Thursday, August 31, 2006


Once Again, A Doozy From Unreliapundit

From Unreliapundit regarding this article:

The amount of carbon absorbed by plant plankton in large segments of the Pacific Ocean is much less than previously estimated, researchers say. US scientists said the tiny ocean plants were absorbing up to two billion tonnes less CO2 because their growth was being limited by a lack of iron.

Iron deposits provide nutrients for the microbes, which in turn grow by absorbing [sequestering] atmospheric carbon dioxide. The findings have been published in the science journal Nature.

Unreliapundit's conclusion:
If they are sequestering less, then more will stay in the atmosphere. Er, um ... so apparently plankton is the real culprit responsible for higher atmoshperic CO2 and not SUV's. Hmmm. What will Gore do about this, give iron supplements to ocean algae!?

His misinterpretation of this article closely mirrors his misunderstanding of the article on the Amazon rainforest carbon sequestration (point 6). This article isn’t saying that a sudden lack of iron is causing plankton to absorb less CO2. It’s saying that the models that were previously being used didn't take into account the lack of iron in some regions and were thus over-estimating the amount of CO2 that the plankton was using worldwide. Thus, there’s no "increase in CO2" due to this finding about the plankton. So, this statement, "If they are sequestering less, then more will stay in the atmosphere," makes no sense. They’re not sequestering less than they were before. They’re sequestering less than was estimated.

We know how much CO2 man’s activities release into the atmosphere every year. We measure the level of CO2 in the atmosphere every year. The two correlate quite well (along with the measured effects of deforestation). Nothing in the past 400 thousand years even comes close to what we have seen in the past 100. As usual, Unreliapundit misinterprets fairly simple and straightforward articles to try and reassure himself that the facts are other than what they are?

"What will Gore do about this, give iron supplements to ocean algae?" Actually, this may not be such a bad idea. Then, the plankton would actually take up more CO2, as the original estimates said. However, as the article also notes, there is a feedback loop that cause the organisms that eat the plankton to "come to life because they suddenly have a more abundant food supply". So, this might not be as effective as it would seem on the surface.

Maybe I should start calling him Unreliapundidiot.


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