow blogger in response to some controversies over Gore’s movie. I started out with a relatively open mind…just seeking answers, and explanations for what seemed to be fairly significant inconsistencies allegedly presented in the movie. However, after scanning the length of comments here I’m a bit leery of some of the debating styles I’ve observed.

    My advice to those of you who would seek to convince others of your point of view: avoid the patronizing insinuations and put-downs of other commenters and let the facts speak for themselves. I honestly must admit that I find that far more influential. (Thanks, by the way, to those who responded to my queries in a straightforward, helpful manner…I really appreciate that!)

  18. 118
    gringo says:

    Nice job, John.

    Could you answer my question about Easterbrook’s claim regarding the IPCC process? Where did he get this ‘143 geologists’ story from?

  19. 119
    Marco Parigi says:

    Re: The first rule when criticizing popular science presentations for inaccuracies should be to double check any ‘facts’ you use

    I think you are being too kind on both Al Gore and William Broad. I would classify “An Inconvenient Truth” as propaganda dressed up as a documentary. And William Broad is writing an opinion piece dressed up as a scientific critique. Intelligent people should neither take away an exaggerated impression of alarm from the movie, nor an exaggerated impression of uncertainty from the opinion piece.

  20. 120
    Hank Roberts says:

    Why ask us to track down this story? It’s hearsay, something someone says someone said on some television program.
    Google finds only two pages in the world that mention “143 geologists” — the posting above, here:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/03/broad-irony/#comment-27928
    And this one here, which appears unrelated: http://gsiti.ap.nic.in/23.html

  21. 121
    Sabastian says:

    There is no global warming! In 1986 the temp dropped 4 degrees and they called for an iceage, look it up, they really did! Besides Co2 is not a pollutant to the planet it’s just not good for people to breathe. Co2 can NOT trap the earth’s radiation and make the planet warmer…look it up people. Use scientific facts not the garbage from News papers. They say 90% of scientists agree gloabl warming is real…WHAT? They can not agree it’s real, it’s a theory NOT fact because scientists say there is not enough information to know yet. Grow up people and stop falling for this nonsense already. What the heck, you say you believe and still drive your cars EVERYDAY…I guess you don’t really believe it after all , do you? Niether does anyone else since they do the same.

  22. 122
    Sabastian says:

    By the way, the IPCC does NOT have a list of world temperatures yet because they can not agree on what readings to use, (so they say). The truth is that there is NO list of world temperatures showing the earth is burning up because it’s not so they can not have a list.

    Global warming puts more moisture in the air? Yes it does BUT it does NOT put more moisture in the area where green house gases are…. in other words it rains more, big deal. The earth warms and cools all of the time, that’s normal. The term ‘global warming’ and what it means is all a fraud!

    John,

    “Fact: Paul Reiter is not a climate expert as it pertains to Global Warming. He is an expert in how weather affects disease transmission. Context of an argument is important to understand its relevance.

    No one needs to be a scientist to understand the obvious.”

    You just contradicted yourself, you don’t have to be a scientist but he is. Are you saying his field has NO facts at all about weather? Do you study in his field? Is this how you know what he does or doesn’t know? Is Gore an expert on weather and disease? No? I guess he’s out of his field too then. This is why one should stick to the topic not personal nonsense. Facts my friend, just the facts. If you read this thanks for your time.

  23. 123
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Re: 120 and 121, Uh, Sabastian, you’re posting to an audience that contains a substantial number of climate scientists, and an even larger proportion of physicists, chemists, etc. So, we know the science, and we know that you don’t. Might I suggest a good book on atmospheric science–John Seinfeld’s and Spyros Pandis’s “Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics”–particularly Chapter 23. Happy reading and do come back when you’ve learned something about the subject.

  24. 124
    gringo says:

    Sabastian,

    You just adviced a bunch of scientists here to “use scientific facts”.
    Before you post your nonsense at least you should check where you are.

  25. 125
    Chuck Booth says:

    Re # 121
    Sebastian’s rant was just a parody, wasn’t it? It was a pretty amusing thing to read on this site.

  26. 126

    [[By the way, the IPCC does NOT have a list of world temperatures yet because they can not agree on what readings to use, (so they say). The truth is that there is NO list of world temperatures showing the earth is burning up because it’s not so they can not have a list.]]

    Go to this site:

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/2005/

    [[Global warming puts more moisture in the air? Yes it does BUT it does NOT put more moisture in the area where green house gases are…. in other words it rains more, big deal.]]

    The amount of water vapor in the air goes up exponentially with temperature according to the Clausius-Clapeyron law. Do a google search on that term, it’s interesting stuff.

  27. 127

    [[There is no global warming! In 1986 the temp dropped 4 degrees]]

    The mean global annual temperature did NOT drop 4 degrees in 1986. Don’t just make stuff up, especially when it’s easy to check. It’s dumb.

    [[ and they called for an iceage, look it up, they really did!]]

    There was a scare over an imminent ice age in the mid-’70s due to some irresponsible journalists. There was never a scientific consensus behind global cooling the way there is now for global warming.

    [[Co2 can NOT trap the earth’s radiation and make the planet warmer…look it up people. Use scientific facts not the garbage from News papers.]]

    If the greenhouse effect didn’t work, the Earth would be frozen over. Its emission temperature is only 255 K, you know, and water freezes at 273 K. We enjoy a mean global annual surface temperature around 288 K because of the greenhouse effect. No scientist in the world doubts that it exists.

    [[ They say 90% of scientists agree gloabl warming is real…WHAT? They can not agree it’s real, it’s a theory NOT fact because scientists say there is not enough information to know yet.]]

    Actually, for some time now they’ve been saying there IS enough information to know.

    [[ Grow up people and stop falling for this nonsense already. What the heck, you say you believe and still drive your cars EVERYDAY…I guess you don’t really believe it after all , do you? ]]

    What makes you think believing in anthropogenic global warming means you should stop driving? I can’t follow your reasoning here.

  28. 128
    tico89 says:

    Actually, I made it almost halfway through without having much quibble with what they said – until they got onto the subject of the hurricane season, which was sloppily done. Obviously, it’s not a great idea to treat people with very little experience of the issue as experts, but at the same time there is a fear in other places of the ‘catastrophism’ going too far and turning people away from the issue. (For example, see here). I realise it is a serious problem, but people won’t believe in it if we go too far. I am waiting for someone to write a refutation piece in the NYT, though.

  29. 129
    gringo says:

    “‘catastrophism’ going too far ”

    You know that kind of argument sound rather silly for a simple reason:
    catastrophies DO happen. Even if people don’t want to believe them because , well, it’s inconvenient.

    It seems to me that if someone predicts a disaster (whatever that is)
    he automatically becomes an “alarmist” in most people’s eyes as if
    disasters only happened in our imagination. Of course when the disaster indeed happens all those people somehow forget what they heard before.
    I’m absolutely sure if Gore had predicted on Sept 10, 2001 that al Qaeda could hijack four US jets and destroy the Twin Towers he would have been called an alarmist.

  30. 130

    Sabastian

    I did check the facts as reported on NOAA and NCDC websites. In the article I wrote (see above) I put in the links to the graphs so you can look it up. You would understand more if you clicked on the links and looked some things up. Unless you contend that the US government science and data collection is wrong? In which case, please back it up with your research references.

    I did write an article as a rebuttal to the NYT piece.

    You can view it at our workup site:

    http://haritomedia.webfactional.com/uscentrist/Members/jreisman/articles-wip/new-york-times

    BTW if anyone has any comments on the article, I�m always open to new data. info@uscentrist.org

    I will be posting it soon on our public site soon:

    http://uscentrist.org/articles.cfml

    and it will be released to the general press.
    John P. Reisman

  31. 131

    Sebastion

    Regarding your comments: [You just contradicted yourself, you don’t have to be a scientist but he is. Are you saying his field has NO facts at all about weather?]

    I am confident that he knows that warmer weather and increased moisture content affects insect populations, which in turn affects the odds of disease transmission. I am also confident that he has a basic understanding of weather. But it is clear to me, based on my studies pertaining to global warming, that he is not a climatologist nor understands the realities of anthropogenic global warming and the inertia of the momentum of the forcing the human population has imposed upon the earth environment at this time.

