Many of my disagreements with the IPCC AR6 science Summary for Policy Makers (SPM) are just that, disagreements. I think their reasoning is faulty but at least I understand it. See my last article — “The UN IPCC science panel opts for extreme nuttiness“.
One SPM section, however, is so wrong that it must be a deliberate deception. The purpose seems to be to make the atmospheric CO2 increase look like a simple accumulation of our emissions. I call this the pollution model of CO2 and it is extremely misleading. The truth is well known so this must be a deceptive act on the IPCC’s part.
Here is the opening summary paragraph. The first sentence is a ridiculous 51 tortured words long, the second (and last) sentence states the hoax very clearly.
“While natural land and ocean carbon sinks are projected to take up, in absolute terms, a progressively larger amount of CO2 under higher compared to lower CO2 emissions scenarios, they become less effective, that is, the proportion of emissions taken up by land and ocean decrease with increasing cumulative CO2 emissions. This is projected to result in a higher proportion of emitted CO2 remaining in the atmosphere (high confidence).“
There is even a fancy graphic, Figure 7, claiming to show how much the “cumulative CO2 emissions” will reduce the effectiveness of the natural sinks.
The idea here is that some fraction of our emissions is absorbed by land (the biosphere) and ocean. The remaining fraction stays in the atmosphere, creating our cumulative emissions, which is the (supposedly very bad) CO2 increase.
Given that the annual increase in atmospheric CO2 is less than our annual emissions, this simple story works well. So we find it is a common theme in ordinary discourse. But the scientists who oversaw the writing of the SPM are experts on this stuff and they know it is wildly false. Our CO2 does not accumulate in the atmosphere.
The reality they hide is something called the “CO2 flux”. This is the part of the carbon cycle that makes (carbon based) life on Earth possible. The CO2 flux is an enormous amount of CO2 that is both emitted and absorbed every year. Natural emissions are something like 20 times our emissions. So when it comes to CO2 emissions we are small stuff. Keep that in mind.
Moreover, the flux is so huge that roughly 25% of the atmospheric CO2 is exchanged every year. A quarter of the CO2 molecules are absorbed, replaced by newly emitted molecules. But this inconvenient fact is never mentioned by the IPCC.
The point is that given this huge flux our emissions do not stay in the atmosphere very long before they are absorbed. The standard estimate (well known to the IPCC) is that fully half of our emissions are gone in less than 3 years from their time of emission. Almost all are gone in less than 8 years.
Technical note: the exact math of the flux is very hairy. Some molecules are absorbed within seconds of being emitted. A molecule emitted out of and absorbed right back into the leaf of a tree for example. Same for a molecule from a house under a tree. Other emitted molecules may never be absorbed, or not for a million years or so. The exact numbers are a matter of research and debate, but the rough numbers are well established.
In short, while our CO2 emissions may (or may not) cause the observed increase, they for sure do not compose it. The CO2 increase is definitely not composed of our cumulative emissions, as the SPM falsely says it is, because our emissions are absorbed in just a few years thanks to the flux.
What are we to make of this glaring error? Which is only glaring to experts. Given that the SPM scientists are in fact experts, this colossal error must be deliberate. After all, it perpetuates the simple minded pollution model which then facilitates the alarmist political agenda.
Note that this glaring falsehood is given “high confidence“. What a joke! They probably have high confidence that it will fool the policy makers, as well as the press and public.
In plain language this is a hoax. There is no scientific issue here, no disagreement or argument. They are saying something important that they know perfectly well to be false. They are lying to the policy makers, deliberately perpetuating the myth that the CO2 increase is just our cumulative emissions building up over time. It is nothing of the sort and they know it.
Shame on the IPCC!
August 21, 2021 David Wojick