Doomed Planet

A Remedial Lesson in Climate Education

I am a mathematics teacher in a well-to-do school.  Next year will be my fiftieth year in the profession.  I am well known around the school as someone who hasn’t fallen for the CO2 swindle, although I have no problem with the notion that the various climates around the earth are changing in various ways.  Being a mathematics teacher, the notion the mainstream media runs, that the earth has “a climate”, appals me.  How can we can “average” the multitude of climates around the earth and come up with “the climate”? It does not compute.

I often come across students and teachers who express concern over climate change and the need for humanity to do something about it.  I always begin such conversations with the question, “What’s the problem?”  They always, eventually, get down to the fact that it’s carbon “pollution” and how we must stop burning fossil fuels and embrace renewables in order to save the planet. Again, its the MSM spin. My next question is how much CO2 is in the atmosphere?  I have yet to come across anyone at school, when asked that question, who knows that it’s a bit above 400 ppm.  After informing them of this particular fact, I ask if they know how low the CO2 concentration can fall  before life on earth ceases.  Again, I have yet to come across anyone at school who knows that once it drops to about 180 ppm, we are in trouble.

My third question after that is this: if 400 ppm is too much and 180 ppm too little, how much CO2 is just right?  Again, no one has been able to answer this, as no one on the planet knows the answer.  I then try to present students (adults have usually stopped listening by that stage) with some perspective on 400 ppm. I ask them to think of a million molecules of atmosphere as a million one-dollar coins placed adjacent to each other in a square.  The square would be 25 metres by 25 metres, about the size of a school’s small gymnasium. The 400 ppm of CO2, if represented by those dollar coins, would make up a square 50 cm by 50 cm. What’s more, since humanity is responsible for only about three per cent of the CO2 in the atmosphere, the human contribution to those one million coins would be 12 coins.

What Bill Shorten, Labor, The Greens, the media and others are saying is that if we pay billions of dollars in subsidies — think carbon tax, etc — they will remove six of those twelve coins and thereby make the climate stay the same.

Scott Morrison and the LNP are saying that if you want to pay a lesser number of billions of dollars, they will remove three of those twelve coins and make the climate stay the same.

I then try to get the students who are prepared to listen to me to get some idea of how big we are compared to the atmosphere.  I ask them what they think the average weight of a human being is.  Most come up with around 70 kg.  I offer them 66 kg and they are prepared to accept that.  I then suggest that since we just float in fresh water, our density is about the same as that of fresh water.  Most seem happy with that hypothesis.  Since a kilogram of water occupies a litre, that means the average volume of a human being is about 66 litres.  If you multiply 66 litres by the number of people on the planet, i.e. 7.5 billion, and convert to cubic kilometres, you get 0.495 cubic kilometres.  That is just under half a cubic kilometre.  So if we had a big box, one kilometre long by one kilometre wide and 500 metres deep, then all the people on the earth, in theory, could be packed into that box.  Then I let the students know that the volume of the atmosphere, the usable bits, is about 4.2 billion cubic kilometres.

So, by volume,  there is about eight billion times more atmosphere than there is humanity.  I take them back to the gymnasium model.  If we filled that 25 metre by 25 metre gym to its 14-metre ceiling with one-centimetre sugar cubes, you would have around about eight billion in there.

Just one of those cubes would be represented by humanity. 

By this time the students are usually starting to see our insignificance in relation to the whole planet, even if I haven’t been able to convince them that CO2 isn’t the satanic molecule the MSM purports it to be.

One particularly open-minded geography teacher usually invites me into her senior class for a guest appearance each year, during which I deliver much the same mathematics as described above. During the lesson, I try to impress upon the students that they should not believe a word I say, but check what I say and see if it is true. I say they should do this with all of their teachers. If they have blind faith in everything they hear from their teachers, they will never learn anything. 

Needless to say, although many of the students at my school spout the religion of climate change, with the creed’s Satan being CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, not one of them actually practises the faith.  They are all avid consumers of Google’s offerings. They all turn up to school in their parents’ fancy SUVs. We have a three-week break in the middle of the year and many head off to the northern hemisphere with little regard for their carbon footprints. They all use air-con in summer and heating in winter, and so on.

You could say are non-practising devotees of the Gaia religion. 

  • Charles

    Well put Greg, I have always maintained that anthropogenic climate change should be described in mathematical terms rather than scientific terms because not only is it easier to explain the insignificance of CO2 that way, it also prevents informed individuals from being disqualified from the debate for not having suitable scientific qualifications. Although it must be said many of the proponents of the catastrophic versions of climate change similarly lack any suitable scientific qualifications although that does not seem to preclude them from the debate for some reason.

    My favourite analogy is that if you would not expect a 1 kg rabbit to be able to lift a large size SUV (e.g. Toyota Landcruiser) of 2.5 tonnes mass, then you should not similarly expect that one molecule of CO2 has the properties to be able to absorb enough solar radiation to warm the 2500 molecules of atmosphere around it that are not CO2.