    [Do you study in his field? Is this how you know what he does or doesn’t know?]

    I read some of his published work and perspectives. He seems to know a lot about disease transmission, but my not having a larger scope of understanding in his field reduces my ability to accurately judge his knowledge in that area.

    [Is Gore an expert on weather and disease? No? I guess he’s out of his field too then. This is why one should stick to the topic not personal nonsense.]

    Are you saying that no one can know anything unless they are a scientist? And, to which topic or personal nonsense are you referring to?

    [Facts my friend, just the facts. If you read this thanks for your time.]

    I defer you to my first post. There are plenty of links there going to US government web sites that show the relevant climate data as it pertains to the misinformation in the article by Broad. I also encourage you to take a look at the following as it has a good collection of data and links to help you understand global warming http://uscentrist.org/environment.cfml

  32. 132
    gringo says:

    Tom Boucher,

    “e remember his campaign to save the USA from satanic subliminal messages in recordings of rock music, his invention of the internet, his being the inspiration for “Love Story”, and so on…”

    1. It was not his campaign but that of his wife and Susan Baker and not against “satanic subliminal messages in recordings of rock music”
    but for warning labels similar to the movie rating system. Horrible, indeed. By the way what the hell does that to do with lying?

    2. Gore never said that he was the inspiration for Love Story rather that he heard Segal told some reporter that the main characters were based on him and his wife. Guess what? There was indeed such a report (based on a misquote) in the Tennessean. Gore heard it, talked about it during a casual chat with two reporters and that’s it. (Gore and Tommy Lee Jones were in fact the models for the male charater, by the way.)

    Rolling Stone : The Press vs. Al Gore
    http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/5920188/the_press_vs_al_gore/print

    The Love Story tale has been wrong for three years. So why won�t the press corps correct it?
    http://www.dailyhowler.com/h052500_1.shtml

    3. Gore never said he invented the Internet. That’s another media hype, not his words.

    Al Gore — Internet Pioneer
    http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/washingtonpost/access/40735631.html?dids=40735631:40735631&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&fmac=&date=Apr+21%2C+1999&author=&desc=Al+Gore+–+Internet+Pioneer

    In other words you are a fanciful liar not Gore. Or just too [edited] to see through the media hype and [edited] repeat old, discredited talking points.

  33. 133
    BarbieDoll Moment says:

    “Re # 121
    Sebastian’s rant was just a parody, wasn’t it?”

    I know it was without knowledge or citations to support his points
    or statements within a discussion or debate.

    And it was sadly beyond ignorant to the point of fallacious.

    …”Besides Co2 is not a pollutant to the planet it’s just not good for people to breathe.”…

    For example, carbon dioxide is required by humans for respiratory exchanges.

    Exchanging Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide

    “The primary function of the respiratory system is to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide. Inhaled oxygen enters the lungs and reaches the alveoli.”…”Similarly, carbon dioxide passes from the blood into the alveoli and is then exhaled.”…

    …”Oxygen-deficient, carbon dioxide-rich blood returns to the right side of the heart through two large veins, the superior vena cava and the inferior vena cava. Then the blood is pumped through the pulmonary artery to the lungs, where it picks up oxygen and releases carbon dioxide “…

    …”As shown below, inhaled oxygen moves from the alveoli to the blood in the capillaries, and carbon dioxide moves from the blood in the capillaries to the air in the alveoli.”….

  34. 134
    gringo says:

    Charles Muller,

    “Make the test with your circle, picking persons not particularly responsive to the details of GW debate. I did it. After viewing AIT, these lay spectators conclude that CO2 is the main and nearly sole driver of temperature change during geological past, that the link between hurricane activity and AGW is now clearly established, that sea-level rise will reach catastrophic values in a near future, etc. Maybe Al Gore wanted to put more “nuance and depth”, but in this case, he clearly failed.”

    I watched the movie and I didn’t conclude any of those things.
    If anyone indeed came away with these impressions he must be a complete idiot. I guess Gore assumed that his audience has some level of intellectual maturity. Which may be in fact a miscalculation when we are talking about an American audience.

