COP26 will fail unless we grant it the powers of a supra-national council

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H.G. Wells’ ‘end of the world’ fantasy saw civilisation saved by a friendly virus, but in 1951 a new type of apocalyptic fantasy appeared in cinema screens.  In The Day the Earth Stood Still humanity was given an ultimatum: put aside petty squabbles and come together, or be annihilated.  Michael Rennie’s authoritarian ‘alien’ was clearly a depiction of human reason triumphing over the insanity of armed conflict, and the film reflected the founding principle of the United Nations; endless wars were the problem the human race faced.

We are now living the reality, and the problem isn’t wars.  We face the end not only of human civilisation but of much of the natural world, and one of the millions of species headed for extinction could be our own.  However, the message of hope from 1951 is as powerful as it was then.  By uniting behind a single purpose, the concerted efforts of the human race could overcome the challenges we face.  We don’t have the stern, but kind-hearted, alien laying down the law, so what we need instead is a world council tasked with creating a survival plan, and empowered to enforce it.

We already have the UN, but that was created after the horrors of World War II, and felt its first duty was to render impossible future invasions and annexations, so its founders sought to guarantee the sovereign right of countries to be free from the fear of invasion.  Individual national sovereignty is an idea which is now hopelessly out of date, and it has become positively harmful.

Climate summit meetings still accept that each country has a right to act as it will within its own borders.  They try to achieve consensus about what each can realistically do about climate change, but those that don’t want to sign up don’t have to.  Sovereignty is a meaningless luxury when the damage to the environment affects the entire world, and sovereignty was probably always a delusion (Imagined Communities,  Benedict Anderson, 1983), with the lines on today’s maps mostly just the residue of past wars and arranged marriages.

One obvious example of this absurdity is that the rainforests which play a vital role in controlling the climate are being plundered at an accelerating rate.  Incredibly, pursuing short term financial gain is claimed as a ‘right’ by some of the politicians involved, and in other cases bribery and corruption allow ‘illegal’ destruction to go on unrestrained.  Developed countries like ours are complicit, buying the food and other products grown on deforested land.  Another example is the damage to oceans caused by over-fishing, which can’t be stopped because no-one ‘owns’ the deep oceans.

To a Liberal Democrat, the idea of replacing the UN with an authoritarian world council, equipped with real teeth to enforce its will, may sound anathema.  Successive climate summits are having some effect, but we all know that it isn’t happening fast enough.  Targets which are already far too timid are being missed, and climate change deniers are in power in too many countries.

In 1996 the head of American electricity utility told me that by 2050 the CO2 problem would have disappeared, and we’d be collecting solar energy in space and beaming it down by microwave.  In 2021 there is no sign of hundreds of square miles of solar panels orbiting the planet, and nor is there any other sign that wishful thinking is going be our saviour.

COP26 in Glasgow will probably set some fairly rigorous targets, but what we need now is agreement that harsh penalties for failure will reflect the gravity of the crime of non-compliance, and will be sufficient to deter any potential defaulters.  Carrying out the required actions should not be voluntary, and it should be clear that the authority of the climate council supersedes that of any national leader or government, whether or not they were democratically elected.  We are no more ‘sovereign’ in the world than we are in our own countries.  We are the temporary custodians of a planet left to us by our forebears, to be handed over to our descendants; however much it costs, we simply can’t afford to shirk that responsibility.

* Andy Daer is a member of the Liberal Democrats in South Gloucestershire and Vice Chair of Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine

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  • Not a scientific fact in sight.

  • Little Jackie Paper 4th Feb '21 - 5:22pm

    The past year really has given some people quite the taste for authoritarianism.

    Ninteen eighty four is meant to be fiction, not an instruction book.

  • The creation of, to coin a phrase, a superstate, is not a sensible ask here. Any time spent discussing this at COP would be time wasted, that could be spent making progress.

    If the problem is that governments won’t do the job, calling for governments to grant somebody else the power to make them do it, is thinking about the problem entirely the wrong way. No government, democratic or not, is going to contrive to be forced to do something it doesn’t want to do.

    You want to weaken the ability of governments to resist what is necessary. Great. That will only ever come from the bottom up, not the top down. There is no authority at the top.

  • Thanks Joe, you’ve put the case well.

