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What is ‘carbon pollution’ and why are we trying to stop it?

You’ll doubtless have heard Australia is introducing a “carbon tax” this Sunday to reduce “carbon pollution”. What is being controlled is not just any carbon but emissions of a specific gas, carbon dioxide…

This is carbon. The carbon you keep hearing about on the news is probably carbon dioxide. It doesn’t look like this. Rui Costa

You’ll doubtless have heard Australia is introducing a “carbon tax” this Sunday to reduce “carbon pollution”. What is being controlled is not just any carbon but emissions of a specific gas, carbon dioxide. Carbon (element 6) is central to biology, a key element in fuels, and useful for making high-tech car parts and tennis racquets. When anything with carbon in it is burned, most of the carbon atoms end up combining with two oxygens to form “carbon dioxide” (CO2).

CO₂ is a powerful greenhouse gas; the more there is, the warmer the climate. It has always been there and is crucial to keeping our planet warm and comfy. However, its content in the atmosphere is now reaching values unprecedented in human times.

During the last million years, as Earth’s climate was oscillating between glacial and interglacial states, atmospheric CO₂ naturally varied between 180 and 280 ppmv (parts per million). Since the 19th century, human activities have released more CO₂ into the atmosphere, which reached the 400 ppmv milestone last month.

How did we do that? Human activities generate CO₂ through deforestation, land clearing, and (mainly) burning fossil fuels. Over many millions of years, geologic processes store carbon away in the form of plants and animals which slowly change within the Earth into fossil fuels (gas, coal, petrol). However, human activities turn this carbon into carbon dioxide and put it back into the system, and fast - about 30 billion metric tons of CO2 each year, enough to create a layer over 1 centimetre thick covering the entire Earth.

Continued trends would eventually transform the planet, with well over 1000 ppmv of CO₂ and global temperature increases of 5-10 degrees by 2300 or sooner. Well before that point, increasing ocean acidity (when the ocean absorbs extra CO₂, it combines with the oxygen in the water to form carbonic acid) and higher temperature would devastate the world’s reefs.

A “fact” offered up by contrarians is that humans only account for 3% of carbon dioxide sources, with the rest coming from animals and decaying plants. An analogy helps to understand a key subtlety behind this bit of misinformation.

Say you have a pond in the back garden, with a big fountain that carries 30 litres of water per minute drawn from the pond itself. It could run forever with no effect. However, your neighbour is draining some unwanted water into your pond, one litre per minute and says “not to worry” because it’s only 3% of what the fountain is delivering. The seemingly small contribution from your neighbour adds new water to your pond, which is now flooded.

The natural “sources” of CO₂, shown in the figure below as arrows coming from vegetation, soils and the ocean, are the “fountain” of the carbon cycle. They are large, but merely return CO₂ recently drawn from the atmosphere.

Artist’s rending of the carbon cycle, with flows of carbon indicated in purple arrows and inventories of carbon shown in black text. Courtesy of NASA

There are, of course, natural sources (and sinks) of “new” water for the pond: rain and evaporation. But these are much smaller. Over long periods of time, the level of water in your pond might change quite a lot due to changing weather or the seasons, but it won’t change much in a day.

Likewise, carbon sources from volcanoes or the deep ocean are minuscule compared to what we now produce, even though given millions of years, they too can transform the world’s climate and have done so in past eons.

Unfortunately, there is little prospect of removing CO₂ from the system once it is emitted, except by processes that are hopelessly slow. There might be strategies to shift more of it from the atmosphere into soils or the ocean, but to a limited degree, with likely side effects, and in ways that could prove temporary. The only sure way to stop the buildup would be to stop the emissions.

Join the conversation

214 Comments sorted by

  1. Shirley Birney

    retiree

    Oh the hypocrisy of a nation down under. As CO2 emissions grow larger, so does Quarry Australia.

    “In the early hours of Friday 29th of June, the UN World Heritage Committee in Russia passed a resolution requesting:

    “No new port development sites be approved in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

    “No developments be permitted that would impact on the outstanding universal value of the Reef.

    “This bombshell comes as Indian conglomerate GVK is closing in on approval to build the first of the massive new coal terminals proposed in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.”

    If you oppose new port development sites in the GBR heritage area, please sign the letter to Hancock Coal Infrastructure and Minister Burke:

    https://www.greenpeace.org.au/action/?cid=26&src=EM

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    1. Robert Haye

      physicist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Alan Jones, Great & Wise Leader at the carbon tax rally:

      "The notion of global warming is a hoax, this is witchcraft.
      "There are stacks and stacks of eminent scientists all over the world who've argued it's witchcraft.
      "I have interviewed every one of them on my program and not one syllable they have uttered has been produced on any other media outlet anywhere in Australia.
      "There is a conspiracy in this country to deny the other side."

      Is it possible to get dumber than this guy?

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    2. Robert Haye

      physicist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      How would you define a "climate change denier"?

      How about this?

      http://www.scholarsandrogues.com/2012/02/10/surrounded-by-people-educated-far-beyond-their-capacity-to-undertake-analytical-thought/

      Markus Fitzhenry, February 14, 2012 at 1:05 pm :

      “”It’s a very simple question, Markus. What evidence would you have to see, to accept”"

      You’re thick jim x.

      There isn’t ANY evidence available to say Anthropogenic warming is fact.

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    3. In reply to Robert Haye

      Comment removed by moderator.

    4. Roger Crook

      Retired agribusiness manager & farmer

      In reply to Robert Haye

      Yes it is possible.
      Propriety prevents me disclosing.

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    5. In reply to Robert Haye

      Comment removed by moderator.

    6. In reply to Robert Haye

      Comment removed by moderator.

    7. In reply to Robert Haye

      Comment removed by moderator.

    8. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Robert Haye

      Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd.
      Thrice and once, the hedge-pig whin'd.
      Harpier cries:—'tis time! 'tis time!

      Round about the beaker go:
      In the poisoned entrails throw.
      Days and nights are two stroke seven
      Sweated venom sleeping got....

      Double,double toil and trouble;
      Fire burn and beaker bubble..............

      .

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    9. Robert Haye

      physicist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Stop! Stop! My head is swimming...
      I see...bright red lips and thick rimmed glasses...

      Arrgghhh!

      (By the pricking of my thumbs,
      Something wicked this way comes.)

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  2. John Coochey

    Mr

    How much has carbon increased in the world since it came into being? How much will the carbon tax in Australia reduce world temperatures?
    Tim Flannery the Chief Climate Commissioner has stated that if all human activity ceased it could take one thousand years for temperatures to decline. Andy Pitman of the ANU when asked the same question said twenty to thirty years. When Ian Chubb the Chief Scientist was asked who was right he answered that he did not have a clue. So is the science settled?

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    1. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to John Coochey

      "How much has carbon increased in the world since it came into being?"

      The answer is course is none (give or take the odd meteor). Unless those sneaky martians are sending us some. John - I suggest that you look at the picture kindly included with the article, think a little bit and then ask your question again.

      And John, I think you will find an answer to your question re Flannery and Pitman here.

      http://blogs.crikey.com.au/purepoison/2011/03/28/taking-pride-in-ignorance/

      "Andrew Bolt…

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    2. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Well said, Mike.

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    3. John Coochey

      Mr

      In reply to Citizen SG

      And the answer is? that does not answer my question, WHICH IS RIGHT? You cannot have both and I thought the science was settled

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    4. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to John Coochey

      The answer is:
      1000 years before the planet starts cooling.
      20-30 years before the planet stops heating.

      Reducing emissions won't cool the planet - but it will stop it from heating as much.

      Do you understand the difference now?

      I think Andrew Bolt probably understands quite well - he is probably just trying to confuse and mislead his fans. No!!!

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    5. John Coochey

      Mr

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      What a load of unmitigated crap, To paraphrase our Prime Minister just tell me which is right, dead simple!

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    6. In reply to Citizen SG

      Comment removed by moderator.

    7. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Coochey

      John Coochey: "... You cannot have both ...". Wrong.
      John Coochey: "... just tell me which is right ...". Both.

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    8. John Coochey

      Mr

      In reply to David Boxall

      Exactly the same question was asked on both times, the answers were different, the Chief Scientist was asked on live radio which was correct and he he admitted he did not have a clue! QED

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    9. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to John Coochey

      John Coochey: "Exactly the same question was asked on both times ...". Wrong.