  35. 135
    BarbieDoll Moment says:

    …”Next. Roy Spencer, best known for his satellite work arguing against warming of the atmosphere (which turns out to have been an artifact of a combination of algebraic and sign errors), criticizes Gore for pointing out that recent warmth appears to be anomalous in at least the past 1000 years.”…

    Spencer, along with Christy, have a new paper out (16 March 2007)

    Tropospheric temperature change since 1979 from tropical radiosonde and satellite measurements
    J R Christy et al.
    Journal of Geophysical Research 112 (d6), 06102 (2007)

    …”Because the shift occurs at the time NOAA-12 readings began to be merged into the satellite data stream and large NOAA-11 adjustments were applied, the discrepancy appears to be due to bias adjustment procedures. Several comparisons are consistent with a 26-year trend and error estimate for the UAH LT product for the full tropics of +0.05 ± 0.07, which is very likely less than the tropical surface trend of +0.13 K decade^-1.”..

  36. 136
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Re: 135. Given the track record of the UAH team, I would guess that they are significantly underestimating their systematic errors. This is meant with no disrespect to the team. What they are trying to do is very difficult. However, given the fact that they have had to revise their results–and always in the same direction–that would suggest to me that in the past, they did not have a full understanding of all their sources of error. Why should we believe that they do now? And given that their result now almost overlaps with the prediction within errors, I’d pretty much have to call this a confirmation.

  37. 137
    Chuck Booth says:

    Re #133
    I’m not quite clear on your point about CO2 and the human respiratory system. Pulmonary ventilation in humans (and most air-breathing animals) is stimulated by a rise in the level of CO2 in the blood and cerebrospinal fluid via the drop in CSF pH. If we hyperventilate and reduce the level of CO2 in the blood and CSF the urge to breath is diminished. So, in that sense, yes, “carbon dioxide is required by humans for respiratory exchanges.”
    However, Sebastian’s original point (#121), that CO2 is “just not good for people to breathe” is correct (breathing air with an elevated level of CO2 will lower blood and CSF pH, which stimulates breathing, adding more CO2 to the blood and CSF, lowering its pH even more, and so on). In fact, that is about the only correct statement in his post.

  38. 138
    Hank Roberts says:

    O.M.G. I tried tracking down the claim I’m suddenly seeing about scientists receiving death threats for speaking out. This is the sort of article they’re found in. It’s beyond a climate bingo, far beyond.

    I’m not putting a clickable link to this sort of thing in — don’t want to give them the Google searchrank benefit. All the glop below is directly quoted, it’s findable.

    Notably not findable — any actual police reports or investigations of death threats. Got yours yet?

    Below, what someone believes:

    “…. NASA has also been observing massive storms on Saturn, which indicate a climate change occurring on that planet as well. NASAâ��s Hubble Space Telescope has also been recording massive climate changes on Neptuneâ��s largest moon, Triton. Triton, whose surface was once made up of frozen nitrogen, is now turning into gas. The Associated Press has reported that satellites that measure the temperature of sunlight have been recording an increase in the sunâ��s temperature, meaning that the sun itself is warming up….

    “Claude Allegre, a leading French scientist….
    “the President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus….
    “A group of scientists recently stated…. ‘after the Second World War, there was a huge surge in carbon dioxide emissions, yet global temperatures fell for four decades after 1940.’ ….
    “Timothy Ball, one of the first Canadian doctors in climatology ….
    “In a storm of scientists speaking out against Al Goreâ��s movie,….
    “University of Alaska professor Igor Polyakov….
    “…the supposed energy-efficient light bulbs ‘have to be left on all the time, they’re made from banned toxins and they won’t work in half your household fittings.’…..
    “the majority of scientific data points to the fact that global warming is caused by the Sun ….
    “there are reported cases of scientists who speak out against the man-made theory as having received death threats. …..”