    We all want there to be significant progress at COP26 with nations agreeing “stretch” targets and then going away and implementing them. However, we will only achieve this if the individual nations (people and politicians) see implementing change as being in their interest. We are already seeing this with the US where they are waking up to the $1 trillon opportunity of “the green economy”.

  • Little Jackie Paper 4th Feb '21 - 8:23pm

    Joe Otten

    You say ‘governments to grant.’ I don’t think he sees this as being a voluntary granting.

  • My apologies for the lack of scientific facts in the original article, so here are two. When the ice has melted, all the world’s major cities will be under about 30 feet of water. When confronted with frightening facts, many people go into denial. Other facts are available.

  • Little Jackie Paper 5th Feb '21 - 8:55am

    Right. So our glorious eco authoritarians decide that we need mass depopulation so let the virus rip. Because, you know, eco.

  • Paul Barker 5th Feb '21 - 9:36am

    I would love to see the development of a Democratic World Government & its hardly an outrageous New idea, Lord Tennyson was calling for one 150 Years ago & he was hardly a wild radical. (Locksley Hall I think)

    However its not going to happen in the next 50 Years & we face The Extinction Crisis Now so we have to work with what weve got, however inadequate. Authoritarianism is never the answer, the vast changes we have to make need to be negotiated & consensual or they wont work.

  • “Delegates to the 26th UN Climate Change Conference, welcome to Glasgow”…”As an extracurricular activity we will invite you all to travel just south of the border to visit the site of our brand new coal mine.”

    That should go down well?

  • @Andy Daer, did you get that “scientific fact” in the Guardian?

  • @Little Jackie Paper – “Right. So our glorious eco authoritarians decide that we need mass depopulation so let the virus rip. Because, you know, eco.”

    Nice illustration of how something that we need to urgently address (overpopulation) and finding a ‘solution’ that suites the purpose of some and allows them to wash their hands.

    [Aside: Overpopulation is a tough nut to crack; given perfect storm ahead of us, I expect we will see a catastrophic reduction in population through “natural causes”, the melting of the Greenland ice being one example…]

  • I would like to stimulate some brain activity. Too many people accept COP26 policy more readily than Santa Claus.

    Last year the pandemic created more of a shut down in global CO2 emissions than COP26 ever will, yet CO2 atmospheric concentration showed not the slightest dent. In fact, the measurements at the Mona Loa observatory showed a slight increase. Why is that?

    Man made emissions are too small to register against the atmospheric quantities. The total CO2 is contained in the earth, soli and vegetation but also in the ocean biosphere such as algae, plankton and creatures with shells. But huge quantities of CO2 are simply dissolved in the oceans. Then we have the gas in our atmosphere too, which is the bit we are concerned about. The distribution between these last two is determined by ocean temperatures because the solubility of CO2 in water is temperature dependent. CO2 is less soluble in warmer water. (Henry’s Law)

    So atmospheric CO2 concentration depends on ocean temperatures, not your local power station.

  • The link shows atmospheric CO2 over the last few million years.
    There are two key points. CO2 concentrations have generally been much higher at 5-8,000 ppm compared with the current 415 ppm. Just before the industrial revolution, the concentration was just 280 ppm. I find that very scary. Below 150 ppm, all life on this planet would be extinct. CO2 is plant food. Photosynthesis converts CO2 to sugars which are the building blocks of carbohydrates and more complex molecules.

    So for most of our history, CO2 concentrations were much, much higher than today. Yet, life survived and developed and we obviously did not have devastating overheating of the climate. Why was that?

    The answer is very obvious. As I reported on this site in November, the greenhouse effect depends on the absorbance of IR radiation by CO2 and water vapour. The gases block the radiation that would otherwise cool the planet by radiating the energy to space. But WITHIN THE RELEVANT WAVELENGTHS the energy has all been absorbed. The greenhouse effect is finished. It matters not, how much more CO2 is added.

    This is why our climate is so stable. This is why the huge concentrations of the past made no difference. This is why, apart from the recent spate of El Nino events, there has been no more warming this century.

  • Peter Martin 5th Feb '21 - 8:39pm

    @ Peter,

    Your graph of past CO2 levels is interesting but if they are “uncomforatbly low” now, then so they have for the entire period of human evolution. I, for one would prefer to take my chances on them not going any higher than they are.