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    10. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Ian Ashman

      Ian,

      I am wondering when you will offer a serious comment other than lobbing in hand grenades which is what you usually do. Have faith in what you believe and express it freely. Gratuitous advice which you don't need to accept but consider it.

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  3. Timothy Curtin

    Economic adviser

    The article states: “CO₂ is a powerful greenhouse gas; the more there is, the warmer the climate…”. There is actually no statistically significant econometric evidence to support that claim, not least because while the atmospheric concentration of CO2 does increase steadily at around 0.3% p.a., and has risen by nearly 40% in total since 1900, there is no such comparable steady increase in global annual mean temperatures, which have risen by only 0.75oC over that period, or by just 0.26% in Kelvins…

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    1. Matthew Albrecht

      Postdoctoral Researcher at Curtin University

      In reply to Timothy Curtin

      Until you stop butchering basic physics and statistics, including thermodynamics and radiative physics, nobody should take anything you say seriously. Still denying back radiation?

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    2. Timothy Curtin

      Economic adviser

      In reply to Matthew Albrecht

      Matthew: you are a denier, as every single statistic I cited in my post emanates from NAS-Gistemp and NOAA-CDIAC. Refute them!

      And back radiation is in flagrant contravention of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.

      Howeer, do let us know when you succeed in publishing your 3rd Law showing that back radiation from cool atmosphere to hotter earth is possible.

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    3. Timothy Curtin

      Economic adviser

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      Just check out out the intra-annual readings for May-September, showing a clear negative correlation between falling CO2 and rising temperature.

      Otherwise save your breathing out of CO2 and desist from arm waving.

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    4. Matthew Albrecht

      Postdoctoral Researcher at Curtin University

      In reply to Timothy Curtin

      Tim, you need to take a basic course in physics so that you stop embarrassing yourself and wasting everybody's time. Try learning the difference between net and gross, or apply for a Nobel prize in physics, because what you're arguing will mean that there needs to be a fundamental overthrow of physics as we know it. Your arguments on this topic are becoming increasingly delusional. Why is it that only climate change contrarians are trying to refute this back radiation 'theory'. It's bizarre.

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    5. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to Timothy Curtin

      Oh dear
      Just because the amount of CO2 drops slightly from 394 to 389 doesn't mean the greenhouse effect suddenly becomes a cooling mechanism. (Because you know what - there is still 389 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere - and it is still heating the planet)

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    6. Ian Ashman

      Manager

      In reply to Matthew Albrecht

      Matthew, Timothy's job is to raise red herrings to disrupt the discussion. He has no understanding of physics - atmospheric or otherwise. Trolliness at its best.

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    7. Daryl Deal

      retired

      In reply to Timothy Curtin

      Actually Tim, all your basic arguments, are built on a bed of strawman fallacies, A through Z. That being sad, all have fatal inbuilt by self choice, non recoverable errors in basic logic and sound reasoning.

      I will award you an overall score F minus, for both debating and on the science of understanding complex interactive systems.

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  4. Peter Sommerville

    Scientist & Technologist

    This is very a very shallow article. I too am a scientist an I have even following the literature on this topic since the 1960's. There is little doubt that human activity is adding CO2 to the atmosphere. What is seriously in doubt is the predictions of computer models as to the impact of this - bearing in mind that the politics of climate change is based largely on predictions of these models.

    The widespread acceptance of computer models is one of the greatest scientific mistakes of the last…

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    1. George Crisp

      Medical Practitioner

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Well that's not quite true is it. Climate sensitivity will predict global average temperature change.

      Climate sensitivity can be derived using models but also directly from physical evidence. eg paleoclimate data / ice cores / ocean heat uptake ...

      So when you imply unreliable "computer models" would invalidate climate predictions you are wrong. But it is also worth pointing out that even the more basic models of the 80's and 90's do not appear to be wrong so far.

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    2. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to George Crisp

      I suggest George you look closely at the predictions vs what has actually occurred.

      I reassert - the politics of this argument is being driven by computer model predictions, which even the modellers, if closely questioned, will admit are flawed.

      As a scientist and metrologist I am increasingly frustrated by conclusions that are being drawn from the type of data to which you refer. There is no way anyone can infer climate sensitivity from the factors to which you refer other than by the use of models - which are flawed.

      Nonetheless, my objection to the "religion" that is being espoused is that its proposals are doomed to fail because the economic impact will be intolerable. The world has far bigger problems to solve, other than satisfying the egos and ambitions of those seeking to create a hollow log from which they can constantly draw.

      :-)

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    3. George Crisp

      Medical Practitioner

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Are you saying that climate sensitivity cannot be calculated from other data other than by input into climate models?

      btw they are described as "projections" not "predictions".

      The models are not that flawed, as evidenced by Jim Hansen's earlier work. The problem for models mostly relates, not to global changes, but to the resolution required to determine regional and local changes.

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    4. George Crisp

      Medical Practitioner

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Also
      I think you are confusing the economic costs of action and their potential unpalatability to libertarians with the scientific evidence supporting global warming. Nature will not concern itself with our interests.

      If you interpret climate change as a "religion" perhaps you could offer a more scientifically sound explanation of
      current global changes.

      I partly agree in that the world certainly does have other major and pressing problems to solve. We are exceeding other planetary boundaries and limits, most notably biodiversity loss and nitrogen cycle imbalance as well as impending food and freshwater crises. All of these things will demand collective action in our common interests rather than the current unbridled self interest that we are saddled with.

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    5. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to George Crisp

      George,

      I am not confused in my thinking. Simply said climate change is not the most pressing issue confronting our planet. It's over emphasis simply clouds our perceptions.

      There is a "religion" associated with the climate change debate. The language used confirms that. Words like "denier" and"sceptic" confirm that. Similar thinking led to people being burnt at the stake in the past.

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    6. Robert Haye

      physicist

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Peter, could you please outline your scientific and metrologist qualifications and how they relate to atmospheric/climate science. Have you worked in the climate science field? If so, please advise.

      The reason I ask is that you seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of the science - you might be surprised to know that there are multiple lines of evidence of AGW that have nothing to do with modelling. (and always remember that Andrew Bolt is not a primary source!)

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    7. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Personally I don't care whether or not you accept that.

      As to your comments about models, I do not wish to disparage, but do you really understand how they are constructed? . I suspect if you did you would be more skeptical. James Hansen is a missionary for the climate change lobby. Personally I am skeptical about zealots.

      That is not to say that I totally reject that we are having some influence on our future climate. I simply believe that the mitigation policies being proposed are totally ineffective and more about symbolism and egos than serious science.

      The catastrophes that the zealots are predicting are based on flawed models. The data shows that they are flawed. The modellers are now admitting they are flawed. But you will only discover this if you dig deep into the literature.

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    8. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Robert Haye

      Oh how I love this mode of attack!

      I have majors in chemistry, physics, mathematics and statistics. I have 26 years experience in metrology and computer modelling. And I suspect I have been modeling environments before you were born!

      If you have read what I said closely you would realise I have been arguing the politics. Not the science. The politics is based on the models - not the science. Models should not be assumed to be science

      If you were a metrologiist you would undress tans that your multiple lines of evidence diminish very quickly when subjected to serious analysis.

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    9. Robert Haye

      physicist

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Peter, it is a simple question. What are your qualifications?

      You make a number of statements on the science, most of them incompatible with the evidence. Not politics.

      You should not be embarrassed if you do not have an education in climate science but it does mean you are not qualified to pass judgement on areas you do not understand. Please feel free to present the scientific evidence you have to show that the 'mainstream' science is incorrect (but please peer reviewed only!)

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    10. Robert Haye

      physicist

      In reply to George Crisp

      George, I always find it sad when someone like Peter, who is obviously intelligent, feels the need to parrot the well known denier blogs, rather than looking at the science. When you see references to 'zealots' and 'missionaries' and 'flawed models', you can be sure the poor person has spent too much time at WUWT or Andrew Bolt or Jo Nova. Pity they don't just read the science instead...

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    11. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Sorry Robert,

      My iPad crashed as I was trying to correct some predictive text errors!.

      For me this is not an argument about AGW. I am not a denier - so don't diminish me by associating me with Andrew Bolt. It is an argument about politics. I have far more sympathy with the views of Bjorne Lomborg than with the climate change zealots.

