Monday, July 15, 2024
HomeClimate WatchSmoke, mirrors and CO2 emissions, Part 2

Smoke, mirrors and CO2 emissions, Part 2


THERE is a move afoot in the Western world to prevent anyone from having a new idea. Not unlike the Inquisition in its fervour, this latest version is being disguised as a caring attempt to protect citizens from the harm that comes from what is being called misinformation. It has been tried many times before, mostly by common or garden varieties of dictators, who proudly boast that 97 per cent of the population agree with their diktats, little realising that the claim itself is misinformation.

The collective brilliance of deniers such as Copernicus, Galileo, Harvey, Newton, Darwin, Einstein and a multitude of serious thinkers brought us the Industrial Revolution which freed increasingly large numbers of humanity to escape the tyranny of subsistence living. Being derided by their peers does not prove they are wrong. A lower level of insult is to say that a sceptic who is not trained in the particular scientific discipline is not competent to have an opinion, but this applies to every one of the giants mentioned above.

The climate change charade makes headway by obfuscation, mixing vastly different units to hide reality as for example when warning of the threat posed by CO2 emissions, they count them in millions of tons (mt), but when crying over the effects of these emissions on global warming, they speak of parts per million (ppm) of atmospheric CO2. How is the man in the street to make sense of these two quantities? I explained here how its effect is to present a very ‘black’ picture, rather than a rather white one. 

Other examples of obfuscating terminology can be found in the changes in language usage over time, from ‘global warming’ during most of the last century, a term which has units of temperature that can be measured, to ‘climate change’ during much of this century, with no measurable units, and now ‘global boiling’, which only occurs in the mind of the UN Secretary General.

To ‘prove’ that CO2 is a pollutant, the populace is regularly presented with pictures of cooling towers in a way that suggests the white stuff exiting from the top is CO2, when in reality it is just condensing water vapour/steam! The modern coal-fired power stations that China and India are building are no longer ‘dirty’; technology has moved on even if the catastrophists have not.

An even more blatant deception is the claim that global warming started with the Industrial Revolution around 1750. Alpine glaciers had started to melt around 1850, yet cumulative emissions from all fossil fuel burned up to 1862 were just 1ppm (Fig 1). These increased slowly to reach 10ppm by 1913 some 60 years later, hardly noticeable compared to the 210ppm increase since then. Surely, if 1ppm of total emissions triggered Alpine (and global) glacier retreat, there should be no ice left on the planet?

Fig 1 Changes in Annual Fossil Fuel CO2 from 1965 – 2021

Source: The Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center

Almost half of the total warming since the Industrial Revolution began in 1750, had occurred just prior to the end of WWII (Fig 2), but much of this increase was reversed during what became known as the Nuclear Winter, which lasted from 1943 to 1978.  This period of strong cooling occurred during the post-war boom as fossil fuel emissions began to accelerate. 

That the cooling was real and temperatures fell as much as they had risen during the pre-war warming that created the 1930s dust bowl disaster in the US and elsewhere is evidenced by the warnings given by meteorologists of an impending ice age. This cooling no longer appears on the global temperature record as it was ‘adjusted’ out of existence by the data keepers, as revealed in the ‘Climategate’ emails, because it ran contrary to the myth that human emissions caused global warming. Nevertheless, the false ‘adjustment’ remained, a misinformation campaign so successful that even sceptics have to rely on the false data (Fig 2).

Fig 2: Global Temperature Changes with digitised CO2 from 1900 – 2020

Source: Wood For Trees temp data plus hand digitised CO2 from Fig 1

But it is not only CO2 that gets this type of treatment. CHor methane is another greenhouse gas (GHG) that has had its role artificially magnified and distorted. Increasing from just under 1,640 parts per billion (ppb) in 1988, to around 1,880ppb by 2020, an increase of 240ppb in 32 years or 7.5ppb per year (Fig 3). 

How large is this increase in reality? To compare like with like, methane increased by just 0.24ppm, compared with a 62.55ppm increase in CO2 over the same period; even if CH4 is, as claimed, 28 times more active as a GHG than CO2, that would equate to adding just 6.7ppm to the GHG total over those 32 years. In addition, methane breaks down into CO2 and water, and has a much short residence time; once again emissions do not survive long in the atmosphere. However this apparently large increase in ppb terms created the panic fear of bovine belching, and the urge to replace cows with insects as a source of protein for humans to ‘save the planet’. Another successful misinformation campaign?

Fig 3: Monthly Mean Methane, CH4


As with the other GHGs, except perhaps H20, global concentrations of nitrous oxide, N20, are increasing, rising from 316ppb in 2001 to 337ppb in 2024 (Fig 4); that is just 21ppb (or 0.021ppm) in 23 years, or some 1ppb per year.  Most N20 has an agricultural origin, through the application of nitrogen fertiliser, whether derived from fossil fuels (gas), or methane belching ruminants. 

Fig 4: Global Nitrous Oxide N2O


Nitrous oxide is, however, some 265 times stronger than CO2 so, converting ppb to ppm CO2 equivalent, we find that 1ppb would be equal to a 0.24ppm per year increase in CO2 terms. Presenting N2O data in ppb rather than ppm is clearly designed to frighten rather than inform.

The real impact of these two minor GHG components is even smaller than calculated above. Most atmospheric components measured at Mauna Loa are reported as ‘ppm in dry air’, but the air is never dry and adding 3 per cent water vapour to the atmosphere would reduce the warming potential of each significantly. The value of 413ppm CO2 reported in September 2020 would be just 400.6ppm and the warming effect of CH4 would be just 0.408 per cent and of N2O is 0.085 of that of CO2. Thus neither gas has a measurable effect on the temperature of the atmosphere. Yet another sleight of hand calculation which has resulted in the spurious campaign to ban cattle and artificial fertilisers.

Then there is the practice of reporting human emissions by the utterly useless yardstick of ‘per capita’ emission, dividing emissions by the population to show how much each person in a particular country emits. This number-juggling allows them to claim that Australia, with a population of 27million and emissions of 350mt, or 12.9 mt per person, is a worse polluter than China, where 1.4billion people in 2022, generated 10,550 mt, or 7.1 mt per person. Even if CO2 does cause catastrophic global warming, the atmosphere doesn’t care where or by whom the gas was produced, but it helps to make people in the West feel guilty.

The only demonstrable effect that increasing atmospheric CO2 has on the planet is the increase in crop and vegetation productivity which is helping to reduce starvation numbers in underdeveloped countries, even though populations are increasing, so perhaps fossil fuel emissions do not need cancelling? This increase in global crop productivity is helped by artificial fertilisers produced from fossil fuels. What happens when these are banned by green politicians can be seen in the recent collapse in rice production in Sri Lanka and the reappearance of starvation as a previous exporter of rice became an importer.

There is no question that the world is warming, and little question that 2023 was the warmest year this century, but the very slow initial rates of increase of fossil fuel emissions cannot explain the warming of the first 200 years of the Industrial Revolution. Constant media repetition of this myth overwrites the facts: is this not Orwellian misinformation? 

What we see in all of this sleight of hand and obfuscation is the deliberate and utterly unscientific inflation of some very small numbers to exaggerate the threat of catastrophic climate change that the unadjusted data does not support. Surely a sophistry of the most virulent order? Thee Roman satirist was right to ask ‘Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?’ Who will watch the guardians?

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Howard Dewhirst
Howard Dewhirst
Howard Dewhirst has had a long career in international energy resources exploration relying on climate change-driven stratigraphic principles.

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