Okay, lets go back and talk about this consensus of scientists for a minute.

So far I’ve mostly confined myself to a critique of the public image side of this whole thing, and poking some holes in the bubble of fake certitude that our erstwhile green priesthood are riding on.

However, that’s not to say there aren’t some grave and compelling flaws in the basic science, because there are. Try and follow along an understand that any errors are my misreading, and not errors in conclusions, which are not mine to begin with.

For starters, I’d be curious to know, of the ‘consensus’ of scientists that put their weight behind something like the IPCC, how exactly does that break down by field? How many chemists? How many computer modelers? How many biologists? How many oceanographers? How many climatologists?

But most of all… how many physicists? How many people trained in elementary physics are there who take this raving apocalyptic scenario seriously?

I’m wondering, because when you google ‘global warming physics’, much of what you get is middling credulity, bordering on outright scorn, for the whole thing. I have yet to see or hear of a climate catastrophist who had any real grounding in basic physcial principles.

One possible exception I know of, who is a vocal AGW agitator is Noam Mohr, who appears to confine himself mainly to the implications of vegitarianism/veganism on the climate. I saw one youtube video of him with a notable skeptic of global warming, and he was unable, or unwilling, to answer any of the raised points. At all. He seemed satisfied to trust that his colleagues had done their work properly, and that if you had a problem with it, you should ask them, or trust peer review to sort it out.

So I’m willing to bet that Mr Mohr’s attitude is typical of some segment of the scientific consensus. Which is too bad, because most physicists that I’m aware of have some pretty interesting things to say about the greenhouse effect.

In essence the global warming effect, when you get down to basic physical principles is about absorption and radiation.

The earth absorbs the sun’s radiation and re-radiates it back into space. The atmosphere stops a lot of this energy from striking the earth at all, including pretty much all the infra red ( heat) radiation. The outer layers absorb it completely and gradualy re-radiate it back into space.

The heat we experience down here comes from the more intense blue part of the spectrum that strikes the earth, and that the earth, once again, re-radiates as longer wave ‘black body’ heat. Greenhouse gasses like co2, water vapor and methane absorb that heat again and re-radiate at longer wavelengths yet, keeping it from going back into space. If it were not for this layer of insulation, earth would be about 33 degrees colder than it is now. The amount of co2 we happen to have now is responsible for about 3 degrees of this warming.

Which is all fine you might say, but what’s the point?

The point, as they say, is this: when you’re dealing with the physics of absorbing and trapping heat, changes in the balance of gasses do not have a linear effect. It’s logarithmic

What does that mean? It means that doubling (for instance) the co2 does not double the amount of heat the co2 is trapping.  Our atmosphere is already saturated enough to essentially trap nearly all the IR that can be trapped, in the spectra that co2 can affect. This is important to remember: co2 does not, indeed can not, trap all the heat radiated by the earth, no matter how much of it there is. As it is, much of the heat radiation passes through layers of co2 as if it isn’t even there. The interference spectra simply do not line up, any more than most minerals or gasses affect cosmic rays. All we might do is slow down the process of re-emmitting some of that heat into space, which would, in effect, bring the layers of heat slightly closer to the surface.

I invite you to investigate this and understand it better, but essentially, every time you add co2, the net increase in temperature is less than before. Eventually there is no more heat to absorb, regardless of how much co2 you add. If we were to actually double our atmospheric co2 the increase in temperature would be an estimated 1.5 to 2.5 degrees, proceeding from the baseline mathematics of the warming our atmosphere already does.

Depending on whom you talk to, that 3 degrees equals either something in line with the balmy medieval optimum, or,  according to James Hansen in vanity fair,  sea levels high enough to drown skyscrapers. History would seem to predispose us to the former. 

 Keep in mind that in the last 170 years humans accounted for ( at the most) about a 30% increase of atmospheric co2, by my glance at the numbers, and that increase seems to have been less than catastrophic, even assuming we caused all of it:

The twenty year smoothed Law Dome DE02 and DE02-2 ice cores show the levels of CO2 to have been 284 ppm in 1832.[10] As of January 2007, the measured atmospheric CO2 concentration at theMauna Loa observatory was about 383 ppm.[11] Of this 99 ppm rise in 175 years, 70 ppm of it has been in the last 47 years. (wikipedia)

Considering what we’ve already done, and our predicted peak in oil and coal use in the early to middle part of this century, our chances of actually doubling the content that exists is basically nil. About the only thing that might do that is a massive warming of the oceans, catastrophic volcanism, or the mass extinction of all organic life, and subsequent decay of carbon based life systems. The main reservior of co2 is the oceans, and they operate on a centuries long timetable so far as warming and cooling, and no climate theorist in his right mind thinks we can warm the oceans with the greenhouse effect (the reason is that IR only penetrates the top few microns of the ocean surface ) .

Quite simply, while we do indeed warm the earth with co2, it is already about as warmed by our activity as it can get, and for us to do much more is probably not in the realm of our abilties and timeframe . The main greenhouse gas is water vapour and we have no control over this whatsoever, and no clear understanding of how to influence it indirectly, or even model it, which is why climate scientists focus mainly on co2 and methane.

