The biosphere is that thin skin forming the covering of the planet. Its thickness is just one fifty thousandth of the Earth’s diameter. The biosphere’s temperature is determined entirely by the sun and solar optics. The Earth’s interior heat is almost totally insulated from the biosphere.
It’s well understood that the temperature of the Earth’s air, its soils and its oceans, its entire biosphere is controlled and maintained by a greenhouse effect determined by the optical properties of the Earth’s atmosphere. Those temperatures in turn determine every weather pattern across the planet.
Temperatures in the Earth’s interior rise as you go deeper. You have to be 20 kilometers down before the temperatures get up to around the temperatures you set in a kitchen oven. The conduction of heat through that 20 kilometers to the surface is obviously minuscule. Compared to the inflow from solar radiation and the outflow effects from ground surface radiation, out flow of heat from the Earth’s hot interior is a nonevent. A few seconds of night and any heat from down below is vanished into space.
The Earth’s inner core is 6000°C. The biosphere averages around 15°C.
The Sun’s inner core is believed to be 15,000,000°C yet, like the Earth the surface temperature is way down at around 5000°C. Which is about the same of even less than the Earth’s core temperature.
How is an oven, 20 kilometres down below ground level, going to warm your feet.
Sunlight in and ground radiation out and the optics of the intervening atmosphere absolutely control the average temperature of our Earth’s biosphere.
To better understand what is of immediate concern to us we can average things out and summarize the structure of our delicate biosphere. Per square metre of the Earth’s surface there is 10 tonnes of air, around 70 tonnes of earth and rocks, and approximately 200 tonnes of sea water. Heating the oceans to their full depth will take many decades, probably centuries, so 200 tonnes of water, or about 200 metres average depth, is humanity’s zone of interest.
Let’s think in terms of liquids. Ten tonnes of air weigh the same as a ten metre column of water and 275 ppm of CO2 is like 2.75 mm of liquid. It’s now 400 ppm so we have added 1.25 mm of “liquid” to the whole surface of the planet.
We have dumped one and a quarter kilos of our “liquid”, or around three pounds, onto every square metre – square yard – of the Earth’s total surface area. Imagine if it was paint. It’s not, and it’s still exists as “mist” so infrared light still gets out into Interplanetary Space.
One thing that is frightening in this heating process. There are millions of tonnes of borderline-stable methane in the biosphere. It’s locked up in both permafrost and in offshore shallow waters as methane hydrates. But things are rapidity and dangerously becoming unstable. What is beginning to happen is that uncontrollable methane releases from these locations are leaching out, and bubbling up into our tiny, thin, vulnerable atmosphere. And this methane is 100 times more potent than carbon dioxide. I argue that methane will soon become the unstoppable prime greenhouse gas.
Agriculture can remove carbon dioxide from the air by photosynthesis. There is no way known to remove methane.
We have around one decade at most to stop it all before the window of opportunity to prevent runaway heating, closes forever.
On average every human on Earth lives on, farm on, graze cattle on, grow crops on, and otherwise manages 0.6 ha each. CO2 is 27% carbon and soil organic matter is around 58% carbon. Then it’s just arithmetic.
The idea is the same and the mathematics is the same as when I spelt out the concept in my original paper in the US, 27 years ago. However greenhouse gas levels are today, fast approaching catastrophic irreversibility.
A trillion tonnes total CO2 excess for 7.5 billion people is 133 tonnes each. That’s 233 tonnes of CO2 per hectare to come out of the air. That’s can also be considered as 130 tonnes of soil organic matter per hectare. That’s also the same as an increase in soil organic matter, in the top 300 mm or 12 inches of all our soils of 3.25%.
At $10 per tonne, CO2 equivalent, we pay our farmers $10 trillion and Global warming and Climate Change ends. And remember: We have around one decade at most to stop it all before the window of opportunity to prevent runaway heating, closes forever.