On 9/16/2012 12:43 PM, John Clark wrote:
On Sun, Sep 16, 2012 at 1:44 AM, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net <mailto:meeke...@verizon.net>> wrote:

    > In fact it [CO2] has been less than half the current level
    during the last 600 thousand years

There have been at least 4 times in the last 600 thousand years when the CO2 levels were nearly as high as they are now. And the link between CO2 and temperature is far from clear. During the late Ordovician period 450 million years ago there was a huge amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, about 4400 ppm verses 380 today, and yet the world was in the grip of a severe ice age. During the last 600 million years the atmosphere has almost always had far more CO2 than now, abut 3000 ppm on average. The only exception was a period that lasted from 315 million years ago to 270 where there was about the same amount of CO2 as we have now. The temperature was about the same then as it is now too, and during the late Ordovician that I mentioned before it was much colder, but other than a few very brief ice ages during the last few million years the temperature has always been warmer than now.

    > But it is not just the level that is worrisome, it is the
    rapidity of increase, which would appear as instantaneous on the
    paleoclimate studies.

If you adjust the scale of a graph you can always make a gentle rise look like a near vertical wall.

         >> And I think people sometimes forget that CO2 is not the
        most important greenhouse gas, water vapor is

    > But water vapor equilibrates with ocean temperature very
    quickly, whereas CO2 takes hundreds of years to come into
    equilibrium.  Water vapor is the most important green house gas,
    but it acts as a positive feedback, amplifying other warming (or
    cooling) effects.

If water always produced positive feedback then with all the water on this planet life would never have existed in the first place, but things are more complicated than that. Let me ask you something, if the world's temperature increases will that create more clouds or fewer clouds? It's a very simple question with profound consequences because clouds regulate the amount of solar energy that runs the entire climate show. Increased temperature means more water evaporates from the sea, but it also means the atmosphere can hold more water before it is forced to form clouds. So who wins this tug of war? Nobody knows, its too complicated. Water vapor is a far more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2 and unlike CO2 it undergoes phase changes at earthly temperatures, it can be a solid a liquid or a gas which makes it much more complicated than CO2 which is always just a gas, at least on this planet.

And then there is the important issue of global dimming, the world may be getting warmer but it is also getting dimmer. For reasons that are not clearly understood but may be related to clouds, at any given temperature it takes longer now for water to evaporate than it did 50 years ago.

  John K Clark


Did you see the study of the connection between cloud formation and cosmic rays?




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