According to the Timaru Herald, Augie Auer has comprehensively “debunked” global warming:
Climate change will be considered a joke in five years time, meteorologist Augie Auer told the annual meeting of Mid Canterbury Federated Farmers in Ashburton this week. Man’s contribution to the greenhouse gases was so small we couldn’t change the climate if we tried, he maintained. “We’re all going to survive this. It’s all going to be a joke in five years,” he said.
Phew, that’s a relief.
Or is it? Let’s have a look at what NZ’s most prominent sceptic is arguing.
Water vapour was responsible for 95 per cent of the greenhouse effect, an effect which was vital to keep the world warm, he explained. “If we didn’t have the greenhouse effect the planet would be at minus 18 deg C but because we do have the greenhouse effect it is plus 15 deg C, all the time.” The other greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen dioxide, and various others including CFCs, contributed only five per cent of the effect, carbon dioxide being by far the greatest contributor at 3.6 per cent. However, carbon dioxide as a result of man’s activities was only 3.2 per cent of that, hence only 0.12 per cent of the greenhouse gases in total. Human-related methane, nitrogen dioxide and CFCs etc made similarly minuscule contributions to the effect: 0.066, 0.047 and 0.046 per cent respectively. “That ought to be the end of the argument, there and then,” he said.
Augie is an atmospheric physicist, so you might expect him to get his numbers right. But he doesn’t. He asserts that water vapour is responsible for 95 percent of the total greenhouse effect. It isn’t, according to RealClimate, or the page about CO2 myths in New Scientist‘s new Climate change: A guide for the perplexed section (or the IPCC, etc, etc). Putting an exact number to the contribution of the various gases in the atmosphere to the greenhouse effect is not simple because they have overlapping effects – as you might expect an atmospheric physicist to know. New Scientist suggests:
A simplified summary is that about 50% of the greenhouse effect is due to water vapour, 25% due to clouds, 20% to CO2, with other gases accounting for the remainder.
Once that’s established, the remainder of Augie’s argument falls apart. Increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere are driving climate change. It’s relatively simple physics, and it’s been understood – in some detail – for a very long time.
I wonder if there were any atmospheric physicists amongst the members of Mid Canterbury Federated Farmers who listened to Augie’s talk? I imagine not.