    Most others might be more interested in a similar graph showing the height of sea levels. Especially if they have just purchased an expensive sea front property. Or even a London house that is slightly too close to the level of the Thames for comfort. Maybe not such a smart investment right now!

    Where do you live BTW? Snowdonia, maybe? You should be safe enough there!

  • @Peter Martin – As you might expect, we have been warming up from the Little Ice Age that lasted about 500 years and ended around 1860.×649.png

  • @Peter Martin – It is better to follow the actual scientific evidence from credible sources than the rubbish peddled by the Guardian, Desmog, Skeptical Science and other doom mongers. The BBC is one of the worst producers of fake climate news.

  • Peter Martin 5th Feb '21 - 10:38pm

    @ Peter

    Answer the point please. You’ve shown a graph of changing co2 levels. Show how they match up with changing sea levels.

  • Peter Martin 5th Feb '21 - 10:39pm

    @ Peter

    Answer the point please. You’ve shown a graph of changing co2 levels. Show how they match up with changing sea levels.

  • @Peter – “There are two key points. CO2 concentrations have generally been much higher at 5-8,000 ppm compared with the current 415 ppm. Just before the industrial revolution, the concentration was just 280 ppm. I find that very scary.”
    So you should, given that research has shown that CO2 levels above 1,000 ppm are harmful to humans, rather than 5,000 ppm as previously thought.

    I found the comment concerning the end of the Permian period a little amusing; it would seem the commenter had totally misread the graph, as it clearly shows a steep increase in CO2 from circa 200 ppm to 2,000 ppm…

  • @Peter Martin – I’m not aware of sea level estimates for the last few million years but if your concern is for the present then as the graph I provided shows, there is a small steady rise of 3.3 mm per year and that hasn’t changed in several decades.

    @Roland – I can’t keep up with the papers setting out to demonise CO2. Not long ago the US Navy was the authority on safe limits because they had a big research programme on atmosphere effects on submariners. If I remember correctly, they thought the limit was 12,000 ppm. One of the problems with this type of study is that as you increase %CO2 you reduce %oxygen and the latter is much more serious. I was always taught that CO2 is not toxic, it suffocates which is actually the lack of oxygen, but I’m not up do date on the current thinking.

    We all breathe out between 35,000 and 50,000 ppm of CO2 with every breath so it is not something to worry about.

  • Peter Martin 6th Feb '21 - 3:32pm

    @ Peter,

    “I’m not aware of sea level estimates for the last few million years”

    But you are aware of atmospheric CO2 levels for the last few hundred million years. Presumably you think the latter is relevant but the former is not. This would also mean you really don’t know what you are talking about. You argue it’s perfectly OK to have 1000 ppmv of CO2 in the atmosphere but you’ve no idea what height sea levels were some 60 million years ago when they were last at this level.

    Maybe you would like to find out and let us all know?

  • @Peter Martin – Thanks, peter, for your interest, but you miss the point. Paleoclimatology is dependent on a proxy being available. For example, past CO2 concentrations can be measured directly for about 800,000 years by extracting ice cores at sites such as Vostok, then measuring the concentrations of gases contained within tiny bubbles of the ancient atmosphere which are trapped in the ice cores.
    Earlier estimates of CO2 concentrations cannot rely on direct measurement so proxies are required. For example, drilling cores are extracted from deep sea floors to enable analysis of the sediments that have been laid down over millions of years. Carbonates are formed from CO2 and are deposited on the sea floor. They occur in different structures depending on the prevailing CO2 concentrations at the time. So the cores can be analysed for Calcite, Aragonite and so on to provide an estmate of the original atmospheric CO2 concentration. Carbon dating provides the age.
    Sea level, Peter, does not have a reliable direct or proxy measurement on a world wide basis as far as I know.

    Peter, I am perfectly aware that you are being ridiculous in order to be provocative but I find that disappointing. You are better than that.

  • @Peter – “I can’t keep up with the papers setting out to demonise CO2.”
    Interesting you assume I was demonising CO2 and not providing a reason to support your fear.

    Interesting your supporting evidence is:
    “they thought the limit was 12,000 ppm”
    “I was always taught that CO2 is not toxic”
    Perhaps you need to update your education; science and scientific thinking has progressed much since our school days. Particularly if you are to try and convince people that elevated atmospheric CO2 levels are safe for humans at 35,000~50,000 ppm; suggest as you seem to be so convinced, conduct your own scientific experiment.

