CO2: the final count down

A few late votes have still been trickling in, possibly people returning from summer holidays to catch up on their VC. But this is a good time to call the results on our CO2 polls.

In total, 200 people voted. The system was set to catch multiple submissions by the same person, although if someone really wanted this probably could be circumvented. Their opinions were as follows:

Human activities have released much more CO2 than volcanoes: 38%
Humans and volcanoes have released about the same amounts of CO2 4%
Volcanoes have released much more CO2 than humans 39%
Don’t know / open mind 19%

During the voting, there was a bit of a change: initial responses favoured human emissions by a small margin, later votes favoured volcanoes, also by a smallish margin. If you have read the second CO2 post you will know now that humans outperform volcanoes by a factor of 34. We did not ask whether people had changed their opinion based on the posts.

The second poll had a decisive outcome, albeit not the correct one.

Volcanoes emit more CO2 than people produce in their breath: 66.3%
People breath out more CO2 than volcanoes emit: 13.6%
Don’t know: 20.1%

The correct answer is that by breathing, people produce a few times more CO2 than volcanoes do, something that does seem hard to believe!

It is not surprising that there was such a diversity of responses. The facts are obscured by the many opinion pieces, on both sides of the arguments, which quote numbers that the authors prefer rather than numbers that have a basis in science. Science has no opinion: it deals with measurements, models and predictions. Of course scientists themselves do have opinions and the trick of the trade is to separate your data from your opinions. The major point of peer review is to ensure this happens. Science is not perfect, but the internal arguments means that over time, it does converge to a consensus.


Why is CO2 such a hot potato? Volcanoes have become embroiled in a discussion that has nothing to do with them. It is not the level of CO2 that is the issue, it is its effect on the climate. If volcanoes dominate the CO2 output, it would be hard to see why our emissions are a problem. This was a tempting argument to some, and they jumped on the chance. In fact it is irrelevant. If CO2 has no major effect on climate, than it doesn’t matter who wins the CO2 output battle. If it does, and if volcanoes are dominant, we should consider our climate to be potentially unstable – one major eruption could be a worldwide disaster, something we should be prepared for.

The fact is that volcanoes have rather little effect on climate. A very large eruption (VEI7) can cause worldwide cooling, by 0.5-1C, lasting a few years. Now this amount is significant: 1C less would turn France into the UK (a disaster, climate wise!). The worst occasion was around 540 AD when two such eruptions in quick succession, followed by bubonic plague, caused empires to fail. But this was an exception. Locally, smaller eruptions can be significant. Laki affected the northern Atlantic badly, but had little effect further away. Equatorial eruptions are worse than high latitude ones, because they spread their effects over much wider areas. Some volcanoes are falsely accused: the winter of 1601 was not caused by a volcano, but by a worsening climate. A sign of a volcanic winter is snow in summer, rather than freezing winters, which is why they impact food supplies more than a cold winter would.

Of course, volcanic winters are not caused by CO2 but by sulphates. But the point here is that climate change cannot be attributed to volcanoes, and volcanoes do not destabilize the climate. Both left-wing and right-wing politics can go off the rails on these points. In the worst cases, facts are changed (or carefully selected) to suit a purpose.

Left and right

But why has this become a left-right issue? The first question in the poll was copied from a survey a couple of years ago. In that survey, people were also asked for their political views (which we did not do). In the US, people who indicated a republication affinity voted overwhelmingly for volcanoes to be the dominant CO2 producers, whereas others did not. Why is that? Volcanoes don’t do politics! They take no note of views on the role of the state, social care versus personal freedom, trade, security, war or peace. How did this particular debate become a political hot potato?

It appears to have happened in the last 10-15 years. Before that, the science of humanity’s CO2 was accepted by both sides of politics. In the time of the presidency of the younger Bush, you could still be a green republican. No longer. I have seen the same transformation elsewhere.

Fault lines

So who is at fault? To scientists, it seems clear-cut. The outrageously wrong numbers mentioned in the post are evidence of a willingness to distort the facts. It shows a contempt of science. Some have argued this happened because science is an international endeavour, and politics is in the end nationalistic. But it is not so clear: sport is equally international, but it does have strong national support which science may lack. In the UK, there are special visa categories for visiting sports people, but not for visiting scientists. Sporting success is a matter of national pride. Scientific success isn’t.

