Thursday, January 30, 2014

Why I am a jellyfish when it comes to global warming theory

Most climate skeptics accept the theory that a rise in atmospheric CO2 will cause a rise in terrestrial temperature.  Where they differ from Warmists is in estimating the quantum of the temperature rise. Looking at both the theory and the data, skeptics think the effect of more CO2 will be so minute as to be probably undetectable.

There is however another camp of skeptics who think the whole theory is bunk.  They think that a rise in CO2 CANNOT affect temperature.  Such thinkers coalesce to some degree around the Principia Scientific publication run by John O'Sullivan.  Their "Bible" is Slaying the Sky Dragon.

One would think that both types of skeptics would get along with one-another in perfect amiability but that is not always so.  The "Slayers" tend to be rather shrill critics of the mainstream critics.  In their dogmatism and hunger for consensus they seem rather like Warmists at times.

So I am a jellyfish.  I take no side in the dispute.  Either side could be right in my view.  I think that Warmism has long ago left the realm of science and become a political creed of the Left.  So the important thing is that both skeptical groups piss on global warming fears.  Just as in politics generally, I think you have to have a big tent for your side to win the contest with the Left.  And I would be happy to have a beer with anyone in the tent.

But I was not always a jellyfish.  For a while the slayers had convinced me.  I thought that global warming theory transgressed the first and second laws of thermodynamics.  After a while, however, I concluded that those laws could be applied only to convective processes in the atmosphere, whereas global warming theory is about radiative heat transfer.  At that point I had a small correspondence with theoretical physicist Lubos Motl and he assisted me towards a view that the theory could be expressed in a way not contrary to the law of physics.

So what  I now make of the theory depends on the old law of the conservation of energy.  Energy is not created or destroyed but just changes guise.  So when  energy (heat) from the sun hits the earth, that energy does not just vanish.  It does a number of things and one of those things is that it bounces back in the direction whence it came.  And when it hits a water or CO2 molecule it in turn  bounces off that.  But it will bounce in all dirtections so only a small portion of the bounced radiation will bounce back to hit the earth.  And since CO2 molelcules are a tiny proportion of the atmosphere, you have only a small proportion   of a tiny proportion of the heat being re-radiated to the surface by CO2 molecules.  So the total effect must be very small indeed.  So even in theory the  Warmists are wrong to proclaim a  detectable effect of CO2 levels.

And  what the theory says is of course exactly what we observe.  Temperatures have remained stable over 17 years during which CO2 levels have risen sharply.  So  there has been no detectable effect of CO2 levels.   Any effect has been too tiny to detect.

But in their typical  way, one of the slayers had a go at me recently  for my view that, even given their own theory, Warmists are barking up the wrong tree.   I reproduce the correspondence:

Spotted this sentence in your lead story today: "On the global warming theory as I see it, CO2 reflection is such a minor source of heating that the effects of variations in it SHOULD be so minuscule as to be  undetectable ..." You've got a PhD, so where do you reckon the "warming" comes from then?  Think a bit further and you can only come to one conclusion: in the open atmosphere, CO2 can only act as a coolant, never a warming agent.  Provide me with just one piece of actual observed proof that there is any warming off atmospheric CO2.

I replied:

I am agnostic about the theory.  The form of it that makes some sense draws on the law of conservation of energy.  If back radiation from the earth hits something opaque in the atmosphere the energy should bounce and some of that should hit the earth.  But since CO2 is a tiny fraction of the atmosphere, its effect should be tiny.  That's the theory but reality could be different

The Slayer replied:

