Saturday, June 30, 2007

Sustainability Council of NZ a Fundamentalist Creationist Sect

The Second Law of Thermodynamics is one of the pillars of the physical sciences.It has withstood the test of time,including numerous,often ingenious efforts to find exceptions or dispute its hegemony.

It was the physicist Erwin Schrödinger,in his legendary book What is Life? (1945), who catalyzed the modern approach to thermodynamics and evolution.He characterized a living system as being, quintessentially,an embodiment of thermodynamic order and disorder.

Harold Morowitz, one of the leading figures in biophysics and a major contributor to our collective effort to understand more fully the origins of life, inadvertently provided an illustration of the need for a broad, thermoeconomics paradigm in his path-breaking (and still valuable) volume on Energy Flow and Biology (1968). Recall how he proposed that the evolutionary process has been "driven" by the self-organizing influence of energy flows, mainly from the sun: "The flow of energy through a system acts to organize that system...Biological phenomena are ultimately consequences of the laws of physics" (p. 2).

In the penultimate chapter, where he explored ecological aspects of energy flows, Morowitz admitted "at this point, our analysis of ecology as well as evolution appears to be missing a principle" (p 120). His conclusion: Although the flow of energy may be a necessary condition to induce molecular organization, "contrary to the usual situation in thermodynamics...the presence or absence of phosphorous would totally and completely alter the entire character of the biosphere" (p. 121).

Furthermore, as Morowitz noted earlier in his text, the lowest trophic level in the food chain is dependent on exogenous sources of free nitrogen, which would otherwise be a limiting condition (Liebig’s Limit) for the entire biosphere (as opposed to the abundant supply of energy). Finally, and most significant, Morowitz acknowledged that the functionally organized cyclical flow of matter and energy in nature requires a cybernetic explanation. "The existence of cycles implies that feedback must be operative in the system. Therefore, the general notions of control theory [cybernetics] and the general properties of servo networks must be characteristic of biological systems at the most fundamental level of operation" (p. 120). Exactly so. Biological evolution takes place within a situation-specific array of constraints and needed “resources”, and its course is also greatly affected by various kinds of “control information”

Morowitz outlined four rules that bound the construction of “scientific” hypothesis and limit the ability of “men to play god”

Two that are appropriate here are,

1 Though shall not violate the laws of physics and chemistry, for these are expressions of divine eminence.

2 Though shall not eschew miracles, for as Spinoza taught, they contravene the lawfulness of the Universe.

The Sustainability council has published a paper entitled “A convenient Untruth” which go on to prove over 56 pages that indeed their solutions are that indeed. Further their “eschewing of miracles” prove that their creationist beliefs as seen in the title of the organization transgress the laws of physics and chemistry.

Their religious testament in the summary of the above paper shows that their ‘illfounded beliefs are based on a substantial gap of scientific acumen.

Agriculture has the potential to substantially reduce the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. At a profit, the sector could meet its share of New Zealand’s emission reduction target under the Kyoto Protocol. As livestock accounts for half the nation’s total emissions, this would in turn meet about half the total excess emissions currently projected. This potential can be achieved through abatement of nitrous oxide emissions alone and is considerably greater than has generally been acknowledged.

The role of VOC and organic hydrocarbons are important drivers of both the Biosphere’s attenuation and amplification mechanisms that ALLOW life to exist on earth. Through the nitrogen biogeochemical cycle,and the ozone cycle. Here we will examine the atmospheric cycle.

The quantitative discussion of the impact of short-lived air pollutants such as NOx, CO, and NMHC on global warming has been extremely difficult. These gases do not have greenhouse effect of their own, but since they control the concentration levels of the main greenhouse gases - methane, ozone, CFC substitutes (HCFC) - they are called indirect greenhouse gases. The recently released IPCC Report stated that, along with greenhouse gases, the reduction of gas emissions that affect their concentrations is necessary for stabilizing radiative forcing.

(1) Indirect greenhouse gases (NOx, CO, NMHC, etc.) trigger a photochemical reactions when they are irradiated by ultraviolet light in the troposphere, thereby leading to the production of ozone and OH radicals.