But science is not blameless. Scientists can present their personal opinions as ‘better’ because they are scientists and see themselves as somehow above the fray. But many political issues deal with people, their lives and dignity. Science has no remit there. As one example of science going off the rails, I have heard scientists argue that Downes babies should not be allowed to live. Clearly, they have a worse quality of life, and supporting them is costly. But they have no less value. If they are given respect, people with Downes syndrome can be a delight to be around. Science makes no friends by attacking people’s value and dignity.


So what is the bottom line on CO2 and climate? The science is actually rather simple, and the numbers for the global amount of warming that a CO2 change gives have not changed by much over the past century. The uncertainties are overstated by the ‘right wing’: they are mainly in local effects, and in how fast things change. The ‘left wing’ side often overstates the impacts. CO2 has been much higher in the distant past, and although climate at that time was warmer (roughly in line with predictions), the Earth was not an uninhabitable hot house. With enough warning and preparation, we can probably adapt to warmer weather. (As an example of preparing, warmer air contains more moisture, and therefore can produce more rain. Houston and New Orleans should take note.) Sea level rise may be the most important issue. When CO2 was higher, sea level was also higher – by quite a lot. Adapting to five meter of sea level rise requires major planning. (The Dutch experience suggest you can adapt to one meter of sea level rise per century, but rivers may be harder to tame.)

The discussions involving climate can become vitriolic. Both sides can distort the facts. VC’s role is to present the science and to push the facts, irrespective of political opinions. We invite your comments, contributions and opinions and will continue to do so; the only proviso is that those comments should respect science and each other. Volcanoes don’t do politics. They stand above the fray: passionate, explosive, but impartial.



This was posted on the VC facebook site. The wording suggests that funding for climate change related projects was explicitly excluded in the budget for this grant scheme, but I do not know any particulars of the case. Censorship of science? Or an alternative way of preparing for the future – eyes closed and full speed ahead? Do note that this grant was approved for funding, and the request is only to list it on the funder’s web site without the forbidden words, possibly to safeguard against government interference. The person who wrote the request was caught in the middle.

70 thoughts on “CO2: the final count down

  1. “With enough warning and preparation, we can probably adapt to warmer weather.”

    True – but I would add this emphasis. We can adapt to warmer weather. We would have much more difficulty adapting to colder weather. A significantly warming climate would be difficult; a significantly colder climate (i.e. a return to glacial conditions) would be an utter disaster. In the truly long term we have to be prepared for both – because both WILL occur sooner or later whatever we do.

    • Adapting to warmer weather sounds good for temperate areas. It is much harder in the subtropics. Australia will need to consider whether part of its farming will still viable. Africa and southern Europe will have problems. Much of the trouble you see in the region from Somalia to Syria is climate related. Solvable, but but not easy. Of course, a return to glacial conditions would be disastrous.

  2. Face facts, we are going to fail to control CO2 emissions, that was to me clear from the start. However we may be able to very usefully reduce the total emissions and so not go totally out of control.
    Totally out of control is when there is enough water vapour in the atmosphere to initiate uncontrolled warming. Never hurts to consider the very worst.
    So we should be taking serious steps to plan for significantly higher sea levels. Anything in the +3m zone needs serious attention now, and anything under 50m should be considered only semi-permanent.
    Food is a problem for europe, most of our best land is under 50m. Tracts of US similarly as well as many populous parts of asia.
    Whether crop yields will fall or rise is not really predictable. Its likely that higher air temps will result in greater moisture transfer so some places will get more, but changing atmospheric characteristics may move tropics and desert bands, Its likely changes will be slow enough for adaptation of farming practices to evolve, as they always do.
    Will the world prepare for these changes?
    Nothing ever changes.

