According to the Work of Two Distinguished Atmospheric Scientists, Net Zero is
Completely Pointless by Chris Morrison
Scientists on most sides of the climate debate agree that the effect of carbon
dioxide is ameliorated as more of the gas enters the atmosphere. After all,
there is no other realistic way to explain how temperatures have been lower on
Earth in the past, while CO2 levels have been between 10-20 times
higher. On one side of the ‘saturation’ debate, the effect is seen as minimal
and unimportant. But others argue that at current atmospheric CO2
levels around 420 parts per million (ppm), most of the heat radiating from the
surface has already been trapped. The latter view has the advantage of
providing a more coherent explanation of the behaviour of climate across the
historical and paleo record, but it leads to the inevitable conclusion that
rising levels of CO2 are no threat to the planet, and in many ways
are beneficial. Needless to say under ‘settled’ climate science, this
hypothesis is either ignored or demonised in favour of the Net Zero-friendly
version that seeks to downplay and ignore any hint of saturation.
The saturation effect can be described in simple terms by the example of loft
insulation in a house. After a certain point, doubling the lagging will have
little effect since most of the heat trying to escape through the roof has
already been trapped. In the atmosphere, CO2 and other greenhouses
gases such as water vapour and methane only radiate heat back to the surface
in limited bands of the infrared spectrum. It is more complex than the loft
analogy suggests, and detailed work on the subject was published two years ago
by Princeton Emeritus Professor William Happer and the Canadian physicist
Professor William van Wijngaarden. These two distinguished atmospheric
scientists analysed around 330,000 lines of the HITRAN spectrum to observe and
calculate the ability of five greenhouses gases to radiate heat. For full
scientific details, their paper can be viewed
here, while a recent podcast by Tom Nelson
here broadcasts a detailed presentation by Dr. van Wijingaarden.
The above graph is used to show the result of their work
across the spectrum. The blue line shows 394 watts per square metre (W/m2)
being radiated back to space without any greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
This would lead to a world about 33°C colder than it is now. CO2 only radiates
heat back in certain narrow bands and this can be seen by the dipped black
line. The marginal effect of doubling current levels of CO2 is seen by the red
line, and this is said to amount to trapping just a further 3 W/m2, and a rise
in temperature of no more than 0.75°C.
Needless to say this work has been ignored in the important
science journals and its findings have not been reported in mainstream media.
Why is this? It’s not difficult to provide an answer. At a stroke, it
eliminates the need for Net Zero, a political project now embedded in many
countries around the world and supported by an almost unlimited transfer of
wealth to many controlling and financially-interested elites. In addition, as
a collectivist project seeking to change society, Net Zero is particularly
appealing to many on the Left.
In his recent paper, ‘Challenging
“Net Zero” With Science’, Happer made it clear that the diminishing
warming value of CO2 was logarithmic, with 88% of possible warming having
already occurred. “This means that from now on our emissions from burning
fossil fuels will have little impact on global warming. We could emit as much
CO2 as we like with little warming effect. There is no climate emergency
threat at all,” he wrote.
Happer and van Wijngaarden’s work is backed up by other
scientists. The German physics professor Dieter Schildknecht notes that
atmospheric increases of CO2 past 300 ppm, “cannot lead to an appreciably
stronger absorption of radiation, and consequently
cannot affect the Earth’s climate”. He found that doubling CO2 led to
0.5°C warming as the saturation “was close to 100%”. The atomic physicist Dr.
Boris Smirnov is another who has worked on the radiative abilities of
greenhouse gases. He suggests that doubling CO2 would lead to a rise of only
0.4°C in global temperature, with the human contribution put at a “negligible”
0.02°C. Most of these warming figures from 0.02°C to 0.75°C are in margin of
error territory, and would be impossible to discern in any natural warming
phase. For their part, alarmists frequently quote rises of up to 6°C in the
next 80 years.
There are many parallels in this climate science debate with
Covid. Even before the first lockdown, there was enough evidence from the
isolated Diamond Princess cruise ship and northern Italy to show that Covid
was a respiratory disease that was only a major worry for the very old and
already ill. The young were barely affected and the healthy had almost nothing
to fear. But hard observations and evidence were supplanted by computer models
painting wildly improbable ‘reasonable worst case’ scenarios. The Hancock
WhatsApp messages show clearly what happened next. Seemingly incapable of
independent inquiry, emotional politicians panicked, shut down society and
were unable to find a way out of they mess they had themselves caused.
As with climate, alternative narratives were demonised,
‘garbage in, gospel out‘ models were central to misinformed Government policy,
hard Left, fear-driven solutions of command-and-control were promoted, and a
compliant mainstream media was enrolled to spread whatever daily message was
seen as appropriate by the increasingly clueless politicians.
The saturation effect of CO2 is a plausible hypothesis that
is backed up by many reasoned scientific calculations and observations. It is
deserving of widespread critical debate and analysis. Human-caused global
warming, and the implied suggestion that CO2 is the main climate thermostat,
is a simplistic hypothesis that is unable to explain any climate changes in
It doesn’t have a single credible science paper that proves its
It fails many of the tests of scientific inquiry, and relies for its
longevity on the ludicrous suggestion from many interested parties that the
science is settled and beyond dispute.
Chris Morrison is the Daily Sceptic’s Environment Editor.
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