The entire basis of the "theory" you mention is incorrect, hence my email to you in the first place.  The concept of "heating by back-radiation" is a myth, has never been observed in Nature and can in fact not exist!  Imagine if such a heating mechanism did exist, we'd be able to build super-efficient heaters where for an input of 1kW we get 2kW out - or any wattage higher than the input.  For sure, any effect off a tiny fraction is tiny, but the only effect that can be scientifically ascribed to adding any gas to the atmosphere is a cooling effect, never a warming effect.  With CO2 being a radiatively active gas, it will in fact act as a super-coolant!  Only when captured in a bottle will the walls of the bottle warm up more when CO2 is inside, because the re-radiated energy can not get out without first dumping its energy into the material of the bottle. Out in the open, that very same property will cause extra fast cooling of the CO2 molecule, where O2 and N2 can only rely on conductive and convective heatloss.  Also remember that in the bigger picture, the sun dumps its heat onto the surface, the air then takes that heat and convects it upwards and sideways with wind - a heatloss situation at all times! Never can more heat be created by recycling the original solar heat - if only!  Delayed cooling is not warming; that delay can at best increase the average temperature - a rather meaningless concept as all weather stations are measuring the air at some 5-7ft off the ground!

I replied:

I don't think you have grasped the law of conservation of energy. Where does the energy (heat) go when it hits a CO2 molecule?"

The Slayer replied:

Thanks Ray, there is no point to any further comms.

Does the brevity of the final reply mean that I won the argument?  I think so but I also think that the important thing is to have the discussion.  Winning and losing are not what science is about.  And I am still open to conviction either way.  I could be wrong! -- JR

Bill Nye the half-wit guy

How a mechanical engineer got a reputation as a science guy is something of a mystery -- and his deficiencies do show at times.  He refers to Mann's hokey "hockeystick" graph as covering 10,000 years when it in fact covered only 1,000 years.  And he also said that people's breathing is causing global warming.  Even Warmist scientists don't say that.  And he repeats the old Malthusian population scare  -- one of the most disproven prophecies there is.  If he is the best Warmists can trot out, Warmists are in even bigger trouble than I thought

Bill Nye the “Science Guy” joined former Vice President Al Gore in linking global warming to the rapid growth of human populations over the last two centuries.

“In the year 1750, there were about a billion humans in the world,” Nye, who is not actually a scientist, said on Fox Business’ “Stossel.” “Now, there are well over seven — seven billion people in the world. It more than doubled in my lifetime. So all these people trying to live the way we live in the developed world is filling the atmosphere with a great deal more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases than existed a couple of centuries ago.”

“It’s the speed at which it is changing that is going to be troublesome for so many, uh, large populations of humans around the world. Now, you may have heard of the hockey stick graph. This is where, uh, we compare the temperature of the world over the last 10,000 years with the temperature now,” Nye continued, citing the discredited “hockey stick” graph developed by former University of Virginia climate scientist Michael Mann.

Nye made his comments in a debate with global warming skeptic Marc Morano, the editor of the skeptic news site Climate Depot. Morano pushed back by arguing that the “hockey stick” graph has been proven wrong and that peer-reviewed studies have shown that the world was warmer during Roman times and the Middle Ages than it is today.

“It comes down to hundreds of factors are influencing our climate here,” Morano said. “CO2 is not the tail that wagged the dog. Another scientist who has essentially reversed herself is Judith Curry from Georgia Institute of Technology. She now says openly that you cannot control climate by reducing emissions.”

“And that seems to be the entire premise of the United Nations, that somehow, if we tweak emissions through carbon taxes, cap and trade, we can alter weather patterns,” Morano continued. “You opened up with tornadoes and Barbara Boxer. She actually went down to the Senate floor the day of tornadoes and implied a carbon tax would help prevent future tornado outbreaks. This is medieval witchcraft.”

Nye’s comments came after it was reported that failed presidential candidate Al Gore told an audience that “fertility management” was part of the solution to global warming and sustainable development in poor countries.

“Depressing the rate of child mortality, educating girls, empowering women and making fertility management ubiquitously available — so women can choose how many children and the spacing of children — is crucial to the future shape of human civilization,” Gore said at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland.

The idea that the human populations were too large for the Earth to support became popular in the 1970s when current White House science advisor John Holdren and scientist Paul Ehrlich preached the idea.

Holdren and Ehrlich both testified before the Senate in 1974 that the global economy would stagnate because of overpopulation, which even technological advancement would not be able to mitigate.

