Friday, February 26, 2010

The Big Picture on World Temperature Swings

Jo Nova has published a set of graphs produced by David Lappi, an Alaskan Geologist.

This does not look like dangerous global warming. In fact the big picture looks more like long term cooling. For the full report see here.

Note that, as the major Northern hemisphere location for land-based glacial ice, Greenland is crucial to the Warmist story.

The Hidden Flaw in Greenhouse Theory

Insulated by an outer crust, the surface of the earth acquires nearly all of its heat from the sun. The only exit for this heat to take is through a door marked "Radiation." And therein lies a tale...

Recently, I chanced upon an Atmospheric Science Educator Guide [PDF] published by NASA. Aimed at students in grades 5 through 8, it helps teachers explain how so-called "greenhouse gases" warm our planet Earth.

These guides are interesting on a number of levels, so I recommend that you look them over. But what caught my eye was this:

* Question: Do all of the gases in our atmosphere absorb heat?

* Answer: (Allow students to discuss their ideas. Don't provide the answer at this time.)

Indeed, that's a good one to think over yourself. Almost all of what we're breathing is nitrogen and oxygen -- do these gases absorb heat? Lakes and rocks absorb heat, after all, and thereby reach a higher temperature. So can nitrogen and oxygen molecules do the same?

Well, I won't keep you hanging. After allowing students to discuss it, the instructor is instructed to give them the final verdict.

* Answer: No. Only some gases have the unique property of being able to absorb heat. These are the infrared-absorbing "greenhouse gases," of course, substances like carbon dioxide and water vapor, and not nitrogen and oxygen.

Now, is something wrong here? Most definitely, for NASA has a finger on the scale. Let's review a few basics that NASA should have outlined.

Heat consists of vibrating and colliding molecules. The motion of these molecules jostles their electrons around, and this emits light. Heat and light are thus strongly related, but they aren't the same. For instance, heat can't actually be radiated; only the light that heat brings about can. By the same token, light itself has no temperature because temperature is an index of molecular motion, and a beam of light isn't composed of molecules. In short, "heat" can be regarded as molecular excitement and light as electromagnetic excitement.

Observe how NASA describes this relationship, however.

* Question: What is the relationship between light and heat?

* Answer: Things that are hot sometimes give off light. Things under a light source sometimes heat up.

Utterly false. Heated masses always emit light (infrared). Always. That's a direct consequence of molecules in motion. And while it's true that some substances may be transparent to infrared light, it doesn't follow that they can't be heated or, if heated, might not emit infrared. Yet NASA's misleading formulation implies precisely that.

There are three ways for heat (better to say thermal energy) to move from one zone to another: by conduction, convection, and radiation. Conductive heat transfer involves direct contact, wherein vibrations spread from molecule to molecule. Convective transfer involves a mass in motion: expanded by heat, a fluid is pushed up and away by the denser fluid that surrounds it. Radiative transfer arises when molecules intercept the light that warmer molecules are emitting, which brings about a resonant molecular vibration -- i.e., heating.

Heat is transferred and absorbed in several ways, then, and no substance is immune to being heated, which means that all gases absorb heat -- contrary to what NASA tells children.

So how does NASA go wrong? By consistently confusing light and heat, as you see in the illustration below, where infrared light is depicted as heat. Elsewhere, NASA expresses heat transfer in terms that pertain to radiant transfer alone: "The Earth first absorbs the visible radiation from the Sun, which is then converted to heat, and this heat radiates out to the atmosphere, where the greenhouse gases then absorb some of the heat".

Nowhere in its teacher's guide are conductive and convective heat transfer even mentioned. By selective context and vagueness, then, NASA paints an impression that only light-absorbing substances can be heated. Thus, since nitrogen and oxygen don't respond to infrared, NASA feels justified to say that "only some gases have the unique property of being able to absorb heat." Astonishing.

But a mixup like this raises a deeper question: Why does NASA go wrong? Because it has a flimsy yet lucrative theory to foist on the taxpaying public, that's why. As the space agency explains in the Main Lesson Concept, the core idea of greenhouse theory is that downward radiation from greenhouse gases raises the earth's surface temperature higher than solar heating can.

To make this idea seem plausible, therefore, it's crucial to fix people's attention on the 1% of the atmosphere that can be heated by radiant transfer instead of the 99% and more that is heated by direct contact with the earth's surface and then by convection. NASA is stacking the deck, you see. If they made it clear that every species of atmospheric gas gets heated mainly by conductive transfer, and that all heated bodies radiate light, then even a child could connect the dots: "Oh. So the whole atmosphere radiates heat to the earth and makes it warmer. All of the atmosphere is a greenhouse gas."

