Atmospheric methanelevels averaged 1,895.7 ppb (parts per billion) during 2021, or around 162% greater than pre-industrial levels. It is a much stronger greenhouse gas by itself, unlike CO2 because its absorption is not saturated in the atmosphere. On the other hand the lifetime of Methane in the atmosphere is 10 to 15 years so some of the Methane eating bacteria will do its job. There is only one significant frequency band that absorbs, at 7.6 microns.
The picture shows a much smaller peak at 8.1micron. This is because at lower wavelengths absorption from water vapor has nearly eliminated the CH4 contribution. Remember that total absorption can never exceed 100 %, so the maximum absorption from CH4 occurs at 8.1 micron, At 1.8 ppm it amounts to a greenhouse effect of 0.01 C. Before industrialization the CH4 concentration was 0.725 ppm which results in an increase of the greenhouse effect of 0.0072 C from rising levels of Methane since before industrialization .
So much for cow farts, rice fields, landfills and termites eating tree roots. Methane is the “do not care” gas.
Summary. The total greenhouse effect from CO2 at 280 ppm CO2 is 2.5 C and when CO2 is increased to 460 ppm the additional temperature rise will be 0.2 C if the water vapor staid the same.. When absolute temperature rises 1.5 C the temperature rise will be another 0.057C. When temperature rises 1.5C and relative humidity stays constant there will be a temperature decrease of 0.117C For a total increase of 0.14C. (The temperature rise from 10% increase in water vapor is already taken care of in point 1: The greenhouse effect of water vapor and by adding more CO2 some of that increase must be subtracted out).
At the beginning of the industrialization the CO2 level was 280 ppm. It will be 460 ppm in 2050 if the world keep using CO2 at today’s level, but since China alone plans to build another 1050 coal burning electric plants before then the 2050 level could be higher. If there was no water vapor in the air CO2 alone would contribute 7.1C to the greenhouse effect at 280 ppm, and 7.8C at 460 ppm. To understand why the greenhouse effect increased so little when the CO2 concentration increased 64% let us look at the absorption spectrum for CO2 in the 14.9 micron region.
The CO2 absorption is saturated between 14.2 microns and 15.7 microns at 280 ppm. At 460 ppm it is saturated between 14.0 ppm and 16.0 ppm. Between 13 and 14,2 micron and 16.7 and 18 micron it will absorb more, from about 60% more at low absorption down to almost no extra absorption near saturation. The result is no increased absorption between 14.2 to 15.7 micron; all increase occurs at the edges, so that the total increase will be, not 64% but only 9% if there is only CO2 and no water vapor due to the total saturation of CO2 in the atmosphere for most of the absorption band.
This chart explains the net effect on radiation, from the sun or from the earth.
The incoming solar radiation includes ultraviolet radiation, visible light and near infrared radiation. This is all the heat incoming to the earth, except what is conducted from the earth’s core. All area under the curves of the right half represent greenhouse gases absorption, except the blue area which represents energy radiated into space. The all dominant green-house gas is water vapor but CO2 contributes with absorption bands, at 4.3 microns, 9.4, 10,4 and 14.9 microns. The 4.3 micron absorption is of almost no importance since it occurs at a wavelength where very little radiation is available, neither from the sun, nor from the earth’s black body radiation.
Let us take a closer look at the outgoing black body radiation and the atmospheric window:
The first thing to notice is that no absorption exceeds 100% , so at 14.9 micron wavelength CO2 absorbs 100%, and water vapor absorbs another 80%, the total sum is still 100%. It is impossible to absorb more than 100% of the total energy available for that wavelength. Therefore between the wavelengths 14 and 16 microns all energy is absorbed regardless of CO2 concentration and water vapor concentration. The olive area represents the extra absorption of CO2 at 280 ppm when the water vapor is taken out (you cannot absorb more than 100%). The small yellow slivers represent the extra CO2 absorption at 460 ppm. The white area between the brown total absorption area and the red earth emission line is the total energy emitted through the atmospheric window.
(There exists a good measuring point, where the all dominant greenhouse gases are CO2, Methane, NO2 and O3. At the South Pole in the winter the air is clean, there is almost no water vapor and the winter temperature at the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station between April and September 2021, a frigid minus-78 degrees (minus-61 Celsius), was the coldest on record dating back to 1957, and the trend is 1 C colder per century. (In the summer humidity increases and for summers the trend is increasing temperatures.) The winter cooling trend is a hint that rising CO2, CH4, N3O and O3 levels are not the dominant factors in temperature rise.)
