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Valley Voices: Not so quick with that global warming, Rogers

Vail CO, Colorado
newsroom@vaildaily.com

OK, Mr. Rogers let’s look at the evidence of global warming a little further. First let’s consider the effect of a greenhouse itself. The Earth is bombarded with a huge amount of solar radiation; only a small fraction of this is within visible wavelengths. The heating effect comes largely from infrared (IR) radiation, and because the sun is extremely hot emits short wavelength IR. The glass of a greenhouse is largely transparent to short wavelength IR. The earth re-radiates this IR, but because the earth is much cooler than the sun its radiation is long wavelength IR.

Since the glass of a greenhouse is translucent or more opaque to long wavelength IR, some of the re-radiated earth’s radiation is reflected back causing the Earth to warm. Now as the Earth warms, it will emit more and more long wavelength IR until an equilibrium is reached.

This is exactly what happens when considering greenhouse gases. We actually depend on greenhouse gases to make the Earth habitable. Without greenhouse gases, the average Earth’s temperature would be around -15C.

Also, 90 percent of the Earth’s total greenhouse gasses is water vapor — approximately 70 percent as humidity and 20 percent as clouds.

We all can relate to watching the evening news, especially at this time of year, that when we have cloud cover we will be generally warmer than when we have a clear night and the Earth can radiate more heat into the sky.

The remaining 10 percent of the gases are others such as methane, CO2, etc.

Water vapor constitutes 0-4 percent of the earth’s atmosphere, and carbon dioxide is 0.038 percent (approximately 0.028 percent at the start of the Industrial Revolution). The total effect of greenhouse gases is to warm the earth approximately 33C with carbon dioxide contributing about 3.4C of the total.

In the troposphere (MSL to about 30,000 feet) the total heating rate is considered 95 percent from water vapor and 5 percent from carbon dioxide. In the stratosphere the contribution from carbon dioxide jumps to around 80 percent and 20 percent from water vapor, although stratospheric effects contribute very little to overall global heating.

Atmospheric modeling is an extremely complex endeavor, requiring extensively detailed computer models and a lot of assumptions. These models are then “tuned” to past historical data.

In other words, factors are added to fit the models to historical data before they are used to try and predict the future. The data from these models is used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to predict the effects of global warming.

Currently there are 11 such models all showing a “hockey stick”-shaped curve where Earth’s temperature is increasing exponentially as carbon dioxide increases.

Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your point of view, the actual Earth temperature has not followed these models.

Professor Richard Lindzen of MIT has shown, using Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) satellite data, that the actual impact of carbon dioxide used by the IPCC has been overestimated by six times.

In fact, instead of a “hockey stick”-shaped temperature increase, the Earth has actually undergone global cooling over the last 10 years. I am sure a peer review of Dr. Lindzen’s data will raise some questions, especially from those scientists who depend on government grants to generate their environmental models. Here is where politics and hacked e-mails showing withheld data get involved to confuse the issues.

So I would like to pass along a few more facts. The amount of radiation absorbed by carbon dioxide is logarithmic. In other words doubling the amount of carbon dioxide will not double the radiation effect. In fact, all models reach a plateau where adding unlimited carbon dioxide will not change a thing. Water and carbon dioxide generally absorb IR within the same wavelength with water being a bit broader. The wavelengths where carbon dioxide is active are already saturated. Adding more greenhouse gasses that absorb in in near-saturated wavelength bands has little additional effect.

The amount of global warming over the last century has been measured at 1C. The IPCC models do not agree with the ERBE measured data. Dr. Lindzen has shown that doubling the amount of carbon dioxide will add approximately 0.5C to the earth’s temperature. By the IPCC model of the natural carbon cycle, humans contribute only 3.4 percent of the total carbon dioxide emitted annually to the atmosphere. Even if we went back to stone age levels of human carbon dioxide emissions, how much affect would we actually have on atmospheric carbon dioxide or on global warming?

The United Nations wants the United States to tax carbon emissions as many European governments have done. The U.S. House of Representatives have already passed a carbon tax in the form of “cap and trade.” The European governments that have already passed this have seen a measured reduction in GDP.

No one is disputing global warming, but there are many factors that can cause global warming. Many beyond our control such as solar activity, a shift in the earth’s axis, etc.

If human activity is the cause or is contributing, we need to know how. The last ice age was 10,000 years ago, something before the dawn of civilization caused a reversal, and the glaciers have been essentially receding ever since.

The science laying the blame on carbon dioxide is very disputable. Are we willing to spend billions on questionable theories that may have little or no effect on global warming?

It might make us feel better to do something, but the consequences may not be what we expect. Scientific legislation based on poor or wrong science is often worse than no legislation.

Editor’s note: The author of this letter put his name on the e-mail but not on the attachment with his letter responding to Don Rogers’ column published Friday. We deleted the e-mai by accidentl, and decided to publish the letter anyway.


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