by Owen Jennings
Last week Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern claimed action on the Climate Commission’s recommendations was “a matter of life and death”. There is zero truth in that statement. It is outrageous and dangerous. All the evidence shows that climate related deaths — from heat and cold — are continuing to fall.
The only weather events that the [UN body] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says show even a minor likelihood of occurring are higher rainfall in limited regions and increased drought in others. All manageable. Sea level rise can easily be mitigated if it ever becomes an issue. After 15 years can Al Gore point to even one “climate refugee” from the Pacific? Four new international airports on the Maldives? Tuvalu bigger today than it was in 2006 when Gore lied to the world to get an Oscar.
According to Ardern and her sidekick Shaw our biggest problem is agriculture. It is supposed to contribute 48% of our emissions problem – mostly burped methane. What are the known facts about methane?
All methane is 0.00018% of the atmosphere. All ruminants contribute just 14% of the methane emissions. That means the world’s bison, giraffes, antelopes, cows, sheep together are responsible for 0.000000252% or .2 of one part per million of the atmosphere. NZ has 1% of the planet’s ruminants and somehow cutting them back 15% – slaughtering 1 million cows and 4 million sheep – as the Government intends, is going to make a difference. What are those numbers in some recognisable manner?
Imagine the whole atmosphere was the 12 hour, 10,000 km trip from Auckland to Los Angeles. All methane is just a fraction of the pushback at the airport – 18 metres. NZ’s contribution is 180 mm. Our required reduction is the equivalent 27 mm. Or an inch for you old buggers like me.
How can seemingly intelligent people stand up and keep a straight face while telling you 27 mm of a 10,000,000 metre trip makes any difference?
Ah, but you say “methane is a powerful greenhouse gas”. Is it? I can wheel in dozens of highly credible scientists, most of them “warmists” who say NZ’s interpretation of methane’s potency is overstated by 400%. That overstatement is the difference between us having to slaughter a million cows or not. It is the difference between decimating the sector that is the standout export earner and that is maintaining the remaining strength of the economy, or not. It is the difference between us slashing production with the world’s lowest carbon footprint and watching another higher “polluting” country take up the slack making a mockery of our butchering our sheep and cattle. It is the difference between us acting on only part of the Paris Accord or us responding to Part 2 that says “no measure taken to reduce emissions should limit food production”.
If you want to discuss potency of greenhouse gases I give you water vapour. Take a breath. Only 1% of that air is a greenhouse gas. Of that 1%, 96% is water vapour. For every molecule of methane in your breath there are 8,000 molecules of H2O. That’s potency.
On the Electromagnetic Spectrum where atmospheric radiation (ultra-violet, visible light and infrared) occurs Methane absorbs and re-emits very little radiation (heat) – almost zero. Its role is insignificant because water vapour already dominates over the entire range (over 70%) compared to Methane (less than1%). Methane is a minnow beside water vapour. Utterly unable to impact temperature in any meaningful, measurable way.
Note that agriculture’s share of the emissions reduction is away ahead of those required for fossil fuel “polluters”. That is the worst of being a small voting bloc hammered and cowered by the dirty rivers campaign, the GHG villains, the evil meat and milk producers.
Spare a thought for farmers today. Just like you are attached to your cat or dog they are attached to their animals. Sending cows to be butchered is desperately heartbreaking at any time.
Killing them when the logic is flawed, the science is wrong, the reasoning is faulty and the rationale is unjust increases the pain exponentially.
Gaia must be appeased.
(Owen Jennings is a former National President of Federated Farmers)