Besides the absorption window in the 14,9 micron band that absorbs 100% of the available energy water is fundamental and the majority of the energy is already absorbed. But there are smaller absorption in the 10.5, 9.5 and 4.3 micron. The 10.5 and 9.5 micron wavelength do not saturate. so they participate with their full strength when CO2 increases but the 4,3 micron is in a region where there is not much energy emitted , and what is emitted is nearly all absorbed by water vapor. The total greenhouse effect from CO2 at 280 ppm CO2 is 2.5 C and when CO2 is increased to 460 ppm the additional temperature rise will be 0.2 C, if the water vapor staid the same. But the water vapor has increased 10% due to an increase in global temperature by 1.5C. This will lead to a temperature increase from the 2.11% increased absorption from CO2, in the 12.5 to 17 micron band is total CO2 greenhouse effect of 0.2 C x 0.0211 or 0.057C increase when the base increase of water vapor is subtracted out.
The other effect that must be subtracted out is: Temperature is increased 1.5C which results in absolute humidity increase of 10% assuming relative humidity stays constant, so we must subtract out the absorption increase from water vapor in the 12.5 to 14 micron band. The higher wavelengths are of no importance for this calculation since they are already saturated. This amounts to a temperature decrease of 0.117C, so the net temperature increase from a CO2 increase of 64% from 280 ppm to 460 ppm and at the same time water vapor increases 10% is:
During the little ice age the earth was significantly colder than today, but there was special factors that led to this: The Maunder solar minimum and two super novas, one discovered in 1572 by Tycho Brave and the other in 1604 by Kepler.
I will beginthe time of industrialization with the invention of the steam engine 1775 by James Watt. While not the original inventor he improved it so much that it became common use for power generation. Up to that time people had depended on water and wind power and in a few cases tidal power. This increased the use of coal, which up to that point had been used exclusively for heating.
Since 1765 the global temperature of the earth has increased by about 1.4C and is expected to increase another tenth of a degree by 2050.
When global temperature increases 1.5 degrees and relative humidity stays the same there will be 10% more water vapor in the air. How much of the temperature rise is attributable to a 10% increase in water vapor?
To answer that we must take a look at the greenhouse effect. Without it the earth would be an ice ball with an average temperature about 33C cooler than today. The earth can be considered a black body that obeys laws for black body radiation, the Stefan–Boltzmann law that states that the total energy radiation is proportional to the fourth power of the absolute temperature (Kelvin), so an increase in global temp from 13C t0 14.5C results in an increase of 2.11% in the total greenhouse effect (a smaller increase in the atmospheric window).
To sum it up: Since water vapor is fundamental I will count it first, and the effect of all the other greenhouse gases will be additional, remembering that the total absorption in any frequency band can never exceed 100% of available energy.The increase of absorption occurs in the atmospheric window, and in some bands of the incoming sunlight in the near infrared region. The bands are 0.7, 0.8, 0.9, 1.1, 1.4 and 1.9 μm. Together, they make up 90% of the greenhouse gas temperature rise, or 29.9 degree C. When global temperatures increase by 1,5 C there will be 10% more water water vapor assuming relative humidity will stay constant, there will be an additional 0.31 C temperature rise.
Total greenhouse effect 33 C, Greenhouse effect from water vapor is 29.9C
Increased water vapor greenhouse effect from 2.11 % increased black body emissions: 0.52C
Increased greenhouse effect from 10 % water vapor increase 0.31C
I have always been very interested in the environment. Nature teaches us so many lessons, the diversity of trees, birds, flowers and wildlife is breathtaking and I never cease to wonder. It would be a shame to destroy the beauty of it all. Yet we seem to make it worse by concentrating our effort by trying to limit CO2 emissions, rather than tackling the real and more urgent problems.
Let me first explain why I assert that rising CO2 levels, while real is only a minor player in the climate change equation.
The traditional way to approach this scientifically is making climate models. So far, nearly all, except the Russian model have failed to predict future temperature changes. IPCC is still failing.
The other approach is to take measurements, and it so happens that we have really good global data for over 60 years. The Amundsen Scott – South Pole weather station, the average temperature of Winter season 2021 (April 2021 – September 2021) reached only -61,0°C / -78°F, and at this temperature CO2 is the dominant greenhouse gas by more than a decade over water vapor. We have reliable measurements for the temperature change at the South Pole since 1957. During this time CO2 gas increased 31% to 413ppm, Methane increased 16% to 1.85 ppm and Nitrous oxide decreased, but this is a gas mostly confined to urban areas, and is now below 0.05 ppm. With CO2 increasing by 31% and water vapor negligible one would expect a temperature rise over 64 years of 0.65 C, or one degree Celsius warmer per century according to extrapolated lab measurements. This is the observed trend:
At the South Pole snowfall is negligible in the winter, and for the whole year it is only 1.3 inches. No model would have predicted the cooling trend, so there must be other factors that are are more important, since real measurements beat models every time.