      I am also a realist. The Gillard Governments reaction to this issue is totally political and has resulted in a policy that will achieve nothing whilst damaging Australia's competitive position in the world. Face up to it - CO2 generation will continue to increase because we are continuing to sell coal and gas to developing countries in Asia. As I said - this is not about science - it is all about politics.

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    12. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Robert Haye

      It is interesting how you personalize the attack rather than criticizing the substance of the argument. I suspect I have been reading the science before you were born. My views were formed before blogs became fashionable. And I suspect I have been reading the science for a lot longer than you. But if this is the way you choose to debate then I can't be bothered.

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    13. Robert Haye

      physicist

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Peter, I find your responses quite strange. If you want to talk about Gillard's tax, there are plenty of other articles that address this issue. This article is about carbon pollution and your comments about modelling are not political -they criticise the science. My questions about your qualifications are (I think) relevant in this context.

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    14. Robert Haye

      physicist

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Peter, my guess is that you are intelligent but sadly misguided. Your age is not relevant but your qualifications are. Why are you so afraid to say what you are trained in? It's OK if it is not climate science - all I ask is that you present some peer reviewed science to support your ideology.

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    15. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Robert Haye

      Robert,
      I have answered your questions. Climate science is physics and thermodynamics so I am not the least embarrassed. I know I am qualified to comment - so don't play the typical zealots game and challenge the questioner rather than the issue.

      You should be embarrassed by your mode of criticism - it betrays more than you understand.

      And please don t raise the hoary argument of peer reviewed literature. If you have been around as long as I have you would understand what a farce that really is. Scientific orthodoxy is older than archimedes and if you really understood that you would know that to be so.

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    16. In reply to Robert Haye

      Comment removed by moderator.

    17. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Peter - you have multiple posts attacking climate science which are distinguished by a total lack of science and scientific evidence.

      If you do have scientific qualifications it is time to go back and do a refresher course.

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    18. Robert Haye

      physicist

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      OK Peter, it seems that you are unwilling to explain your credentials in the field of climate science. The only conclusion I can draw is that you have none, apart from being a well meaning(?) amateur. As I said before, there is nothing wrong with that but it does mean your comments on the climate models are neither informed nor accurate. If you would like some introductory literature on atmospheric physics (you need this before you can rationally talk about the models) then let me know - I am happy to help.

      As to your comments on peer reviewed papers, it is a simple request and hardly 'zealotry' to ask you to back up your words with some evidence.

      I have to say that your comments do display an amazing degree of hubris - not only do you know better than expert climate scientists on climate modelling, with a wave of your hand you dismiss all peer reviewed science. You don't like being called a denier but you do seem to be heading strongly into that camp with beliefs like these.

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    19. Robert Haye

      physicist

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Peter, I have obviously hit a raw nerve on the topic of qualifications but really you should not be embarrassed. As you state, you have an excellent array of skills and these clearly give you a good lead-in should you choose to study climate science in more detail.

      But, as I said before, well meaning amateurs are not climate scientists. As such their views carry little more weight than any other person on the street.

      I'm guessing when you say you 'majored' in various subjects then probably you have an undergraduate degree in science or engineering. If this is the case, well done and good on you, but you are a long, long way from the level of education and experience required to pass judgement on the scientific aspects of climate change modelling.

      Politically, go for your life, everyone is qualified in that area!

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    20. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Robert Haye

      Hi again Robert,

      My apologies for my final response last night. I was tired, but that is really not excuse.

      I have to admit your "condescending" politeness irked me. I actually have more than an undergraduate degree, but never mind. Do I describe myself as an active climate scientist? I don't. A scientist and philosopher - certainly.

      Your generous offer to help me learn more about the topic is appreciated. But I do have an extensive reference library of my own, and what is more I have read…

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    21. George Crisp

      Medical Practitioner

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      "You will note I haven't actually challenged the science in any of my comments, so you will find me difficult to label and categorise."

      Peter, apart from not making sense, I don't think you have actually written anything scientific or anything that references science, you have just made seemingly baseless assertions and claimed authority without any evidence of such.

      Perhaps that is a "label or category" ?

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    22. David Arthur

      resistance gnome

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Peter Somerville,

      I agree with you about the sub-optimality of the Clean Energy Futures package, and I share some of your reservations about computer modelling.

      However, I utterly reject the implication of your comments that because climate modelling may not be accurate to the nearest week, that we should not cease using fossil fuels.

      1. Studies of climate millions of years ago have already established that atmospheric CO2 already exceeds anything since the Pliocene Epoch (5.3 to 2.6…

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    23. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to George Crisp

      Hi George,

      My contribution to this blog started with you so it is appropriate that it finishes with you.

      Actually I am finding it very difficult to find any comments within the various threads activated by this topic that actually talk about science. The vast majority are either overt or politely snide attacks. That is politics, not science.

      Also within the tangle of comments it is not easy to follow any logical threads. There was one comment that suggested that I derive my views from deniers…

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    24. markus fitzhenry

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Don't be to concerned about Robert Haye the 'physicist'. I have asked many times for him to reference any of his work. Problem is, he cannot. I think he actually mixes up pure sciences like the ones you have been disciplined in to the social ones, like say, Climate Science.

      As for Mike Hansen, he threats are somewhat benign. Know what I mean Mike, nudge nudge,wink wink.

      You can tell how grown up these blokes are, they think it's a game to see which cohort can get the most votes as insightful or nonconstructive on a Group Think site that the Conversation has become. Of course, I do qualify that to the articles on climate change as there are many good articles on pure sciences here. Let's face it, these chaps and gals are becoming outcasts from academia.

      I'm off to some involvement of the Edward Barton kind.

      Bye flippers, Try your best.

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    25. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to markus fitzhenry

      Wondering what markus is upset about.

      http://theconversation.edu.au/rio-20-small-steps-could-get-us-out-of-the-climate-quicksand-7755#comment_46524

      markus gets his science from the blog of Roger Tallbloke, a crank who believes that the famous Michelson-Morley experiment which lead to the theory of relativity was faked and that there is an aether.
      http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/hall-of-fame/

      markus' reponse after I pointed that out can best be summed up by Monty Python.

      "Brave Sir Robin ran away Bravely, ran away...away... When danger reared its ugly head He bravely turned his tail and fled Yes, brave Sir Robin turned about And gallantly he chickened out Bravely talking to his feet He beat a very brave retreat Bravest of the brave, Sir Robin

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    26. In reply to Mike Hansen

      Comment removed by moderator.

    27. In reply to Mike Hansen

      Comment removed by moderator.

    28. In reply to Robert Haye

      Comment removed by moderator.

    29. In reply to Mike Hansen

      Comment removed by moderator.

    30. In reply to Robert Haye

      Comment removed by moderator.

    31. In reply to Robert Haye

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    32. In reply to Robert Haye

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    33. In reply to Robert Haye

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    34. markus fitzhenry

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      By the knowing that I know a proclamation is made
      Arreniushansenous has been slain by the hand of a man
      Rejoice for the fear of climate is no more
      The most powerful force in the universe is the reasoning of a man

      The thing is Shirley, if Svante had not incorrectly read the translation of the works of the French physicist Baron Fourier, those lovely ladies would not be marching in the streets from what their inherit intelligence, rather than something taught or read. And you would not be alarmed…

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    35. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to David Arthur

      Hi David,

      I had decided to opt out of this debate, but your contribution, apart fom George's is the first I have seen that posits a genuine argument. Thank you for that.

      Firstly, I never said we should not stop using fossil fuels. But frankly, that is not going to happen in the short term. The power stations that China is building will continue operation for another 50 years. That is an engineering reality. Our coal exports, supported by our current government, will continue to fuel those facilities…

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    36. In reply to Robert Haye

      Comment removed by moderator.

    37. In reply to Robert Haye

      Comment removed by moderator.

    38. In reply to Robert Haye

      Comment removed by moderator.

    39. In reply to Robert Haye

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    40. In reply to Robert Haye

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    41. In reply to Robert Haye

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    42. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Love the abuse Mike - but abuse is no substitute for debate. Are you frightened by that prospect?

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    43. Peter J Sommerville

      Scientist

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      It is interesting to see the blue and red counters against all these posts. It illustrates a point that someone needs to address. I can change them as I will - so what is the point?

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    44. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to markus fitzhenry

      Just as important as what Fourier got right is what he got spectacularly wrong. Tsk tsk Markus. And Robert G Brown? Can we find him on Google Scholar? Really? Would he be the dude that Anthony Watts latched onto for a few miserable crumbs? Is Watts’ link the one you plagiarised out of desperation? Hardly authorities on climate change I daresay x 2. Now my good fellow if you want to know about Venus, why not first educate yourself by studying the peer-reviewed literature of respected…

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    45. Don Aitkin

      writer, speaker and teacher

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      I had just about given up on The Conversation when I saw your posts, late in the day. Please keep going. Yes, there is heavy weather from the totally convinced, the ad hom. people and the patronisers, and you begin to think that there must be better things to do than to try to debate anything about 'climate change' here.

      But it is important to keep making the point that the scary futures are based on model projections that are not good for anything on a regional scale, that the global temperature…

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    46. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Don Aitkin

      Aw…. well cheer up Don. Would you like a loan to carry you over? My annual income is <$20000 and I always have some left for lost dogs and their begging bowls. And I have already received a subsidy from the government to meet additional costs of the Clean Energy Bill too – yay.

      The money saved from this Bill will be used to promote clean energy and energy efficiency alternatives, which will be in line with public opinion.

      However there is much to be done as blogger Ronda Jambe wrote on…

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    47. Roger Crook

      Retired agribusiness manager & farmer

      In reply to Peter J Sommerville

      Don't worry about them, Peter.

      For some, maybe the majority, the red counters are the 21st century version counting the votes on whether you should be burnt at the stake as a heretic.

      The blue, I suppose, are from those who agree with whatever the proposition is. Hard to define at times, especially when the comments fail to meet reasonable standards of respect. I think one gets blue marks, at times, for just being plain rude.

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    48. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Hi Shirley,
      Always nice to see another point of view. However, I suspect that when all the rebates and social income factors are taken into consideration your real income is much greater than $20,000 pa, which probably explains why you can feed lost dogs etc.

      There is actually no money "saved" from the carbon tax legislation. If you analyze it carefully it is simply a redistribution of income. The whole basis of the tax, or it's ultimate successor is to force a switch from cheap fossil fuel energy…

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    49. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Robert Haye

      Robert, You love to throw hand grenades. okay, we can all accept that. How about some serious debate. You challenged my qualifications, how about yours? What really is your experience and know how. I would love to know,

      :-)

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    50. Robert Haye

      physicist

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Grenades? Peter, I was not even talking to you. I was addressing Don Aitken's ongoing campaign of disinformation, something he has been doing for at least 5 years, Geoff's article which you obviously haven't read is not a 'grenade'; it is a reasoned, lengthy deconstruction of the half-truths that Don perpetuates (relying on people like Bob Carter). While Geoff's speciality is mantle dynamics, he understands the climate sciences better than Don (and you).

      As you are so keen to get personal, I…

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    51. trevor prowse

      retired farmer

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Yesterday , the climate change minister suggested to dairy farmers to pass on their increased electricity cost on to the the sale of their milk. Also he suggested that dairy farmers could look at ways to reduce their electricity usage. In Western Australia 450 farmers has been reduced to 150, mostly because it has not been economic to continue farming---meaning they can not live off their income. As most people know , farmers can not just add to their contract price, so it would be impossible to add the increase in electricity price to the price of milk. This is why most farmers are going to struggle to pay the increased costs of the carbon tax. Some estimates for grain farmers is for a reduction of $40,000 per year due to the tax. It may be possible to lower their electricity consumption , but they will not be able to buy new equipment if they can not get a higher income to support a loan

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    52. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Dear Peter

      I believe you are implying that I have my mitts in the public purse. May I suggest that the taxes I paid during my 49.8 years in the workforce contributed to your education? And no, I did not avail myself of the public purse over those <50 years – not once - heaven forbid.

      Now you brood over the flaws and warts in the carbon tax which is the result of nefarious greed merchants bludging off the environment with impunity (that’s our environment thank you!) and breaching every regulation…

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    53. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Hi Shirley,

      Yes indeed you did contribute to my education if you paid taxes for 49.8 years, although if you live in WA then your contribution would have been disproportionate to the amount paid by taxpayers on the this side of the continent. Mind you I myself have paid taxes for 46 years, so I am not far behind you. I probably contributed to your education too. But that is not the point. I did not mean to disparage, but at an income of $20,000 you will be receiving a social income on top of that…

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    54. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Robert Haye

      Hi Robert,

      You have answered my question. I no longer need to ask.

      My current area of research, believe it or not is the physics and chemistry of atmospheres - private and unfunded of course. But it is a hobby for me - simply because I have the interest and the time.

      Isn't Google amazing. You can find all sorts of references - it is another matter to read and understand them of course. Personally I always try to look at the big picture. Individual references sourced via Google are really…

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    55. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Peter Sommerville: "This talk of acidification of the oceans puzzles me - given that they are alkaline." What evidence do you have that the pH of the oceans is not affected by absorbing CO2? Where you disagree with the vast majority of the best qualified, why should anyone believe you?

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    56. Robert Haye

      physicist

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Peter, your comments regarding the acidification of the oceans are either wilfully ignorant or you are a climate change denier. Any chemist worth their salt understands that decreasing the pH of solution - even if it is alkaline - is called acidification. The ocean pH has dropped by about 0.11 units (call this 30% increase) and given the human-induced increase carbon dioxide, will decrease about 0.4 to 0.5 units (call this a 300% increase in acidity) by 2100. The average pH in the oceans is already…

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    57. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      But the good thing about solar panels is that they generate a lot of power where it is needed at peak time.
      This reduces the required capacity of the transmission network which is what is really driving up electricity prices.
      So it might be worth paying a premium for.

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    58. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Hey Peter you didn't pay for my education because I didn't have one. And: “Yarra is a much cleaner river today than it was in the 1960's.”

      Remember what I said about Porkabella, the mighty fine lookin’ pig?

      Contradictory to your greenwash, It goes like this: A scathing report was published In 2010 by the Ombudsman of Victoria on the rampant failures of the EPA:

      “Ombudsman Victoria found that the organisation's culture did not encourage
      enforcement and that even though the EP Act provided…

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    59. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      Hi Gary,

      Frankly I don't care. My main concern is to reduce my costs, which by the way is working quite nicely. During the day time I am generating in excess of what I use even in winter (the distributors have finally got their act together so I can get the daily and hourly data). And my capital and operating cost is being subsidized by all those other customers who can't do the same.

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    60. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Robert Haye

      By now Robert I would have thought you would have come to understand that my argument is essentially with the politics that you and others are promoting.

      A reduction of 0.1 in pH is minuscule in the grand scheme of things and predictions of reductions of 0.5 are arrant nonsense given the buffer capacity of the existing ocean chemistry. Just do the math of the equilibrium equations involved.

      I already know what your qualifications are and what experience you really have. Your arguments reveal you.

      Enjoy exploring with Google.

      :-)

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    61. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to David Boxall

      David,

      I have never said that ocean pH values are not affected by CO2 dissolution. I simply question the potential magnitude of this and the speculations about its effects. PH is temperature dependent too - the claimed 0.1 reduction over some tens of decades, even if you accept it, is minuscule. Aqueous environments with pH values around 6.5 exist in many lakes and rivers and Crustacea and other organisms thrive quite nicely.

      :-)

      Carbonate chemistry is very interesting.

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    62. Roger Crook

      Retired agribusiness manager & farmer

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Get a bit tired of only half the story. Perhaps, with regard to acidity of the oceans, someone could discuss the scale, it's logarithmic for goodness sake!

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    63. Robert Haye

      physicist

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Oh Peter, sad really ... don't try to change the argument when you are proven wrong. Best just to admit that you made a mistake, we all make them. Say it after me: "When we say we are reducing the pH this is the same as saying we are causing acidification". That wasn't hard, was it!

      But seriously, you have revealed yourself to have at best only a passing understanding of chemistry and no knowledge of ocean chemistry (buffer capacity - FTW!!!). Just a hint - the carbonate buffer of the ocean can…

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    64. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Roger Crook

      For good reason Roger - a chemist would understand why. What the logarithmic scale says is that the oceans have absorbed massive amounts of CO2 with very little impact. It is called buffering.