    • There are some hopeful signs. France and the UK have both signalled to end petrol/diesel cars and move to electric cars only by 2040. (Although the UK in a curious case of inconsistency has canceled the electrification of the railways outside of London so those will remain diesel driven and rather dirty diesel for that. Different government departments do not talk to each other!) Sea level rise will be around 10 meter up to 20 meter over a few centuries. 50 meter seems less likely: the main ice cap in Antarctica is probably resistant to the scheduled warmth, I think, although this should be studied and discussed. Still, 10 meters would change the world’s coast line quite a bit.

      • Electric cars (and probably trains too, there are no decent figures) use MORE CO2 than diesel. In the UK the marginal electricity is provided by coal, these are <35% efficient. Transmission losses to the house are about 10% (+) taking us to 32%. The battery charger is unlikely to be much better than 90% (now at 29%) and the battery another 90% (optimistically in real life I expect) now we are down to 27%. Add the electric motor and another 90% takes us to 25%. A modern diesel, I am assured, manages about 45% which is nearly twice as efficient. You can go to gas turbines (say 40% vs 35% for coal) but its still dreadful.
        Electric cars are, however, excellent for exporting pollution, typically to some northern power stations. Indeed most of the UK (and EU come to that) "reductions in CO2 emissions" have been to export much to other places. Iron (and other metal) smelting and heavy industry etc, being the most obvious.
        Its so obvious to anyone slightly tekky that I am genuinely surprised Albert has fallen for this one.
        Personally I think the current diesel scare (considering London pollution levels have never been lower) is subtly organised by car manufacturers to seel more cars, whci indeed it will.
        Don't even THINK about that abortion called 'hybrid' which has the worst of all worlds!

        • Couple of points, “London Pollution levels have never been lower” completely wrong Nitrous Oxide levels, which are the current bugbear, have never been higher and regularly exceed World Health Organisation guidelines. Secondly all coal fired power stations are scheduled to close in the next few years and won’t be replaced. Just offshore from where I live (west Sussex) a wind farm with 116 500 foot high turbines will come on stream next year. It will produce 40 MW. Just one of many such projects in the UK.

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          • Chris, sorry to be a pedant, but the pollutants are nitrogen dioxide and nitric oxide. Nitrous Oxide is Laughing Gas; if that was a significant component of the pollution,, the effects would be rather interesting

          • Michael, I confess to being imprecise and using what I intended to be a general term (very unscientific). I do know the difference (my degree was in Chemistry – but that was a long time ago). I also once cleared the school chem lab by adding copper filings to concentrated Nitric acid in the middle of the lab instead of the fume cupboard. Result copious NO2 emissions and much coughing and spluttering! Of course NO is relatively harmless but NO2 is nasty stuff. I also suspect that once it is liberated into the atmosphere exposure to UV light causes a little NO3 to be created. Sadly I fear that production of these oxides is directly proportional to the degree of compression in an internal combustion engine. It is because Diesel engines use higher compression ratios that they are the larger pollution culprits.

          • Chris – I probably wouldn’t have bothered to comment, but the thought of unsuspecting City gents stoned and giggling under a cloud of N2O pollution was a very entertaining mental image

          • Michael I wish pollution was indeed a laughing matter – I would be very happy to share the joke!

        • My understanding is that efficiency-wise, the two are about equal. The efficiency of a fossil fuel powered car is rather low: heat is an inefficient way to provide motion. Electric engines are much more efficient. However, the electricity generation is itself inefficient, 30% or so in a major power station. You lose a bit in electricity transport but that is very minor. The net result in that what you gain more efficient transmission in an electric car, you lose in the original energy generation.

          I am sure significant efficiency savings are still possible in engines, for instance a flywheel for braking. I have noticed that sometimes such things are counted in the efficiency of electric cars but not petrol cars, which of course means numbers from those claims are biassed.

          The first gain from electric cars is pollution: car exhaust is the major problem in most cities. Diesel is now known to be intrinsically dirty. Before that is was the lead in petrol (whoever came up with the idea to put lead in petrol should be charged!) The second gain is independence from oil: transport is the main remaining use of oil, apart from the chemical industry. Ever since the oil crises of the 70’s, electricity generation has avoided using oil, for reasons of risk of supply disruption. The third gain is the possibility to diversify the energy sources. Electricity can come from other sources, such as nuclear, wind and solar. You can argue about the reliability of those, but to some degree car batteries can be used as storage, to compensate for supply fluctuations. Energy storage is the next big thing.

