"And again, our primary conclusion, i.e., that atmospheric CO2
concentration is not a major determinant of earth's temperature, is
supported by the same fact referenced in the prior paragraph: the fact
that the earth is currently 3C cooler than it was during the peak
warmth of the prior four interglacials, when the air's CO2 content was only
about 75% of what it is today."
--Sherwood B. Idso & Keith E. Idso, CO2 Science Magazine, 8
May 2002

"The 'Nature' and 'Science' research provide further evidence that
climate models are poor tools for predicting climate change. They
cannot properly simulate the current climate. They predict greater and
more rapid warming in the atmosphere than at the surface, yet the
opposite is happening. Moreover, they predict amplified warming at the
poles, which are cooling instead."
--James M. Taylor, Environment & Climate News, May 2002

    CO2 Science Magazine, 8 May 2002

    Environment & Climate News, May 2002

    CO2 Science Magazine, 8 May 2002

    New Scientist, 3 May 2002

    Los Angeles Times, 3 May 2002  

    CO2 Science Magazine, 8 May 2002

    CO2 Science Magazine, 8 May 2002

    Stephen Ashworth <>


>From CO2 Science Magazine, 8 May 2002

In his discussion of the Gaia Hypothesis - about which we will say nothing -
Kirchner (2002) presents a pair of interesting graphs, the first of which is
a plot of temperature vs. atmospheric CO2 concentration that he derived from
400,000 years of Vostok ice core data. In contemplating this presentation,
two important questions come to mind. What does it show? and What does it

First, what does it show?  The plot displays a fair amount of scatter but
seems to suggest the existence of a crude linear relationship between the
two variables, which is what Kirchner implies by drawing a best-fit linear
regression line through the data.  Alternatively, the data may be equally
well characterized as a two-dimensional distribution enclosed by the sides
of a piece of pie that has its apex anchored at the point defined by the
coldest temperature and the lowest CO2 concentration of the data set.  In
fact, this characterization may well be preferred, for when the current
temperature-CO2 state of the world is plotted, it falls far below the linear
relationship derived by Kirchner but right on the lower side of the piece of
pie we would place over the data (the upper side of the pie being Kirchner's

Second, what does it mean?  Kirchner notes that "despite greenhouse gas
concentrations that are unprecedented in recent earth history, global
temperatures have not (yet) risen nearly as much as the correlations in the
ice core records would indicate that they could."  He points out, for
example, that his representation of the ice core data suggests that "for the
current composition of the atmosphere, current temperatures are anomalously
cool by many degrees."  How many?  Kirchner's temperature vs. CO2
relationship suggests approximately 10C, which is significantly more than
the maximum warming that is currently predicted by the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change to accompany a doubling of the air's CO2 content
(which prediction is itself believed by most people to lie outside the realm
of reality).  Our characterization of the data, on the other hand - although
also suggesting that current temperatures are a bit on the cool side (of the
piece of CO2-temperature pie we have baked) - indicate that earth's current
temperature is not "anomalous."

Kirchner's second graph, a plot of temperature vs. atmospheric methane
concentration, is also of great interest.  In this case, the relationship
described by the data is absolutely and unquestionably linear, i.e., there
is no room for any pie at all, and it exhibits very little scatter.
However, when it is used to compute what the temperature of today's earth
"should be," on the basis of its current atmospheric methane concentration,
the result is fully 40C more than the planet's current temperature; and
there is probably no one who would consider that result to be realistic.
Hence, this graph too provides no basis for characterizing earth's current
temperature as anomalous.  Rather, in both the case of methane and CO2, it
is the atmospheric greenhouse gas concentration that is anomalous.

What is the take-home message of these observations?  Since Kirchner's
temperature vs. atmospheric methane concentration plot reveals such a tight
coupling of temperature and methane - but the relationship between the two
parameters is such that methane cannot possibly be the determinant of
temperature - we conclude that temperature must be the determinant of
atmospheric methane concentration, as long as humanity is not a part of the
picture.  For nearly all of the past 400,000 years, this latter restriction
has applied. As our numbers and impact on the biosphere have skyrocketed
over the past few centuries, however, we have clearly outgrown this
relationship, causing the atmosphere's methane concentration to rise to
levels that are far above anything experienced throughout the entire history
of the Vostok ice core.  Further supporting our view of what causes what (in
the absence of anthropogenic influences) is the fact that earth's
temperature has clearly not responded to the anthropogenic-induced methane
increase.  In fact, earth is currently about 3C cooler than it was during
the peak warmth of the prior four hundred thousand years, when the air's
methane concentration was only 40% of what it is today.

By analogy, we conclude pretty much the same thing about temperature and
atmospheric CO2 concentration, i.e., that it is temperature change that
elicits changes in the air's CO2 content and not vice versa, although the
scatter in Kirchner's temperature vs. atmospheric CO2 concentration plot is
sufficient to allow for significant independent movement by both of these
parameters.  And again, our primary conclusion, i.e., that atmospheric CO2
concentration is not a major determinant of earth's temperature, is
supported by the same fact referenced in the prior paragraph: the fact that
the earth is currently 3C cooler than it was during the peak warmth of the
prior four interglacials, when the air's CO2 content was only about 75% of
what it is today.

Consider these two observations together.  Since the time of occurrence of
the peak temperature of the past 400,000 years, the concentrations of the
two most powerful greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (outside of water
vapor) - CO2 and methane - have increased by approximately a third and
2.5-fold, respectively; yet earth's temperature has actually dropped ... and
by a full 3C!  Clearly, the only thing we have to fear about CO2- and
methane-induced global warming is fear itself, plus the climate alarmists
and politicians who are trying to convince the world that black is white,
and white black, and who are succeeding very nicely in that endeavor.

Dr. Sherwood B. Idso
Dr. Keith E. Idso
Vice President 

Kirchner, J.W.  2002.  The Gaia Hypothesis: fact, theory, and wishful
thinking.  Climatic Change 52: 391-408.
Copyright 2002.  Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change


>From Environment & Climate News, May 2002

Nature, Science say Antarctic is cooling, ice shelf thickening

by James M. Taylor

In February and March, an ice shelf known as the Larsen B ice shelf in the
Antarctic Peninsula collapsed, leading many to raise once again the specter
of global warming.

"The disintegration of the ice shelf-1,260 square miles in area and 650 feet
thick-was most alarming to some because of the extraordinary rapidity of the
collapse," wrote the Washington Post on March 20. "The shelf is believed to
have existed for as long as 12,000 years before regional temperatures began
to rise, yet it disintegrated literally before scientists' eyes over a
35-day period that began Jan. 31."

Extremists sound alarm

Although there is no evidence to link the event to global warming, the New
York Times could not help raising the issue in its March 20 edition. "While
it is too soon to say whether the changes there are related to a buildup of
the 'greenhouse' gas emissions that scientists believe are warming the
planet, many experts said it was getting harder to find any other

Though some scientists quoted were hesitant to link global warming to the
collapse, they certainly didn't dispel the notion. Ted Scambos, a
glaciologist at the University of Colorado's National Snow and Ice Center,
told the San Francisco Chronicle on March 20, "We can't say that CO2 or the
other greenhouse gases have been dive bombing Antarctica, but we have our

Michael Oppenheimer, who recently joined the Princeton University faculty
after serving at Environmental Defense, where he was chief scientist and
held the Barbra Streisand Chair in Environmental Studies, told the
Washington Post, "Ascribing a temperature trend in a small region like that
to the broader global trend is difficult. Nevertheless, the collapse of the
ice shelf in my opinion can be partially ascribed to human-induced climate

Warming or cooling?

To its credit, the Washington Post noted Nature recently published a study
that found the Antarctic has actually been cooling since 1966. Another study
in Science recently found the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has been thickening
rather than thinning. (See "New studies throw cold water on warming theory,"
Environment & Climate News, March 2002.)

Although the Antarctic Peninsula has warmed over the past 50 years, it is a
tiny part of the whole Antarctic continent. Unless one is willing to believe
the peninsula is responding to global warming while ignoring regional
cooling, it becomes very difficult to link the ice shelf collapse to global

The study in Nature found the Antarctic has been cooling for some time now,
contradicting the findings of the climate models upon which the case for
global warming is built. Those models predict the Earth's poles will warm
more rapidly than the rest of the Earth.