      :-)

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    65. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      You obviously have strong feelings about the deficiencies of the various State EPA's. Some of us over here have a somewhat reduced regard for any report put out by the Vic ombudsman - but never mind.

      I was directly involved in monitoring the water quality of the entire Yarra system for over a decade, so I have some inside knowledge as to it's relative state. It is very different to what it was.

      :-)

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    66. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Robert Haye

      Robert,

      If you really understood my argument you would understand that I have never stated that the buffer capacity of the oceans would "restore" the pH to 8..2 from 8.1, where it currently sits. Buffering doesn't "restore" anything. It is simply a capacity to resist change.

      But sadly, you prefer to abuse, rather than debate, which is rather sad. By the way, modelling of marine carbonate chemistry is true modelling because we understand carbonate equilibriums very well, and the the equations are well understood. I cut my teeth on this stuff years ago. Climate modelling on the other hand....?

      I said I would not be abusive, and I meant it. You on the other hand have chosen otherwise! I am sorry about that.

      Ciaou,

      :-)

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    67. Robert Haye

      physicist

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Peter, time to put up or shut up.

      You believe that a pH decrease of 0.5 units is not possible. I have explained 0.3 is already happening. You have presented no evidence to support your assertion that a 0.5 unit change is arrant nonsense. Only a person with no knowledge of chemistry would make such a statement. If you really understood marine chemistry, you would not make such statements.

      You speak about buffering but do you understand that adding acid to the ocean system greatly changes the…

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    68. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Robert Haye

      Tsk, tsk, Robert. Your argument simply shows you do not know what you are talking about.

      When I was tutoring at University one thing I learnt was that engineers and physicists had no real interest in chemistry.

      Of course I accept that absorption of CO2 has affected the ocean pH. But the effect is trivial. The system is far more complex than you apparently understand. There is also biology as well as chemistry involved - strange isn't it.

      Amazing what you can find out via Google. The real issue is understanding it.

      Bye Robert - I really think this discussion is becoming unproductive. I enjoy debating my peers but in this case... Sorry.

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    69. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Allo allo Peter. So a report by the EPA on the water quality in the Yarra from 2009-2011 found swimming was safe at Millgrove and Warrandyte? Yay.

      Ten other locations - including Healesville, Templestowe, Heidelberg, Kew and Abbotsford - were not. Huh?

      And so let us pray. “Spectacles, testicles, wallet and watch (genuflect): Give us this day our daily bread but oh Lord please deliver us from the sins of Brumby. Amen.”

      http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-07-06/brumbys-boss-quits-over-carbon-tax-letter/4115044

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    70. Robert Haye

      physicist

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Yep, three times I've asked you to put up or shut up. You have failed to put up. Definitely now it is time for you to shut up.

      The only thing I can infer is that you are incapable of presenting any information to support your assertions. I've shown you that the increase in ocean pH is already significantly affecting marine chemistry and eco-systems. You say it is trivial. I've given you five or six areas for you to rebut - you haven't done so because you don't understand marine chemistry.

      You sir are nothing more than a rolled gold climate change denier. Unable to present evidence. Driven by your belief in how right you are. You aren't a scientist or a technologist or whatever other bs title you use. Back to WUWT or Jo Nova or whatever other denier sites you usually live at - your arrogant, opinionated ignorance will be applauded there.

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    71. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Robert Haye

      "I've shown you that the increase in ocean pH is already significantly affecting marine chemistry and Eco-systems".

      As previously Robert - I enjoy debating with my peers.... sorry you don't fit the bill!

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    72. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Shirley, you would of course be referring to ecoli and coliform counts in the river, taken at periods of low flow. Nobody disputes the problems. But did you know there is an active platypus colony near Fitzsimmons Lane - I suspect not. The little creatures are now being sighted all along the river whereas once they were absent.

      But your tone suggests another agenda, ignorant as it may be.

      As I said to Robert, I enjoy debating with my peers... But!

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    73. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to David Boxall

      I suggest you re-read Roberts posts.

      Once again - I enjoy debating with my peers ... But!

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    74. Roger Crook

      Retired agribusiness manager & farmer

      In reply to Robert Haye

      We welcome debate and dissent, but personal attacks (on authors, other users or any individual), abuse and defamatory language will not be tolerated.

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    75. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Peter, the “colonies” to which I referred were the E.coli in the Yarra River. For reasons suspected, you distracted the debate and alluded to a “colony” of platypus though I suspect there is a paucity of scientific literature to substantiate those smelly old fish i.e. red herrings with which you beat us around the head and with great regularity.

      One rumour hath it that the story on one injured platypus, entangled in fishing lines, plastic and rubbish has been hyperboled into a “likely” colony…

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    76. Robert Haye

      physicist

      In reply to Roger Crook

      Roger, this guy has had numerous chances to present his credentials or alternatively present evidence to support his views. He has done neither. His sweeping statements about marine chemistry display an ignorance that cannot go unchallenged. When challenged, he cowers. When asked for science, he babbles (a poseur).

      My comments are not abusive, they are accurate.

      It is good that you have Peter's back - he needs all the help he can get.

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    77. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Robert Haye

      Robert,
      I am rather sad that you have to resort to so much abuse. I could challenge the assertions in this your latest post, but I choose not to. I have produced my credentials - you have never done so. I think this has gone far enough - I certainly will not be continuing this dialogue with you. It is a waste of time and intellectual energy.

      I wish you well.

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    78. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Roger Crook

      Don't worry about it Roger. I have a thick skin and have ample experience with this sort of debate. Robert is on a mission, however misguided, but nonetheless he has passion - hopefully one day it can be guided by more wisdom and knowledge.

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    79. Roger Crook

      Retired agribusiness manager & farmer

      In reply to Roger Crook

      I have, simply, quoted from the the rules.

      How they are interpreted is a matter for the moderator.

      Now, if the moderator disagrees with me, then the moderator and I disagree.

      That is the essence of civilized 'conversation'.

      I still see no reason for name calling. We have the finest language in the world.

      I notice I get a minus 2 for quoting the rules.

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    80. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Hi again Shirley,

      I don't really understand what is driving you, but never mind. From the tone of your language and the style of your writing I am finding it hard to believe you are the retiree you claim to be. That generation is far more polite - but again, never mind. But using false identities is of course a breach of the terms and conditions of this site.

      No point debating with you about the water quality of the Yarra River. You are obviously misinformed. I have seen the platypus colony…

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    81. In reply to Roger Crook

      Comment removed by moderator.

    82. Robert Haye

      physicist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Shirley,

      This guy is a fake. He pretends to be qualified in all sorts of areas. He says:

      " Wool metrology is but one of my skills - I am a statistician after all."

      All he has is a BSc, and an ancient one at that. He is not a statistician. From what I can tell from this website, all he did was drive a desk.:

      http://www.awta.com.au/en/Home/Publications/Newsletters/2001-May/Executive-Management-Team/

      You might remember that Professor Pete changed his title a while ago. Originally it…

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    83. Robert Haye

      physicist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Shirley, In the spirit of full disclosure, do you think I should write to the Australian Wool Education Trust trustees, showing them Peter's tendency to, well let us say, exaggerate his qualifications? If I were a trustee, I think I'd be concerned if my trusty trustee-secretary was prone to fibbing. Probably frowned upon I would surmise. Not he done thing at the club.

      I'll leave the decision with you Shirley.

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    84. Roger Crook

      Retired agribusiness manager & farmer

      In reply to Robert Haye

      Makes you wonder what is happening to the old people these days. "

      Like you, we are getting older.

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    85. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Peter Sommerville: "... I enjoy debating with my peers ...".
      On the evidence, your peers are into finger-painting.

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    86. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Conflatulations for dumping on the Chinese Mister Peter. No doubt a competent "scientist/statistician" would have calculated that there are around 1.3 billion Chinese but there around 1.1 billion sheep worldwide (oh and a couple of billion cows and goats too). And it’s not the orifices of the Chinese venting all that methane which has a GWP of 56 (over 20 years).

      And dems fighting words Peter for it is not I who registered on this forum with the intention to deceive. Of course any old “scientist/statistician” could have clarified my bona fide since there are only two S Birneys listed in WA’s white pages and I happen to be one of them. No silent number for me pal.

