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View Diary: Want to see a real crisis? A *partial* counterpoint (44 comments)

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  •  Excellent details (none)
    It's clear that compared to some of the big changes (ice ages and beyond), the temperature changes we're focusing on now are barely a blip.  That seems to be part of the reason there is legitimate debate over global warming and possible causes.

    But one thing that's struck me is the rate of change, particularly in CO2 levels.  I realize that CO2 levels have fluctuated a great deal in the past, often to levels much higher than those we see now, but it's my understanding that those changes have occurred over thousands to millions of years, rather than a century or two.  I realize that it may not be possible to give finer resolution than that, but is there any evidence for incredibly abrupt natural increases of CO2 on a similar time scale?

    •  CO2 question (none)
      Good question, I'm not sure of the answer.  I know that CO2 - over very long time scales - flucutates roughly in phase with temperature - we are talking about ice age scales.

      As for man made CO2 - yes, you are absolutely correct that the CO2 record spikes very rapidly (~200 years)in industrial times.  I don't know of any evidence of CO2 spiking naturally over those time-scales - but rapid climate change is not my research focus (I study geophysical turbulence and mixing - which is related to this discussion, in that I work on one of the little details in a very big picture).

      This webpage has a few graphs of CO2 change that you were asking about.

      Note the huge spike in CO2 in the past 200 years, as opposed to the past 1000, Now go back and look at the 2000 year temperature record.  Note how that spike is way off the chart compared to fluctuations over 1000 year record, where as the temperature spike in the past 200 years is quite normal compared to the smae time frame?  Are they linked?  Certainly there isn't a correlation there.  I dont know.

      However, its data like this that has convinced the scientific community that the CO2 spike is man made.

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