Monday, February 16, 2015

Nonsense from pjscirkus about natural cycles and asteroids

A reader with the pen name pjscirkus commented on my post debunking Tom Luongo's nonsense.  Rather than add anything useful, he/she proceeded to spew enough nonsense of his/her own that I thought it best to answer here rather than in the comment thread.

Claim: "Perhaps, your scientific majesty, you could comment on solar warming with regard to axial tilt, wobble and orbital precession?"
Response:  I'll ignore his/her snark (for now).  Axial tilt, wobble, and orbital precession are collectively known as the "Milankovitch cycles."  Those orbital cycles were linked to the glacial/interglacial cycles of the Pleistocene back in 1976 (Hays et al. 1976).  Unfortunately for pjscirkus, we've known since 1980 that the current Milankovitch cycles are all in cooling phases.  They entered those cooling phases around 6,000 years ago and have a further 23,000 years of cooling to go before they switch to warming phases (Imbrie and Imbrie 1980).  In short, the Milankovitch cycles have nothing to do with the current warming trend.
Claim: Is it not a fact that colder water absorbes [sic] more CO2, and therefore, when it is warmed, it is released into the atmosphere, and is not sunlight the greatest warming engine for our oceans?  How does that release correlate with your findings?"
 Response:  His first statement is largely true.  Unfortunately, as Abraham Lincoln's old punchline went, he got the facts right exactly right but jumped to the entirely wrong conclusion.  If the amount of CO2 in the climate system stayed constant, then colder water would absorb CO2 from the atmosphere whereas warmer water would release it back into the atmosphere.  Unfortunately, the levels of CO2 in the entire climate system is increasing.  Why is CO2 increasing?  Multiple lines of evidence show that all of the extra CO2 comes from fossil fuels. 

In water, CO2 combines with water to form carbonic acid.  If all the extra CO2 came from the oceans, then we'd expect carbonic acid levels to decrease and ocean pH to rise.  That is not what oceanographers have found.  What they've found is that more CO2 is dissolving into water, creating more carbonic acid and lowering the pH of the oceans.  You may have heard of ocean acidification?  This is happening despite the fact that the oceans are warming up due to a little bit of physics known as Henry's Law.  It would be well worth your while to read up on it.
Claim: "Furthermore, has any thought ever been given to the influx of water brought to the planet by meteors? Mega tons [sic] of water enter the atmosphere daily from this source, but nowhere can I find any reference to this affecting our ocean levels."
 Response: I notice you didn't cite your source for that little claim about how "[megatons] of water enter the atmosphere daily" from meteors.  Let's do a little math, shall we?

Ceplecha (1996) estimated that the earth adds 150,000 metric tons of extraterrestrial materials per year.  The surface area of the oceans is 335,258,000,000,000 m2.  Assuming that ALL of those 150,000 metric tons of space debris is water, and ALL of that water finds its way to the oceans, that would be enough to raise ocean levels by a grand total of 4.47 x 10-7 mm per year.

(150,000 m3 per year/335,258,000,000,000 m2) x 1000 mm/m = 0.000000447 mm per year

In other words, not even close to the average increase of 3.2 mm per year.  That's assuming that ALL of the accumulated mass is water.  The highest percentage of water in meteors is Cl chondrites at 22%.  This means that the actual rise in ocean levels due to accretion is at most 0.0000000984 mm/year—and given the percentage of water in most meteorites, that rate is actually far lower.
Claim: " Perhaps, your majesty, you can comment on these things without first lopping of my head, but then, you'd be out of character, wouldn't you?"
Response: Nice attempt at snark.  Next time, though, please educate yourself a bit before commenting.  Then no one would feel the need to lop your head off.