      Feel free to ring but don’t visit since my carbon-conscious Fido can detect a litter bug a mile away. He’s far more partial to a human leg than a lamb’s leg though he acts strictly on instructions from his mistress, naturally - grrrr.

      PS: How many platypuses in a “colony?”

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    87. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Peter Sommerville: "... the oceans have absorbed massive amounts of CO2 with very little impact ...". What evidence do you have for that assertion?

      You imply that the capacity of oceans to absorb CO2 is effectively infinite?

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    88. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Robert Haye

      Indeed Robert but you know the whole buffoons-in-arms cabal is plagued with “Deniers’ Disease.” I mean just look at Anthony Cox, secretary of the Climate Sceptics Party, who gushes that he has “a degree in climatology.”

      Toad of Toad Hall who sucks in those with the IQ of a beach ball: “If the permafrost were to thaw, billions of acres of productive agricultural land would become available.”

      This is the charlatan who categorically insisted he was a member of the House of Lords until the…

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    89. Robert Haye

      physicist

      In reply to David Boxall

      David, some rough numbers.

      Adding 1 ppm of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere equates to about 7.8 billion tonnes

      Increase in carbon dioxide from 1960 to 2011 is about 75 ppm (316 to 391 ppm) = 585 billion tonnes

      25% (may be higher) enters the ocean system = 146 billion tonnes.

      But Professor Pete says this is nothing...

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    90. Robert Haye

      physicist

      In reply to David Boxall

      The Germans have the perfect word for how these muppets make you feel - Fremdschämen.

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    91. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Robert Haye

      Your Google skills are very amateurish Robert. Try digging a little deeper - you may get a shock. By the way, Google finds little prior to 1991.

      Caiou

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    92. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Robert Haye

      So silly. As I replied to your other post, try digging a little deeper. You might get a shock. Of course your qualifications and experience have never been an issue - with emphasis on the latter. You have no significant web presence, which for your age bespokes charlatan does it not, if I operate on the same assumptions.

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    93. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Robert Haye

      Robert,
      I suggest you go ahead. The follow- up legal proceeses will be interesting. I await with eagerness.

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    94. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      A platypus colony is a single family. If you are seriously interested in the subject try:

      http://www.platypus.asn.au/platypus_in_urban_areas.html

      I suppose you will advocate removing the entire world population of ruminants - which of course the statistician in me tells me will result in massive famines. The article I cited was designed to point out that humans as well as sheep and other ruminants emit methane. And there are over 6 billion humans in the world. Perhaps we should engage in reducing that number too.

      I might give you a call, to chat about this further!

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    95. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Hi again Shirley,
      I don't normally dig around in people's backgrounds, but I have done so in your case and I think I have a better understanding of where you are coming from. You are a prolific blogger on The Conversation and you have some very strong views. Your views deserve respect, even though I among others disagree.

      That being the case I will not be calling you for a chat. We are chalk and cheese so there is nothing to be gained.

      I wish you well. I am sure you will continue to express yourself forcibly.

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    96. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Peter Sommerville: "Try digging a little deeper ...". It's a common tactic among trolls to bait your opponent into wasting time. Peter's comment bears that mark.

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    97. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Peter Sommerville: "... try digging a little deeper." It's a common tactic among trolls to bait your opponent into wasting time. Peter's comment bears that mark.

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    98. Roger Crook

      Retired agribusiness manager & farmer

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      This has all become very childish. It is my view that the moderators are not allowing 'The Conversation' to ride above the other out of control forums on the Internet which are available for all and sundry to blather their form of nonsense.
      Some may believe, though I am not of the view, that you may have, metaphorically, hung, drawn and quartered your victim, not satisfied, his head you have hung at the gates of the city.
      There is no satisfaction, is there?
      I never realized that academia and others could be so venal.
      I now have a better understanding of history and what has driven extremism in all its forms/

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    99. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Roger Crook

      @ Peter Sommerville: "And you are not really Shirley the retirree (sic), without an education are you! (sic) Time to reveal who you really are Shirley or are you too much of a coward to do so! (sic)."

      Yo, so I am not Shirley, I am an impostor, I am not a retiree, I did have an education and I am a coward.

      Wanna hit the "report abuse" button Roger?

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    100. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to David Boxall

      David,
      You are doing what you denigrate. The common tactic is to abuse and attempt to undermine - a sad reflection on this debate. It would be nice if debate centered on the issues rather than personalities but I have resigned myself to the fact that there is a population in this sphere that simply does not want to engage in a serious debate - theirs is a very different agenda.

      Enjoy your weekend - I certainly will

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    101. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Roger Crook

      Roger,

      But they have not hung, drawn and quartered me. My credentilals in this debate are sound and and I have never misled anyone about my qualifications. The problem some of the commentariat have is they confuse qualifications with experience and knowledge. Life is a journey and some of us enjoy learning as it passes by. These people are venal, true. But that is what this media facilitates unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the moderators. But I know in every case where I have cited personal abuse the moderators have acted accordingly. Many of Roberts posts have been deleted.

      Cheers

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    102. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      @ Peter Sommerville: "But they have not hung, drawn and quartered me. "

      Oh yes they have and as an evangelist for the wool industry you would know all about that wouldn't you? Tit for tat?

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    103. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to David Boxall

      David,
      I can google too. And what that shows is that you are not a scientist - you are and have been a public servant.

      Now if I was Robert Haye I would dismiss any comment you may have simply on that basis. Personaly I don't choose to do that. I am happy to believe that you have knowledge that belies your experience and qualifications.

      Robert on the other hand is obsessed with qualifications, whilst ignoring knowledge and experience.

      More importantly Robert has thus far chosen not to reveal his own qualifications and experience. interesting isn't it. Robert has urged others to engage in in what may prove libelous but he has not been prepared to join with that. Interestingly, apart from his comments in this forum he as no web presence. That in itself is cause to question his credentials.

      This a complex space occupied by complex people with unadvertised agendas. We all need to be aware of that.

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    104. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      No you haven't. You have simply exposed your own irrationalities. Sorry Shirley but you are a loser here.

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    105. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      But we know you for what you are don't we! You have a mission and you will persue it, but it is important that the readers of this blog know what your agenda really is. Are you prepared to state it!

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    106. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      And still, you can't come up with any credible support for your position; a position which is at odds with that of the vast majority of the best qualified people on the planet.

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  5. Garry Baker

    researcher

    A very good editorial - however, saying that CO₂ is a powerful greenhouse gas in isolation is not quite on the money. The plain fact is climatologist use the term "CO 2 equivalents" in the atmosphere, where all greenhouse gases are factored into their sums, and thus, expressed as CO 2.

    One of the really scary atmospheric scenarios lies in Methane clathrates now locked up in the icy regions of the world, yet a few degrees of warming in the Tundra can unleash a gas more than 20 times as harmful…

    Read more
    1. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Garry Baker

      Hi Garry,

      Thanks for your contribution to this debate.

      I think you need to understand that methane clathrates can only exist in scenarios where the pressure is very high and the temperatures are very low. There is millions of tonnes of methane locked up in this form at the bottom of the World's deepest oceans. They present both a threat and an opportunity.

      Catastrophic ocean warming has the potential to release enormous quantities of methane, with catastrophic effects on us. But the probability…

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    2. Daryl Deal

      retired

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Er, not not quite the whole truth.

      Perhaps you may have not read this paper written in 2010 called "Extensive Methane Venting to the Atmosphere from Sediments of the East Siberian Arctic Shelf" by Natalia Shakova et al.

      Or, even this one released in May, 2012, published in "Nature Geoscience" under the title "Geologic methane seeps along boundaries of Arctic permafrost thaw and melting glaciers", written by Katey M Walter et al.

      Come to think about it, using "Google Scholar", one can find many fact based current and past science papers, documenting both man made and natural sources, of leaking Methane Gas.

      Such is life.

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    3. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Daryl Deal

      Thanks for the comment Daryl.

      I am familiar with the references cited. My comment was specific to methane clathrates. Bogs and swamps are one of nature's most significant sources of methane anyway - via anaerobic decay. Melting of permafrost therefore will certainly result in increased releases of methane via this mechanism - but in terms of any greenhouse effect the rate of release is what is important.

      The clathrate form not only requires Low temperatures, but also high pressures - an environment that is very specific. In permafosts it is found at considerable depth, as it is in the oceans.

      Google scholar is a great tool.