According to the study, "Climate models generally predict amplified warming
in the polar regions, as observed in Antarctica's peninsula region over the
second half of the 20th century." The study finds, "Our spatial analysis of
Antarctic meteorological data demonstrates a net cooling on the Antarctic
continent between 1966 and 2000, particularly during summer and autumn." The
McMurdo Dry Valleys, for example, have cooled about 0.7 degrees Celsius per
decade during this period of time.

The authors conclude, "Continental Antarctic cooling, especially the
seasonality of cooling, poses challenges to models of climate, and ecosystem

The research into the continent's temperature record was motivated by the
unexpected coldness of the summers, according to lead author Peter Doran
with the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of
Illinois. "Two or three years ago when we were waiting for the big summers,
we noticed that they didn't come," Doran told the Washington Post on January
14. "We were thinking that warm summers were the norm, and we were saying,
'It's going to get back to normal,' but it never did."

Michael Oppenheimer, chief scientist for Environmental Defense, isn't buying
it, however. "I'd be very careful with this," he told the Washington Post.
"My general view has been that there's simply not enough data to make a
broad statement about all of Antarctica."

Of course, lack of data has never stopped Oppenheimer from making "broad"
statements about the whole Earth. In a November 2000 Environmental Defense
press release he stated, for instance, "The 1990s, likely the hottest decade
of the past thousand years, capped decades of shrinking glaciers, thinning
Arctic ice, intensifying rainstorms, and rising seas." According to
Oppenheimer, that means "The world must end its dependence on fossil fuels
that are too dirty and too expensive. Governments must take action now."

Antarctic ice sheet thickening

The study in the January 18 issue of Science concluded that the West
Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) is thickening, rather than thinning as was
previously thought. Earlier studies found that in the Ross Sea Sector, "The
grounding line (the point where the ice sheet loses contact with its bed and
begins to float) has retreated nearly 1300 km along the western side of the
Ross Embayment," since the last glacial maximum.

This led researchers to predict that the entire WAIS would collapse in 4,000
years, implying a sea-level rise of 12.5 to 15 centimeters per century. This
was based on a measurement of a loss of ice mass of -20.9 +/- 13.7 gigatons
per year.

The authors of the Science study, Ian Joughin and Slawek Tulaczyk, with the
Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, note,
"The ice-discharge estimates of earlier studies relied on relatively sparse
in situ measurements of ice-flow velocity. For some ice streams the ...
estimates were based on only one or two velocity measurements."

The study used satellite remote sensing to get better measurements. Contrary
to earlier studies, the authors found "strong evidence for ice-sheet growth
(26.8 +/- 14.9 gigatons per year)." They conclude, "The overall positive
mass balance may signal an end to the Holocene retreat of these ice


The Nature and Science research provide further evidence the climate models
are poor tools for predicting climate change. They cannot properly simulate
the current climate. They predict greater and more rapid warming in the
atmosphere than at the surface, yet the opposite is happening. Moreover,
they predict amplified warming at the poles, which are cooling instead.

What, then, is the most likely explanation for the break-up of the ice
sheet? As John Daly says in the commentary elsewhere on this page, "The
Larsen break-up has been coming for years, and its demise has long been
expected. ... It's dramatic, happens on a grand scale, but also very, very,


>From CO2 Science Magazine, 8 May 2002

Watkins and Simmonds (2000) analyzed trends in a number of sea ice
parameters of the Southern Ocean that surrounds Antarctica, paying
particular attention to data obtained from the Defense Meteorological
Satellite Program Special Sensor Microwave/Imager over the period December
1987-December 1996.  They conducted this work, they say, because "it has
been suggested that the Antarctic sea ice may show high sensitivity to any
anthropogenic increase in temperature."  Specifically, they note that most
climate models predict that "any rise in surface temperature would result in
a decrease in sea ice coverage."  So what did they find?

