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Discussion > What if the slayers are right?

What are the political implications of the slayers being right - compared to Professor Richard Lindzen - about the science of the greenhouse effect and all other related science?

My null hypothesis is no difference at all. Please feel free to argue otherwise.

Jan 5, 2013 at 12:46 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

I concur. If they were 'right' we'd need to put a lot more work into understanding just what is going on in terms of 'natural variation'. Just as we do now, too uncritical acceptance of the GHE as prime factor being a cause for us to ignore other contributors.

Jan 5, 2013 at 3:13 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

I've often said that about the taxation around AGW. It was a convenient excuse. Due to socialising reforms and ageing populations, countries need more taxation income. And they like a spread of taxes to make it seem less of a burden. If it hadn't have been AGW, it would have been something else. This is why the correctness of the science is irrelevant to the Beast.

If the Slayers are correct, then it will be the single biggest overthrow of accepted physical theory since Ether or Phlogiston. In fact, bigger than that, because if they are right we would have to throw out half of our physics textbooks. Which is why the burden of proof on them is so high. Not only does their theory have to explain a warm earth, it also has to explain why current physics got it wrong. A big ask.

Which they can't do :)

Jan 5, 2013 at 3:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

The Third Pillar of Deception.

I am planning to write a short essay, entitled "The Three Pillars of Deception", which will be a simple rebuttal of the CAGW hypothesis. The three pillars are: fiddled data, useless models and flawed physics. While the first two subjects are relatively easy to demonstrate, with ample evidence of hockey sticks and failed predictions, the third is not. My original intention to go with "back radiation" evoked howls of "slayers" and "skydragons", and other such nonsense, and is clearly neither understandable nor accepted. I would therefore appreciate comments and suggestions on the following alternative:

"The CAGW hypothesis is predicated on a "greenhouse effect" (GHE) in which the Earth's atmosphere raises the surface temperature of the planet by 33 degrees Kelvin above that of an airless planet, and that anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide will increase the surface temperature by a dangerous amount - 2 degrees or more. This is hopelessly flawed physics, partly due to incorrect mathematics (not using Holder's inequality) and partly due to the confusion between diurnal thermal equilibrium and thermodynamic equilibrium. The fact that the physics is flawed is simply evidenced by spacecraft measurements of the surface temperature of the Moon - an airless world of the same composition and insolation as the Earth."

Jan 5, 2013 at 4:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

Some quick reactions here. So my usual diplomacy may be lacking :)

Roger: good luck with the essay but off-topic for this thread. This isn't about the science; it's about assuming the slayers are right and looking at the policy implications.

TBYJ: The two parts are both very interesting BUT ... :) The first is to do with policy and (I think) implies you agree with my null hypothesis

Rhoda: Thanks for the "I concur". I think you do. But you are then I think talking about what science we should be doing, not policy.

Nobody has yet put forward any way in which a rational policy response to the science would be any different in these two very different cases:

1. The slayers are right
2. Richard Lindzen is right.

That's what I'm looking for on this thread. Would there be any difference?

(Not said in anger or frustration or anything like that. These are intelligent people making some interesting points. But there's an obvious reason for asking this very basic question.)

Jan 5, 2013 at 6:24 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Policy-wise, if we had any sense we would not have a pociy until the science is right. For numerous reasons that is not viable but lert's look at it from the POV of existing policy. If the slayers are right, CO2 emissions are not a problem for mankind. Therefore we can forget any reduction program via tax or credits or whatever. But they need to tax us anyway? That's another problem, and its name is spending. They COULD encourage growth by removing energy taxes entirely.

Jan 5, 2013 at 6:36 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

Good points Rhoda but to be clearer (if I can) assume the Archangel Gabriel, head of communications for Celestial Inc, has revealed what the truth of the science is. But he's left the policy to us. Any differences between slayers right (SR) and Lindzen right (LR)? There's no need to reduce or limit CO2 emissions in either case, in my view. Taxes can take other forms, if they must, or we can reduce government spending. I don't care about that either - not on this thread. I'm only interested in the comparative situation between SR and LR.

