How much science is really science fiction?

FOR several years the Australian media has been dominated by a long-running science fiction. 

Designed for radio, TV and print media, it is called Green Houses in an apparent attempt to benefit from the well-loved Blue Hills, a soap opera which ran for 27 years on the government-owned ABC radio.

Each weekly episode of Green Houses dramatises a new global warming disaster, all attributed to man’s generation of carbon dioxide from the use of carbon fuels. The series is directed by a drama company called Green Pieces and produced by the Minister for Climate Propaganda. The weekly script is written by academics funded by government green house grants.

Its early episodes featured devastating heatwaves and never-ending droughts, but a few severe winters in the Northern Hemisphere and massive floods in Australia eroded the credibility of the series and audience ratings fell.

Now the whole credibility of its bedrock Green Houses story is under threat.

Sceptics ask how a tiny quantity of an invisible, incombustible gas with no inherent heating ability can warm the vast volumes of other gases in the atmosphere while also overcoming the massive heat capacity of the land and oceans.

Green Pieces has drafted the answer: “Carbon dioxide absorbs infrared radiation from the warm surface, creating ‘back radiation’ which re-warms the surface.”

This process does indeed have an insulating effect at night, when clouds and the atmosphere can delay the escape of some outgoing heat.

However, during the day, the atmosphere has a big shading effect on incoming solar radiation which contains UV, visible and IR components. Clouds, aerosols, dust and greenhouse gases all act like atmospheric umbrellas and reflectors 

and provide some protection for the surface from the incoming heat of solar radiation. This provides a nett cooling effect during the day which offsets and probably extinguishes any night time warming.

The main effect of the atmosphere is thus to moderate the daily temperature range – warmer nights and cooler days, with little effect on average temperatures. 

Carbon dioxide is only a bit player in this drama – water vapour is far more abundant and a far better insulator.

This fundamental flaw in greenhouse theory, coupled with the lack of surface warming in spite of rising carbon dioxide levels, has led to dramatic falls in audience numbers for the once-popular Green Houses series.

It is rumoured that the producers of the series are preparing to replace it with a serialised science fiction thriller titled Blue Skies Are Falling.

This series will feature a wizened black devil called Old King Coal as the villain responsible for every extreme weather event.

Viv Forbes

Rosewood Qld


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