As Tonstant Weader knows, Eli has found the Good Diplom Beck a bit too hummy. Bunny Labs has had a word or two or three or four to say about Ernst-Georg Beck who never met a CO2 measurement he did not accept as representative of the background atmosphere, especially when it was taken in the middle of Paris or some other large city, which as we all know has a bit more CO2 in the air, then in your average fizzy beverage of choice. The Rabett is not the only one to notice this, so has Coby Beck, as has Tim Lambert, as has Stoat (see we only disagree about how much ice to put in the Scotch, Eli says none for the good stuff) and as has Real Climate, in a post titled Beck to the Future, Eli believes one of the first times the eminent scholars over there were so enraged they resorted to punishment.
Having misplaced an early copy of Becks manuscript, 180 Years of Atmospheric CO2 Gas Analysis by Chemical Methods" Eli didn't have the carrots (you guys better pay attention to those ads on the top left) to penetrate the Energy & Environment paywall, but, good fortune, it now has reappeared on Beck's Blog, together with some comments published in E&E by Harro Meijer and Raph Keeling, CD's son, and a pretty good atmospheric scientist himself.
Meijer starts gently
Beck has re-interpreted various 19th and early 20th century chemical CO2 measurements, and derived very far-reaching conclusions. His work, however, contains major flaws, such that the conclusions are completely wrong, as they are based on poor understanding of the atmosphere.Which, of course, was Eli's point in Amateur Hour. Meijer concludes by stating his disappointment with Princess Denial, Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen
It is shocking that this paper has been able to pass the journal's referee system. "Energy and Environment" apparently has been unable to organise a proper peer review process for this paper, thereby discrediting the journal.Ralph Keeling is not so forbearing
The Beck article provides an interesting test case for E&E's recently advertised willingness to serve as a forum for "skeptical analyses of global warming" (E&E mission statement, Dec. 2006). The result was the publication of a paper with serious conceptual oversights that would have been spotted by any reasonably qualified reviewer. Is it really the intent of E&E to provide a forum for laundering pseudo-science? I suggest that some clarification or review of the practice is appropriateThis pretty much ensures a never ending supply of Beckies, so let's go to the tape
Ernst-Georg, of course, could not let it go, being the toast of the Theodor-Heuss-Akademie, is not something to be sneezed at if you are a bio teacher at a Gymnasium. Meijer and Keeling pretty much said the same things that were laid out in the blog links above, e.g. it is not very smart to use measurements taken in areas where there is a lot of combustion to represent the background level of CO2. Georg Hoffman pointed this out in Real Climate
Keeling makes a point echoed by many
Secondly, nearly all early sampling facilities were tested in continental environments often under the sporadic influence of heavily polluted air masses (such as Paris, Parc Montsouris, Copenhagen, Dieppe etc.). How large is the influence of such “CO2 pollution”? A quick tour through my car-traffic-saturated home town, Paris, can give us a good first impression:
All these measurements by David Widory and Marc Javoy (reference below) were snapshot measurements, but they show how CO2 concentrations can vary strongly due to nearby fossil fuel combustion.
- Jardin Luxembourg (major but still tiny green spot in the center of Paris) 425ppm
- Place de la Bastille: 430ppm
- Place de l’Etoile (the crazy huge roundabout around the Arc de Triomphe): 508ppm
- And the winner was Place de la Nation: 542ppm (ie 160ppm over background!).
“It should be added that Beck’s analysis also runs afoul of a basic accounting problem. Beck’s 11–year averages show large swings, including an increase from 310 to 420 ppm between 1920 and 1945 (Beck’s Figure 11). To drive an increase of this magnitude globally requires the release of 233 billion metric tons of C to the atmosphere. The amount is equivalent to more than a third of all the carbon contained in land plants globally. Other CO2 swings noted by Beck require similarly large releases or uptakes. To make a credible case, Beck would have needed to offer evidence for losses or gains of carbon of this magnitude from somewhere. He offered none.”And, what else, dear bunnies, Beck completely misses the point
The criticism that my paper presents no evidence for loss of gains of carbon makes sense, but this was not the subject of the paper: it is restricted to quality assessments of the selection of old data.Beck says that according to those truly excellent 90,0000 CO2 titrations by Nobel Prize Winners!!!! using chemical methods, CO2 went from 310 to 420 ppm in 25 years. Keeling notes that this requires an enormous release of carbon, one that no one has noticed, but that surely WOULD have been noticed. In polite seminars, this is called a Bull Chocolate Test, aka inducing a GOGI situation, if you get garbage out, you put garbage in. EGB is not one to notice that the thing melted in his hand.
It is surprising, that the old data suggest a variability of the sizes mentioned.Ernst, follow the bouncing bunny. It is not surprising. It shows that the old data was not representative of the background CO2 levels, but was representative of the local situation, dominated by urban ills. You don't have to go any further
If, however, the base line over the period 1800 to 1950 was at a higher level than the generally assumed pre-industrial level of 280 ppm, then the swings reduce.Keeling and Meijer and everyone else were using Beck's baseline. Beck does not recognize (pay attention you there in the back with the bunny Peeps) a worse problem on the downslope between 1945 and 1960 when the decrease in atmospheric CO2 would require that the earth opened and swallowed back the CO2 it generated between 1920 and 1945. BTW, we really do know about the background level in 1960, because the Mauna Loa measurements were going by then, but never mind because "if we don't know anything, we know nothing" according to Beck
There seem to be many aspects of the carbon cycle which are insufficiently resolved (e.g. the up welling from the deep sea in equatorial waters, a major source in natural cycle).some frantic and irrelevant handwaving
Another aspect that seems to be neglected to date is that ice core data may indicate a too low CO2 value because of the presence of CO2 fixing bacteria (see Table 1 in Christner et al.).and finally
It should be noted that the fundamentals of my assessment of the quality of the old measurements has not been challenged by RFK or by Meijer.which, in case anyone is still paying attention, was because they did not have to do that to show that what was being measured was not what Beck (and those who did the measurements) thought they were measuring and besides which, if you know the literature, has already been done.
More to come. Get your Beckies here
** Garbage out, garbage in, a very common way that scientists think about things. If the result is beyond belief, so were the assumptions on which it was based. Eli will now hie himself over to the Wikipedia.