Crash, boom, there goes the theory. And there goes the abundant funding that this fear-promoting "science" attracts so well. For what CO2 and water vapor emit is miniscule compared to the buzzing multitude of heated nitrogen, oxygen, and even argon, all of it radiating infrared, too. Keep in mind that thermal radiation from this forgotten 99% has never been proposed or imagined to increase the earth's temperature, although by the theory's very tenets, it should....

Accordingly, any heated gas emits infrared. There's nothing unique about CO2. Otherwise, substances like nitrogen and oxygen would truly be miracles of physics: Heat 'em as much as you wish, but they'd never radiate in response.

Yet this amounts to a double-whammy. For meteorologists acknowledge that our atmosphere is principally heated by surface contact and convective circulation. Surrounded by the vacuum of space, moreover, the earth can only dissipate this energy by radiation. On one hand, then, if surface-heated nitrogen and oxygen do not radiate the thermal energy they acquire, they rob the earth of a means of cooling off -- which makes them "greenhouse gases" by definition. On the other hand, though, if surface-heated nitrogen and oxygen do radiate infrared, then they are also "greenhouse gases," which defeats the premise that only radiation from the infrared-absorbers raises the Earth's temperature. Either way, therefore, the convoluted theory we've been going by is wrong.

An idea has been drummed into our heads for decades: that roughly 1% of the atmosphere's content is responsible for shifting the earth's surface temperature from inimical to benign. This conjecture has mistakenly focused on specifically light-absorbing gases, however, ignoring heat-absorbing gases altogether. Any heated atmospheric gas radiates infrared energy back toward the earth, meaning that the dreadful power we've attributed to light-absorbing molecules up to now has been wildly exaggerated and must be radically adjusted -- indeed, pared down perhaps a hundred times. Because all gases radiate the heat they acquire, trace-gas heating theory is an untenable concept, a long-held illusion we'd be wise to abandon.


Climate crooks to investigate themselves

Whom do they think that will impress?

The two most influential advisory bodies on climate change are planning independent reviews of their research in an attempt to regain public trust after revelations about errors and the suppression of data. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is to appoint an independent team to examine its procedures after admitting having made errors that exaggerated the severity of the impact of global warming.

The Met Office, which supplies the global temperature trends used by the IPCC, has proposed that an international group of scientists re-examine 160 years of temperature data. The Met Office proposal is a tacit admission that its previous reports on such trends have been marred by their reliance on analysis by the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit. Two separate inquiries are being held into allegations that the unit tried to hide raw data from critics and exaggerated the extent of global warming.

In a document entitled Proposal for a New International Analysis of Land Surface Air Temperature Data, the Met Office says: “We feel it is timely to propose an international effort to re-analyse surface temperature data in collaboration with the World Meteorological Organisation.”

The new analysis would test the conclusion reached by the IPCC that “warming of the climate system is unequivocal”. The IPCC’s most glaring error was a claim that all Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035. Most glaciologists believe it would take another 300 years for the glaciers to melt at the present rate.

The allegations about climate scientists are believed to have contributed to a sharp rise in public scepticism about climate change. This month an opinion poll found that the proportion of the population that believes climate change is an established fact and largely man-made has fallen from 41 per cent in November to 26 per cent.

The Met Office paper emphasises that the assessment would be independent and based on data freely available to the public. It says: “The proposed activity would provide a set of independent assessments of surface temperature produced by independent groups using independent methods.”

The Met Office privately proposed the reassessment last December, soon after more than a thousand leaked e-mails raised doubts about the integrity of some scientists at the Climatic Research Unit. The Times revealed on December 5 that the Department of Energy and Climate Change had stopped the Met Office announcing the reassessment because it feared that it would be seized upon as an admission of weakness on the eve of the Copenhagen climate summit.

The reassessment will look at the data in much greater detail than previous attempts and provide more information about which regions are suffering extreme heat waves and the greatest average changes in climate. The Met Office said that this would allow international funding to be directed to where it was most needed.

Data from 3,000 weather stations around the world has already been published on the Met Office website and it hopes that data from the remaining 2,500 will be available later this year. The paper states that the reassessment is intended chiefly to “ensure that the datasets are completely robust and that all methods are transparent”. The Met Office says that it does not expect “any substantial changes in the resulting global and continental-scale multidecadal trends”. It said that the reassessment would take up to three years. It hopes the findings will be ready for the IPCC’s next report, to be published in 2013 and 2014.


John Deere Executives Challenged Directly Over Company Support for Cap-and-Trade

John Deere executives were challenged at its annual stockholder meeting by representatives of the National Center for Public Policy Research Wednesday. The confrontation came over John Deere's membership in the pro-cap-and-trade lobby group the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), and John Deere's support for cap-and-trade legislation.