“We are going to move to a no-growth [economy],” Ehrlich said. “Now, whether we do it intelligently through the government by planning as rapidly as possible, or whether we move there automatically-by the way, when I look at some of the figures these days, I think we’re moving there much more rapidly than people realize — we’re going to get there, obviously.”

The world population was 3.5 billion in 1968 and food supplies only provided 2,300 calories per person per day in the early 1960s, according to United Nations data. The world’s population has more than doubled since then, but advances in food production technologies have allowed more people to be fed and there are far fewer people in the world suffering from chronic hunger today than in the 1990s. Incomes have also increased and economies have flourished since the 1960s.

Furthermore, global temperatures have been flat for the last 17 years now, despite the fact that the world’s population has grown by about 1 billion people since the late 1990s.


Some Reactions to Obama’s State of the Union Address

“As a society, it is high time for us to recognize and embrace the truth. Contrary to President Obama’s misguided assertion, carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. Its increasing concentration only minimally affects earth’s climate, while it offers tremendous benefits to the biosphere. Efforts to regulate and reduce CO2 emissions are simply ludicrous. They will hurt far more than they will help.”

“The president said ‘climate change is a fact’ and vowed action via the Environmental Protection Agency in his State of Union Speech, but he did not ask for any new legislation such as the cap-and-trade bill he touted a year ago. As a scientist who knows without a doubt there is no significant man-made global warming, perhaps I should be pleased the president took a softer stance on the issue, But I am far from happy about the state of affairs on the issue.

“It has become purely a rock-solid, lock-step political position of the Democrat Party to believe in global warming, and of the Republican Party to disbelieve. I see no hint that the leadership in either party is truly interested in opening their minds to a scientific debate — to study the evidence and reach a reasoned non-politically motivated position and take actions accordingly.

“Science and politics do not match well. Science is not settled by a vote, and slogans and platform planks are not scientifically significant. It is my deepest regret this has become a political issue. I think we will make little progress in obtaining an open hearing from the public as long as the political leaders line up their followers on one side or the other.”

“President Obama seems to have toned down his climate rhetoric this year given the obvious reality of no rising global temperatures for 17 plus years and the current cold snap gripping the nation. Saying the phrase ‘climate change is a fact’ — is meaningless.

“When our children look us into the eye, we want to tell them that our generation rejected the belief that regulating emissions alters our climate and weather. We want to tell our kids that we rejected the belief that acts of Congress or the UN or the EPA could alter storms or global climate. We want to say ‘Yes we did’ to our kids when they ask us if we stopped bureaucrats at the EPA and in our government from attempting to restrict our energy choices based on the belief politicians can change the weather.”


Podesta: Obama's 'Warmed Up' to Executive Action; Will Use It for 'Climate Change and Energy Transformation Agenda'

President Obama has "warmed up" to using executive authority, and when he believes "he has the authority" to "make progress" without action by Congress, he will do it, White House adviser John Podesta told NPR Tuesday morning.

"But he doesn't like to do this, does he?" the NPR host asked Podesta.  "Uh, I think he's warmed up to it," Podesta replied, laughing.

"And I think you'll see that across a wide range of topics, including retirement security, moving forward on his climate change and energy transformation agenda," said Podesta.

"There's a lot that he has the authority to do that's vested in him under the laws of the United States and his constitutional powers, and I think that he's looking forward to a year of action, and I think he's looking forward to tonight (when he gives the State of the Union speech) as a breakthrough year where he can lay out some of these practical, concrete ideas that will get people onboard a stable economic footing and see their wages going up for the first time in a long time," said Podesta.

As an example of what Obama finds acceptable and unacceptable, Podesta pointed to immigration: He said the president would not bypass Congress when it comes to comprehensive immigration reform, but he did stop the deportation of young illegal aliens who were brought to the country as children:

"If  he believes, and the Justice department believes, he has the authority to make progress, to strengthen the middle class, give people opportunity in this country, he will take it," Podesta said.