  • @Peter – what “suffocates which is actually the lack of oxygen”
    So do your sources provide an atmospheric O2 ppm geological period graph that can be overlaid on the CO2 ppm geological period graph?

    The problem I have is that in broad terms the earth has a finite amount of O2, so for there to be increased CO2 ppm and for the O2 ppm level to be maintained there needs to be a source of O2 to combine with the Carbon. Or was there some geologic event that meant the earth was stripped of O2?

  • Roland, this is nonsense. I did not compose these graphs. They are peer reviewed papers. I can give you the details if yo wish to contest them.

    Experiments on CO2 and O2 have the practical difficulty of separating the two effects
    Everything I said was true. !2,000 ppm was the limit, etc. and at the end I confirmed that I was not up to date on CO2 harm to humans. All of this misses the main point which is that high levels of CO2 i.e. higher than 400 ppm or even 1000 ppm did not result in our climate becoming too hot for the survival of life.

    That means that beyond a particular level, CO2 does not lead to more warming. That means that at some point, the energy being absorbed from the atmosphere is exhausted.

  • Let me try to resolve the debate above. The sun warms the planet with visible energy. The planet cools by radiating IR energy to space. These effects balance each other to avoid net warming or cooling. Greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane or water vapour absorb some of the outgoing IR radiation at wavelengths that are characteristic for the molecules concerned. Some of these wavelengths overlap. This absorbed radiation reduces the cooling to space so it results in warming of the planet. That is the greenhouse effect at its simplest.
    The IPCC claims that this warming could become catastrophic. It calculates the possible warming using very complex climate models that calculate the interactions of the atmosphere and oceans in 100 km cells of a three dimensional grid representing the surface of our planet. A change in for example aerosol level is calculated for the cell where it started, then every adjacent cell then every other cell around the planet. But many of the climate influences are not understood, so the models are not reliable. For example, sea oscillations, solar effects and cloud coverage are not understood well enough for the models to include their full effects.
    So when the IPCC tries to work out future temperatures they use their climate models. These exaggerate future warming which is not very convincing. It means the models are programmed to generate massive warming.
    Meantime, a database of actual IR absorbance measurements for gases including H2O, CO2 and CH4 has been placed in the public domain, courtesy of the Russians and Stanford so that the Actual absorbance of IR in different compositions of atmosphere can be calculated.
    The IR absorbance bands of CO2 and H2O are saturated. There is no doubt. That is it.

  • Nonconformistradical 7th Feb '21 - 8:58am

    “All of this misses the main point which is that high levels of CO2 i.e. higher than 400 ppm or even 1000 ppm did not result in our climate becoming too hot for the survival of life.”
    But what sort of life?

    What evidence do you have that humans (a complex form of life) could survive under such conditions?

  • Peter Martin 7th Feb '21 - 9:40am

    @ Peter,

    I have asked you about sea levels at the times CO2 levels were as high as your reference shows. No-one is disputing its accuracy. If I have read the graph correctly at the time of the last big extinction, 65 million years ago, CO2 levels were around 1000 ppmv. Or over 3 times more recent, pre-industrial, levels.

    I’d make two points about that:

    1) Humans hadn’t even started to evolve then.

    2) Sea levels were approximately 100m higher.

    Therefore we would, potentially, be changing the climate of the planet so suit extinct dinosaurs rather than ourselves. That’s not a smart move!

  • Peter Martin 7th Feb '21 - 10:12am

    “The IR absorbance bands of CO2 and H2O are saturated. There is no doubt.”

    Firstly, any competent scientist will always room for some doubt. Secondly the atmosphere doesn’t just absorb heat which is radiated from the Earth’s surface. It also has to lose heat by radiating it into space. Otherwise the heat would continuously build up and we’d all quickly be burnt to a frazzle.

    This radiation is mostly from the upper layers of the atmosphere. If the absorption bands of CO2 and water vapour were as saturated as you suggest, the heat wouldn’t reach these upper layers by radiation. It would simply be reabsorbed by the saturated bands after a very short distance of travel. It could only get there by conduction.