This is not some computer model with a bunch of poorly understood variables. This is pretty simple math, actually, and while our understanding of climate is basically nil ( we don’t even know how clouds form, for instance), the electromagnetic spectrum and gaseous radiation is pretty straighforward.

The projections for catastrophic global warming simply do not mesh with physics as we understand it. So do we overturn physics too, in our rush to ‘reduce our footprint’, or do we give our heads a shake and go back to the chalkboard?

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13 thoughts on “Some Convenient Bullshit: they blinded me with science

  1. Well you have that all figured out don’t you. Must be a conspiracy then by those scientists because otherwise they’d have figured this all out.

    Then again the warming by CO2 allows the atmosphere to hold more water vapor which then acts to further warm the atmosphere. But we’ll just divorce these two since it does not fit conveniently with your beliefs.

  2. BTW, I don’t think there is a single reconstruction that shows global temperatures during the “Medieval Warm Period” that approach 3 degrees.

  3. At least we’re reasonably sure it actually happened. Because we have account of people who like, lived then and stuff. But i guess you’d rather trust a computer model that says it never happened, because it disturbs this myth of a ‘stable climate’, whatever that means. I’m not worried about differing opinions on temperature variations, because clearly they, you know, vary.

    and it seems i have another mind reader on my hands. I haven’t divorced anything. I’m sure you’ve heard of point-by-point debating. I’d be carefull before you presume to know what I believe.

    All you guys hide behind feedback loop this, and forcing that, and modeling whatever. as if the earth has never had to regulate a feedback loop before. what the fuck have you been smoking? the only way to prop up your patently ludicrous projections is to conceal them inside of some ‘runaway’ exponential fantasy.

    just admit that you don’t fucking know. it’s okay. no one expects you to. I certainly don’t.

    but thanks for caring.

  4. I think you are confusing global temperatures with regional ones. It may well have been warmer by about three degrees or so in Europe which would mean, according to all those wacky conspiring scientists and their “computer models” (Yes those evil things with crazy stuff like physics and chemistry in them), that the Earth would have been about, oh maybe half to one degree warmer. So you see a three degree global temperature rise means much higher temperature increase for the high latitude. Of course you know this already I’m sure. What with your weeks of study of the subject.

    You know not of what you talk about.

  5. I wasn’t aware that we had that well of a track record establishing mean global temperatures anywhere or anywhen, especially right now.

    and let us suppose you’re right. changes nothing. the 3 degree estimate is based on us doubling atmospheric co2, which is extremely remote as a possibility, bordering on impossible. it’s a theoretical maximum.

    and trying to pepper the conversation with words like ‘evil’ and ‘conspiracy’, doesn’t exactly impress me. it just makes you sound desperate, because i don’t recall using them myself. nor does trying to imply I don’t value physics or chemistry. that’s pretty much my whole point. if you start from elementary physcial principles, your case doesn’t hold up. it’s only when you plug these half baked assumptions into a model that anyone comes up with these apocalyptic scenarios, not to mention 3 degree or more temperature spikes.

    and by all means put down my weeks of casual research. If i need more than that to understand your case, and i still don’t buy it, it’s probably not as airtight as you’d like it to be.

    but boy, I’m glad you told me I didn’t know what I was talking about. I was getting worried there.

  6. From the IPCC:
    “It has been suggested that the absorption by CO2 is already saturated so that an increase would have no effect. This, however, is not the case. Carbon dioxide absorbs infrared radiation in the middle of its 15 mm band to the extent that radiation in the middle of this band cannot escape unimpeded: this absorption is saturated. This, however, is not the case for the band’s wings. It is because of these effects of partial saturation that the radiative forcing is not proportional to the increase in the carbon dioxide concentration but shows a logarithmic dependence. Every further doubling adds an additional 4 Wm-2 to the radiative forcing.”

    Elsewhere, the report states that this 4 Wm^-2 equates to 1.2degC of warming directly from the CO2 and an additional 1.5-4.5degC of warming due to feedback effects.

  7. Techniques for determining historical climate in different parts of the planet are fairly well developed. This is the field of paleoclimatology, built on studies of ice cores, tree rings, coral, and sediments.
    You can learn all about it at:
    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/paleo.html

    NOAA’s conclusion on the medieval warm period (MWP): “The idea of a global or hemispheric “Medieval Warm Period” that was warmer than today however, has turned out to be incorrect.” Instead they find that global climate is already warmer now than it was during that period.

    Computer models are not the only basis for predictions of future climate change. Predictions are also made by studying historical geological patterns (also part of paleoclimatology), and this historical record suggests that there are certain make-or-break points past which the earth will swing into a completely different climactic equilibrium. There is good reason to believe that we are at or approaching such a point.

    And now for my mind reading feat of the day: your attempt to frame physicists as some how being the real scientists – and those who would have reliable opinions on the matter – again reveals your oddly modernist instincts and inclinations.