  39. 139
    Steve Bloom says:

    Re #139: Hank, [edit]

    Seriously, it was very strange that the same press report (at least the one I saw) that quoted Tim on the death threats also quoted him as saying he had not yet turned them over to the police. The reporter neglected to say how they knew that Tim hadn’t just made it all up. More bad journalism, I’m afraid.

  40. 140
    Steve Bloom says:

    Speaking of bad journalism, today’s (Sunday) UK Observer had a story on a new report decrying clinate alarmism. The report itself seemed fair enough, but it looks like the Observer reporter decided the quotes she was able to get from various scientists weren’t exciting enough (imagine that), so she threw in these four paragraphs at the end:

    “Al Gore, who has been praised for his Oscar-winning environmental film An Inconvenient Truth, has also attracted criticism from scientists.

    ‘I don’t want to pick on Al Gore,’ Don J Easterbrook, an emeritus professor of geology at Western Washington University, told hundreds of experts at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America. ‘But there are a lot of inaccuracies in the statements we are seeing, and we have to temper that with real data.’

    Gore, in an exchange of emails about the critics, said his work made ‘the most important and salient points’ about climate change, if not ‘some nuances and distinctions’.

    ‘The degree of scientific consensus on global warming has never been stronger,’ he said, adding ‘I am trying to communicate the essence of it in the lay language that I understand.’

    Not only did this seem a bit off-topic since neither Al Gore nor AIT were mentioned in the report, but the three bolded paragraphs seem to have been quoted verbatim and (shades of Jason Blair) without attribution from Broad’s NYT story. I think we can be confident that the Observer reporter didn’t check into the background far enough to discover that Easterbrook is a card-carrying denialist.

    Could someone who has access to the print version of the Observer have a look at it and see if it contains an NYT attribution?

  41. 141
    BarbieDoll Moment says:

    Re 137 Re #133

    I’m not quite clear on your point about CO2 and the human respiratory system.

    CO2 is necessary for humans. Just as oxygen is. If one wants to be of the opinion that
    breathing in CO2 would not be necessary to humans than the literature and scientific undestanding to date,
    would contradict that.

    I posted
    (“For example, carbon dioxide is required by humans for respiratory exchanges.”) in response to

    Sebastian’s original point (#121), that CO2 is “just not good for people to breathe”

    To begin with the word “good” is a subjective adjective.
    The word “good” does not connate a specific value or symbol that provides empirical
    data: such as indicating specific lab indices which would quantify the oxygen and CO2 exchanges and or if they fell out of normalized reference range values.

    As the original poster did not mention states concerning high arterial or venous CO2 levels (hypercapnia), or exchanges, in relation to “good to breath”
    I felt it was a mischaracterization of the necessity of CO2 to human life where if one would employ the original posters same logic than that posting could also have stated that oxygen is “just not good for people to breath.”

    Neither of these situations, that CO2 or O2 idealized and normalized is “just not good to breath”, (other than what falls outside of the norm: higher than O2 or CO2 reference range volume concentrates in human venous or arterial sources) would be valid assertations.

    Oxygen toxicity
    Ann Pharmacother. 1992 Dec;26(12):1554-62.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=1336412&dopt=Abstract
    …” DATA SYNTHESIS: The benefits of oxygen therapy have been known for many years; however, its potential toxicity has not been recognized until the last two decades. The lungs, the eyes, and, under certain conditions, the central nervous system are the organs most affected by prolonged exposure to hyperoxic environments. Free radical formation during cellular metabolism under hyperoxic conditions is recognized as the biochemical basis of oxygen injury to cells and organs”…”CONCLUSIONS: There is currently no reliably effective drug for preventing or delaying the development of oxygen toxicity in humans. Use of the lowest effective oxygen concentration, the avoidance of certain drugs, and attention to nutritional and metabolic factors remain the best means currently available to avoid or minimize oxygen toxicity. Research is continuing into more effective ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat this disorder.”