    We know this isn’t the case because the temperature of the troposphere (the lowest layer of the atmosphere) falls with increased altitude. We know this from our own experience when we climb a mountain or fly high in a plane.

  • @Peter
    >this is nonsense. I did not compose these graphs.
    I did not dispute the graphs, merely asked if you had a source for an equivalent graph for atmospheric O2.

    >Experiments on CO2 and O2 have the practical difficulty of separating the two effects
    Which immediately raises reasonable doubt over your assertion about suffocation; namely that the level of CO2 has no effect whereas only the level of O2 has an effect. Obivously, as you are asserting this, I would assume you have a paper/article as reference.

    >All of this misses the main point which is that high levels of CO2 i.e. higher than 400 ppm or even 1000 ppm did not result in our climate becoming too hot for the survival of life.
    There is no question that high levels of CO2, or even very low levels of O2 (as seen in some deep ocean vents) prevent ‘life’. The question is what is their impact on humans and superficially our modern habitate.

    >That means that beyond a particular level, CO2 does not lead to more warming.
    Evidence and where is this level?

  • @Peter – I did not compose these graphs. They are peer reviewed papers. I can give you the details if yo wish to contest them.

    No I don’t want to contest them, just that I have problems with the numbers…
    At a basic and simplistic level, we have been burning fossil fuels for circa 200 years and assuming a simple causal relationship, we have managed to raise atmospheric CO2 levels from 280 ppm to 415 ppm. So to have atmospheric CO2 levels of 8,000 ppm would seem to indicate there are vast reserves of Carbon. If these reserves are in fossil fuel form, that would indicate that we have only exploited circa 5% of the worlds coal/oil reserves; which given we have been told there is probably only sufficient for somewhere between 200~400 years, seems to imply we are missing something.

  • Peter Martin 8th Feb '21 - 12:55pm

    @ Peter @Roland,

    “So to have atmospheric CO2 levels of 8,000 ppm”

    This can happen if there is catastrophic runaway climate effect. For example the seas and tundra regions could warm and emit CO2 and methane (worse than CO2 incidentally) rather than be a sink for it. The more the Earth warms, the more CO2 and CH4 is released from dead forests and oceans, and the more the Earth warms again …..

    It’s a scary prospect and not an implausible one.

    The “she’ll be right, mate” approach of the climate change deniers is crass stupidity in the extreme. We know we’ll probably be OK if we aim to keep CO levels below 400 ppmv. We don’t know how bad things will get if we let levels keep rising as we have done.

    And we shouldn’t want to find out!

  • I’m indebted to @Peter for deciding to use my article to ‘stimulate some brain activity’, although some it has been as useful at moving us forward as a static running machine. Atmospheric gas concentrations have changed for many reasons over the 3 billion years since life evolved, but right now the problem is that polar ice caps are disappearing, glaciers are melting, sea levels are rising, and the world is getting hotter. This coincides with rising carbon dioxide levels which have very probably been caused by human activity, and most scientists agree on the causal connection between fossil fuel use and rising temperatures. Most predict massive climate changes which will destabilise the Earth’s life systems and cause the extinction of millions of species, perhaps including our own.
    I fully accept that those scientists could be wrong, despite being the overwhelming majority of relevant experts, and I hope they are. But deniers are like gamblers sitting with a ten and a nine in front of them hoping the next card might be a two or lower. They could get lucky, but they are putting their house on it, and they want to put everyone else’s on it too. We are entitled to ask what winnings they hope to gather by taking this risk – the right to go on living as we are now ? With dirty, polluting power stations and ever-increasing consumption and destruction of the environment ?
    It seems a rather meagre return for the biggest gamble the human race would ever have taken.

  • Peter Martin at 10:12 am. I really thought you had grasped it then. The greenhouse gases do absorb outgoing IR radiation in the lower and upper troposphere. The molecules become excited. They collide with other molecules transferring kinetic energy. But they also emit the energy they gained as a photon. These have a random direction and for simplicity assume 50% go back towards earth and 50% towards space. Those lost to space represent cooling.

    As this process involving all of these effects moves higher in the upper troposphere then the atmosphere becomes thinner and space bound photons become the majority.

    Heat also rises by convection, which is related to air density and not greenhouse gases.

    You are right about air temperature dropping with increasing altitude. This is called the lapse rate and is 6.5 degrees Celsius per Km.

