Dr Geoff Duffy
Retired Professor of Chemical Engineering
DEng, PhD, BSc, ASTC Dip, FRSNZ, FIChemE
Terry Dunleavy writes:
In the 22 years since I co-founded the New Zealand Climate Science Coalition to counter the false propaganda about what was then called “dangerous anthropogenic global warning” (DAGW) now called simply “climate change” in the subsequent absence of the alleged warming, I have read scores of papers, articles and essays from many well-qualified sceptical scientists, all demonstrating that DAGW is nothing more than computer-modelled over-hyping of natural variations in wealthier patterns that we have experienced and managed for centuries.
But it has still taken until now for a simple, succinct, compellingly science-based essay to convince lay-people that there is no “climate crisis” and we have no need to pauperise ourselves or irreparably damage our farming industries. And this essay comes from one of our own, a New Zealander, Dr Geoff Duffy, Emeritus Professor of Chemical Engineering at University of Auckland, and deservedly a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand.
If you read nothing else, this weekend, make sure to read what Professor Duffy has written below:
All heat energy initially comes, not as heat, but as radiant energy from the Sun. Then a portion of the radiation, namely infrared radiation, directly produces heat in the sea, land, and parts of the atmosphere. The other arriving radiation (50% visible light and ultraviolet radiation) also impacts us on earth in other ways.
More than 2/3 of the earth’s surface is ocean, so solar energy arriving in daylight hours causes a lot of water to evaporate. The evaporated water-vapour (really a gas) rises, cools and condenses to form clouds (minute water droplets). In fact, as both air pressure and air density decrease with increasing elevation, the temperature drops about 6 degrees for every kilometre rise, promoting condensation and cloud formation. Clouds cover almost 2/3 of the planet at any one time. Some cloud water droplets amalgamate to produce bigger droplets that then fall by gravity as rain. Rain (as well as snow or hail) cool the air, then the land and sea. Hence, our ‘liquid-water and water-vapour’ recycle-system adjusts to the changes and is self-correcting, self-adapting, and self-buffering in our shifting weather processes. Indeed, this is the natural water cycle, that helps stabilise and moderate the entire planet’s weather system and behaviour.
Radiation does even more with water than just evaporation! A few atmospheric gases (called greenhouse gases GHG’s), can absorb and instantly re-radiate some specific portions of solar infrared radiation as well as some back-radiation returning from the Earth. Water vapour gas is the strongest GHG by far, and is actually far higher in concentration than all other GHG’s combined (24 times higher). Unfortunately, it is often overlooked as the weather sentinel, or even totally disregarded in preference for other natural GHG’s. What also makes an amazing difference is that it is the only atmospheric gas that condenses (gas to liquid or solid ice).
After water vapour, the next two significant greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide and methane which are mostly produced in nature (vegetation, animals, ocean floor). Amazingly, about 95% of atmospheric carbon dioxide actually comes from nature. Unfortunately, these gases are also produced by combustion processes, motor vehicle exhausts, power stations, and industrial processes. Although they contribute very little to the overall effective eventual ‘warming’ of the atmosphere and changes in weather because of their extremely low concentrations, they are unfortunately credited and blamed as the primary causes of Climate Change (a long-term average of all weather changes: not just temperature).
Unlike water vapour, these GHG’s are uniformly distributed, easily measured, held responsible as the main culprits, and thus made taxable! Consequently, many countries are trying to either cut back or eliminate the use of coal, natural gas, and oil, although these produce a very small amount of these low-concentration GHG’s in the atmosphere. Actually coal, oil, and natural gas currently supply 80% of the total world’s energy for transport and electricity generation. At the moment, there is no sizeable alternative in sight, except possibly for nuclear energy for electrical power generation. Solar and wind energy are intermittent and contribute far less than 5% in power generation worldwide, and the percentage is unlikely to increase markedly as the population grows.
The land also heats up as well and warms the air contacting it. With both the warmer land and seas, we get breezes, hot moist air rising (thermals), winds, storms, hurricanes, rain, snow, and more. These changes are huge worldwide and dictate our weather and hence the climate patterns. Of course, there is a lot more to consider, like overnight and seasonal effects. Weather at a location also depends on how close we live to the ocean shore, how far inland, or if we live on hills or mountains.
So changes in weather and the subsequent climate patterns produced, result from far more than just direct solar radiation impacting water and water vapour. Clouds act as parasols (sun-umbrellas) on hot sunny days, then dump rain or snow all over the world at the amazing rate of 13 million tonnes a second, to cool the air and planet. The rotating earth produces global air movements, winds, storms, rain, hurricanes, as well as El Ninos, La Ninjas, ocean currents and ocean conveyor belts, large oscillating jet streams, and more. There are underwater volcanoes from tectonic plate shifts, and extra effects from sunspots and solar wind (particles travelling through space) that can impact our weather as well. It is complex, impossible to control, and impossible to change! Radiation important? Yes! But there is certainly far more that we must consider to get the bigger picture!
A FEW FACTS
- The average temperature is alleged to have gone up just over 1 0C in 100 years. Temperatures go up and down 5 to 10 0C, or more, every day, so that really is not a big deal! If you step out from the shade on a sunny day you experience a 10 0C or so increase. The 1 to 1.5 0C per century-rise alarm cannot be justified as catastrophic!
- 100 plus years ago there were not many weather stations worldwide (far less than 2% world land coverage). Above the entire ocean area (71% of the planet’s surface), there were no air temperature measurements at all! Only thermometers were used on land, and many were not high quality, well-calibrated, or cross-checked. Satellites have been used only for the past 40 years. So the reference-temperature basis-point from which to judge what has happened over the century is quite fragile.
- Carbon dioxide is not dangerous. It is about 0.042% in the atmosphere, 4% exhaled breath, 0.2% in an auditorium or pub, and 0.4 to 0.5% in a submarine. Submariners live in that safely for periods of 6 months or so.
- Sea levels have been measured worldwide for well over a century and the level-increase is only about 2mm/year (or less). Some land areas like in Scandinavia are actually subsiding. There is no sea-level crisis anywhere in the world, and no sudden upsurge has been recorded anywhere at all in the world.
- Artic and Antarctic sea-ice areas and thickness are on average the same for the last 50 years, and within the normal annual ranges. There are no sudden changes anywhere. Floating-ice shelf areas larger than the size of Australia melt every 6 months, and are reinstated in the next months at both poles.
- Carbon dioxide is the vital ‘food stock’ for all plants, shrubs, crops, and trees. The small increase in carbon dioxide over the last few decades has marvellously caused ‘global greening’, and crop and vegetable yields have risen 15 to 30 percent. Carbon dioxide is added in actual Green Houses to increase plant and crop growth rates! Carbon dioxide has been a real boon in all food producing countries in the world.
- It is so important to see that water vapour is over 20 times higher in concentration than carbon dioxide, and is over 50 times more effective with all radiation [over 5,000 higher in concentration than methane, and over 4,000 more effective too with radiation].
- THE REAL PROBLEMS: The real problems are not the gases themselves such as carbon dioxide or methane from farming, or from vehicles or industry, but from incomplete combustion and atmospheric pollution (both chemicals and particles). Pollutants such as heavy metals, unburned carbon particle, dioxins, organic chemicals like benzene and fluorocarbons, toxins, and many more can come from natural fires, all combustion process, industry, volcanic eruptions, and more.
For more details watch the Video presentation to NZ Farmers: