Part 2 – Impact!

Last time we looked at solar radiation which with any sense of reason is the driving energy of an atmosphere that can sustain a biosphere as we need it and the gaping holes in scientific data and theories about the solar interrelationships. Absent these and adequate testing of theories to get a firm idea of what is going on between the earth’s magnetosphere and the sun itself shows a huge gap in knowledge about global warming. Next up we’re looking at what happens to the radiation as it rains down on earth. We’re going to make some more trouble!

Just outside of the atmosphere is the magnetosphere, the lines of magnetism that the spinning core of the earth supports as it acts as a giant magnet. These “lines” offer a barrier to the shortest lengths of radiation by deflecting away or absorbing the energy. While not often thought of as a player in global warming the 1000 to 15,000 electron volts that an electron releases when slamming into the magnetosphere is almost always overlooked. In context keep in mind that electrons have no mass while the energy needed for a mass particle like a proton or neutron to reach orbital velocity is only 0.67 electron volts. Most any scientist in this field will readily say much more study in needed and cannot make any assertions about global warming other than to note the energy expended. There are good reasons to study the behaviors of solar radiation in the magnetosphere and with orbital instrumentation the knowledge is within our grasp as there is an awful lot of unexplained energy unaccounted for.

Inside the magnetosphere is the atmosphere made up of nitrogen and oxygen, both in double atom molecules stated as N2 and O2. These two make up just shy of 99% of the atmosphere. Being diatomic (double atoms) these two neither absorb nor emit radiation in the infrared band. They are neutral as far as retaining or reflecting thermal energy in the atmosphere, making them non-global warming players. With argon at 0.93% of the atmosphere and no appreciable role in thermal activity that doesn’t leave much room. CO2 comes in at .0383% or one part in 2,611. Add in a little bit of (in descending amounts) of neon, helium, methane, krypton and diatomic hydrogen and you have nearly 100% of the dry atmosphere accounted for.

What’s left out, particularly by the histrionics of the global warming crowd is the water vapor. World wide over the full depth of the atmosphere water vapor is about 0.25% of the volume but typically is 1% to 4% near the surface. Water vapor is obviously the big global warming gas by more than 6.5 times that of CO2. If you recall, when water evaporates is absorbs energy which cools the body of water it leaves and when water vapor condenses it releases some energy which can be seen in cloud formation. Keep in mind this activity is a big number. The latent heat released from condensation is the energy that drives those tropical cyclones, hurricanes and tornadoes. If one were to condense out the whole of the annual mean global concentration of water vapor in an instant you’d get about 25mm or just over an inch of water. But the earth’s annual precipitation is about a meter or 40 inches. The total turnover of water vapor and the latent cooling from evaporation and latent heating from condensation is a huge, huge number. Leaving water vapor and its massive role out of the global warming conversation is a massive factual malfeasance.

The little greenhouse gas player is, at last, carbon dioxide. It too shares the property of absorbing infrared radiation and the emission of the thermal energy. That’s about as far as the hard facts will get you, though. Some global warming pushing researchers make the case that in 100 years the concentration has increased buy a third, while contestable, we can still use the contemporary value of carbon dioxide being 383 parts per million of the air. Now we’re trying to guide, not ascribe to any particular theory here, so lets get that number in context. Of the dry air absent the water vapor, CO2 will be one part in 2,611. On average over whole and through the depth of the atmosphere water vapor is 6.5 times as common as CO2. At the surface, where the infrared from the sun comes in and lands either on land or at sea rather than high up getting reflected or radiated back into space the ratio can be has high as 4%/.0383% or 104 to 1. A little player, indeed.

Not to put too cold of a hand on it, but lately some discussion of CO2 has digressed into fabricated vernacular terms that frankly do even more harm to the proposition that CO2 is the main driver. You will see “Anthropogenic Forcing” which supposed to mean without an intellectual investigation, that CO2 “forces” global warming due to human rather than natural factors. It’s already being ridiculed as “human-made doom” or a “term of enfearment.”

But what do we know now? Not nearly enough, with the sun’s role still vague and poorly explained, lacking research dollars and sound scientific support due to the clamor to do something about CO2 sucking up dollars to just reinforce the snake oil sale. The absence of sense gets closer to home with meteorology needed to assume a leading role because climatology seems to be subsumed into the CO2 debacle.

We know with relative certainty the global warming is real. It’s been on an upward trend for more than one hundred centuries. On the other hand some hard-nosed students of the global climate think we’re in a plateau now, the smooth calm before the global cooling that will come – sooner or later.

If I learned anything in preparing these posts, it’s that man isn’t an innocent bystander in the condition of the atmosphere. While the CO2 debate will wane, the fact remains that man has backed up a lot of water for evaporation, and while the CO2 from burning fuels may be a really small and hyped player in global warming, man isn’t very efficient about getting the heat released from burning CO2 releasing fuels spent into work, it just gets wasted into the air. We pitch a lot of junk into the atmosphere that we could easily avoid. There are lots of things we do that we could do better. And yet, we are the mercy of the sun, the planet and the dynamic systems that make the biosphere a changing and challenging place to live.


1 Comment so far

  1. The Free Guide to Global Warming on January 8, 2008 2:08 PM

    […] The Free Guide to Global Warming In context keep in mind that electrons have no mass while the energy needed for a mass particle like a proton or neutron to reach orbital velocity is only 0.67 electron volts. Most any scientist in this field will readily say much more … […]

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