  • Martin, I’m very sorry but I did not understand the arguments that you made.

  • Peter Martin 9th Feb '21 - 9:08pm

    @ Peter

    Yes those lost to space do represent cooling. Looked at from afar, say on the moon, the temperature of the Earth can be measured using an IR spectrometer acting as thermometer and it will always be -18 Deg C on average over its surface. This is the temperature that the energy of the outgoing radiation is just equal to the incoming energy from the sun.

    So does this mean that the Earth can neither cool nor warm? No it doesn’t. The height of the atmosphere that corresponds to this temperature is about 5000 metres. As the earth warms this height increases too.

    The argument that CO2 is saturated doesn’t take into account that the air is much thinner at high elevation. The same concentration of CO2 which will have a near saturation level at sea level isn’t enough to saturate the absorption at higher altitudes. Its the number of CO2 molecules per volume that matters and not the number relative to other gases like oxygen and nitrogen.

  • Roland, you have got it. We all make the mistake of seeing the world within the context of our own short experience. In practice, carbon dioxide has been around, at all sorts of different levels for millions of years. Our atmosphere is a relatively thin layer of gases and some of these, namely CO2 and water vapour, make us warmer than we would be in their absence. But that is it. They do not suddenly start warming us to destruction as we are being told. The reason is nothing to do with the level of gas, which as we seen, has been up to 8,000 ppm. It is to to with the amount of IR radiation of the wavelrngths at which CO2 and H2O can absorb. At a level of CO2 and H20 close to where we reached at the end of last century, we reached the limit of warming.

    This is known because the IR absorbance of CO2 and H2O has been measured for a comprehensive range of different wavelengths and is available in the Hitran database.

    This was first used by Happer and Wijngaarden as I reported here back in November.

  • The reality is that our climate is well within natural variability. It was about two degrees warmer during the Medieval Warm Period and Roman Warm Period. It was much cooler during the Little Ice Age. That is what it does, it warms and cools. Carbon dioxide plays a minor part. It rises and falls, depending on ocean temperatures, volcanic activity and more recently the efforts of man. But the impact on climate is modest and limited.

    We also have ocean oscillations that influence polar ice coverage, Cloud covarage that has a massive effect and solar cycles. That is why our climate is endlessly variable, but always within a narrow range of limits. Negaive feedbacks kick in to keep our climate very stable, as it has been for millions of years.

    It is unbelievable to imagine that a few years of modest CO2 output has changed the climate in ways that a few million years of variability has failed to achieve.

  • Andrew Tampion 10th Feb '21 - 7:31am

    I am not a climate change denier but I am a sceptic.
    As others have pointed out it is beyond dispute that both our climate and CO2 levels vary naturally over time. Instances of the former in the last 2000 years include the Little Ice Age and Roman and Medieval warm periods. Therefore the onus is on the man made climate change lobby to prove their case.
    It is also beyond dispute that correlation does not prove causation. So any rise in CO2 caused or contributed to by human action may or may not have been caused by human action and may or may not have caused the observed rise in temperature. Climate change scientists usually argue that the current rise in CO2 is happening at a faster rate than is possible naturally: so must be caused by human action. This is plausible. But we do not fully understand the way that the Earth natural processes operate so we cannot be certain that this is the case. Further our knowledge of the Earths history is not complete and I am not sure that it is a proven fact that the temperature has never risen so fast at any point in the Earths history.
    On the other hand it is rarely a good idea to alter our environment unnecessarily. So it is sensible to choose non-polluting forms of energy generation. While taking into account unintended consequences such as interference with bird migration caused by wind farms.
    My final observation is that the most dangerous four words in the English language are “something must be done” as it is rarely true and often leads to unintended side effects.

  • Peter Martin 10th Feb '21 - 9:23am

    @ Andrew Tampion,

    “I am not a climate change denier…….”

    Yes you are!

    This is typical climate change denier nonsense:

    “Therefore the onus is on the man made climate change lobby to prove their case. It is also beyond dispute that correlation does not prove causation….”

    “The onus is on the” scientific community to present the evidence to show that humanity is running an unacceptable risk and dangerously altering the climate for future generations. We don’t have an expendable Planet B to be able to perform controlled experiments. This is the “proof” that deniers always ask for.