          Finally, the biggest drawback of electric cars is the battery. They are too heavy, don’t store enough and have limited life span. But evidence suggest the car industry only innovates under pressure (which is why they still sell outdated engines in the US – just because they can). Evidence also suggest they cheat, so you also need competent enforcement. Let’s see what happens.

          • I’m sorry Albert but you are fudging. I gave figures, care to offer and justify your own? The ones I gave are pretty standard figures (many are slightly worse). When we have no fossil fuel used for electricity generation I will accept the exchange of renewables, although they do have a non-trivial CO2 installation cost.
            Otherwise simply accept that electric cars are a politically acceptable con trick.

          • The projections for the UK for 2040 is that with fossil fuel cars, road traffic by cars will use 0.54 ExaJoule per year, where we count the energy in the fuel. A lot is wasted as heat, of course. This number includes a significant projected improvement in efficiency: using current cars, the requirement would be 1.6EJ. This is the ‘tank to wheel’ efficiency.

            Using electric cars, the need goes down to 0.18EJ (down from 0.54). This is based on assumed Li batteries, but the bottom line is the in energy terms, electric cars are about three times more efficient. That is true at present as well.

            This gain is lost if the electricity is generated from fossil fuels elsewhere. With a typical efficient of 30%, you end up with equal energy efficiency. Using solar or wind-generated electricity, electric cars come out ahead, but of course it may be challenging to find enough sunshine in the UK!

            The numbers do not include the energy used in manufacturing the car and batteries.

          • And some more numbers
            ƒ Diesel car VW Golf 1.6 D Blue Motion Technology
            ƒ actual fuel consumption 5.0 l/100 km
            ƒ total energy consumption 0.60 kWh/km (Well to wheel)

            ƒ Electric vehicle Nissan Leaf
            energy consumption 0.21 kWh/km
            ƒ transmission losses 5 %
            ƒ ƒ total energy consumption 0.55 kWh/km (well to wheel, assuming electricity generated in gas turbine power plant)

            These are numbers from 2012, from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland

        • One aspect that I don’t see addressed very often, is that I can pull into a service station, and add 400 more miles of travel ability to my vehicle in under 5 minutes or so.

          Gasoline has about 46.4 Mjoules/kg. I don’t know of any common battery technology that has that.

          (if you know, please point it out)

          Lithium Metal batteries are about 1.8 MJoules/kg, but rechargeable versions don’t exist yet. (Lead-Acid → 0.17 MJ/kg)

          In my line of work, I have to be able to be on site in a specified amount of time. Waiting several hours to fast charge a battery is out of the question.

          • Yes, that is the heart of the problem. Petrol is an efficient way to store energy, and batteries don’t get close in energy per kilogram. Electric cars need less energy because they are more efficient, but it doesn’t compensate enough. At the moment, electric cars are useful mainly for city commutes. In your work, with long drives and variable patterns, they are currently useless. There is a lot of work needed to make them general purpose. But not impossible, I think.

            There are also improvements possible in the petrol engines. A standard fuel efficiency for a larger car is 40-50 miles per (UK) gallon. A small one can do 70-80 mpg. City driving is much worse because of the constant loss of kinetic energy – so here electric cars win big. Another 50% improvement should be feasible.

          • That’ll change as electric vehicles get mature, and potassium ion batteries (three times the charge rate of lithium ion) and graphene supercapacitors start getting onto the market. Tesla charging stations can recharge their vehicles for 500 miles in about an hour, and generally things are getting better. In about 10 years at the outside, electric vehicles are going to be stomping all over gas vehicles.

          • I’ve always wondered why not have an industry-standard “battery tray”. Pull into a “gas” station, pull out the tray from under your motor and plug it into a charging rack, slide in a charged replacement. Pay your fee and off you go. I’ve wondered this for years, and it seems such a painfully obvious way of dealing with electric motors on the move.

          • Battery arrays can easily have problems that are not noticed in cursory inspection. The last thing that someone is going to want, is to swap a known good set of batteries with only 4 or 5 cycles on them for a set that are about ready to fail.