Ignoring the South Pole, the climate models are from time to time adjusted, and they suddenly showed a much higher rate of future temperature increases, in this case what is supposed to happen to global temperatures for a doubling of CO2 from pre-industrial times, from 270ppm to 540ppm.
There are two ways to approach this problem. The models make certain assumptions about the behavior of the changing atmosphere and model future temperature changes. This is the approach from IPCC for the last 34 years. These models all fail miserably when compared to actual temperature changes.
The other way i to observe what is actually happening to our temperature over time as the CO2 increases. We have over 60 years of excellent global temperature data, so with these we can see where, when and by how much the earth has warmed.
The most drastic temperature rise on earth has been in the Arctic above the 80th latitude. In the winter of 2018 it was 8C above the 50 year average. Since then it has come down to the more normal 4C increase. See charts from the Danish Meteorological Institute:
Note, there are no increase at all in the summer temperatures!
The fall temperature saw an increase of 4C and the spring temperature saw an increase of about 2.5C.
The 2022 winter saw an about 4c increase. The Spring temperatures have from the 10th of March were below or very close to the 1958 – 2002 average. Early Summer temperatures have so far been about 1C below normal. Source: DMI.
There seems to be no cause for immediate panic with the Arctic temperatures. If anything, they seem to moderate. In Antarctic on the other hand the temperatures seem to be decreasing! As we have seen before, the Amundsen Scott – South Pole weather station, the average temperature of Winter season 2021 (April 2021 – September 2021) reached only -61,0°C / -78°F, which is the coldest value in all-time history! This was 2,5°C /4.5°F degrees lower than the most recent 30-year average at this remote station.
Why are the temperatures not behaving like the models predict?
To get the answer we must study molecular absorption spectroscopy. IPCC and most scientists claim that the greenhouse effect is dependent on the gases that are in the atmosphere, and their combined effect is additive according to a logarithmic formula. This is true up to a certain point, but it is not possible to absorb more than 100% of all the energy available in a certain frequency band! For example: If water vapor absorbs 90% of all incoming energy in a certain band, and CO2 absorbs another 50% of the energy in the same band, the result is that 95% is absorbed, (90% + 50% * (100% – 90%)), not 140%, (90% + 50%).
The following chart shows both CO2 and H2O are absorbing greenhouse gases, with H20 being the stronger greenhouse gas, absorbing over a much wider spectrum, and they overlap for the most part. But it also matters in what frequency range s they absorb.
For this we will have to look at the frequency ranges of the incoming solar radiation and the outgoing black body radiation of the earth. It is the latter that causes the greenhouse effect. Take a look at this chart:
The red area represents the observed amount of solar radiation that reaches the earth’s surface. the white area under the red line represents radiation absorbed in the atmosphere. Likewise, the blue area represents the outgoing black body radiation that is re-emitted. The remaining white area under the magenta, blue or black line represents the retained absorbed energy that causes the greenhouse effect.
Let us now take a look at the Carbon Dioxide bands of absorption, at 2.7, 4.3 and 15 microns. Of them the 2.7 and 4.3 micron bands absorb where there is little black body radiation, the only band that counts is at 15 microns, and that is in a band where the black body radiation has its maximum. However it is also in a band where water vapor also absorb, not as much as CO2,only about 20% to 70% as much. The important thing is that in the frequency band of 14.5 to 15.5 micron CO2 absorbs all the energy available in that spectral range, and it also did it before industrialization when CO2 levels were one third less than today!
From this we can see that increasing CO2 levels is not the cause of climate change, only a very minor player. How about Methane?
Methane has only two major absorption bands, one at 3.3 microns, and the other at 8 microns. The 3,3 micron band is where incoming radiation is negligible, and so is outgoing black-body radiation. The 8 micron band is where water vapor is dominant, so Methane turns out to be the don’t care gas.
Water vapor or absolute humidity is highly dependent on the temperature of the air, so at 30C there may be 50 times as much water vapor, at 0C there may be ten times as much water vapor, and at -25C there is more CO2 than water vapor. At those low temperatures the gases are mostly additive. In the tropics with fifty times more water vapor than CO2, increased CO2 has no influence on the temperature whatsoever. Temperature charts confirm this assertion:
Here the temperature in the tropics displays no trend whatsoever. It follows the temperature of the oceans, goes up in an el niño and down in a la niña. The temperature in the southern hemisphere shows no trend. In the northern temperate region there is a slight increase, but the great increase is occurring in the Arctic. There is no increase in the Antarctic yet even though the increase in CO2 is as great in the Antarctic and the winter temperature in the Antarctic is even lower than in the Arctic. So CO2 increase cannot be the answer to the winter temperature increase in the Arctic.