      :-) Such is life indeed

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    4. Garry Baker

      researcher

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Hello Peter, it seems rather hazardous to differentiate between the security of deep water Clathrates and those in the Permafrost - and as for the short life of Methane, much the same

      "" Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas. Despite its short atmospheric half life of 7 years, methane has a global warming potential of 62 over 20 years and 21 over 100 years (IPCC), ""'

      The sudden release of large amounts of natural gas from methane clathrate deposits has been hypothesized as a cause of past…

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    5. Timothy Curtin

      Economic adviser

      In reply to Garry Baker

      Garry - do wake aup and get real. Methane is a fuel. All we have to do is capture it and use it as the Russians have been doing for millennia.

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    6. Garry Baker

      researcher

      In reply to Timothy Curtin

      Hello Timothy, the good news is Methane is already being mined for all its worth - Natural gas(largely consisting of Methane). However when it comes to mining clathrates, well that's another matter. Indeed, a technical challenge of the first order to make for a viable enterprise. Doubtless, the mining behemoths colonising the worlds natural resources know a fair bit about these things, yet none have a commercial operation capturing the vast wealth it promises. Rather, its sort of like the energy…

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    7. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Garry Baker

      Hi again Garry!

      The key word in all of this is "hypothesis". An alternative in this scenario is "speculation".

      I am aware of the various speculations about the sudden release of methane from clathrates. I remind you that two conditions are required for this sudden release:

      1. A sudden reduction in pressure - in the environments where they exist that is extremely unlikely.
      2. A sudden increase in temperature. Again, in the environments where they exist that too is extremely unlikely, even…

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    8. Garry Baker

      researcher

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Hi Peter, a "sudden release of methane" - caused by a sudden reduction in pressure, or a sudden increase in temperature, pre supposes that some kind of "event" took place, when in fact a much slower "process" may have occurred to eventually cause the sudden release. ie: A change of loading conditions until a straw finally broke the Camels back - Or, much like the final, and very visible act of a volcanic eruption, for instance. (which volcanologists had been expecting for more than 50 years…

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    9. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Garry Baker

      Sorry to take so long - I have been preoccupied with some young members of my family- given it is school holidays.

      Interesting comments. Observations of the northern permafrost disappearing rapidly are really very short term. I suspect we need a lot more data before confirming that this is a long term trend. Of course if the change is slow then the natural systems have capacity to cope, given the relatively short life of methane in the atmosphere.

      There is a lot of speculation around this topic, including yours. But as a practical realist I seriously don't believe that the tactics of the climate science lobby have a hope in hell of succeeding. The die is cast - we wil have to live with it.

      I will not be responding to further comment - there are other fish to fry.

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  6. Eriks Velins

    Retired

    Global warming has turned into climate change.Where is the science to justify this change? What is the evidence that climate change is reversible?

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    1. Mike Hansen

      Mr.

      In reply to Eriks Velins

      Eriks.

      The IPCC was formed in 1988 - 24 years ago.

      Guess what the CC stands for - that is right Climate Change. It was called Climate Change because conservatives thought it sounded less scary than global warming.

      I am assuming that you heard this little false factoid from a right-wing shock jock. When you realise you have been lied to, do you ever reconsider your source of information?

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    2. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Eriks Velins

      Eriks Velins: "What is the evidence that climate change is reversible?"
      The very fact that we're having this discussion implies that climate can change. Where is your evidence that change can happen in only one direction?
      Of course, if we get it wrong:-
      Carl Sagan: "... Venus is an ominous reminder that in a world rather like the earth, things can go wrong. There is no guarantee that our planet will always be so hospitable."
      Stephen Hawking: "We don’t know where global warming will stop but the worst case scenario is that the earth will become like its sister planet Venus, with a temperature of 250 degrees C ...".

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    3. Michael Hay

      retired

      In reply to David Boxall

      What a fantastic set of comments - and how useless in their entirety. Why not accept that CO2 (and its equivalents) is increasing in out atmosphere and turn all this verbal garbage into a useful discussion. What can be done to create a substitute for the burning of fossil fuels and how is it to be achieved? There are millions of hectares of desert in Oz which could be covered with solar cells; there are feasible methods of channeling water through pipes to create hydro generated electricity. Deserts are windy places, with few inhabitants to get headaches. How about practicality being brought into this specious argumentation.

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    4. John Coochey

      Mr

      In reply to Michael Hay

      yep and we can put buoys on the coast which will bob up and down and generate electricity via a chain only trouble very high expense for little current no pun intended I have not seen the recent figure but understand Australia's only geothermal company is now approaching junk bond status despite massive taxpayers cash injections. But we seem to be being told that the purpose of the tax was not to inhibit world temperatures but make Australia ready for a low carbon economy. Why and when we have coal and gas for centuries of current use, only shortage is motor vehicle fuels

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    5. trevor prowse

      retired farmer

      In reply to John Coochey

      The topic was--What is carbon pollution and why are we trying to stop it? A farmer I know in western australia measured his soil carbon content over a period of ten years while he was planting cereals continuosly on the same land. He was using a system called no-till which has very little soil disturbance and the crop residues are left on the soil surface.The capture of carbon in the soil at $23 per ton would have given him thousands of dollars over the whole of the farm. Some estimates are that…

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    6. Roger Crook

      Retired agribusiness manager & farmer

      In reply to trevor prowse

      Trevor,
      You are quite correct.
      The first measurements I recall, which demonstrated an increase in carbon due to a reduction in tillage were done by Anne Hamblin and David Tennant (Tennent?) in the late 70's. In those days it was called Direct Drilling or Minimum Tillage. As the systems have progressed they have become known as 'No Till'.
      In the early 80s Australia led the world in dry land minimum tillage crop establishment.
      Many farmers have practised 'No Till' since the late 70's.

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    7. Roger Crook

      Retired agribusiness manager & farmer

      In reply to Roger Crook

      Shows how silly the red and the blue scores are.

      I agree with Trevor, and add a bit of info and get a minus.

      Trevor makes the original point and remains flagless, unscored. Until now!

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    8. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Mike Hansen

      Mike,
      Every one of your posts is abusive, when will you enter into a serious debate?

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    9. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      In the last 200 years we have increased CO2 concentrations from 280ppm to 400ppm. We are continuing to emit more and more CO2 into the atmosphere.
      CO2 concentrations have not been this high for nearly one million years.

      Gambling with the climate of the only planet we have is not clever - not clever at all.

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    10. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Gary Murphy

      Hi Garry

      It actually not quite 400ppm yet, but the difference is trivial.

      Gambling with the climate? Living on the one planet we have is always a gamble. One super volcano or one asteroid could have far more impact than a slow increase in CO2. However, I have never argued to do nothing. My argument is with what is proposed, particularly here in Australia. I don't believe in stupidity.

      :-)

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    11. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Peter Sommerville: "... I have never argued to do nothing. ...". Is that the same as arguing to do something? If so, what do you argue that we should do? How is your preferred course superior? Why should anyone take your word that your plan is superior?

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    12. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Peter speaking of volcanoes, did you know that:

      Human activities, responsible for a projected 35 billion metric tons (gigatons) of CO2 emissions in 2010 (Friedlingstein et al., 2010), released an amount of CO2 that dwarfs the annual CO2 emissions of all the world’s degassing subaerial and submarine volcanoes (Gerlach, 2011).

      The 35-gigaton projected anthropogenic CO2 emission for 2010 is about 80 to 270 times larger than the respective maximum and minimum annual global volcanic CO2 emission…

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    13. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Hi Shirley,

      I am aware of what you have referenced. But I think you missed the point. And you are not really Shirley the retirree, without an education are you!

      I am learning something about these forums!

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    14. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to David Boxall

      David,

      Bjorne Lomborg has framed the argument much better than I can. I refer you accordingly.

      :-)

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    15. George Crisp

      Medical Practitioner

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      OK Peter, time for some Multi Choice Q's

      Q1
      Bjorn Lomberg is:
      a) not an expert in climate change
      b) entirely disingenuous on the subject of climate change
      c) has qualifications ( only) in "political science"
      d) Author of the book "the skeptical environmentalist"
      e) All of the above

      Q2
      The DCSD ( Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty ) cited his book, The Skeptical Environmentalist, for:

      a) Fabrication of data;
      b) Selective discarding of unwanted results (selective citation…

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    16. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Peter Sommerville

      Peter, as a result of your reluctance or inability to respond, can we now correctly assume that you based your anti-CO2 tax stance entirely on the monotonous ambiguities in Bjorn Lomborg’s scribblings?

