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Nothing can warm the globe

Ken Ring | View Archive February 1, 2013, 8:53 pm

There are many things we cannot control, like greed, lack of compassion and racism. If we could we would not still be grappling with these issues. Likewise we cannot control the globe or the climate. Climate is a child of the galaxy, as we ourselves are. We can no more influence climate than change life itself. And yet there are madmen who insist otherwise.

Presumably those who believe the globe is warming are not talking about the air, or they would have said so, and proclaimed ‘aerial warming’. When you call something global, and you are a scientist, you are paid to mean what you say. You wouldn't point to a fish and say there goes a tree.

We know that a steel ball 80% the size of our Moon sits at the center of the earth. This ball occupies 1.7% of the earth's volume but with its core makes up 30%, reaching about halfway to the earth's surface. It is about 5,000kms down and is earth’s other moon. Rotating independently of the planet its orbit answers to the geomagnetism of the regular Moon (as does the sea), and this inner ball turns within its surrounding fluid.

Around that is the mantle, an insulator, protecting that inner core from heating up more. The composition of the inner core is affected by extraordinary pressures: about 52 million pounds per square inch, or 3.5 million times earth’s atmospheric pressure. This keeps the inner core solid, despite temperatures as high as 5,000°C. The core is about 2400kms across.

How quickly could such a gigantic solid ball nearly the size of the Moon heat up, surrounded as it is by several insulating layers, supposing that heat could somehow be applied? The earth is 4.5-billion years old. Even though it is still cooling since inception, after 4.5-billion years due in part to the inner insulation layers, Earth is still molten in the core. If it takes 4.5-billion years to only cool slightly, about 5°C every million years, not enough to change the molten state of this liquid core, then it would take just as long to heat up.

Compare a small hangi stone with no insulation around it. That takes about two hours to warm in a low fire. A rock the size of the earth with several thousands of kilometres radius of layers of insulating material would take about two billion years to absorb enough heat to step up averages worldwide, provided that the whole thing was put in a heat source.

Global warmers are not even talking about the earth being immersed a fire like our hangi stone, nowhere near it, just 2°C per century. They are only considering the daily heat from the Sun that is already on the earth's surface not getting away, the so-called greenhouse gas effect which says a surface will stay warm more if heat loss slows. The daily surface heat is already there, it is not applied from within the earth or from outer space. And this heat disappears at night when the Sun sets.

Then let us take a white-hot iron ingot the size of the Moon and as hot as 5,000°C and surround it with insulation covers until the whole thing is more than double its original size. Let us surround that with another layer of insulation, and on the outside, a vast floating crust made of soil, the crust resembling that of bread. On the top of that crust let us put tiny spots of dung called cities that contain bacteria-sized smaller spots called cars. Each car puffs a tiny whiff of lukewarm exhaust, but not hot enough to burn your hand. Let us call this assembly ‘planet Earth’. Will these miniscule puffs of exhaust heat the inner white-hot ingot any further? What do you think?

And then let us take our small hangi stone and using the heat already on it, stop that heat from escaping by covering the stone with a small 'greenhouse' bag, and take this greenhouse contraption away at night. Will the rock begin to heat up? No, and it doesn't take a genius to figure that outside heat must be applied - you cannot use the heat already on the rock's surface because whatever heat is there is already part of the existing rock. Moreover, because of surface area, spheres heat and cool more slowly than any other shape.

For a 4.5-billion year old planet to significantly warm would require a run-up time of millions of years. Even though the balance of mechanisms by which heat is transferred from the interior of the earth outward is known in a semi-quantitative way, current knowledge is insufficient to permit an exact description of heat loss from the earth.

If we don't know how heat is lost then we equally are in the dark about how heat is retained, and even more clueless how extra heat might be obtained. One thing is for sure, overall the earth is cooling, i.e. losing heat energy faster than it gains it.

So it is with heavy heart I tell environmentalists and climate scientists helping themselves to research funding, that whilst local air over large cities may be warmer, the globe cannot possibly be warming. The earth loses heat to space and not the other way around because the earth is hotter on the inside. If we were gaining heat from space or from our own emission-enriching air then Earth would be getting hotter on the outside.

We know the interior of the globe is hotter than the outside simply by direct measurements down a few miles, and by seismic studies revealing the molten interior. Everyone can see that volcanoes are hot. Yet some of the world’s highest paid scientists are still claiming that vehicle emissions and factory smoke are somehow warming the whole globe, triggering more earthquakes and volcanoes, and raising sea-levels.

Ken Ring of www.predictweather.com is author of the Weather Almanac for NZ, published by Random House.

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