Tuesday, June 5, 2007

More lying with statistics -- Is today's atmospheric CO2 level unusual?

Has the average CO2 level been rising steadily since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution?

No, according to Dr. Tim Ball and Tom Harris, writing May 14 in the Canada Free Press. If you wish to lie using statistics, rule number one is: Choose your data points carefully.
While Antarctic ice core records supposedly 'prove' a significant increase in CO2 in this period, there are serious problems with this data. Besides the fact that ice bubbles take about 80 years to form and so cannot give a single year accurate measure, the continual freezing, refreezing and pressurization of ice columns may greatly alter the original composition of the air trapped in the bubbles. Nevertheless, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and many others have accepted as meaningful the ice core results that indicate a pre-industrial CO2 level of 280 parts per million (ppm), in comparison with today's 385 ppm.

The most accurate way to determine the atmosphere's average CO2 content is to simply conduct a direct chemical analysis at many different places and times. Fortunately, there are more than 90,000 direct measurements by chemical methods between 1857 and 1957. However, in what appears to be a case of 'cherry-picking' data to fit a pre-determined conclusion, only the lower level CO2 data were included when the pre-industrial average was calculated (see below graph where data used in the averaging is highlighted). This is the average that was used to supposedly 'validate' the long term ice core records on which Al Gore and others depend.

[...] In a new scientific paper in the journal Energy and Environment, German researcher Ernst-Georg Beck, shows that the pre-industrial level is some 50 ppm higher than the level used by computer models that produce all future climate predictions. Completely at odds with the smoothly increasing levels found in the ice core records, Beck concludes, "Since 1812, the CO2 concentration in northern hemispheric air has fluctuated, exhibiting three high level maxima around 1825, 1857 and 1942, the latter showing more than 400 ppm."

In a paper submitted to US Senate Committee hearings, Polish Professor Zbigniew Jaworowski, a veteran mountaineer who has excavated ice from 17 glaciers on six continents, stated bluntly, "The basis of most of the IPCC conclusions on anthropogenic [human] causes and on projections of climatic change is the assumption of low level of CO2 in the pre-industrial atmosphere. This assumption, based on glaciological studies, is false."
The CO2 claim appears to be another con from our friends who fooled so many with the infamous "hockey stick" temperature graph (which purported to show a recent spike after centuries of stable temperatures).

As the authors note, the reason claims like this are accepted without question is that questions are not allowed. Nevertheless, scientists who love truth more than research grants should make sure their voices are heard.

Graph source