Tom Borelli, director of The National Center's Free Enterprise Project, and Deneen Borelli, a full-time fellow of the National Center's Project 21 leadership group for conservative African-Americans, asked John Deere CEO Samuel Allen to justify the company's lobbying for climate restrictions that would hurt the company's customers, stockholders, and the U.S. economic climate generally.

They also warned Allen that in light of new SEC guidance on disclosure of climate change-related risk, a failure to fully disclose the business risk of cap-and-trade legislation could expose the company to lawsuits.

Allen defended the company's involvement, claiming farmers could benefit from cap-and-trade. (The Obama Administration argues farmers would benefit from federal government "allowance revenues" under cap-and-trade, while others, including the anti-cap-and-trade American Farm Bureau, say cap-and-trade "will mean higher fuel and fertilizer costs, which puts [U.S. farmers] at a competitive disadvantage in international markets with other countries that do not have similar carbon emission restrictions.")

Deneen Borelli sees the risk of a "green bubble" even if some farmers were to profit from government emissions credits as the Obama Administration argues: "I'm outraged by Allen's justification of the trading aspect of carbon credits where farmers could potentially benefit. Given our current economy, the last thing we need is to expose farmers and the country to another Wall Street risky derivatives trading scheme."

Tom Borelli adds: "Allen dismissed the American Farm Bureau's opposition to cap-and-trade by glibly saying other groups support the legislation. It's a bad sign for investors when a CEO is so out of touch with his customer base."

The Borellis have attended the stockholder meetings of other USCAP members, getting Caterpillar CEO James Owens to admit to his stockholders that his company had not done a cost-benefit analysis of the costs of cap-and-trade before lobbying for it.

The National Center for Public Policy Research in 2007 organized a letter signed by some 70 national organizations and prominent individuals, including a former U.S. attorney general, calling on Caterpillar to withdraw from USCAP.

Caterpillar withdrew from USCAP this year.

An audiotape of the Borellis' questioning of General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt during GE's 2009 annual stockholder meeting drew significant cable and print media coverage after GE cut off the microphone of Deneen Borelli and a likeminded questioner. In the hubhub that followed, LA Weekly reported that GE's Immelt "personally issued a GE ban" on advertising with the parent company of the Hollywood Reporter, which had covered the stockholder meeting story extensively.

In an article published by on Wednesday, Tom Borelli explained the National Center's strategy in challenging these and other CEOs directly: "CEOs see big bucks in big government... Because CEOs can represent as much of a risk to liberty as elected officials, limited government advocates need a voice in the boardroom."


The Copenhagen summit result was good for everyone

The Left is wringing its hands over the “failure” of the World Climate Summit at Copenhagen to approve a binding treaty. But perhaps they should thank God (or Gore) for that fact. That’s because the mere threat of job-killing Cap and Trade legislation has been enough for independent voters in the U.S. to abandon left-leaning politicians in droves.

Along with stiff carbon taxes and straight-jacket regulations comes, inevitably, population control. At Copenhagen, China’s Peggy Liu—chair of the Joint U.S.-China Collaboration on Clean Energy—bragged about Beijing’s brutal one-child policy. That policy, said this winner of Time Magazine’s “Hero of the Environment” award, “reduces energy demand and is arguably the most effective way the country can mitigate climate change.”

Soviet Communist Party boss Joe Stalin would be proud. “You have a problem with a man. If you get rid of the man, you get rid of the problem,” said the top Communist of the Twentieth Century. (Come to think of it, Uncle Joe Stalin even topped Peggy Liu. He was named Time’s Man of the Year not once, but twice—1939 and 1942.)

Thomas Friedman of the New York Times hails China’s one-child policy as “reasonably enlightened.” He likes the fact that Beijing’s rulers—unburdened by those pesky voters voting out their betters—can “impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in 21st century.” Friedman’s best-selling book is titled The World is Flat.” (And liberals accuse us of being the Flat Earth Society?)

Isn’t it really funny how all the “errors” made by the climate scientists seem to fall on one side of the debate? If the glaciers of the Himalayas are all going to melt by 2035, that’s a real problem. But if they’re not expected to melt until 2350, it’s another matter. Guess which date the IPCC chose to publish? Just a typo?

What if the globe is indeed warming but the warming is part of a cyclical pattern of warming and cooling? That’s the thesis of Dr. S. Fred Singer. Dr. Singer and co-author Dennis Avery write in Unstoppable Global Warming that “evidence from North Atlantic deep-sea cores reveals that abrupt shifts punctuated what is conventionally thought to have been a relatively stable Holocene [interglacial] climate. During each of these episodes, cool, ice-bearing waters from north of Iceland were advected as far south as the latitude of Britain. At about the same times, the atmospheric circulation above Greenland changed abruptly….Together, they make up a series of climatic shifts with a cyclicity close to 1470 years (plus or minus 500 years). The Holocene events, therefore, appear to be the most recent manifestation of a pervasive millennial-scale climatic cycle operating independently of the glacial-interglacial climate state (emphasis added.)”