            As an example. I have two batteries, fresh off the charger. One shows 12.3 VDC, the other shows 12.4 VDC. I have priced the higher charged one at 80% of the other battery. Which would you choose? Both are 12-18aHr and physically are indistinguishable.

            (unknown to you, I have done testing and found that the 12.4 one also has an internal resistance of .14 ohms. and the 12.3 VDC one has .03 ohms internal resistance)

          • I knew there had to be a reason why no-one had taken up my idea! Oh well, it was good while it lasted…. Thanks for the interesting information! I had no idea of these kinds of issues.

          • This reply is to Albert.
            Once again he does not quote the entire cycle which is my point. And 5% transmission losses, power in to power out, is totally wrong. At best, under completely specific ideal conditions 95% out of an electric motor and its associated control systems (that is energy out of battery at 100%) is completely unrealistic. At best the motor might get to 95% but the inverter drive certainly won’t be.
            Also the weight is a bit of a give away, leaf is 3.3T golf is 1.3T. Also the fuel consumption for the golf under ‘economy’ is 3.4L/100km, I would hardly describe a 1.6L gold as an economy low fuel consumption vehicle, either.
            Very naughty selective picking out of your figures. I haven’t checked your gas turbine to battery figures but I will bet they are wrong as you didn’t state them.

            Second part follows, the long reply has broken firefox..

          • Very naughty selective picking out of your figures. I haven’t checked your gas turbine to battery figures but I will bet they are wrong as you didn’t state them.
            (weights for golf available elsewhere).
            Please bear in mind that I am enthusiastic for reduced world impact by humans, however in this regard politics has been the enemy of rational thought.
            Anyone remotely interested should read the below, in hardback or download (FOC).


            Holy s**t, he has died, only 48. That is a disaster,

          • The 5% transmission losses refer to the power cables from power station to point of delivery. The losses you mention are already included in the numbers.

            Assumed efficiency of the power plant is 40% in this study.

            I always recommend McKay’s book. Parts are becoming outdated: it hasn’t been updated since he fell ill. But his bottom line still stands.

            The Golf has 5l/100 km in actual traffic (and note this study is from 2012, not 2016).

          • For Albert.

            I once spent quite a lot of time sorting out electricity losses. For the national grid (UK) 2% seems to be generally accepted. For grid to door the figures are quite wide 5-12% but 8% seems a ‘typical’ figure. To be honest given the tiny transformers used between 11kV and 220V for supplying the local 220V ring, I’m quite surprised its as good as that.

            3.8 L/100km was average economy for the golf, but as I said you wouldn’t suggest a 1.6L golf as being an economy diesel whilst the nissan “leaf” at over twice the kerb weight, isn’t exactly as light as a leaf!

            One thing is for sure, electric cars are not particularly eco, which is my point and not worth the huge energy expenditure to replace diesels.

            Again everyone runs for the holy grail in a mindless manner and reality is ignored, even by Albert (which is disappointing). A considered plan and view seems impossible these days.

        • Caveat: For now, they use more CO2. That’ll change as renewable energy overtakes fossil fuels, new battery tech comes onto the market (graphene supercapacitors, potassium-ion solid states, etc), and as mature electric vehicles age and reach their lifespan.

          • This is true, but we are a long way from there right now. I doubt significant improvements in battery power will come in fact as we are limited by physics/chemistry. More likely is to convert electricity (eg ex solar) into diesel for no net CO2 cost. Note that the very high compression ratio means diesels will always be more efficient than petrol and comparable to gas turbines. With very small hybrid cars (very small battery giving say 10mins running) in cities.
            Best of all will be driverless cars where nobody owns one and there is a perpetual low cost taxi service in citles. This will hugely reduce pollution per passenger.

        • Whoever told you these numbers knew that figures don’t lie but liers can figure.
          Coal fired power generation is not the mayor method in Europe and the efficiency is way higher than 35%.
          Modern diesel cars don’t reach 20%.
          In hybrid cars the engine can be designed to work at a specific speed/torque point, enabling the high efficiency. Just look at the consumption figures, they tell you a story.
          Electic cars do even better: 17 to 20 KWh/100km is a serious improvement over 5 to 8 liter/100km.
          The world would of course be better of with pure clean electricity but never forget that fuel also has to be counted from the well to the engine, that comparison is really not nice for fossil fuels.

