Skip to comments.Water Vapor Rules the Greenhouse System - Humans cause 0.28% of the "Greenhouse Effect"
Posted on 03/09/2007 12:27:07 AM PST by dennisw
Just how much of the "Greenhouse Effect" is caused by human activity?
It is about 0.28%, if water vapor is taken into account-- about 5.53%, if not.
This point is so crucial to the debate over global warming that how water vapor is or isn't factored into an analysis of Earth's greenhouse gases makes the difference between describing a significant human contribution to the greenhouse effect, or a negligible one.
Water vapor constitutes Earth's most significant greenhouse gas, accounting for about 95% of Earth's greenhouse effect (4). Interestingly, many "facts and figures' regarding global warming completely ignore the powerful effects of water vapor in the greenhouse system, carelessly (perhaps, deliberately) overstating human impacts as much as 20-fold.
Water vapor is 99.999% of natural origin. Other atmospheric greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and miscellaneous other gases (CFC's, etc.), are also mostly of natural origin (except for the latter, which is mostly anthropogenic).
Human activities contribute slightly to greenhouse gas concentrations through farming, manufacturing, power generation, and transportation. However, these emissions are so dwarfed in comparison to emissions from natural sources we can do nothing about, that even the most costly efforts to limit human emissions would have a very small-- perhaps undetectable-- effect on global climate.
The Kyoto Protocol calls for mandatory carbon dioxide reductions of 30% from developed countries like the U.S. Reducing man-made CO2 emissions this much would have an undetectable effect on climate while having a devastating effect on the U.S. economy. Can you drive your car 30% less, reduce your winter heating 30%? Pay 20-50% more for everything from automobiles to zippers? And that is just a down payment, with more sacrifices to come later.
Such drastic measures, even if imposed equally on all countries around the world, would reduce total human greenhouse contributions from CO2 by about 0.035%.
This is much less than the natural variability of Earth's climate system!
While the greenhouse reductions would exact a high human price, in terms of sacrifices to our standard of living, they would yield statistically negligible results in terms of measurable impacts to climate change. There is no expectation that any statistically significant global warming reductions would come from the Kyoto Protocol.
Nitrous Oxide should be written as NO2.
The Human Haters will still want to exterminate the 0.28%...more room for the Bison.
I am sure the EU eventually will do so.
I found this global warming article from that(your) link. I saw your EU-inflation post
The house of cards is starting to crumble. The credibility of the global scientific community is going to take a big hit over this.
That is very unfortunate because, of course, scientists are nothing like as unanimous about this as the media commonly claim. Science itself will be discredited for many and the anti-science media culture will triumph. Perhaps that is the whole idea.
Ha! Shows what I know. The author (and you) is/are correct. I'm in error. N2O is right, not wrong per http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NO2
Thanks for posting it! It's a good article, and most people don't know what a small amount we are talking about.
What it means is that the models indicating that CO2 is the great culprit must have inbuilt very large positive feedback mechanisms between CO2 and temperature - mechanisms that aren't proven, and whose magnitude definitely aren't known.
I can see it now....
October 31st, 2030. President Chelsea Abdullah-Clinton announces the invasion of Costa Rica:
The President: "I know the Pentagon staff disagrees, but our White House astrologers are unanimous that this is a propitious moment for this particular operation."
Scientist: "You're crazy, Madame President! Astrology is bunk!"
The President: "Weren't you the guys who pushed global warming?"
A few years later:
"...and on the basis of the latest tea-leaf readings, we have concluded that computers cause brain cancer and we have therefore ordered a shutdown of the entire internet."
Scientist: "You're crazy, Madame President! Tea-leaves are just leaves!
President: "Weren't you the guys who pushed global warming?"
and yet again....
President Natalie Maines-Chavez introduces legislation to allow the substitution of aura-reading for trial by jury in criminal cases.
Scientist: "You're crazy! Aura-reading is bunk!"
Maines-Chavez: "Weren't you the guys who pushed global warming?"
Maybe we can start the "Sterile Ball Society" and get rich libs to donate to our cause (aka salary).
There are so many problems with this article I frankly don't know where to begin and really don't have time to deal with all of them.
I'm a global warming "skeptic" (though it's important to define what that means - I accept there's been an increase in global average temperature, debateable how large that has been, though I am doubtful that it's mostly anthropogenic, but it's possible a good portion of it is in fact due to anthropogenic CO2, but we'll never really know if it was or not)...
But there are just so many silly, stupid arguments against "Global Warming" it's frankly an embarassment.
The main problems with the article :
1) The assertions about what percentage of the total greenhouse effect are H20 relative to CO2 seem, frankly, wrong and exaggerated compared to an assortment of other, legitmate sources.
2) The fundamental problem is the author seems to believe that the "Greenhouse effect" is simply any amount of warmth ABOVE a nice, comfortable, "normal" average temperature.
It's not. The "Greenhouse effect" keeps us alive and the earth from being a frozen wasteland. Without all the greenhouse gases the world average temperature would be 5 degrees F.
All this international, award-winning scientific talent on the Left, yet no one seems to be able to comprehend a simple steam table.
Why? N2O is correct as it appears in the article.
You are right, this article is more sloppy science that the global warmers can use to claim the science high ground. Another example besides yours, sure methane and CO2 are "mostly" natural origin in that their cycles have large natural inputs and outputs from the atmosphere compared to our inputs. However, the main reason both are rising is manmade inputs. How much of the increase is manmade versus natural needs to be resolved but it is not negligible.
I author of the article provides sources and data. Where is yours? As a physicist, I find the arguements quite reasonable. Water vapor is by far the predominant "greenhouse" gas, and its contribution to the temperature of the Earth overwhelms all other gases, whether that results in a temperature slightly above absolute zero or the comfortable temperture we actually have. The isea that man's miniscule contributions to CO2, which is a miniscule component of the total greenhouse gases, could make large swings in the global temperature is absurd. FInally, all of this is, as shown by the data, driven inexorably by the Sun. The Earth's temperatures track the Sun's activity whether we want it to or not. ALlgore is a fool, and he is dragging much of the climate change community into his fools paradise!
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