    Your hostility toward complex models is out of keeping with your intelligence. Its not hard to see that climate is a complex system which requires complex models and that trying to figure it out yourself from some simple physics is not going to get you anywhere. What are your deeply held convictions that are blinding you when you approach this subject?

  8. well, i’ll make this simple, and i won’t even bother with your attempts to unveil my ‘deeply held convictions’ or ‘reveal my instincts’. is it so hard to believe that i’m intelligent and openminded, but i just don’t buy it anymore? I was more than happy to be a little gore scout not so long ago, mind you. is it such an article of faith that anyone who isn’t onboard anymore must be some kind of lunatic? as if it’s some kind of religious conversion. please…

    when it comes right down to it, I simply don’t believe the level of certitude that’s being presented. I don’t think you can get that level of accuracy in reconstructions to the level they claim to be able to, and there’s a fair of debate on that as well.

    i don’t grant physics some special primacy, i simply suggest that you have to build more complex conclusions on elementary data. in this case the elementary data finds no cause for panic.

    the exaggerated predictions of computer models have little support from basic physical science, history or common sense. the history of the revisions of these models, and their admitted inability to incorporate many significant variables, only adds to it. if some guy wants to plug some assumptions into a climate model and tell me we’re about to be drowned and cooked, he’s gonna have to come clean about what those assumptions are. in most cases i don’t find those assumptions terribly convincing, when they own up to them at all.

    I don’t object to attempting to construct complex models either, but lets be honest about how accurate they really are, before we launch some ideological campaign to change the course of humanity on that basis. especially when that ideological campaign basically involves lining people’s pockets and killing off more poor people. meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

    when it comes to models in general, I think I’ll side with steven wolfram and the law of computational equivalence: the only way to get a model sufficently complex to predict complex behavior is to make it as complex as the real thing, and we’re no where near doing that. anyone who says so is simply deluded.

    let’s try understanding the sun and cloud formation first, then move on to water vapor, then I might take these attempts to reconstruct the whole climate system in a computer more seriously. untill then it’s just a lot of ‘i think’ and very little ‘i know’.

  9. Gee, I wish I was smart enough to join the fight and act like a dick and Like I am all smart and everything and like anyone who disagrees is an idiot, but……

    The fact is I am a Moron when it comes to this issue. Every over my head argument seems just as good as the next.

    Oh, well. I guess I’ll have to argue about somthing else. Maybe MMA fighting!

  10. http://www.heartland.org/archives/environment/jun01/ipcc.htm

    this pertains to the 2001 report, but it’s illuminating in the practices it talks about…

    ” Perhaps Lindzen’s most devastating critique is aimed at the IPCC’s use of statistics.

    The IPCC’s infamous hockey stick graph, for example, shows global temperatures have been stable or falling over the last 1,000 years, and that only in the industrial age has there been an unnatural warming of the planet. But if you look at the margin of error in that graph, “You can no longer maintain that statement,” said Lindzen.

    Lindzen also noted the margin of error used in the IPCC report is much smaller, a 60 percent confidence level, than traditionally used by scientists, who generally report results at the 95 or even 99 percent confidence level. The IPCC is thus publicizing results much less likely to be correct than scientific research is generally expected to be.

    To illustrate his point, Lindzen showed estimates of some of the most precise numbers in physics with their error bars. He showed different measurements of the speed of light, for instance, from 1929 to the 1980s. The error bars for the estimated speed of light in 1932 and 1940 do not even include the value we think is the correct speed of light today. “Error bars should not be taken lightly,” warned Lindzen. “There is genuine uncertainty in them.”

  11. http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=1805

    ” So we have an interesting situation where IPCC introduced an implausible statistical test without any statistical authority and the IPCC authors cited this test to reject reasonable criticism. As a result, reasonable review comments were rejected without the authors providing any valid reason. The authors also deleted a sensible caveat included in the Second Draft – without any review comments objecting to the caveat and inserted in its place, an unsupportable claim about their statistical methodology never submitted for review. As a result, one does not have an authoritative and independent review of the important issues relating to long-term persistence in climate series, but something that does not rise much above a realclimate posting.

    In assessing the review process here (as opposed to the conclusion), despite the supposed wonders of the IPCC review process by “2500+” reviewers, the actual review appears to be weaker than the review for an ordinary article in the journal (unless one is talking about something like Stephen Schneider editing Wahl and Ammann). There is negligible participation by the “2500+” IPCC reviewers, with the primary review coming from McKitrick and (presumably) Cohn/Lins. While we have not seen what the review editors said, the evidence is that they passively acquiesced in the bullying responses by the lead authors and even permitted them to make changes to the Second Draft expounding their own point-of-view. All in all, read through in sequence , the handling of these review comments by the lead authors is a very unsavory spectacle. ”

    I could go on for quite some time, but I hope I won’t need to.

  12. “This is pretty simple math, actually, and while our understanding of climate is basically nil ( we don’t even know how clouds form, for instance), the electromagnetic spectrum and gaseous radiation is pretty straighforward.”

    +

    ” just admit that you don’t fucking know. it’s okay. no one expects you to. I certainly don’t.

    but thanks for caring.”

    =

    ROFL

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