Warming warnings a global con

13/08/2009 - 00:00


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The science just doesn’t add up on climate change.

AS Canberra politicians devise another tax on business - an Emissions Trading Scheme - that will destroy tens of thousands of jobs, let's consider what they're failing to recognise.

One way of assessing this is to consider a lecture Western Australian-trained scientist and former head of Australia's National Climate Centre at the Bureau of Meteorology, William Kininmonth, delivered in 2006.

He's a member of Australia's Lavoisier Group - named after the founder of modern chemistry, Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier (1743-94) - formed in 2000 following the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, when it became obvious Canberra had set about demonising life-nourishing carbon dioxide so as to move to introduce another tax.

"In the context of pestilence, famine and warfare it is ludicrous to suggest that global warming might be considered the biggest threat that humankind faces in the 21st century," he began.

"The plague that ravaged Europe from the middle 14th to the middle 17th centuries is estimated to have killed between 30 and 50 per cent of the population.

"Pneumonia killed about 20 million people in the 1920s.

"Sars, Ebola and other potential pandemics continue to hover in the background."

He listed catastrophes that struck northern China, India, southern Africa, north-east Brazil and Pacific island during the El Niño of 1877, and in 1888, when a third of Ethiopia's population perished.

Mr Kininmonth also highlighted that other ever-present danger, global warfare.

"Against this background of pestilence, famine and warfare, the earth's climate has warmed over the past 200 years from the cold of the Little Ice Age [1550-1850]," he said.

"The global population has expanded to more than six billion people.

"There is no doubt there is enough food being grown to feed the global population.

"There are also resources available to clothe and house the people. Regions of scarcity and deprivation are caused by inhibiting social structures, including colonialism, corruption and conflicting tribal allegiances.

"In a perfect world, there are abundant resources to sustain the global population."

Why, he asked, were we even thinking global warming threatened 21st century humankind?

The reason is that, in 1988, the United Nations created the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to guide governments "on the likelihood of human induced climate change".

Its 1990 report said: there is a greenhouse effect that keeps the earth warmer than it would otherwise be; carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and its concentration in the atmosphere is increasing because of human activities; and increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide will enhance the greenhouse effect so as to make the Earth warmer.

But the IPCC stressed many uncertainties existed, claiming it wasn't possible "to quantify the timing, magnitude nor regional patterns of anthropogenic global warming".

Some IPCC computer models: "projected that the global average temperature would rise 3°C and sea level would rise 65cm above 1990 values by 2100."

The IPCC has reported in 1995 and 2001 "claiming advances in scientific understanding, each claiming greater confidence that recent global warming was due to human activities and that the warming is likely to increase."

Mr Kininmonth said such adjustments were invariably attributed to more powerful computers that permitted "formulation of more complex models to simulate the climate system".

But he added no evidence existed to show computer models better represented reality.

"Indeed, we could be forgiven if we concluded that computer modelling is akin to the magician's smoke and mirrors," he said.

The atmosphere's main greenhouse gas is water vapor and its concentration and distribution varies in space and time.

"Saturation and cloud formation occurs in ascending air and clouds change the earth's local radiation patterns even more strongly than greenhouse gases, he said.

"Representation of water vapor and clouds in computer models is recognised as being very difficult and a major source of error.

"In contrast, carbon dioxide is a well-mixed gas and its interaction with the earth's radiation fields can be calculated for cloud-free air."

Now for some figures. Without water vapor and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere the earth would radiate into space at the rate of 337watts/square metre (W/m2).

If there's a standard water concentration in the atmosphere this falls to 286W/m2, so water vapor's greenhouse impact is about 51W/m2.

If we add pre-industrial carbon dioxide levels into the atmosphere - about 300 parts per million (ppm) - radiation into space falls by a further 27W/m2.

Carbon dioxide's impact is, thus, about half that of water vapor.

"However, 70 per cent of carbon dioxide's greenhouse effect is due to the first 50ppm of concentration," Mr Kininmonth said.

"Carbon dioxide is essentially a spent force as far as the enhanced greenhouse effect is concerned, and adding to the concentration by industrial activities has little impact.

"The approximately 100ppm of carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere since industrialisation has increased the greenhouse effect by a little more than 1W/m2.

"A further doubling of carbon dioxide concentration to 800ppm by the end of the 21st century will only increase the greenhouse effect by about 3W/m2, a very small increase.

"When we look at the numbers in perspective, the impact of the enhanced greenhouse effect from anthropogenic carbon dioxide is small and the threat is a mirage.

"The suggestion that earth's climate is about to cross a trigger point that will result in runaway global warming also does not stand up to scrutiny."

Those six paragraphs need careful reading since they show how our major political parties are scaring Australians into accepting an ETS.

If Messrs Rudd and Turnbull succeed it will mean not only another tax being introduced, but another class of salesmen trading in carbon credits and other colourfully named bits of gold-embroidered paper describing compulsory transactions.

Mr Kininmonth next outlined how convection constrained surface temperature. He said ocean temperatures were constrained to about 30°C and even tropical rainforests never exceeded 35°C.

"High afternoon temperatures are only experienced over arid inland regions," Mr Kininmonth continued.

"Seventy per cent of the earth's surface is ocean.

"Evaporation cooling will thus constrain the surface temperature against the minor enhanced greenhouse effect of anthropogenic carbon dioxide, much as a canvas water bag provides cool water in a desert."

Most solar radiation was received over the tropics, while polar regions radiated more energy than the solar radiation they received, he said.

"The global radiation balance is only maintained because of the transport of excess energy from the tropics to the poles by the atmospheric and ocean circulations," Mr Kininmonth said.

He stressed that, retrospectively applied, computer models had proved incapable of predicting the Little Ice Age and each model made different predictions, showing-up their unscientific nature.

"Pestilence, famine and violence are ever present," he said.

"Each is capable of killing millions of people and destroying the social fabric of the global community.

"In contrast, the global warming of the past 200 years has been beneficial to human society and to the biosphere.

"Society and ecosystems have adapted and flourished. There is no reason to believe that life will not continue to adapt and flourish on earth.

"Global warming cannot be considered as a threat in the 21st century, and is certainly not the biggest threat to humankind."

As Lavoisier Group president, ex-senator Peter Walsh, said: "To my knowledge, no Kyoto true believer has ever acknowledged, let alone tried to explain, why the earth was much hotter when Romans were growing wine grapes in Northern England and Vikings for centuries grew cereal crops in Greenland."


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