(2) Since ozone is a potent greenhouse gas, reducing tropospheric ozone by controlling emissions is effective in curbing global warming. It is already known that the reduction of tropospheric ozone is most effectively achieved by controlling NOx concentrations. However since ozone has a short life cycle (1 to 2 weeks in summer, and approximately 2 months in winter), the abatement of global warming due to a decrease in NOx levels takes effect almost concurrently with the reduction of NOx in the short term.

(3) On the other hand, OH radicals react with another greenhouse gas, methane that has the effect of eliminating methane from the atmosphere. When NOx levels are lowered OH radicals also decrease, thereby raising methane concentrations in the atmosphere. Rather than mitigating the problem, global warming is advanced due to methane's greenhouse effect. Moreover, methane has a long life cycle in the atmosphere (approximately 10 years), so the escalation in global warming caused by the reduction of NOx will continue for some decades after NOx levels have been lowered.

(4)It follows that an assessment of the warming effect induced by a reduction of NOx requires an evaluation of the short-term depletion of ozone together with the long-term increase in methane. By conducting a quantitative assessment combining these two factors, lowering NOx levels only has a positive greenhouse effect for a period of several years and could result in accelerated global warming.

The methane budget evolution is also affected by changes to atmospheric sinks. The principal sink (50-85%) is in situ oxidation by the OH radical, generated photolytically at a rate that depends in part upon the local presence of emissions such as hydrocarbons and other volatile organic compounds,CO and NOx. Other sinks include consumption by methanotrophic biota in aerated soils, transport to and destruction in the stratosphere (Prather et al., 2001), and removal by other tropospheric oxidants such as active chlorine (Allan et al., 2001a). Quantitative assessment of the global OH trend is difficult over any time scale. However, various modelling studies agree qualitatively that global OH levels have declined over the industrial era (Houweling et al., 2000 Prinn et al 2001) though quantitative estimates vary over the range 7.5 to 27%. Nonetheless, during recent decades that decline may have been arrested (Lelieveld et al., 2002) or, within decadal intervals

Ozone photochemistry is driven by the interaction of the Sun's radiation with various gases in the atmosphere, particularly oxygen. The understanding of the basics of ozone photochemistry began with Chapman (1930), who hypothesized that UV radiation was responsible for ozone production and proceeded to lay the foundation of stratospheric photochemistry: the Chapman reactions. He proposed that atomic oxygen is formed by the splitting (dissociation) of O2 by high energy ultraviolet photons (i.e., packets of light energy with wavelengths shorter than 242 nanometers)

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation, though only a small fraction of the total solar output, is of remarkable importance to our planet. Ozone strongly absorbs UV radiation. As an example, if we looked at the top of the atmosphere and counted only the 250-nm wavelength photons striking a 1-square centimeter area every second, we would count about 6,800,000,000,000 (that's 6.8 trillion or 6.8 x 1012) photons. Yet ozone is effective at absorbing these 250-nm photons. The ozone molecule is dissociated by these UV photons into O and O2 via the reaction O3 + hc/lambda --> O2 + O

Because the O atoms have such short lifetimes, they quickly reform ozone after dissociation, converting the energy of the photons at these wavelengths into thermal energy. Ozone is formed when an energetic ultraviolet photon splits an oxygen molecule (O2). These oxygen atoms quickly react with other oxygen molecules to form ozone. Most of the ozone production occurs in the upper atmosphere. The total mass of ozone produced per day over the globe is about 400 million metric tons! The global mass of ozone is relatively constant at about 3 billion metric tons, meaning the Sun produces about 12% of the ozone layer each day.

All the ozone in a given air parcel is destroyed many times over during the course of a single day when the parcel is in sunlight. Indeed, at an altitude of 30 km above the equator, the lifetime of an ozone molecule due only to UV photolysis is less than 1 hour. However, ozone is reformed in the parcel at almost exactly the same rate through the reaction between O and O2. Hence, ozone concentrations in the middle atmosphere change only very slowly over the long time scales (weeks to months) of production and loss.

However, while their sum is constant, these species are rapidly cycling back and forth, photochemically interconverting: all of the O3 is destroyed by UV photolysis every few minutes, leading to the formation of free O atoms, and all of the O atoms are immediately consumed in reactions with O2 to reform O3 in a fraction of a second.

Thus we can conclude that there are NO mitigation benefits for taxation limitations on Agriculture emissions. Indeed the solutions suggested by the SCNZ will have the opposite effect of INCREASING atmospheric warming.


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