Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Clouded reason

One of the most dangerous phenomena of modern times is how the irrational greenies have hijacked the environmental agenda and suborned it in pursuit of their own political aims. No better example of this is offered than in a piece by Peter Schwerdtfeger, emeritus professor of meteorology at Flinders University in Adelaide, writing in The Australian.

Schwerdtfeger is reviewing the work of internationally acclaimed cloud physicist Daniel Rosenfeld of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who asserts that the most awful consequence of the burning of carboniferous fuels is not the release of CO2 but the large-scale injection of minute particulate pollutants into the atmosphere.

Detailed studies carried out by his research group have revealed that the minute water vapour droplets that form around some carbon particles are so small as to be almost incapable of being subsequently coalesced into larger precipitable drops. In short, the particulates prevent rainfall. Thus, humans are changing the climate in a much more direct way than through the release of CO2.

What seems to be happening is that pollution is seriously inhibiting rain over mountains in semi-arid regions, a phenomenon with dire consequences for water resources in the Middle East and many other parts of the world, including China and Australia.

This and other work is now showing that the average precipitation on Mt Hua near Xi'an in central China has decreased by 20 percent, but rather than "climate change" this is attributable to man-made air pollution during the past 50 years.

The precipitation loss was doubled on days that had the poorest visibility because of pollution particles in the air. This explains the widely observed trends of decrease in mountain precipitation relative to the rainfall in nearby densely populated lowlands, which until now had not been directly ascribed to air pollution.

The work also shows the "frightening persistence and longevity of pollutant trails across vast areas", not least in the Australian Snowy Mountains catchments, where a phalanx of brown coal-burning power stations may have substantially wrecked the natural precipitation processes over the once hydrologically rich Australian Alps.

If Rosenfeld's scientific interpretations are correct, then southern Australia would greatly benefit from the application of his discoveries. At the very least, Rosenfeld's conclusions should be accorded appropriate evaluation and testing by an unprejudiced panel of peers.

The issue here is that targeted measures to limit specific pollution is a common good, and far from being objectionable, is economically as well as ecologically sound. And, by virtue of their very specificity, not only are such measures cheaper than the scatter-gun approach of trying to reduce CO2 measures, their effects are more immediately measurable and there is a true cost-benefit.

However, Schwerdtfeger remarks that the work has so far has been ignored in Australia (and elsewhere) because it does not fit in with the dominant paradigm that holds CO2 responsible for reduced rainfall in semi-arid regions. And thus do the greenies, far from improving the environment, hold back sensible measures and lock us into the tunnel vision of group obsession, perpetuating the very problems they purport to be solving.

Booker and I had a phrase for this ... "the sledgehammer to miss the nut". Perhaps we should take the sledgehammer to the nut(s).