  3. Human respiration does not contribute to increases in atmospheric CO2 because it all represents CO2 removed from the atmosphere in a short time frame by photosynthesis. Ditto animal respiration and burning biomass fuel for energy production. The CO2 that volcanoes insert into the atmosphere is analogous to fossil fuel burning in that, for the most part, it represents ancient CO2 storage. Before 1800, human activities produced negligible mobilization of stored carbon.

  4. A bit of perspective on Houston.

    Reportedly, Buffalo Bayou reached 38 feet at 6:30 a.m (central) on Monday. In 1935, it topped out at 54.4 feet.

    So, the water was 43% higher then, and the population was about 14% of current at an estimated 338,000. (estimate is interpolated from census data.)

        • I know, but not everyone knows there is another one. Plus, it is possible for a scaremonger to gloss over that fact and falsely use us as an authoritative source for a doom story.

          It also says something about the sheer enormity of Texas that they can have their own Colorado river that many were unaware of.

          • Appreciate it, the storm is moving on, it’s been rough and now I have to watch for looters.

    • The big issue is that the two basins that are keeping the Buffalo Bayou are about to fail because nobody paid for their upkeep, and this storm is twice what they were rated for anyway. The north basin is about to suffer an uncontrolled release, and both are unstable. If they go, that’s an extra 30 feet added to the Bayou pretty much instantly.

      • There has been a lot of misinformation, some understandable some not. I hope nothing worse happens.

      • “News” bobblehead just stated that some agency (dunno which, I wasn’t really paying attention) has stated that S Texas is now effectively an inland seas the size of lake Michigan.

        Waste Management stocks are on the rise.

    • Very good question. The net answer is nothing to next to nothing. The reason is that the system is in balance. What plants take in, they also put out again when they get eaten or rot. You can see it inthe Keeling curve. Every (northern) spring, CO2 goes down by 7ppm or so: that is because of new plant growth. It gets released back into the atmosphere 6 months later. 7ppm means some 45 gigatons or so.

      An interesting question is what the CO2 level would be if there were no animal life. My guess is that it would be quite similar to what it is now, and that most Co2 comes from plant decay.

      • I have always heard CO2 referred to as “Airborne Fertilizer.”

        The more CO2 in the air, the more plant life flourishes – which leads to the whole food-chain/pyramid graphic that my school-aged past remembers my teachers loved to show so much….

        • IPCC has written about that. Plant growth does increase with higher CO2 and you get a greening planet. However, at higher temperatures plants also need more water, and that becomes the limiting factor. It is included in the models but I do not remember the net effect.

  5. … and the spooky. Harvey appears to be sliding back out to the Gulf to grab another gulp of moisture. It’s next landfall will be a bit further to the east.

    Based on some back channel discussions, my estimate of the projected rainfall for the New Orleans area is roughly an average of 9.5 billion gallons per day over the next 5 days. (based on an NHC graphic if expected precipitation from yesterday). According the the citys claims, the pumps can handle 24+ billion gallons per day. (provided they were all at 100% penetrability, which reportedly, they are not.)

    • After I’ve had a good pee, I like to return to drinking too.

    • Some of the rainfall amounts are unreal in scope. This is the Doppler indicated “storm totals” for part of the area.

      • Yeah, I heard that NWS (or the Weather Channel?) had to add one or two more colors to it’s rainfall scale to account for the sheer amount of water that was falling.

        When the color representing 5+ inches per hour only accounts for HALF of what is actually falling, that tells you something about your storm!

  6. I “Rarely” see mentioned here, or ANYWHERE, for that matter (this site is a Volcano information and discussion website, and for that I am grateful), the cradle to grave energy cost for any mode of transportation, heating, electricity production, ad nauseum.

    It seems to me, (now a senior Citizen, whether I wish to acknowledge it or not), that where there is a group advocating a particular technology, there are 2+ against same said tech. Risk/Benefits ratio us non-existent in the discussion.