  42. 142
    BarbieDoll Moment says:

    RE 137 Re #133
    ….”Sebastian’s original point (#121), that CO2 is “just not good for people to breathe” is correct (breathing air with an elevated level of CO2 will lower blood and CSF pH, which stimulates breathing, adding more CO2 to the blood and CSF, lowering its pH even more, and so on). In fact, that is about the only correct statement in his post. “…

    Frequently Asked Questions
    CDIAC Oak Ridge National Laboratory
    http://cdiac.esd.ornl.gov/pns/faq_othr.html

    …”Q. Is carbon dioxide in the human body dangerous? How much carbon dioxide is present in human blood?

    A. Carbon dioxide, a waste product of respiration, is normally present in body tissues. Blood carries carbon dioxide from the body tissues to the lungs, where it is exhaled (and where the blood is reoxygenated from fresh, inhaled air). According to the text “Biology” by Claude A. Villee (copyrighted 1957 by W.B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia and London), each liter of blood transports about 50 milliliters of blood from body tissues to the alveoli of the lungs. To give you an idea of the relative amounts of carbon dioxide in various parts of the body, the partial pressure of carbon dioxide in body tissues is about 60 mm of mercury, about 47 mm in blood in veins, about 41 mm in blood in arteries, and about 35 mm in the alveoli. Acidosis occurs when the removal of carbon dioxide from the blood is restricted (as in pneumonia); tissue death can result. [RMC]

    Q. Should one be concerned about indoor levels of carbon dioxide and, if so, what are the potential effects?

    A. Levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), even in a poorly ventilated room, must reach very high levels for this colorless, odorless gas to reach dangerous levels.“…”There have been cases documented where indoor CO2 levels below 5000 ppm have caused discomfort and headache. Cases have also een documented where a 30-minute exposure at 50,000 ppm produced signs of intoxication, and a few minutes of exposure at 70,000-100,000 ppm can cause loss of consciousness. The American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) reported that 100,000 ppm is the atmospheric concentration immediately dangerous to life. [RMC] “…

  43. 143
    Steve Bloom says:

    Re my prior comment that hasn’t appeared yet (probably #140):

    Just to add that while the report I linked to is not itself very problematic, the press coverage of the report’s release has been a whole different deal (see some RC discussion starting here), in particular the attack by one of the authors on the recent AAAS statment on global warming. As well, it appears that the Sense about Science organization has a rather odd provenance, with connections to the cultish Living Marxism organization and thus to the producer of the recent “Great Global Warming Swindle” documentary (discussed on this RC thread). See these SourceWatch and George Monbiot articles for details about Sense about Science.

  44. 144

    [[CO2 is necessary for humans. Just as oxygen is. If one wants to be of the opinion that breathing in CO2 would not be necessary to humans than the literature and scientific undestanding to date, would contradict that.]]

    Humans can survive long periods of time in environments of, for instance, 80% nitrogen and 20% oxygen. I think the Mir astronauts survived for a year on such a mix, or was it pure oxygen? The point is, neither NASA nor ESA nor the Russian space agency has ever bothered to include CO2 generators for crew health. All the CO2 found in spaceship atmospheres is from the crew’s exhalation. I don’t think there’s any physiological requirement for CO2. You may be mistaking the fact that CO2 occurs in the blood and lungs for the idea that it’s necessary, which doesn’t follow.

  45. 145
    Hank Roberts says:

    I’d check that, Barton, with a respiratory therapist; they track blood C02 as well as blood oxygen for example in people with lung and heart problems. If I recall correctly, during the daytime, breathing rate varies, but during sleep, breathing is at a steady rate and heart rate varies, to the same end.

    Quick Google found this:
    http://list.uvm.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0306D&L=SAFETY&D=0&T=0&P=6989

    “The human breathing response (need to breathe feeling) is controlled by the CO2
    level in the blood, not the lack of oxygen. As the dissolved CO2 level in
    the blood increases, the blood PH level decreases (respiratory acidosis).
    This is the primary feedback mechanism for breathing rate, the heart rate
    increases to move more blood and assist the lungs in eliminating the CO2.
    This is one reason why atmospheres with low oxygen concentrations can be
    so deadly, you never feel the “lack of oxygen” because the CO2 level stays
    normal, that is, the CO2 continues to be eliminated as long as there is a
    gas mixture for the lungs to exchange it with (as long as it’s not high in C02).”
    _____________
    Aside — this fits what happens with oxygen starvation at high elevation; pilots just get silly and inattentive then pass out, without feeling like they need ‘more air’.

  46. 146

    [[Aside — this fits what happens with oxygen starvation at high elevation; pilots just get silly and inattentive then pass out, without feeling like they need ‘more air’. ]]

    Right, but that’s oxygen starvation, not carbon dioxide starvation. CO2 is continually generated in our bodies by the process of metabolism. People have lived in no-CO2 atmospheres for long times without ill effects. We don’t need it to function; we generate our own.

  47. 147
    Hank Roberts says:

    Agreed. Certainly CO2 isn’t necessary in normal breathing gas mixes; the dive physiologists or flight experts could comment on whether it’s used in intentionally prepared breathing gas mixes, ever.

    Just to whack the dead horse one last time, I do think a respiratory therapist will tell you that — sometimes — it’s possible to flush too much CO2 out of the body just by panic breathing (for example, when a person’s on hospital air, getting a pure oxygen-nitrogen or other breathing gas mix). At that point, the CO2 in the bloodstream drops into the level normally signaling “don’t need to breathe yet” and people can simply stop breathing. So it does need watching.

    Using a paper bag for rebreathing, for example, when someone’s having a panic attach, is probably still recommended in first aid. I’ll look but not bring that back here, off-off-topic.

  48. 148
    BarbieDoll Moment says:

    BI25B2 – Physiology of Human Organ Systems
    http://www.abdn.ac.uk/sms/ugradteaching/course.php?ID=13

    ..”6. Regulation of ventilation:
    Driving of ventilation by raised PaCO2.
    Location of central chemoreceptors in medulla, response in part to PaCO2 and in part to acid/base status of cerebrospinal fluid and brain interstitial fluid.
    Driving by reduced PaO2, detected by peripheral chemoreceptors of carotid and aortic bodies and effective below 13.3KPa.
    Interaction between PaO2 and PaCO2.
    Learning Objectives:
    â?¢ To understand that the chief ‘drive’ for lung ventilation is derived from the chemoreceptors, with carbon dioxide the most potent ‘input’.
    â?¢ To understand that the central chemoreceptors respond to carbon dioxide only, the basis of this being a complex set of interactions. In contrast the peripheral chemo-receptors respond to falls in PaO2, rises in PaCO2 and [H+]a. “…

    Respiratory Alkalosis
    http://www.emedicine.com/med/topic2009.htm

    …”PaCO2 is maintained in the range of 39-41 mm Hg in normal states. Alveolar ventilation is under the control of the central respiratory centers, which are located in the pons and medulla. Ventilation is influenced and regulated by chemoreceptors for PaCO2, PaO2, and pH located in the brainstem and by neural impulses from lung stretch receptors and impulses from the cerebral cortex. “…

    As to the remark regarding the human body’s production of CO2.
    Where and how did you think by such a means this would happen?

    Human Contributions and Responses
    U.S. Global Change Research Information Office
    http://www.gcrio.org/doctorgc/index.php/drweblog/C53/
    …”How does respiration by humans and animals affect carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere?

    Answer
    Humans exhale about 1 kg of carbon dioxide per day (http://cdiac.esd.ornl.gov/pns/faq.html). The exact amount depends on age, sex, size, and most importantly activity level. Multiply that by a world population of six billion and you get a very large number.

    However, human exhalation of carbon dioxide is part of a closed system. There can be no net addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere because the amount of carbon dioxide we exhale canâ??t be greater than the carbon we put into our bodies by eating plants, or eating animals that eat plants. The plants got the carbon from the atmosphere via photosynthesis.

    This closed system is true for any animal, not just humans.”…

  49. 149
    Chuck Booth says:

    Re #133, 141, 142, 148
    All this because Sebastian wrote that CO2 is bad for humans to breathe – incredible!!

  50. 150

    [[As to the remark regarding the human body’s production of CO2. Where and how did you think by such a means this would happen? ]]

    C6H12O6 + 6 O2 => 6 CO2 + 6 H2O

    where C6H12O6 for glucose represents a generalized carbohydrate.


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