Contrary to what one would have expected if the climate alarmists were
correct, the authors observed statistically significant increases in sea ice
area and total sea ice extent between 1987 and 1996.  Combining their
results with earlier results for the period 1978-1987, both parameters
showed increases over the entire 1978-1996 period.  In addition, they
determined that the 1990s experienced increases in the length of the sea ice

In a continuation of this work, Hanna (2001) published an updated analysis
of Antarctic sea ice cover based on Special Sensor Microwave/Imager data for
the period October 1987-September 1999, finding that the serial sea ice data
depict "an ongoing slight but significant hemispheric increase of 3.7(0.3)%
in extent and 6.6(1.5)% in area."

Yuan and Martinson (2000) also studied various aspects of the behavior of
Antarctic sea ice extent, using data derived from brightness temperatures
measured by the Nimbus-7 Scanning Multichannel Microwave Radiometer as well
as the Special Sensor Microwave/Imagers.  Among other things, they
determined that the net trend in the mean Antarctic sea ice edge over the
prior 18 years had been an equatorward expansion of 0.011 degree of latitude
per year.

In a somewhat different context, Elderfield and Rickaby (2000) noted that
sea ice cover in the Southern Ocean during glacial periods may have been as
much as double the coverage of modern winter ice, suggesting that "by
restricting communication between the ocean and atmosphere, sea ice
expansion also provides a mechanism for reduced CO2 release by the Southern
Ocean and lower glacial atmospheric CO2."

In considering the findings of those research papers that apply to the last
few decades, if one were to infer anything about the planet in terms of what
state-of-the-art climate models predict and what is known about sea ice
behavior around Antarctica over the past few decades, one would be tempted
to conclude that the globe has cooled over this period. Does that mean the
generally accepted temperature history of the planet is in error? Or does it
mean that the climate models are in error? Or does it mean that both are in
error?  The choice is yours.

Elderfield, H. and Rickaby, R.E.M.  2000.  Oceanic Cd/P ratio and nutrient
utilization in the glacial Southern Ocean.  Nature 405: 305-310.

Hanna, E.  2001.  Anomalous peak in Antarctic sea-ice area, winter 1998,
coincident with ENSO.  Geophysical Research Letters 28: 1595-1598.

Watkins, A.B. and Simmonds, I.  2000.  Current trends in Antarctic sea ice:
The 1990s impact on a short climatology.  Journal of Climate 13: 4441-4451.

Yuan, X. and Martinson, D.G.  2000.  Antarctic sea ice extent variability
and its global connectivity.  Journal of Climate 13: 1697-1717.
Copyright 2002.  Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change

>From New Scientist, 3 May 2002
Recent conflicting reports about whether Antarctica is warming or cooling
can now at least be explained - it is all the fault of the ozone hole.

Changing wind patterns triggered by the ozone hole are causing some areas to
warm while others cool, says a new study by David Thompson of Colorado State
University in Fort Collins.

The temperature changes are so great that they are swamping the gradual
warming trend caused by the greenhouse effect. Thompson says that the ozone
hole has become "the largest and most significant" cause of climate change
on the ice continent.

The climate around Antarctica is dominated by strong westerly winds that
swirl around a giant vortex of cold air that forms over the continent for
much of the year. This polar vortex stretches from the ground into the

In the past 20 years, pollution has destroyed much of the ozone layer over
Antarctica. That in turn has cooled the stratosphere by as much as 10C. The
cooling does not extent to ground level, but it has had the effect of
strengthening the polar vortex and the westerly winds. This in turn, says
Thompson, has caused the big changes in weather patterns at ground level
that have alarmed climate scientists.

Blowing hot and cold

British scientists working in the Antarctic peninsula have reported that
region warming by 2 or 3C in recent decades - several times faster than the
average global warming trend. But meanwhile other parts of the continent,
such as the Ross Sea region in the east, have become cooler.

Until now, this patchwork has confused climate scientists, who had expected
a general but gradual warming from the greenhouse effect. And the
protagonists on opposite sides of the debate about global warming have
chosen the data that suits their cause.

Now Thompson's examination of trends in ozone, the polar vortex, wind and
temperatures over the past 30 years implicates the ozone layer, and not
global warming, for most of the climate change in Antarctica.

Howard Roscoe, at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, says: "I agree
it is probable the ozone is partially implicated." But he adds that much of
the warming at Faraday, the former British station on the Antarctic
peninsula, "occurred between 1950 and 1969 - before the ozone hole started".