There is an obvious answer. When temperatures increase the air can and will contain more moisture and transport this moisture from the tropics all the way to the arctic, where it ends up as snow. Is the snow increasing in the Arctic?
Let us see what the snow statistics show. These are from the Rutgers snow lab.
The fall snow extent is increasing, and has increased by more than 2 percent per year.
The winter snowfall has also increased but only by 0.04 percent per year. The snow covers all of Russia, Northern China, Mongolia, Tibet, Kashmir and northern Pakistan, Northern Afghanistan, Northern Iran, Turkey, most of Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Canada, Alaska, Greenland and part of Western, Eastern and Northern United States.
In the spring on the other hand the snow pack is melting faster, about 1.6 percent less spring snow per year. One of the major reasons for an earlier snow melt is that the air is getting dirtier, especially over China, and to some extent Russia. The soot from burning coal, wood and peat, and from mining dust changes the albedo of the snow. The soot is visible on old snow all the way up to the North Pole. The other reason is that the North Pole is getting warmer. In the fall and winter it is mostly due to increased snowfall, but in the spring, as soon as the temperatures rise over the freezing point, melting occurs earlier. But it takes longer time to melt the increasing snow, so the Summer temperatures remain unchanged or lower.
So the warming of the poles, far from being an impending end of mankind as we know it, may even be beneficial. Warmer poles in the winter means less temperature gradient between the poles and the tropics, leading to less severe storms. They will still be there, but less severe.
There is one great benefit of increased CO2, the greening of the earth.
Thanks to this greening, done with only the fertilizer of CO2, the earth can now keep another 2 billion people from starvation, not to mention what good it does for plants and wildlife.
So CO2 is not the cause for climate change.
we face enormous environmental challenges. The American Southwest is slowly becoming a desert, the aquifers are being depleted, Lake Mead and Lake Powell will be empty in a few years if nothing is done. Our total energy use is increasing:
In 2021 solar energy amounted to 1,44% and wind power another 3.24% of total energy production. Hydroelectric power is declining because of the drought in the American Southwest. It used to be of great use for peak power generation. Lake Mead and Lake Powell are for all practical purposes unusable for more peak power generation. Biomass is pretty much peaked out. The use of of some of our best agricultural soil to grow corn and make ethanol is folly. When corn sugar is made into ethanol 48% of its weight is fermented as CO2, and one third of the total energy is gone. Maize growing is one of the most demanding crops, depleting the soil of more nutrition than other grains, needing the most fertilizer, which is made from petroleum products and other energy. It has been called “the syphilis of the soil” because of erosion problems.
The electricity production is but a subset of total energy consumption.
There is a great push to make all new cars, pick ups, delivery trucks, city buses and local trains electric by the year 2030. This does not seem to be incorporated into the eia plans. The “new green energy” plan is to have us carbon neutral by 2050. I don’t see how it can be done unless we take a radically different approach. Texas and California already has all the wind and solar power they can handle. To build it up further it must be complemented with energy batteries to store enough energy for when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. These energy batteries require an enormous amount of mining to extract the Lithium needed to make them. Lithium is already in high demand as batteries for vehicles. However, battery technology is rapidly developing, so it may still be possible to expand battery power for the grid. For now, most peak power and reserve power is supplied by natural gas.
A proposal to develop the electric grid, our nation’s transportation needs and reversing the desertification of the American Southwest.
Build a TransContinental Aqueduct. This will solve the water needs for the upper Western Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, lower California, Mexico and the Lower Colorado River basin.
Build a Trans-Rocky Mountain aqueduct. This will solve some of the water needs for Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, upper New Mexico and the Upper Colorado river basin.
Build a South Platte River aqueduct. This will solve the water needs for the greater Denver ares and help preserve the noorthern Ogallala aquifer.
This cannot be solved unless there will be a deep commitment to Nuclear power, streamline government permit processes and let private industry find the best solutions without government playing favorites and slowing down the process. Regular U235 power is not sufficient for this, Only Thorium power will do, and there are many reasons for it. Here are 30 of them:
My favorite Thorium power plant would be a 100 MW Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR). It is also called a Small Modular Reactor (SMR). It is small enough that all core elements will fit in three standard truck containers, made on an assembly line. It can came in many forms, one is a normal fast breeder reactor, another is adapted to burn nuclear waste. The cost for these reactors, when built on an assembly line will be less than $2 per Watt. They can be placed anywhere, since they are inherently safe, no need for an evacuation zone. Since they are operating at 500C temperature with either gas or liquid lead as heat transfer media there is no need for water as a cooling medium. The only thing better would be fusion power, but that is at least 20 years away, but it is coming. These are exciting times!