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Alternative cause for global warming?

In a comment on a story on Wattsupwiththat,  Julian Flood makes the following interesting suggestion:

No doubt you are familiar with planktonic carbon-fixation paths, but let me remind you anyway. Most plants, phytoplankton included are C3, a process which is discriminatory against the heavier carbon isotopes, so a richly-fed ocean will tend to take up a slightly greater proportion of the light isotope 12C. C3 requires a good level of trace elements, including… zinc and chromium, IIRC, but don’t quote me on that… and without those trace elements the phytos which use C4 will begin to dominate. Indeed, certain flexible phytos will change in those circumstances to C4 from C3. C4 uses much more C13/14 than C3.

A starving, stratified ocean will thus move towards a metabolic pathway which pulls down more heavier isotopes of carbon and the atmosphere will be depleted of those isotopes. I have argued that this is the source of the light isotope atmospheric signal which we are pointing to as the anthropogenic signal.

I am unaware of studies which quantify DMS emissions from the various plankton species, although the C4, starved, types might well be short of the resources to make that notoriously cloud-facilitating chemical. However, reduced planktonic populations will certainly lead to reduced DMS emission. Fewer phytos, less DMS, fewer CCNs, fewer clouds which are not so reflective. Warming.

Incidentally, phyos have diatoms as their most ferocious competitor, a competitor limited by silica availability. Modern agriculture (from about 1750) has been throwing huge amounts of silica into the oceans. Diatoms are C4, which may explain why the ‘anthropogenic’ carbon isotope signal begins in the eighteenth century, long before our burning of fossil fuel can have had an effect.

So, it’s warming, it may even be anthropogenic, but it’s not only about CO2.

Whether Julian has it right or not, the fact that such a possibility exists is illuminating. I have long argued that politicising science is a bad thing, and one reason why is that when a false theory is pushed for unscientific reasons, the true theory is unlikely to be discovered. We know humans are damaging the world, and excess of fertilisers is one such mechanism. If warming is indeed an outcome of over-use of fertilisers, then even those who think warming is bad must surely admit that the global warming scam has allowed decades to pass in which this danger has been allowed to continue, as its serious effects have been ascribed to the wrong cause.

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Re: Alternative cause for global warming?

Have you seen Willis Eschenbach's reply?

Fertilizing lakes may not be useful, but fertilizing the oceans seems to work well at boosting life.

I do find Julian's theory interesting. It would explain the increase in Carbon 13 in the atmosphere, but I have my doubts. How can plankton choose between the two kinds of carbon?

Oh, and what happened to your post? I am getting a page not found error.

John M Reynolds

Re: Alternative cause for global warming?

Hi John, Yes, Willis's reply to the article's main assertion was interesting and looks sound. I quoted Julian's comment, though, because he showed just how easy it would be for nature to operate in a wholly unexpected way. I do think humans are damaging the environment big time, but we need to look at it impartially and work out what things are real damage, which things might look bad but not be a problem at all, and which ones are actually dishonest (such as the global warming scam).

It is not so much planckton choosing between isotopes as that certain chemical reactions proceed at slightly different rates with different isotopes, and if those reactions form part of the chemical pathway involved in photosynthesis, then the result will be selective uptake of certain isotopes.

Re the link, the drupal software cuts the printed text of a link to, I think, 40 characters, but leaves the full link in the href of the anchor tag. If you put the printed text into a browser it doesn't work, but clicking on it does. The full link is:

Re: Alternative cause for global warming?

How will global warming effect employment? Several politicians have made it an explicit condition of their support of any climate policy that it would not cost jobs. Others have highlighted the innovation (and hence job creation) potential of climate change policy. However there is no doubt that the USA's reluctance to act on climate change has given Europe a competitive edge in new, low-carbon technologies such as wind and solar power and qualified professionals in emissions reduction, energy management, renewable energy, clean technology and carbon trading.- a field that US companies should lead by example. by

Re: Alternative cause for global warming?

Hi Primo,

The world becomes wealthier by doing more with less. Australian farmers with air-conditioned tractors do better than a Burmese farmer with a single-blade plough pulled by a water buffalo. The fact that Keynsian economics obscures that fact doesn't make it any less true. Spain's experience is that useless 'green' jobs each displace 2.2 real jobs that actually contribute to Spain's wealth. Scotland's experience is 3.7 real jobs lost per 'green' job.

Australia has about 20 million people on a big island. To get our heads around that, let's say it is 20 people on a small island. How do they become wealthy? They find the most efficient way to do each job that needs doing. They don't decide to plough a field by dragging a toothbrush, they use the best tool they have available so that the work available goes further. The west is wealthy because of the industrial revolution: eliminating work that need not be done. That's why people today work something like 40-hour/week jobs instead of 60, 70 hours/week. The glib craziness of politicians who think that they can actually create wealth by inventing work never ceases to amaze me. Having forgotten what real hardship is, a great segment of the population of the west is determined to take us right back there so we can experience it first-hand.

As for 'low-carbon': high carbon is good! CO2 is plant food. The world is greening, thanks to industrial emissions of CO2 plant nutrient. 300 million extra mouths fed in 30 years. Countless wildlife saved. We are each 93% CO2 and water! Calling it pollution is as close to insanity as anything can be.

Re: Alternative cause for global warming?

Researchers have been investing a great
deal of effort in analyzing just how climate
change will influence the natural environment
and human society. The cause-andeffect
linkages are often complex and the
timing uncertain. But while much more
research is needed, we understand today
in greater detail than ever before what is
happening – and what may occur next – in
every region of the world. We also know
more than before about how we can adapt
to the expected impacts and assist those
people who are the most vulnerable.

Re: Alternative cause for global warming?

From the opening section of the article:

Study Discredits Global Warming, AB 32
SEPT. 7, 2011


Nature Journal of Science, ranked as the world’s most-cited scientific periodical, just published the definitive study on Global Warming. It proves the dominant controller of temperatures in the earth’s atmosphere is galactic cosmic rays and the sun, rather than man. These “settled science” results should serve as a basis for Californians to overturn the state’s radical and now wrong environmental legislation, AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.

As one of the report’s researchers, Professor Jyrki Kauppinen, summed up his conclusions regarding the potential for man-made global warming: “I think it is such a blatant falsification.”

The research was conducted by CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, which invented the World Wide Web, built the multi-billion-dollar Large Hadron Collider, and now has constructed a pristinely clean stainless steel chamber that precisely recreates the earth’s atmosphere. The climate study involved scientists representing 17 of Europe’s and America’s premiere research institutes.

The results demonstrate that cosmic rays promote the formation of molecules that can grow and seed clouds in the earth’s atmosphere; the temperatures then fall as the density of the clouds increases. Because the sun’s magnetic field controls how many cosmic rays reach the earth’s atmosphere, the sun determines the temperature on earth.

Nature Journal has been the holy grail of scientific research publication since it was established in England in 1869. Its original editors gave the title to their new scientific journal in celebration of a line by British poet William Wordsworth: “To the solid ground of nature trusts the Mind that builds for aye.”

Because research scientists are the primary audience of this most prestigious of journals, the magazine strives to retain its stamp of approval as the pinnacle of scientific credibility for original research. Nature first introduced its readers to X-rays, the DNA double helix, the wave nature of particles, pulsars and, more recently, the mapping of the human genome.