    As I believe I remember, someone said, sometime “There is NO FREE LUNCH” and a subsidized meal still has costs.

    If you want to minimize the CO2 for energy and still have reliable 24hr production then MODERN nukes must be used (fusion in the future??) Burning Corn (food) to power vehicles is criminal.

    Bio-waste (wood chips) to energy is equally dumb. The soil in order to maintain its fertility and structure needs the dead stuff to go back. OTHERWISE we need to convert Natural Gas to Nitrogen Fertilizer, and mine other stuff from rocks to help the plants. The use of compost to fertilize the farmers fields may be viable. But there is still the transportation costs to and from the fields.

    I still haven’t mentioned the infrastructure. I have yet to see any neighborhood/city/state that is willing to bear the costs of NEW WIRES for those Tesla Superstations, and everything else the technological economy has brought about (UK article about brown-outs when a particular number of EVs are trying to recharge) Oh yes there is rooftop Solar, Batteries??? Cloudy days??

    A recent article in Smithsonian magazine was touting the Lithium available in Super-Volcanoes as being our savior?????


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    • Especially if you go for “no ree lunch”, please calculate the CO2 consumption for the production of nuclear fuel and for the waste disposal (…for the next 40000 years).

  7. And in other news, an M5 near Guam. That missile mist have been a decoy – the real event came underground.

    • USGS (auto corrected to HAHA …. erm, Lol?) Has placed that quake 82km ESE of Inarajan Mayor’s Office. Wonder if I could get them to locate all future quakes relative to my local pub 😉

      Glad it’s been verified, for a minute there I had wondered if the US was doing some testing.

      • t is VERY regrettable that a politician decided to kill off the underground storage of powerplant wastes in an area that had had many nukes exploded during the 50s-60s. It may have not been stable for 20000-30000 years, but I ask you, in reality how long has it been since, what we refer to modern civilization, been around?? The isotope half-life should take it below dangerous levels within the potential destruction of those sites by earth forces.

        I guess what I was “talking about” is the relative CO2 costs. I do NOT know what they are. But MANY are ignoring that TOTALLY. Electric vehicles seem to ignore the supportive infrastructure. The electric utilities are now talking about using your Tesla or Volt as a buffer source. Your car was drained, how are you going to get to work. Just saying.

        I STILL contend that we need Science to do its duty, and ignore all of the pseudo-religious interference. Proper scientific investigation is crucial to informed understanding (if they are willing to listen). This assumes that the populace have had REAL scientific instruction, and not that that tells them that the earths age is VERY young.

        For power transmission we need A LOT of CU and AL that of course needs to be processed.

        How much longer do you wish me to continue? I guess the only solution is to diminish the
        population by 50%, but YOU WILL HAVE TO MAKE THE CHOICE of which 50%, (be careful for you population balance you choose)

        This is a VOLCANO Site, so I will stop. There is NO FREE LUNCH.

          • So life cycle assessment (which is the term for your “no free lunch”) is done – excessively, but it’s not trivial:
            And one has always have a look at who did this study and who funded it, as these things can be whitewashed (or more white – calculated) in any direction: “Individual studies show a wide range of estimates for fuel sources arising from the different methodologies used. Those on the low end tend to leave parts of the life cycle out of their analysis, while those on the high end often make unrealistic assumptions about the amount of energy used in some parts of the life cycle.[20]”
            (from the Wiki-link)

  8. You seem to be no fan of Venice (the one in Italy), New Orleans, the Maledives and pacific corall islands in general…
    And: there are temperatures, where humans are not able to survive when exposed to permanently. 37°C is the temperature, where we can only survive due to sweating which dehydrates you. Even below 37°C a heatstroke is possible, if air humidity is high. The summer of 2003 has cost 70000 fatalitys (WHO estimation)

    Yes, there have always been colder and warmer climate, but since 10000 years we live in VERY climatic stable times which I think is one of the reasons for our high cultural development. And it’s plain stupid to risk/give up (because IMO it’s already to late) this stability.

