Planet Earth is in the midst of a CO2 famine, according to William Happer, who is the Cyrus Fogg Bracket Professor of Physics at Princeton University. Prof Happer, who was speaking at a special lecture on climate change and Irish agriculture organised by the Irish Climate Science Forum (ICSF), argued that CO2 levels in the Earth’s atmosphere are at very low levels compared with millions of years ago.

The Princeton physics professor added that climate change modelling is fundamentally flawed, as it fails to take into account the full complexity of Earth’s atmospheric convections and the motion of warm air around the planet. He said the result of this was that carbon had been “demonised” as a pollutant.

Prof Happer said that much of the world has been “misled into a climate hysteria” where scientists and environmentalists are panicking should global CO2 levels reach 400 parts per million (ppm). He added that life had flourished on planet Earth when CO2 levels were above 1,000ppm and that higher carbon levels are beneficial to plant development, as it reduces water demand.

Prof Happer said that he acknowledges global warming, but believes most of this greenhouse warming is caused by water vapours creating a cooling effect in the earth’s troposphere. “There is no evidence that climate has ever been stable in any part of the world at any time in history,” said Happer.

In relation to agriculture, Prof Happer said methane and nitrous oxide emissions made a miniscule contribution to global warming, as both gases are 1,000 times less concentrated in the Earth’s atmosphere than CO2.

He said the lifetime of methane in the atmosphere is eight years, after which time it is oxidised. He said the amount of methane produced from cattle is trivial in terms of the bigger picture and that wild herds of buffalo produced more methane than from the herds of cows on farms.

Read more

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture

Scientific opinions on climate change

MEPs pass stricter climate targets estimated to cost Ireland €1bn

Editorial: idealism trumps reality in climate change vote

Letter: false accusation – climate debate