John Gault (The Courier, 27 June) disputes the claim of John Cook at University of Queensland, Climate Research Institute, that Earth has been building up heat at the rate of four Hiroshima bombs every second.
This is the rationale. The total energy released by the Hiroshima bomb was 100 million million Joules. The total energy of the sun that strikes Earth every second is 170,000 million million Joules, the equivalent of 1700 Hiroshima bombs a second.
These figures are undisputed and have been around long before anyone thought of global warming.
Without the greenhouse effect, even this unimaginable amount of energy could only warm Earth to minus 18 degrees, because warmth from Earth would be lost to space as infrared radiation.
For thousands of years, though, thanks to greenhouse gases, just enough infrared radiation was trapped in the atmosphere to maintain a comfortable, average global temperature of 14 degrees.
Because of increasing atmospheric greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide, Earth's atmosphere is now trapping, every second, an extra four Hiroshima bombs worth of energy that previously escaped into space.
John Cook is perfectly correct. What humans must understand is that if we keep increasing greenhouse gas emissions, we'll trap the energy of many more Hiroshima bombs in the atmosphere and we'll be joining the endangered species list.
John Gault's letter shows that common sense is a poor way to understand the workings of the natural world. You need meticulous scientific research. This is what John Cook and his colleagues have done.