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Skeptic Called it! Flashback 2007 New Zealand Scientist Augie Auer on Global Warming: ‘It”s All Going to be a Joke in 5 Years’ (2012)

By Noel Sheppard

May 18th, 2007 3:03 PM

The air continues to seep out of the global warming consensus balloon, ladies and gentlemen.

Meet Augie Auer, the former University of Wyoming professor of atmospheric science turned New Zealand meteorologist who isn’t buying what soon-to-be-Dr. Al Gore and his band of not so merry global warming alarmists are selling.

As reported by the New Zealand Timaru Herald (emphasis added throughout):

Man’s contribution to the greenhouse gases was so small we couldn’t change the climate if we tried, [Auer] maintained.

We’re all going to survive this. It’s all going to be a joke in five years,” he said.

A combination of misinterpreted and misguided science, media hype, and political spin had created the current hysteria and it was time to put a stop to it.

“It is time to attack the myth of global warming,” he said.

Unlike folks such as Gore, Sheryl Crow, Laurie David, and Leonardo DiCaprio, Auer has actually studied and taught this science. As such, he walks the walks AND talks the talk:

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.

We couldn’t do it (change the climate) even if we wanted to because water vapour dominates.”

Auer correctly concluded: “It’s become a witch-hunt; a Salem witch-hunt.”

Yes it has, Doctor. Unfortunately in this instance, the hunt is more serious because there are a lot more people involved, and the consequences far more dire.

Climate Change – A quick rebuttal to Augie Auer’s opinion in the NZ Herald.

In the first week of May 2006, former NZ MetService chief meteorologist Augie Auer said global warming was a myth. He blamed journalists and bad science.

The article quoting Augie Auer is here: Auer in the NZ Herald

And a repeat of his personal views on the matter in May 2007 here: Augie Auer ‘debunks’ global warming…

In a nutshell, his main argument against anthropogenic (human made) climate change, and an argument made by many other climate sceptics is, that water vapour in the atmosphere is a much more potent ‘greenhouse’ gas than CO2 and that due to the vast abundance of water vapour the relatively small (380 parts per billion) CO2 content in the atmosphere would not contribute much to global warming, let alone the small contribution that humans were making to that CO2 content. And as most water vapour is naturally generated due to evaporation of the oceans, there was nothing that humanity would be able to do about it.

Let us look at the situation a bit more carefully:

It is true that by comparison of quantity there is a hell of a lot more water vapour in the atmosphere than CO2. Water vapour is a perfect absorber of infrared radiation and thus the main contributor to the so called ‘greenhouse’ effect. So far Augie is right.

And he is also right, that the Earth would be covered in ice, if it was not for the warming blanket of that water vapour.

However Augie omits to say this: Water vapour is not absorbing (shielding against radiation heat loss) in the entire infrared spectrum. In fact there are, thankfully, a few relatively clear ‘open windows’ in the absorption spectrum of water vapour because of the physical properties of the water molecule. If it was not for these ‘windows’ in the absorption spectrum of water vapour, our earth would find it more difficult to radiate heat away to space. And radiating in the infrared spectrum, a bit like the glow from your hot potbelly stove in winter, is the only way that Earth can loose thermal energy to space!  If these remaining open windows in the infrared spectrum between the various bands in which water vapour absorbs were not there, then Earth would a much warmer place, and probably not very conducive to the current forms of life.

Water is so abundant in the atmosphere that in those areas where it absorbs heat radiation, the atmosphere is practically impermeable or ‘black’. In other words in these areas the absorption spectrum is completely saturated. And no matter how much more water vapour there would be, it can’t get ‘blacker than black’. It’s a bit like putting a black tarp over your window at home. After the first one it dose not matter how many more you add, it won’t get any darker – at least through that window!

But here is the catch: CO2 and also Methane have absorption areas of infrared radiation in some of the few remaining ‘windows’ in which the earth can ‘shine out’ so to speak and loose heat, because these windows in the spectrum are not already closed by water vapour’s thick blanket. And it does not take much of a CO2 concentration at all, to lead to a strong absorption in these areas. In fact CO2 is so good at absorbing heat radiation in its bands that even at the natural background concentration of 280 parts per billion of CO2, the atmosphere is practically already almost ‘black’ in the centre of the CO2 absorption bands!

The anthropogenic additions of CO2 – in fact we will be practically doubling it by the mid of the century – will have a very measurable effect to the ability of Earth to radiate out of this ‘window’ precisely because the natural CO2 concentration is so low (compared to water) and the absorption is not yet saturated in these frequency bands so that any additional CO2 we bring to release is directly contributing to the darkening around the CO2 window in the absorption spectrum.

Thus Augies argument of the low concentration of CO2 relative to Water is actually coming home to roost!

Infrared Absorption Spectrum for CO2 and other greenhouse gases:

Absorption spectra of Water (H2O) – blue, Carbon Dioxide (CO2) – green, Oxygen and Ozone (O2 and O3) – red and the total (added) absorption spectrum – top.

The black line marked 5780K is the incoming solar spectrum, the 255K is the spectrum of the earth radiating out.

It is clear that the green CO2 absorption lines are blocking an important part of the ‘water window’ (blue line) in which Earth can radiate in the infrared out of the atmosphere.

To come back to the example of the house: Imagine that you have 6 windows through which you can see out. 4 are covered by a stack of black blankets (water vapour). Now somebody darkens one of the last two open windows with a thin sheet of dark fabric. How would that affect your house? 

Augie says: How come you argue about one little thin sheet of fabric when I can see that stack of thick blankets…. Well, it all matters where you put it as it seems….

And so it goes that these few hundred parts per billion of CO2 will have a very dramatic effect on life on Earth.

All this is not to say, that there is nothing left to discover about the mechanisms of climate change and the regulatory system of our Earth atmosphere, far from it. And water plays a vital role in transporting heat around the Earth, especially in though processes of evaporation and condensation and the fact that these two processes happen often in different places.

But the basic science behind the effects of CO2 and Methane on the ability of Earth to radiate heat away to space is pretty sound. And once you calculate this, then it is obvious that Earth must warm measurably in response to our human made doubling of CO2. Everything else is almost an afterthought, i.e. what happens to the trapped heat, where will it go and how will it affect us.

Augie Auer also made a colossal mistake in the NZ Herald interview inferring that only 3.2% of the CO2 in the athmosphere was human made. Far from it. Since the the beginning of the Industrial Revolution the CO2 content has risen from 280ppb to 380ppb, an increase of over 35%! And in short order we will have doubled the CO2 content to levels double of anything the Earth atmosphere has seen for hundreds of thousands if not millions of years