Shortly before Podesta spoke to NPR, the White House announced that President Obama will use his executive authority to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for people working on federal contracts. And he will call on Congress to pass legislation raising the minimum wage for all other Americans.


Climate change: A "serious threat"

By Marita Noon

The current cold covering a large portion of the country has, once again, brought out the climate change alarmists with claims of “serious threat.”

Due to his respected position, as climate scientist at the University of California, San Diego Institution of Oceanography, Richard C.J. Somerville’s recent “Cold comfort” column was published in newspapers throughout the country.

In it, he grouses that the public doesn’t take the “consequences” of climate change seriously — pointing out that they are “here and now.” He cites: “only 54 percent of the public sees it as a global threat to their countries — and only 40 percent of Americans do.”

Somerville suggests: “people either are scientifically illiterate or reject science when it conflicts with their core values or religious convictions.” He posits: “the medical profession and communication experts may have much to teach those climate scientists” because “Priming patients to appreciate the value of medical diagnostic tests has been shown to make them more likely to take these tests and then act on the results.”

What Somerville misses in the analogy is that the data backs up the medical case. For example, getting a mammogram catches breast cancer early and increases survival rates. The data has shown that medical science is correct.

On the contrary, the data doesn’t support the claims made by climate scientists — but they just keep making them. Apparently they believe the “big lie” propaganda technique used so effectively by Adolf Hitler.

In Somerville’s column, he offers several familiar, easily disproven statements:

“Low-lying areas are threatened by sea-level rise” which will result in “millions of environmental refugees” and
“Major threats to agricultural productivity as rainfall patterns change and as heat waves, floods, droughts and other weather extremes worsen.”

Because my expertise is in communications not climate, I reached out to someone who could help me: Robert Endlich — who does in fact have both the education and experience. Endlich, who served as a USAF weather officer for 21 years and holds a BS in geology and an MS in meteorology, offered me pages of data and documentation, which I’ve summarized for my readers.

Environmental Refugees

If the threat of “environmental refugees” sounds familiar, it should. The 2005 UN Environmental Program forecast 50 to 100 million climate refugees. A UN report by Norman Myers: “Environmental Refugees, an Emergent Security Issue,” presented at the 13th Economic Forum, in Prague, May 23-27, 2005 predicted: “The environmental refugees total could well double between 1995 and 2010,” and “When global warming takes hold, there could be as many as 200 million people overtaken by disruptions of monsoon systems and other rainfall regimes, by droughts of unprecedented severity and duration, and by sea-level rise and coastal flooding.” His report was accompanied by a map, indicating areas to be impacted by sea-level rise.

In early 2011, Gavin Atkins asked: “What happened to the climate refugees?” In his Asian Correspondent post, he used census records to show that the populations in the low-lying areas predicted to “flee a range of disasters including sea level rise” had actually grown — including no fewer than the top six of the very fastest growing cities in China.

Based on both in-person observation and historic evidence from Western Europe, Endlich has made a study of sea level rise. Citing geological features such as stream meanders upstream of Pisa on the Arno River and new shorelines on the coast of the Ligurian Sea, and history, he told me: “What may be news to many is that there is widespread evidence in the Mediterranean Basin and the English Channel coast that sea levels in Roman and Medieval periods were significantly higher than at present. The Roman port of Ostia Antica, the port at Ephesus, now in Turkey, and Pisa have histories showing the Mediterranean Seas significantly higher than today’s sea levels.”

Endlich continued: “In 1066, William the Conqueror defeated King Harold at the Battle of Hastings. Less well-known is when William landed, he first occupied an old Roman fort now known as Pevensey Castle, which at the time was located on a small island in a harbor on England’s south coast. A drawbridge connected castle to mainland. Pevensey is infamous because unfortunate prisoners were thrown out this “Sea Gate,” so that their bodies would be washed away by the tide. Pevensey Castle is now a mile from the coast — further proof of higher sea levels fewer than 1000 years ago.”