  • deric davidson

    And there is a non-linear (negative logarithmic) relationship between increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration and its ability to increase atmospheric temperature. The capacity of CO2 of itself to warm the atmosphere diminishes rapidly past 200-250 ppm. ‘Positive feed back factors’ are required to trap heat. These factors are very poorly understood or even known. These uncertainties are exacerbated by ‘negative feed back factors’ (cooling factors) which are also poorly understood. The atmosphere and its ‘climate’ is a complex system that cannot be simplified to the effects of relatively small amounts of man made CO2.

  • deric davidson

    I should add that the oceans have a massive affect on regional climate and also on atmospheric CO2 levels.

  • John L Devlin

    You mean kids these days understand maths?
    Bit of a bloody stretch isn’t it?
    Ask them to write down what you just said…oh wait.
    Ok, Ok, let’s settle this argument once and for all – check out the truth of the matter on Twitter and/or Google and/or Facebook.
    Not you Greg – you have probably already been banned.
    Ask one of those shrieking harridans with the tatts and multiple holes and pinned nose and forehead to check it out on her iPhone.
    Yeah, that one.
    The sexy one.

  • Salome

    Nice and clear–even I sort of understood it. (I have myself had fun with climate obsessives who can’t say how much carbon dioxide there is in the air.) One thing–the IPCC types don’t agree that only 3 per cent of the 400 parts per million is ours. They agree that we only put 3 per cent into the atmosphere, but say that all of that 3 per cent is additional to what’s already there and doesn’t cycle the way the ‘natural’ carbon dioxide does. Therefore, they say that all the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide since the 18th century (when it was, I think, around 280 ppm) is added from the human 3 per cents (or thereabouts). A physicist called Ed Berry has debunked this by considering measurements of atmospheric carbon 14 following the peak of the nuclear tests in the 60s–on the basis that anything we’re adding now doesn’t have such a high concentration of carbon 14. But I’m lousy at explaining this. Here is a summary:

  • Biggles

    Well done Greg! But ‘maths’? More commonly known as simple arithmetic, surely. Given the average student’s aversion to maths, (thanks to the dumbing-down which has gone on since Whitlam), your lectures might get better reception if you avoid the ‘m’ word.

  • rod.stuart

    You would be interested to know that Dr. Ed Berry’s paper will soon be published in The International Journal of Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences. Hermann Harde has published a paper which is in complete agreement.
    This means that there are two scholarly papers now which DISPROVE the fundamental hypothesis of the IPCC. The scientific method cannot be used to PROVE anything. But once an hypothesis has been DISPROVED, it is up to the constructor of the hypothesis to dispute it.
    These two papers are sufficiently rigorous that they are indisputable. It is essential that this gains some traction with the public. We have been fed a smorgasbord of LIES, which is not new to a large portion of the population, but once the true believers find out they have been duped, the Earth will move.

  • padraic

    Congratulations Greg, on a rational approach to refuting the claims of a carbon dioxide apocalypse. This article should be compulsory reading in all schools. I detect that the carbonistas sense they are losing the battle and have discreetly moved on to the next big end-of -the-world scenario of the dying out of animal and plant species. They realise that their inner city lifestyle and its gadgets require a certain amount of carbon dioxide production and were probably frightened by Leak’s cartoon showing them exchanging their current lifestyle by one which involves living in a Gaia style cave and wearing animal skins.

  • pgang

    Perhaps you could round it off by telling them that all of the green subsidies now are going to cost them jobs and taxes in their future.

  • Salome

    Indeed, rod.stuart–speak of the devil! Dr Berry’s email announcing the forthcoming publication popped up in my inbox this morning. Let’s hope things are on the turn.

  • SB

    A well-thought-out presentation. Perhaps more than anything else, it is good to hear of a school at which the educators have the best interests of the children at heart. Too often we hear of educators whose sole agenda is to indoctrinate children and recruit them into their ideological war against our society.
    In regard to the various comments above about the facts going against the alarmists, you can argue facts until you are blue in the face and it will make no difference. The climate hoax is about ideology and money – nothing else. Facts don’t matter in the least. As we see repeatedly, if the facts don’t support their agenda, they simply move the goalposts.

  • John Reid

    Good on you, Greg, but sad to say, the whole climate fiasco is down to mathematicians (some of whom prefer the soubriquet, “climate scientist”). The IPCC has declared its intention not use the scientific method concerning refutabilty which leaves shonky climate models as the only “evidence”. That these models consistently fail is never discussed. Climate Change is, in effect, a gigantic job creation scheme for applied mathematicians.

  • pbw

    I’m not in a position to discriminate between the views, but in this video Patrick Moore claims that the threshold at which plant life begins to die is 150ppm, and that at the height (or in the depths) of the last glaciation, CO2 concentration fell to 180ppm.

  • Les Kovari

    The fool who coined the term “greenhouse gas” thought growers used CO2 in their greenhouses to warm them. He or she conveniently ignored the fact that CO2 is used as nourishment for the plants therein. But then again, he was a fool.

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