The ozone hole and global warming are different phenomenon, caused by
largely different pollutants. Massive reductions in emissions of the
chemicals that eat the ozone layer are predicted to heal the hole after
about 2020. But global warming is far from under control and it seems likely
that in the long run, all of Antarctica can expect to get hotter.

Journal reference: Science (vol 296, p 895)
Fred Pearce

Copyright 2002, New Scientist

>From Los Angeles Times, 3 May 2002

It is one of the biggest climate mysteries today: If the Earth is getting
warmer, why are vast parts of Antarctica getting colder?

For the last decade, the behavior of Antarctica has become increasingly
inexplicable. And the inability of scientists to figure out what they were
seeing has been one of the most troubling gaps in explanations for why the
Earth seems to be warming--one repeatedly pointed to by global warming
Now a team of researchers thinks it has an answer to the Antarctic puzzle.
The explanation involves the effect of wind patterns far above the Earth's
surface as well as the hole in the atmosphere's ozone layer that opens over
Antarctica for several months each year. If correct, the explanation would
close a big gap in theories about global warming. But the explanation also
suggests that up to half the warming may be caused by changes in the wind
patterns of the stratosphere, implying that human activity, while a major
factor, is not the direct cause of as much of the warming as many experts
and activists have thought.

The mystery of Antarctica is that one part of the continent has warmed
dramatically even as the rest of the continent has gotten colder.

Along the slender Antarctic peninsula, which juts toward South America, ice
shelves the size of Delaware and Connecticut have thinned, collapsed and
broken off, disintegrating into bergs.

But in Antarctica's frozen interior, the temperature has dropped and
glaciers have grown. Instead of retreating, sea ice on the eastern side of
the continent has thickened.

"There's been lots of thinking on what is causing the warming, but the
cooling has remained a mystery," said David W.J. Thompson, an atmospheric
scientist at Colorado State University.

Thompson studies the swirling patterns of wind in the stratosphere, the
high, thin part of the planet's atmosphere six miles overhead.

For decades, scientists thought nothing much happened in this wispy realm to
directly affect the Earth's weather, that the winds there merely responded
to atmospheric turbulence closer to the Earth's surface.

Work by a number of atmospheric scientists in recent years, though, suggests
that the tail may wag the dog: The lightweight stratosphere doesn't merely
respond to the thicker lower atmosphere; instead, it shapes the weather far

Last year, Thompson and John M. Wallace of the University of Washington
suggested in a paper in the journal Science that a stratospheric pattern
that swirls an enormous doughnut of wind above southern Alaska and
north-central Europe plays a central role in determining the climate
throughout the Northern Hemisphere.

A weather pattern that is associated with those high-altitude winds is
called the Northern Annular Mode, and it seesaws between two phases.

In one phase, air pressures are high over the polar cap and high-altitude
winds are weak.

When this pattern is in effect, cold Arctic air masses flow downward and
cool more temperate parts of North America and Europe.

In the other phase, high-altitude winds stay strong, holding cold northern
air in and steering ocean storms north.

This means that North America and Europe stay much warmer than normal.

For the last few decades, the Northern Annular Mode has largely stayed
locked in the second phase. This has allowed warmer weather to sweep out
over the planet's northern reaches.

That helps explain why parts of the Arctic have seen such dramatic warming
in this time period and why winters throughout North America and Eurasia
have generally been less bitter.

The atmospheric pattern could be responsible for about a third of the
warming throughout the Northern Hemisphere in the last three decades.

That warming is so dramatic that many scientists think that year-round sea
ice in the Arctic could disappear within 50 years.

"Any perception that winters have been less wintry is as much due to changes
in atmospheric circulation than to increases in global mean temperature,"
Thompson said.

"The big question is, was this also happening in the South?" said Thompson.
He and Susan Solomon, an expert on Antarctic ozone depletion with the
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, decided to take a look.
They paid particular attention to a major disruption in the southern
stratosphere--the ozone hole.

The analysis was more difficult for the Southern Hemisphere: Temperature
records in the uninhabited region are rare and sparse. The team, Wallace
said, "really made use of just about all the data there is."

