by Viv Forbes
Rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is blamed for every weather emergency, but as a weather maker, water is far more important.
Without water, Earth’s weather would be dramatically different. We would have no clouds, no rain or snow, no rain or hail storms, no hurricanes, no seas, rivers, lakes or ice sheets – just cold, cloudless nights and hot, clear days with dry winds and fierce dust storms; a dead planet like Mars.
Water has many weather effects. It cools Earth’s surface by evaporation, and transfers that heat to the upper atmosphere as it condenses into drops of rain, hail or snow. Water forms the wispy high cirrus and stratus clouds, the fluffy fair-weather cumulus and the ominous nimbus thunderheads that can produce rain, hail and storms as well as cyclones, hurricanes and tornados. Some high clouds help to retain surface heat while lower clouds shade and cool the surface as they intercept and reflect incoming solar radiation.
Where there is no water in the atmosphere we get hot deserts like Sahara or frigid deserts like Antarctica. And when solar energy wanes, as in ice ages, it is water, not carbon dioxide, that creates a real climate emergency with life-killing sheets of ice.
Carbon dioxide exists in the atmosphere and the oceans as a trace amount of invisible, non-toxic, non-flammable gas – quite a boring unspectacular gas really. But it gets the gold medal for feeding the biosphere – it is the gas of life and increased carbon dioxide is responsible for the recent measurable greening of the planet.
In theory, carbon dioxide can warm the climate by retaining surface heat. However, its so-called “greenhouse effect”, has never been quantified in climate records despite being given a key role in IPCC climate models. There is no evidence that carbon dioxide is creating dangerous global warming. Water vapour has a far bigger “greenhouse effect” over more radiation bands, and there is far more of it – Earth’s atmosphere has about 8,500 times more water than carbon dioxide. Earth’s water cycle also has a large moderating effect on any greenhouse warming from carbon dioxide. A climate tax on water makes as much sense as a carbon tax.
In our great climate machine, the sun is the combustion chamber, the oceans are the stabilising flywheel and carbon dioxide is merely the temperature gauge – its concentration in the atmosphere rises as the oceans get warm and expel some of their dissolved CO2.
The sun rules Earth’s long term climate with solar energy driving winds and water to create the complexities of the weather. Carbon dioxide is a climate pygmy and largely irrelevant in creating the daily weather.
We have enough real environmental problems on Earth without inventing climate crises supposedly caused by the relatively trivial quantities of carbon dioxide recycled by man’s industries and machines.
Water vapour and carbon dioxide are the gases of life – the biosphere needs more of both. We should stop all foolish attempts to capture and bury carbon dioxide and devote those resources to capture and store fresh water.
For those who would like to read more:
Clouds negate greenhouse effect?
Solar activity could cause global warming: