CO2 and Sea Levels – Let’s Look at Them from a Different Angle

From an article at

“Nor is there any reference to our slowly rising sea levels, a rise certainly not accelerating, all despite the clearly increasing CO2 levels.”

Sometimes it is useful to look at numbers from the other way around. So, let’s look at CO2 and its increase for just a second in a reverse way:

…Since the beginning of the Mona Loa CO2 data began in March 1958, non-CO2 in the atmosphere has fallen from 99.968538% to 99.96033%.

If graphed with a zero Y-value, to all but a microscope this would appear as a straight and horizontal line.  I know this, because I just did it.

Thus if non-CO2 is graphed vs the sea level rise, it is not surprising that sea level rise is not being affected by the CO2 increase.

In high school journalism we learned to be alert to statistical shenannigans, how the presentation of statistics had everything to do with the propaganda being presented. “Propaganda” is not my word, but that of my teacher. We were first of all taught that one means of propagandizing with stats is to not graph with a zero Y-value. Another was to reverse the percentages, as is done with CO2.

The latter is often done in medical studies, claiming that a certain finding is “significant” because the incidence of a disease has gone from, say, 1.25% to 1.85% – an almost 50% increased risk. However, that can also be read as an avoidance rate changing from 98.75% to 98.15%. Patients would feel much more positive if the latter percentages were presented – and especially if those were presented on a graph. But such a presentation isn’t convenient for garnering funding or approval for preventive drugs, so that isn’t done.

In the case of CO2 the preventive drug is all things green – according to those framing the problem. A straight horizontal line isn’t convenient to raising alarms.


As to the sea level rise being all but constant since forever, for those who don’t know this, it has been about 3mm per year in almost the entire time it has been measured – and no rise at all in the last two decades when the compiled global average temperatures showed increased temps for a third of that time and then none for the last decade plus.

Thus, with both CO2 rise and sea level rise being mostly constant it is possible that both are tied together.  This might be one causing the other or both being influenced by some other effect.  Or it might just be a coincidence.  Correlation does not mean causation.


4 responses to “CO2 and Sea Levels – Let’s Look at Them from a Different Angle

  1. A microgram of polonium can kill so the small amount of CO2 could still have a big effect.

    I would describe myself as a lukewarmer. Have you seen Steve McIntyre’s low sensitivity model? I think it is probably close to what the real effect of CO2 is. Sea level rise can be affected by more than CO2/temperature. I saw a study a year or two ago I think that explained a large amount of sea level rise by agricultural runoff.

    • James –

      I wouldn’t agree with you on equating minuscule amounts of polonium and CO2. One is equal to oxygen for all the plants on Earth and the other is an extremely radioactive rare element.

      The big thing on CO2 these days is the “climate sensitivity”, which they look at in terms of global rise for a doubling of the percentage of CO2. In the past they thought it was a certain amount, which value they put into their models. They’ve since found experimentally that the sensitivity is less than half of what they thought. This alone is a game changer.

      Steve M’s use of the Callendar simplistic formula from 1938 is a biggie, too. I am VERY familiar with that Callendar paper, because it is Callendar whose data is the basis for the claim that 19th century CO2 level was 29 0ppm, and I ran across a 1955 paper that challenged it and which all but outright accused Callendar of cherry picking his data – which I do assure you Callendar did. The rise since then has been somewhat less than is claimed. For example, Germany took 10,000 CO2 readings in about 1920s and 1930s, and the averages there were about 410 ppm. Not only are the Germans very good at such things, scientists had much early in the 1800s already found very good methods of measuring CO2 in the atmosphere. So the odds of bad science on the 10,000 samples are very small.

      Granted, however, air pollution in that era was horrendous, so the 410 can be read both ways, since most air pollution was actually aerosols, which end to lower temps. The German-only average temps for that period I don’t know. The 1930s were a very warm period in general, with the 1920s being a time of increasing temps worldwide. Between aerosols, CO2, solar insolation, Milankovitch cycles, water vapor, ENSO, PDO, AMO, it is all a seriously complex and chaotic system. And our solid records only go back a little over 100 yeas in even the best wide regions (USA and western Europe), so projecting from such a small history is not something that is on very solid ground.

      As to the tree-rings, they only go back reliably to about 1500; before that the sampling is very iffy because the number of trees drops off severely. Compounding that is something most people are unaware of: Botanists use tree-rings as [proxies for precipitation. I think you are smart enough to recognize the conundrum there – that you can’t use the same evidence as proxies for TWO completely different “forcings.” You can’t because no one knows whether a wide or dense ring means ONLY temp, or ONLY rainfall, or some combination of the two which cannot be reconstructed. My money is on C. And that means that dendroclimatology is on thin ice.

      Then add in the very real “divergence problem,” which began about 1940 but was not noticed until about the late 1980s and is continuing to diverge. CO2 and temperature have not correlated since 1940, and the dendroclimatologists are very concerned about that. It is what the “hide the decline” emails were all about in Climategate.

      I am not trying to convince you. If anyone is going to switch over, he/she has to do it on their own. But these are very real bits of the science. If you disagree, I don’t mind you saying so. I might learn something new.

  2. Yeah, I did Steve’s low sensitivity model. Did you read where he based it on the math in Callendar 1938? Callendar’s math outperforms all of the current GCMs.

    A good long while ago, I read about the early days of the models. They had a tough time keeping the output fro going to infinity, and they brought in a Japanese modeler who was known for troubleshooting. He ended up adding some math – unconnected to any physical processes or constants – that “tamed” the model. The only thing is, the change didn’t have a damned thing to do with climate. So I wonder how much other math is coded in simply to keep the models from going nuclear.
    None of this gives any confidence in the climate models. That, in addition to their continuing and unrelenting failures to match any existing real world data histories (hindcasting).

  3. Q does atmospheric co2 refelect sunlight
    A Yes it does
    Q does more atmospheric Co2 mean more refelected sunlight
    A Yes it does
    Q does more refelected sunlight mean increased atmospheric, sea & land temperatures
    a Yes it does

    So while the process of changing atmospheric co2 concentration would normally take a long of time to work though, human behaviour is driving a very rapid change. No one is arguing about historical co2 levels being higher or lower but it is how we can live in the rapidly changing world. It is a question of money for those with investments on shore lines, the production of food & distribution while the loss of habitate and life are human considerations.
    Understanding the exact timing of this change and specific region impacts is difficult but that does not change the fact of global warming driven by human activity. Warmists are not fearmongering but simply people who see the coming issues and want to plan for them. Part of this planning is preventing further warming by limiting co2 concentration caused by human activity.
    Hardly illogical to be thinking about ones future

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