As in the Northern Hemisphere, the winds high in the stratosphere over
Antarctica also are organized in predictable patterns and have an associated
weather pattern called the Southern Annular Mode. It, like its northern
counterpart, has two variations.

For a great deal of the last few decades, the Southern Annular Mode has
followed a pattern in which winds are strong and cold air remains trapped in
polar regions. That pattern helps explain the Antarctic puzzle: Temperatures
at the South Pole and in Antarctica's interior remain colder than they
otherwise would be while temperatures at the edge of the continent rise.

The ozone hole, which forms high over Antarctica in December, plays an
additional role. Without the insulating layer of ozone, the stratosphere
gets very cold and polar stratospheric winds tend to speed up.

Thompson and Solomon found that in the months after the ozone hole appeared,
the high-altitude winds were strongest and the weather in those parts of
Antarctica known to be cooling were coldest.

Not all scientists are convinced that the stratosphere--an atmospheric
lightweight--plays such a powerful role or that the new study proves that
the changes in the stratosphere cause changes at the surface and not vice

"The evidence is there that there is indeed an effect. There's just some
question over what the magnitude is," said James Hurrell, an atmospheric
scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.,
whose studies focus on the role that the oceans play in controlling global

While the new findings explain most of the cooling seen in parts of
Antarctica, the atmospheric circulation can account for only about half of
the warming seen elsewhere on the continent, suggesting that other factors,
including human-induced global warming, may be involved.

Humans' use of chemicals has ripped apart the protective ozone layer. In
addition, greenhouse gases may help create the stratospheric conditions that
Thompson and Solomon described.

The same gases that warm the surface of the planet can make the stratosphere
cooler by reflecting sunlight away from the Earth. Cooling the stratosphere
may lead to stronger wind patterns and change the way that the Northern and
Southern Annular Modes work. If that is the case, greenhouse gases may
hijack these natural patterns and intensify them. The new findings on the
planet's southern edge add some credence to that idea.

"We're seeing similar trends in both hemispheres, which adds weight to the
argument we're seeing changes that are truly global, fundamental changes in
the structure of the atmosphere that could be human-induced," Wallace of the
University of Washington said.

Copyright 2002 Los Angeles Times

>From CO2 Science Magazine, 8 May 2002

Esper, J., Schweingruber, F.H. and Winiger, M.  2002.  1300 years of
climatic history for Western Central Asia inferred from tree-rings.  The
Holocene 12: 267-277.

What was done
The authors employed more than 200,000 ring-width measurements from 384
trees obtained from 20 individual sites ranging from the lower to upper
timberline in the Northwest Karakorum of Pakistan (35-37N, 74-76E) and the
Southern Tien Shan of Kirghizia (4010'N, 7235'E) to reconstruct regional
patterns of climatic variations in Western Central Asia since AD 618, noting
that these high-elevation sites are "exceptionally sensitive to climatic
variations" and that "conspicuous interactions exist between [their]
ecosystems and climate."

What was learned
The long ring-width record the authors developed provides an important
perspective on the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age.  The authors
note, for example, that early in the seventh century the Medieval Warm
Period was already firmly established and growing even warmer.  Between AD
900 and 1000 tree growth was exceptionally rapid, at rates that they say
"cannot be observed during any other period of the last millennium."
Between AD 1000 and 1200, however, growing conditions deteriorated; and at
about AD 1500, minimum tree ring-widths were reached that persisted well
into the seventeenth century.  Towards the end of the twentieth century,
ring-widths increased once again; but the authors report that "the
twentieth-century trend does not approach the AD 1000 maximum."  In fact,
there is almost no comparison between the two periods, with the Medieval
Warm Period being far more conducive to good tree growth than the Modern
Warm Period.  As the authors describe the situation, "growing conditions in
the twentieth century exceed the long-term average, but the amplitude of
this trend is not comparable to the conditions around AD 1000."

What it means
Contrary to the climate-alarmist claim that the last decade of the 20th
century was the warmest of the past millennium, it is readily evident from
the authors' data that the great bulk of the first century of the past
millennium in Western Central Asia was much warmer than any part of its last
century. And that wasn't even the warmest period of the past 1300 years.
"The warmest decades since AD 618 appear between AD 800 and 1000," say the
authors. Hence, it can be appreciated that the "unprecedented warming of the
past century," as climate alarmists like to describe it, does not even come
close to meriting that appellation, especially in Western Central Asia. In
fact, in this region of the world, the warming of the past two centuries is
pretty pathetic, giving absolutely no hint of any possible anthropogenic
Copyright 2002.  Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change


>From CO2 Science Magazine, 8 May 2002

Rothman, D.H.  2002.  Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels for the last 500
million years.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 99:

What was done
Based on considerations related to the chemical weathering of rocks,
volcanic and metamorphic degassing, and the burial of organic carbon, along
with considerations related to the isotopic content of organic carbon and
strontium in marine sedimentary rocks, the author derived a 500-million-year
history of the air's CO2 content.

What was learned
Over the bulk of the record, earth's atmospheric CO2 concentration
fluctuates between values that are two to four times greater than that of
today at a dominant period on the order of 100 million years.  For the last
175 million years, however, there has been a rather steady long-term decline
in the air's CO2 content.

What it means
The author states that it is "interesting to ask what, if any,
correspondence exists between ancient climate and the [newly derived CO2]
estimate."  Indeed, it is *very* interesting to ask that question; for the
political future of the entire world rests on the validity or invalidity of
the climate-alarmist supposition that changes in the air's CO2 content are
major determinants of changes in climate.  So what do the new results show?

Rothman reports that the CO2 history he derived "exhibits no systematic
correspondence with the geologic record of climatic variations at tectonic
time scales." In another place he writes that "comparison with the geologic
record of climatic variations reveals no obvious correspondence."  And in
yet another place he says that although the most recent cool period
corresponds to the relatively low CO2 levels of the present, "no
correspondence between atmospheric CO2 concentration and climate is evident
in the remainder of the record."

If the truth be told, however, a simple visual examination of the author's
plot of CO2 and climate vs. time clearly indicates that the three most
striking peaks in the atmospheric CO2 record occur either totally or
partially within periods of time when earth's climate was relatively cool.
Hence, not only is there no proof for the climate-alarmist contention that
higher CO2 concentrations tend to warm the planet, there is evidence in this
study to suggest that just the opposite may be true.

Copyright 2002. Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change 



>From Stephen Ashworth <>

Dear Dr Peiser,

In her article "RENEWABLE REALITIES", Sallie Baliunas described solar power,
along with wind power, as having an enormous environmental footprint, and
being a dilute and intermittent source (item (2) in CCNet CLIMATE, 24 April

Now Professor Howard C. Hayden, "SOLAR'S CLOUDY FUTURE", has weighed in with
a sweeping dismissal of the future prospects of solar power (item (8) in
CCNet CLIMATE, 1 May 2002).

They both seriously understate the case for solar power.

Solar power can be as concentrated as one likes. At a distance of 0.1
astronomical units from the Sun, for example (a quarter of the distance of
the planet Mercury), it is 100 times more intense than at the top of the
Earth's atmosphere, therefore about 130 kW per square metre.  A one GW
collecting surface would be only about 100 metres square, if my arithmetic
is correct.

I calculate that solar power, if harvested efficiently, is sufficient to
accommodate growth in the energy budget of human civilisation to a level ten
trillion times greater than that of today, and then maintain it at that
level for billions of years into the future (if required).

This would allow energy growth, for example, at the rate of 5 per cent per
annum for the next 600 years, or at 1 per cent per annum for 3000 years
(excluding any contribution from nuclear or other sources).

Of course it is possible to harvest a minuscule amount of solar energy from
the Earth's surface, as in the example of Green Mountain Energy's new
Houston plant, given by Professor Hayden. But since only a half of a
billionth of the total solar energy generated is actually incident on the
Earth, and only a small fraction of that can in practice be collected at the
surface, such *terrestrial*-solar power cannot possibly be considered an
important part of solar power in general.

The fact that solar power is not yet economically competitive with oil, gas
and so on should not blind us to the fact that industrial civilisation has
at its disposal a reliable, concentrated, environmentally friendly and
practically inexhaustible power source which can be harvested with
present-day technology and transported anywhere in the solar system by
microwaves or in chemical form.

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Ashworth
Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society
Oxford, UK
3 May 2002

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