      There’s compelling evidence too suggesting that Lomborg has a habit of verballing his opponents (especially when they’re dead.):

      http://www.lomborg-errors.dk/Referringtooralcommunication.htm

      It appears to me that Lomborg is even an embarrassment to his country fellowmen. The Danish government has cut Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus Centre – err... Project Palooza funding by more than £1 million therefore he’s practically penniless. So it’s bye bye Bjorn – sob.

      Why hang with losers?

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    17. Robert Haye

      physicist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Shirley, your cheerful demolition of the denialist matras is a pleasure to behold.

      Thank-you!

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    18. Robert Haye

      physicist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Shirley, the other thing you have to ask a Lomborgian acolyte is - which Bjorn are you agreeing with?

      He has changed his views and contradicted himself so often that the poor dear doesn't know what he thinks. His followers however, tend to attach themselves to a Lomborg at a specific time - most of the waffly apologists (see above) attach at the 'it's only a small issue and we can manage' Lomborg. When you explain to them that their hero has moved on, they don't believe you.
      ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

      Q: How many climate sceptics does it take to change a lightbulb?

      A: None. It's too early to say if the lightbulb needs changing.

      A: None. It's more cost-effective to live in the dark.

      A: None. We only know how to screw the planet.

      A: None. Eventually the lightbulbs will right themselves.

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    19. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to George Crisp

      George,

      As I remember it Stein and Garnaut have both produced tomes on this topic, which are widely cited by your compatriots in this argument. Both are economists, neither is a climate scientist. One, with whom I have direct personal experience, is simply a hired pen, regurgitating other people's views.

      The DSCD attack on Lomborg has been dealt with elsewhere. I suggest you read a little more extensively.

      :-)

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    20. Robert Haye

      physicist

      In reply to George Crisp

      George,

      Firstly, well played sir! Great questions.

      Secondly, as I was saying below to Shirley:

      "His followers however, tend to attach themselves to a Lomborg at a specific time - most of the waffly apologists (see above) attach at the 'it's only a small issue and we can manage' Lomborg. When you explain to them that their hero has moved on, they don't believe you."

      And with perfect timing, cue the response from the resident 'scientist and technologist' - cognitive dissonance at its best!

      And Stein? Who is this Stein?

      (I wont put a smiley face here - that would just be creepy)

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    21. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Robert Haye

      Hang about Robert. Is man-child Lomborg reinventing himself (yet again) to get at the filthy lucre? Desperate times for merchants-of-spin require desperate measures:

      http://tinyurl.com/6s46sj6

      Hark, I hear the clang of his lepers’ bell from here. Quick, ‘tis time to lock the gate. En guarde all those who would walk the earth softly and defend her from such evils.

      Watermelon: “An environmentalist with socialist leanings (from the similarity to the fruit, being green on the outside, and red on the inside).” ( Red? Well enough of the embellishments. Shall we say a delicate shade of pink?)

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    22. Robert Haye

      physicist

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Ew! That is an evil picture. Maybe add a banana for Bjorn - he also is yellow on the inside.

      En-garde indeed!

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    23. David Boxall

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Michael Hay

      Michael Hay: "What a fantastic set of comments - and how useless in their entirety.". I presume you refer to the quotes.
      The quotes provide answers to the question of why we're trying to stop carbon pollution.
      This, from the Pentagon report does something similar, but more verbosely:
      "There is substantial evidence to indicate that significant global warming will occur during the 21st century. Because changes have been gradual so far, and are projected to be similarly gradual in the future, the…

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  7. John Coochey

    Mr

    Due in part to removal of comments by the moderator the flow of argument has become broken, in as much as it existed at all. One issue has to be commented on and that is the UEA changing its data base from surrogate temperature indicators, tree rings to actual temperature records without marking the change. The reason being that where temperature records actually existed they did not match what should have been there according to the rings. That is virtual fraud and of course casts severe doubts…

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    1. Roger Crook

      Retired agribusiness manager & farmer

      In reply to John Coochey

      An interesting point you raise, John, on the UEA, it's becoming more difficult by the day to discern who is telling the truth.

      Of more interest to me is how the original debate posted by Sherwood and Menviel has been allowed to degenerate into personal attacks and ink wasting self glorification.

      Were some of the comments libelous? Probably. Do the laws of libel apply to forums like 'The Conversation'? Yes.

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    2. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Roger Crook

      Pot/kettle?

      Are some of the comments on “NO CARBON TAX Climate Sceptics (NCTCS)” blog (including that of one Roger Rankin Crook) libellous? Probably.

      http://justgroundsonline.com/group/no-carbon-tax-climate-sceptics-nctcs?commentId=3535428%3AComment%3A328241&xg_source=activity

      Odd how the remorseless industry, largely responsible for the majority of native vegetation decline, rising water tables, salinity, waterlogging, land clearing, degraded and eroded soils , rampant stock grazing…

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    3. Roger Crook

      Retired agribusiness manager & farmer

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      It is true, I have contributed to 'Just Grounds' and what went before it to 'Agmates'. The majority of my writings and thoughts are in a section called 'Think Tank'. To the best of my knowledge and recollection I have not entered an opinion on the the climate debate. Though I have read what Viv Forbes has written, to associate me with him is an insult to both of us, as I do not know what his opinion of me and my views are at this time.

      I do not hide from my contributions to 'Just Grounds'. I might…

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    4. Roger Crook

      Retired agribusiness manager & farmer

      In reply to Roger Crook

      I would also add, Ms Shirley, if you had bothered to read what I have posted on 'Just Grounds' (instead of just doing a Google search) with regard to salinity, and the potential agriculture and agricultural scientists have to contribute to to carbon sequestration, you will find a story somewhat different to that which you imply. Because I have chosen to post on the same site as another, as you will see, that does not mean that I am of the same view as that other person.
      I conclude you are more interested in creating diversions and attempting to impute, rather than staying 'on topic'.

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    5. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Roger Crook

      Roger, your whinge fest on TC’s moderation is not restricted to this thread. Seemingly those who speak with forked tongue are free to dish it out but are unable to take it when they make persistent hypocritical threats about libel and: “the original debate posted by Sherwood and Menviel has been allowed to degenerate into personal attacks and ink wasting self glorification.”

      Perhaps when next you make personal attacks on a TC academic, such as Wendy Bacon: “Wendy is there, no sign of Peter…

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    6. Roger Crook

      Retired agribusiness manager & farmer

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      I was not aware that I had attacked Wendy Bacon, if she is the moderator of this thread then I stand by what I wrote. If she is not, then you write in riddles.

      If I have disagreed with Wendy Bacon in the past, then so be it, that is the society in which we live.

      I have not posted on any other site for months, with one exception, I expressed my condolences to the family of a friend from 'Just grounds' who died in a motor accident. So I have not 'run away and posted elsewhere'.

      If you are…

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    7. Peter Sommerville

      Scientist & Technologist

      In reply to Roger Crook

      Welcome to the club Roger - although you seem quite able to stand up for yourself. And to your credit you remain polite despite the abuse and disparagement. Well done.

      Try reading the following:

      http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21528720.400-power-is-the-ultimate-high.html

      It casts some light on the manner of debate within this blog. This is an empowering medium for the otherwise powerless. Enjoy.

      Cheers

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    8. Shirley Birney

      retiree

      In reply to Roger Crook

      “Let He Who Is Without Sin..."

      Roger, I am pleased to learn that we both post under our real names, despite your innuendo. Therefore if we object to being quoted then we should use a pseudonym (where permitted) or shut down our computers and take up croquet.

      May I suggest that it is not I who is a hundred years behind but that it is your lot who had a hundred years to halt the salt and didn’t? And it is very much your lot demanding we wait a hundred years to fix the carbon and I think we…

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    9. Roger Crook

      Retired agribusiness manager & farmer

      In reply to Shirley Birney

      Weisheng Mu said to Confucius: Hey you! what makes you run round like this all the time? Is it to show off your clever tongue?
      Confucius said: I don't flatter myself with having a clever tongue; I simply detest pig-headedness.

      -The Analects of Confucius. 14.32

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