The glacial-interglacial temperature data from the past 400,000 years shows each of the previous four interglacials significantly warmer than at present. In fact, a careful analysis of the ice cores from East Antarctica, published as a letter in Nature, shows that maximum temperatures from previous interglacials were at least 6C/10F warmer than present-day temperatures, with CO2 values then about 280 PPM, and today’s values near 400 PPM. Leaving one to ask: “if CO2 is such a strong cause of warming, why is it so cold today?”

Worsening weather extremes

Somerville stated: “The consequences include major threats to agricultural productivity as rainfall patterns change and as heat waves, floods, droughts, and other weather extremes worsen.” Endlich shared the following with me:

Heat Waves: Dr. Judith Curry, Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology offered Senate testimony on January 16, 2014. She showed an analysis of 982 stations from the U.S. Historical Climate Network for the 48 continental states with more than 80 years of record.  The data show a strong peak of record maximum daily temperatures occurred in the 1930s, with no increasing trend in the post-WWII years when CO2 started its modern increase.

Of the 50 states, the number of state maximum record temperatures obtained from NOAA’s National Climate Data Center, by decade, shows that in the 1930s, 23 states set their all-time high temperatures, by far the largest number of such record highs. There has not been a single state record maximum set in the 21st Century.

Droughts: The most-often used indicator of drought is the Palmer Drought Severity Index. Curry’s testimony included a PDSI chart, showing the most severe droughts in the 102-year record 1910-2012, were in the 1930s and a lesser maximum in the 1950s. Data show no indication that drought severity has increased as CO2 has increased.

Floods: Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr., from the University of Colorado, testified to the Senate EPW Committee on July 18, 2013. With respect to floods, he provided data from the US Geological Survey, which show in the U.S., floods have not increased in frequency or intensity since at least 1950, and that flood losses, as a percentage of GDP have dropped by about 75 percent since 1940, based on data from NOAA’s Hydrologic Information Center.

Somerville says that increasing CO2 will harm plant productivity, but the opposite is true.  First, realize that both plants and animals, including humans, are carbon-based life forms. With increasing CO2, there is an incredible array of beneficial effects spelled out in the book, The Many Benefits of Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment, by Craig Idso and Sherman Idso. The benefits include: increasing water-use efficiency; increasing biomass in roots, stems, flowers and nectar; larger seeds; avoiding human starvation and plant and animal extinctions; stimulating early plant growth; and resistance to plant diseases. The carbohydrates we consume when we eat are derived directly from CO2 in the atmosphere; carbohydrates are the source of the energy we need to survive and thrive.

Climate scientists, such as Somerville, do have something to learn from the medical profession: if you want people to heed your warnings, they need to be backed up by the data.

Somerville’s climate refugees cannot be found. In the recent past, interglacial periods were at least 6C/10F warmer than the present with a lot less CO2 in the air; and the Minoan, Roman and Medieval Warm periods were significantly warmer than at present. By historic accounts, sea levels were many feet higher as recently as 1066 and 1300 AD. His claims of heat waves, floods, drought and agricultural disruption are easily disproven by looking at real-world data.

Somerville’s argument points out: “climate change does involve serious threats.” The serious threat is the Obama/Podesta partnership pushing the executive order pen to punish people with new policies that kill jobs and increase energy costs all in the name of supposedly saving the planet.


Powering Down America

Americans may look back in a few decades and see that 2007 was the year that production of electricity peaked in the United States and our nation began powering down.

This may make many on the environmentalist left — including President Barack Obama's top science and technology adviser — very happy.

But it will not make life better for you, your children or your grandchildren.

According to data published by the Energy Information Administration, the United States generated a total of approximately 4,157 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2007. We had never produced that much before. We have never produced that much since.

In 2012, the last full year for which there is data, the United States produced 4,048 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity — down 2.6 percent from 2007.

In the first nine months of 2013, the United States produced 3,078 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity — down from the 3,096 the United States produced in first nine months of 2012.

The shift in the long-term trend in U.S. electricity production becomes more obvious when viewed on a per capita basis.

I took the EIA's numbers for annual total net electricity generation in the United States, which go back to 1949, and divided them by the Census Bureau's estimates for the U.S. population in July of each year.

In 1950, the U.S. produced approximately 334,088 million kilowatt-hours of electricity for a population of 152,271,417. That works out to 0.00219 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per person.

In 1959, the U.S. produced approximately 713,379 million kilowatt-hours of electricity for a population of 177,829,628. That was 0.00401 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per person.

In the ten years from 1950 through 1959, U.S. per capita electricity production increased by 0.00182 — or 83.1 percent.

America in the 1950s was powering up.

From 1960 to 1969, per capita electricity production increased 69.8 percent. America was still powering up — but not as aggressively as in the 1950s.

From 1970 to1979, per capita electricity production grew by 33.6 percent. From 1980 to 1989, it grew by 19.3 percent. And, from 1990 to 1999, it grew by 11.3 percent. But from 2000 to 2009, it declined by 4.4 percent.

Per capita electricity production in this country peaked in 2007, the same year electricity production itself peaked. That year, the United States generated 4,156,745 million kilowatt-hours for a population of 301,231,207 — a per capita production of about 0.01379 million kilowatt hours.

In 2012, the United States produced 4,047,765 million kilowatt-hours of electricity for 313,914,040 people — or 0.01289 million kilowatt-hours per capita.

Per capita electricity production has declined 6.5 percent from its peak of 2007.

In December 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the seasonally adjusted electricity price index hit a record high of 203.186.

In the seventeen years from January 1952 to January 1969, when America was ramping up per capita electricity production, the electricity price index rose from 27.5 to 30.2 — an increase of only 9.8 percent.

In the seventeen years from December 1996 to December 2013, the energy price index rose from 132.2 to 203.186 — an increase of about 53.7 percent.

Americans in 1950 were looking forward to producing more people and more electricity and becoming a much wealthier nation.

What do the environmentalists who occupy our White House in 2013 envision?

John P. Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, joined in 1995 with Paul Ehrlich, the author of "The Population Bomb," and Gretchen Daily of Stanford's Center for Conservation Biology, to co-author a chapter in a book published by the World Bank. The chapter was entitled, "The Meaning of Sustainability: Biogeophysical Aspects."

"We know for certain, for example, that: No form of material growth (including population growth) other than asymptotic growth, is sustainable," Obama's future science adviser pronounced with this co-authors.

"Many of the practices inadequately supporting today's population of 5.5 billion people are unsustainable; and [a]t the sustainability limit, there will be a tradeoff between population and energy-matter throughput per person, hence, ultimately, between economic activity per person and well-being per person," said Holdren and his co-authors.

"This," they concluded, "is enough to say quite a lot about what needs to be faced up to eventually (a world of zero net physical growth), what should be done now (change unsustainable practices, reduce excessive material consumption, slow down population growth), and what the penalty will be for postponing attention to population limitation (lower well-being per person)."

As President Obama moves forward with his plans for America's future energy production and economic well-being, Americans should remember that Obama's science and technology adviser declared 19 years ago that "a world of zero net physical growth" was something that "needs to be faced up to eventually."



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1 comment:

Paul Clark said...

Re: greenhouse effect theory, I noticed you rejected it for a while and then changed your mind. It's a hard subject.

"After a while, however, I concluded that those laws could be applied only to convective processes in the atmosphere, whereas global warming theory is about radiative heat transfer."

...that's bizarre: it applies to radiative heat transfer as well.

You are wrong John Jay. Each photon that is hit an IR molecule is counterbalanced by one that is emitted. You seem to just look at the photon that is absorbed and ignore the one that is emitted and then appeal to the law conservation of energy.

If you're going to appeal to the conservation of energy you should be asking how does the greenhouse gas layer produce the energy for the alleged 33C increase in temp; and the energy for all of those "enhanced storms of AGW"? Answer: it can't.

No you didn't win that debate. Your correspondent got frustrated by your lack of understanding on the issue.