    What’s an acceptable risk? You tell me. Would you fly on a Boeing 737Max plane knowing it had flown several thousand successful journeys but had crashed twice because of a design fault? And the odds crashing the climate are much worse than that!

  • CO2 is a very powerful greenhouse gas but the greenhouse effect is just one influence in Earth’s climate and not as important as many claim and is certainly not anything to worry about because the effect has reached its limit.

    Unfortunately climate chanhge is now a $50 trillon opportunity for the wealthy, soon to meet at Davos. The business model is to create climate hysteria then manipulate governments to push through compulsory changes across technologies and life styles under a “saving the planet” banner. The money will be made by milking all the government subsidies. By the time the new green technonogy is shown to be a disaster the money men will have moved on.

  • Peter Martin 10th Feb '21 - 11:09am

    @ Peter,

    Look, get it into your head that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is not enough for saturation of the Greenhouse effect..

    The concentration of CO2 at sea level is now approx 420ppmv. In other words in a certain volume of air there would be 420 molecules of CO2 at sea level. Just suppose, for the sake of your argument (though which I am not sure is entirely correct) that this is enough to cause an IR saturation effect. In other words we can add more CO2 molecules and there’s no additional Greenhouse effect.

    At 12km high the air is a lot thinner. Atmospheric pressure is now only a tenth of what it is at sea level. In the same volume of air we now have only 42 molecules of CO2. The atmosphere mainly loses heat from high elevations. So is it saturated with only 42 molecules too? No it is not. This is why there is some concern that the emissions from jet planes might be having a disproportionate effect.

  • @ Peter Martin – I understand exactly what you are saying but you have the wrong end of the stick. It is very understandable, even climate scientists do that.
    Imagine there is a large, rectangular glass tank of water and you are looking at a tv on the other side of the tank. The light from the tv passes through the tank of water and enters your eyes. Now you use a dropper to add some drops of black ink to the tank of water. The ink disperses evenly. The visibility is reduced. Keep adding ink until the water is black and opaque to the visible light. You haven’t run out of ink, you still have lots in the bottle, but it doesn’t matter how much more you add, it does not block any more light being transmitted through the tank. It is already blocked.
    Now replace the tank of water with atmosphere, IR of around 15 microns wavelength instead of visible light and carbon dioxide instead of ink. We have not run out of CO2 but adding more does not stop any more IR of that wavelength.
    This is why I said somewhere earlier that CO2 is a very effective greenhouse gas. Water is even better. The atmosphere is quite a narrow layer and it is the transmission path length that is important. So, we don’t run out of CO2, we run out of IR of the characteristic wavelength.
    It takes a while to get your head around this but then all sorts of things make sense, like why the very high CO2 concentrations in the past did not lead to the planet being fried. Why, apart from several El Nino warming events it has been largely a temperature pause since 1998. It explains why we have a Goldilocks far as temperature is concerned.
    The HITRAN IR database I mentioned earlier gives the actual IR transmission numbers for different gas concentrations just like in the black ink experiment.

  • Geoffrey Dron 10th Feb '21 - 1:17pm

    @ expats – there can be no sensible objection to the digging of coking coal for steel production.

  • Peter Martin 10th Feb '21 - 3:49pm

    @ Peter,

    I understand exactly what you are saying but it’s still not correct. The radiant energy does not pass through the Earth’s atmosphere in the same way as the beam of light passes through your ink dyed water tank. We are talking about radiation of energy from the upper layers of the atmosphere and not transmission through the entire atmosphere.

    Take a look at the average surface temperature of the planets. Mercury is nearest the Sun and has an average surface temperature of 260 deg C. That’s pretty hot. Which is no surprise because Mercury is very close to the Sun at just 58 million km away.

    Venus is almost twice as far away. So we’d expect that to be cooler. You’ve told us all that once we reach 400ppmv by volume of CO2 we’ve reached saturation level. So the very high levels of CO2 in the Venusian atmosphere won’t make much difference right?

    Wrong. Wrong Wrong! The surface temperature of Venus is even hotter than Mercury at 480 deg C.

