Thebastidge: Climate Change
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    Wednesday, September 08, 2004

    Climate Change

    Somewhere else I made a comment to the effect that "the most abundant greenhouse gas is water vapor"

    Adam from Australia wrote:

    You got any source or logical reasoning for that extraordinary statement Larry?

    I'm nothing if not obliging:

    Many gases exhibit these “greenhouse” properties. Some of them occur in nature (water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide), while others are exclusively human-made (like gases used for aerosols).

    Infrared (IR) active gases, principally water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), and ozone (O3), naturally present in the Earth’s atmosphere, absorb thermal IR radiation emitted by the Earth’s surface and atmosphere. The atmosphere is warmed by this mechanism and, in turn, emits IR radiation, with a significant portion of this energy acting to warm the surface and the lower atmosphere. As a consequence the average surface air temperature of the Earth is about 30° C higher than it would be without atmospheric absorption and reradiation of IR energy [Henderson-Sellers and Robinson, 1986; Kellogg, 1996; Peixoto and Oort, 1992]. This phenomenon is popularly known as the “greenhouse effect,” and the IR active gases responsible for the effect are likewise referred to as “greenhouse gases.” The rapid increase in concentrations of greenhouse gases since the industrial period began has given rise to concern over potential resultant climate changes.

    What Are Greenhouse Gases? Some greenhouse gases occur naturally in the atmosphere, while others result from human activities. Naturally occuring greenhouse gases include water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone.

    Environmental News Network on Water Vapor: "Believe it or not, the most abundant greenhouse gas is water vapor and its affect on global climate is significant."

    I don't know where you get 'extraordinary claim' out of my statements. It's incontroverted, widely accepted fact.

    Adam replies:
    It's a greenhouse gas alright. In that it is a significant part of the atmosphere, and hence part of any greenhouse "effect".

    It's not a problem greenhouse gas though ?

    Lets draw a line here between the benificial greenhouse effect, that keeps us in the temporate climate zone to which we are accustomed, and the run-away greenhouse effect mostly discussed in the "mass media"

    This sounds alot like some lame excuse to ignore climate change by labeling it natural......

    In a conversation on a topic where cow farts get brought up regularly, you don't get to take a miss on acknowledging that the single most significant greenhouse gas is completely natural and unavoidable.

    Let's be clear: ALL greenhouse gases contribute to the state of the atmosphere and Earth's climate. There are no 'good' and 'bad' greenhouse gases, there is no demarcation between 'problem' gases and 'solution' gases. It's the amounts, perhaps even the relative amounts that matter.

    There's nothing inherently wrong with CO, CO2, CH4 (methane) or any other naturally occuring gas including water vapour, in the atmosphere. It's quite possible but not absolutely proven that relatively small elevated amounts could cause the temperature of the Earth to vary.

    Now some gases probably trap more heat per given volume of gas, but even so, with CO2 being a miniscule portion of the atmosphere (0.03%), while water vapor constitutes from 1% to 4% of the troposphere (the layer nearest the Earth's surface), one has to rationally consider the idea that anthropogenic sources of greenhouse gas may be less to blame for observed temperature variation trends than some claim.

    This sounds alot like some lame excuse to ignore climate change by labeling it natural......

    On the contrary, the lame tendency would be to swallow every disaster story, and take every "sky is falling" prophet uncritically.

    There is NO anthropogenic, technology-related excuse for climate change more than 150 years ago, and yet the climate has been through some wierd fluctuations.

    I'm concerned about climate change. Enough to continue to read about it, and try to educate myself about it. Even if climate change is ENTIRELY a natural event, it is worth knowing as much about it as possible. Perhaps we could actually prevent the next (natural) ice age.


    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    New Zealand's major greenhouse gas is methane. I have an idea: get rid of the world's cows, which are major contributors to "global warming". I'm sure PETA wouldn't mind, because then we couldn't eat cow meat anymore - global warming fixed, and a one less complaint from a left-wing wacko group!

    9:48 AM  

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