Planet Gore has dug up “a leading international geologist and former expert IPCC reviewer,” Tom V. Segalstad, who is quoted as saying:
The IPCC postulates an atmospheric doubling of CO2, meaning that the oceans would need to receive 50 times more CO2 to obtain chemical equilibrium. This total of 51 times the present amount of carbon in atmospheric CO2 exceeds the known reserves of fossil carbon — it represents more carbon than exists in all the coal, gas, and oil that we can exploit anywhere in the world.
Ooh. Looks like all the leading climate scientists in the world made a simple, stupid mistake. Gosh, guess we can all go out and build all the coal plants we want — not!
The key to this nonsense is the worlds I have boldfaced. To paraphrase Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, “Tom, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in chemical equilibrium any more.”
That’s the whole point — we are spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere much faster than the oceans and other sinks can take them up. It takes thousands of years to reach equilibrium with the oceans — the planet will be cooked (and the near-surface ocean nearly lifeless) long before then. I’ll provide one of the many sources you can find on the Internet for this genuine fact below; as we’ll see, the real story — the ocean sink appears to be saturating — should actually make us more worried about global warming, not less.
Let’s call this PG Disinfotainment Watch #41 and #42 (for not bothering to use Google to find the truth). And let’s strip Tom (pictured here) of his doctorate for making a mistake that would get an undergraduate geology student a failing grade.
Here is “The Oceanic Sink for Anthropogenic CO2” [Sabine et al., Science, 305(5682), 367--371 (2004) ]
On the time scales of several thousands of years, it is estimated that ~90% of the anthropogenic CO2 emissions will end up in the ocean. Because of the slow mixing time of the ocean, however, the current oceanic uptake fraction is only about one-third of this value. Studies of the coupled carbon-climate system have suggested that on decadal time scales, the ocean may become a less efficient sink for anthropogenic CO2 because of positive feedbacks in the coupled carbon-climate system–consistent with the suggestion of a decreasing ocean-uptake fraction noted from Table 1.
There is a potential for both positive and negative feedbacks between the ocean and atmosphere, including changes in both the physics (e.g., circulation, stratification) and biology (e.g., export production, calcification) of the ocean. These processes are still not well understood. On the time scales of decades to centuries, however, most of the known chemical feedbacks are positive. If the surface ocean PCO2 concentrations continue to increase in proportion with the atmospheric CO increase, a doubling of atmospheric CO from preindustrial levels will result in a 30% decrease in carbonate ion concentration and a 60% increase in hydrogen ion concentration. As the carbonate ion concentration decreases, the Revelle factor increases and the ocean’s ability to absorb more CO2 from the atmosphere is diminished. The impact of this acidification can already be observed today and could have ramifications for the biological feedbacks in the future. If indeed the net feedbacks are primarily positive, the required socioeconomic strategies to stabilize CO2 in the future will be much more stringent than in the absence of such feedbacks.
And in case any PG types were wondering if these authors are more qualified than Tom the geologist, here’s the affiliations of the 15 (!) authors of this study:
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory
- University of California–Los Angeles, Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics and Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences
- Princeton University, Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Science
- Pohang University of Science and Technology, South Korea
- NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory
- Institute of Ocean Sciences, Climate Chemistry Laboratory, Canada
- Forschungsbereich Marine Biogeochemie, Leibniz Institut f¼r Meereswissenschafte, an der Universit¤t Kiel
- Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Marine Research and Antarctic Climate and Ecosystem Cooperative Research Center, Australia
- University of Miami, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
- Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
- Frontier Research System for Global Change/Institute for Global Change Research, Japan
- Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas, Consejo Superior de Investigationes Cientificas, Spain