  • Jenny Barnes 10th Feb '21 - 4:11pm

    “In 2021 there is no sign of hundreds of square miles of solar panels orbiting the planet”
    No, you would use a parabolic mirror to concentrate sunlight onto your boiler. One big advantage of generating electricity in space is the availability of effectively -273Deg C for the cooling end of your heat engine. That would improve the Carnot efficiency by a lot. You could also use your electricity to fuel laser powered aircraft :))

  • Andrew Tampion 10th Feb '21 - 4:36pm

    Mr Martin
    I think we have different defintions of denier and denial and are therefore talking at cross purposes. My Short Oxford Dictionary (1993 Edition) defines Denier as “A person who denies” and Deny as “1. Contradict (a statement or allegation); declare to be untrue or untenable.
    I accept that climate change happens I also accept that it is possible that humanity may through it’s collective actions affect the climate and that therefore man made climate change is possible. I do not accept that the correlation between increased CO2 in the atmosphere, probably caused by burning fossil fuels in the last 200 years and increases in average global temperature proves that one caused the other. The causes and processes of non man made climate change are not sufficiently well understood to be as certain as you claim to bre that they are cause and effect.
    Nor do I accept that your Boeing 737Max analogy is apposite. Everybody, including Boeing accept that design flaws in the software that control the 737Max can in certain circumstances cause a 737Max to crash. Therefore until the flaws are fixed it is not sufficiently safe to fly. But until it is demonstrated that the current increase in average global temperature is caused by burning fossil fuels then it cannot be said that the same is true of the proposed link between burning fossil fuels and the increase in temperature.
    However as I also said I do not think that causing unnecessary pollution is wise so that non polluting forms of energy generation are to be preferred. But as Geoffrey Dron points out. If steel can only be made using coking coal thene there can be no objection to mining coking coal for that purpose, unless you are willing to do without steel. At least until an alternative method of powering the process can be devised.

  • @peter Martin
    The ink analogy showed that the water was made opaque to visible light because the ink absorbed the light. In the same way, the atmosphere is made opaque to IR because the GHG absorb the IR.
    If the earth cools by emitting IR the photons will travel to space in the absence of GHG. If GHG molecules are present then they can absorb these photons. There are several possibilities, collide with other molecules, emit a photon back to earth, emit one deeper into the atmosphere or emit one out to space. In the lower troposphere molecular collisions are most frequent together with more emissions by excited GHG. During this process the parcel of atmosphere becomes warmer and convection kicks in while all the kinetic energy exchanges take place.
    Once in the upper troposphere there are fewer molecules and the emitted photons find it easier to reach space without being intercepted. This is often referred to as the top of the atmosphere. It is effectively the radiation surface.

  • @Andrew Tampion. I agree with you. I have a huge amount of evidence to prove that much of the climate alarmism is false but that is a waste of space here. It is sad that the subject detracts government effort from more important issues such as plastics pollution, overflow of swage into rivers and many other examples where much less investment could make things better.

    Green policies, as far as I can see, will make some people rich, many people much poorer and will destroy most of our achievements over the last 100 years.

  • Peter Martin 10th Feb '21 - 9:21pm

    @ Peter,

    You don’t know what you are talking about. The light beam is progressively extinguished when it hits the ink. It is like the Norwegian parrot of Monty Python fame. It is no more. It has ceased to be.

    But the heat isn’t extinguished when it is absorbed by Greenhouse gases. It just turns into energised molecules rather than radiant heat. It changes from one type of heat into another. Then the energised molecules radiate some more. Some of it forwards and some of it backwards. The path of the heat escaping is more difficult with the GH gases in the way than it would otherwise be. This where the warming comes from. Some of it is a good thing but too much is too much.

    Look I know it is a waste of time arguing with climate change deniers. Goodness knows what they have between their ears but they aren’t rational brains..

  • Peter Martin – descending to being abusive is a typical response for someone who has comprehensively lost the argument.

  • David Evans 11th Feb '21 - 5:03pm

    Jenny Barnes, so your proposal is one parabolic mirror in geostationary orbit per household? That’s a lot of mirrors in a rather limited area of space. Are you sure this has been thought through?

  • Peter Martin 12th Feb '21 - 2:58am

    @ Peter

    I’m not sure it is possible to be abusive to climate change deniers!

    But if you say you aren’t one, and your argument is based on rational argument, have a try at explaining why the surface of Venus is hotter than Mercury even though it is further away from the sun. You’ve previously told us that there is no further green house effect above 400ppmv.

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