    • This should have been an answer to Mike Ross’ first post…

    • I’m just thinking geologically. I would say our current climate is UNstable; we’re atypically cold, oscillating in a very rough rhythm between cold glacials and cool interglacials. To a geologist *true* climate change will only come when that oscillation ends and we return to a long-term much warmer climate which is relatively stable for *millions* of years at a time! 🙂

      (ok I’m somewhat exaggerating for effect but I think you know what I mean. 10,000 years is a gnat’s eye blink! But I agree it’s significant that human civilization has evolved during a relatively stable interglacial (although it’s by no means as absolutely stable as you suggest!))

      • I would of course refer to the post on the Siberian traps eruption: The level of 37C which is the limit of human life refers not to the air temperature but the wet-bulb temperature, in effect the dew point (not identical, but close enough). On Earth, that level is currently not reached anywhere, and only the Persian Gulf gets close at times. We are some way off that as a major problem, although Kuwait may need to start planning. Regarding glacial conditions, we were actually getting close to that 200 years ago. The ice age was in the process of returning. So far, at least until 1990, global warming has kept our climate fairly constant against a worsening outlook. But now we have overshot. One of the reasons the full impact of global warming hasn’t hit home yet is that the backdrop was a cooling climate. But now we have passed that point and the effects are becoming much more notable. The Gulf of Mexico is reported to be 1.5C warmer than it was 30 years ago. That adds 10% to the water content of the atmosphere. Of the 50 inches (!) of rain that hit poor Houston, 5 inches can be attributed to global warming.

      • I just said, that we were (!) lucky to live in a somewhat “stable” moment of climate…
        And that geologist never lived in his “true” climate. ;o)
        At the moment we can only see, that it is changing, the really interesting thing will be, where the new balance or quasi stable condition will be…and how the world will look like then…
        I believe (not know, I use these words very differently), that every bit of additional CO2 will worsen this new balance…

  9. @Albert: Thanks again! You’re right, both sides exaggerate and in my opinion this damages the discussion. I also think one has to be very careful with predictions, they are estimations at best. There are still too many factors, which can not be calculated yet or aren’t even known yet.
    How good the prediction is for quasi chaotic systems with vast amounts of parameters can be seen in the daily weatherforcast…
    The breakdown of Larsen C as an example shows that things can go much faster, single extreme events are hardly predictable.

    • But…Larsen C has not “broken down”. An iceberg calving does not constitute an “extreme event” nor does it mean that the entire shelf is collapsing.

      I thought you were railing AGAINST exaggerations and rhetoric….

        • You’re right, sorry…”the breakdown of A-68″ which is what the newly calved iceberg is called.
          @Albert: I expect Larsen C to desintegrate in a similar way as Larsen B, it’s already showing signs of instability. But of course this is not something which is known yet.

          • I do agree with one aspect: If Larsen C breaks up, it would truly be unprecedented. That chunk of ice is more than 250mi long by 120mi wide and covers more than 24,000 sq/mi!

            Larsen B, by comparison, was less than a third of the size and situated at a higher latitude and closer to the tip of the peninsula (stronger eddy currents, stronger steering winds, and closer access to deeper waters) in a much less sheltered area.

            I don’t know. Only time will tell.

          • The ice shelf will go, in my opinion that’s inevitable. Little point winging hands, lots of point in planning for the repercussions and trying to minimise the increase. We have made some progress on the latter, actually done better than I would have thought 10 years ago, but almost nothing on the former.
            Typical homo-politiciensis…

  10. The point of this series of post was to clarify the role of volcanoes in the CO2 balance, to collect opinions, stimulate discussions and present facts. The discussion has been very interesting! I am glad to see that the case that human emissions far outweigh volcanoes has been accepted.

    The next post is now up. From the present to the conflicts of the past: the end of Gondwana

  11. Only in the US this political division applies. Which does not serve the US in any way.

    Right-wing are mainly the interest of the business world, of the free world, big and small, and for these, climate change can be very costly.

    Right-wing has many reasons to become green-oriented, because there is where the future dollar lies.

    Climate change skepticism endangers capitalism and the western world in a huge way. Trump is doing a huge mistake.

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