Dr. Singer has been abused by Left-wing bloggers, called a denier, and denounced as a tool of industry. He earned his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University, worked with NASA for decades and is thoroughly conversant with satellite measurements of earth’s climate. And he taught Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia for twenty-five years. Dr. Singer might be wrong. He might be seriously in error. But so far, no one has demonstrated that his arguments are wrong. Reviling him, calling him names, trying to shut him up and close him down—none of this is a reasoned argument. It is nothing more than—in the words of Al Gore—an assault on reason. Stay tuned, folks. The earth may be warming—but not as fast as the debate over climate is heating up.


How to waste $10 billion

By Mark Sanford, Republican governor of South Carolina.

So often in politics, what makes the headlines is only half the story. For the other half, you've got to do a little digging.

Last week, President Obama announced that the federal government would guarantee $8 billion in loans for the construction of two nuclear power reactors. On the face of it, this represented good news: The nation faces serious energy challenges, and no new nuclear plants have been built in 30 years.

What the president didn't explain was what his administration planned on doing with the nuclear waste - either the waste produced by these new reactors or the waste we already have in temporary storage facilities in 39 states. He didn't explain it because, earlier this month, he ditched the only responsible and feasible option this country had for the clean disposal of nuclear waste: the Yucca Mountain Storage Facility in Nevada.

Right now, our office is actively conferring with other governors' offices, as well as with our state attorney general, to explore all options - including legal options - to prevent the U.S. Department of Energy from closing down the Yucca Mountain project. In fact, our state's attorney general yesterday began pursuing the legal option.

Let me explain why. Since the Yucca Mountain site was selected in 1987, the federal government has spent billions of dollars and countless man-hours preparing for the storage project. During the intervening 23 years, presidents and their administrations of both parties have supported the project, and despite the glacial pace of the nuclear storage permitting process and foot-dragging on the part of the Department of Energy, the Yucca Mountain project was on the verge of functioning as a safe and centralized storage facility.

Taxpayers, meanwhile, had invested billions into the project. Since 1982, the nuclear power industry - and indirectly, the taxpayers of this nation served by power companies - have paid roughly $7 billion into a fund for the purpose of temporarily storing nuclear waste. To date, more than $10 billion has been spent for preparation and construction of a permanent storage site at Yucca Mountain.

Yet after all that, on Feb. 1 of this year Mr. Obama decided to abandon the entire plan. The consequence will be that taxpayers will get nothing - literally nothing - in return.

The administration says it will come up with another plan, and for that purpose it has created a "blue ribbon panel." But the panel has far more retired executives and former congressmen than scientists sitting on it. It's fairly evident that a serious plan for the nation's nuclear waste isn't at the top of the White House's agenda. Far more important were the politics of it - namely satisfying Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada who, as Senate majority leader, has the power to ram through the Obama administration's goals on health care, domestic spending and more - and who just happens to face a difficult re-election race later this year.

Rep. James E. Clyburn, the Senate's majority whip, recently suggested that Congress might fund the project despite the president's objection. That's fairly difficult to believe - but even if Congress does continue funding Yucca Mountain, given the staff reductions and relocations already under way, the project's intellectual infrastructure simply won't be there to support it.

So, that's the background behind the president's announcement that he would commit $8.3 billion worth of federal loan guarantees to the construction of two new nuclear reactors. It may sound like an encouraging sign from this president that he's willing to promote nuclear power - and for that, at least, I'd give him credit. But behind the scenes, this is nothing more than Chicago-style patronage politics: making decisions to curry favor with "friends" regardless of what's best for the nation.

Not only is this a broken promise to the taxpayer to the tune of $10 billion, the temporary storage facilities create big risks. There are 121 locations around the country where nuclear waste is stored, and more than 161 million Americans live within 75 miles of a storage site. It certainly creates a quiltwork of targets for those who would want to do us harm, as every storage site is a potential terrorist target.

In short, this is an issue we would all be wise to make a little noise about, lest this backroom deal be sealed. Energy independence and steps away from depending on the Middle East for energy are not Nevada or South Carolina issues - they're American issues. Air quality and CO2 emissions are not Ohio or Pennsylvania issues, they are American issues.

Walking away from a $10 billion investment and starting all over because of one man's race for office in Nevada doesn't make it Harry Reid's issue or that of the man at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. This is an American taxpayer issue, and I'd ask we make our voices heard.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


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