Jan 5, 2013 at 6:47 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

There are two principal things that the dragonslayers seem to be saying:

1. The physics of radiation as taught to physicists and engineers is wrong. Photons from a cooler body cannot be absorbed by a warmer body. (etc etc)

2. The greenhouse effect is nonexistent.

If they are right on the first count, then engineering achievements such as landing men on the moon were an outright miracle, being based on incorrect understanding of physics.

If they are right on the second count, then predictions of CAGW due to CO2 are nonsense.

I think a lot of people verge on agreement on the second point. If someone were to believe that the GHE exists but is undetectable, would that differ (other than in a philosophical sense) from agreeing with them that it does not exist?

Where I disagree 100% with the dragonslayers is their assertion that the nonexistence of the greenhouse effect is proved by the "fact" (as they believe) that radiation from a warm body cannot be absorbed by a cooler body (plus other things they believe that conflict with the standard theory of radiation).

____________________________________________________________________________

I'm still struggling to write up my understanding of the simple model of the GHE (black body surrounded by a GG shell) with some invaluable help from others in criticising my drafts.

If I write up the steady-state situation, where temperatures are constant so that nothing is being warmed, nothing is gaining energy, nothing is loosing energy, it is difficult to be convincing*.

If I write up the dynamic situation, describing how the initially cold black body was warmed by incoming solar radiation (and not at all by energy returning to the BB from the GG shell) until equilibrium was finally reached, it becomes very hard to follow, particularly to anyone not used to analysing dynamic effects (for which differential equations, rather than English sentences are the clearest description).

I'll persist with my efforts but it's not proving easy.

* The difficulty of making it convincing is starting to make me wonder if rhoda's demand for observational confirmation of the GHE may (may) be inherently incapable of being satisfied, even if the GHE is real and significant.

Jan 5, 2013 at 7:30 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Sorry to be O/T Richard. A discussion of the physics is continuing on rhoda's GHE thread.

Jan 5, 2013 at 7:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Longstaff

The fact that the physics is flawed is simply evidenced by spacecraft measurements of the surface temperature of the Moon - an airless world of the same composition and insolation as the Earth."
Jan 5, 2013 at 4:43 PM Roger Longstaff

Roger - do you have a reference to the lunar surface temperature, preferably from NASA or NASA sponsored investigators?

RKS mentioned a single value (but without saying if it was an average over the entire lunar surface and over the entire lunar day+night). He seems to have buggered off without responding to a request for a reference to this figure and how it was measured/calculated. The only reference I found from what he had said referred just to the lunar equator - and the website for the investigation seemed to be out of action.

BTW, is the Earth really the same composition as the Moon? My back garden at present does not look much like lunar dust. And the English Channel looks even less like lunar dust.

Also, I can imagine that the difference between the 24 hours of Earth's day+night and the 24 × 28 hours of the Moon's day + night might also make things different.

Jan 5, 2013 at 7:53 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

If you are comparing the policies which would sensibly be implemented if it was proved - and accepted - that Lindzen or the Slayers were right, then I agree there would be no difference - both realities imply we don't need to do anything.

This is where my Lukewarmerish is slightly less complacent than Lindzens, I still think some of the actions are worth doing, even if the rise is going to be small.

Jan 5, 2013 at 9:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Martin, yes the moon really is of the same composition, being believed to be a reconstituted chunk of Terran debris blasted off the earth by collision with a Mars-sized object early in the formation of the solar system. Earth's atmosphere, oceans and biosphere are what make the two bodies look so different.

Jan 5, 2013 at 9:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

This is where my Lukewarmerish is slightly less complacent than Lindzens, I still think some of the actions are worth doing, even if the rise is going to be small.

Jan 5, 2013 at 9:10 PM | TheBigYinJames>>>>

Just in case!

Jan 6, 2013 at 4:13 AM | Registered CommenterRKS

Martin, yes the moon really is of the same composition, being believed to be a reconstituted chunk of Terran debris blasted off the earth by collision with a Mars-sized object early in the formation of the solar system. Earth's atmosphere, oceans and biosphere are what make the two bodies look so different.

Jan 5, 2013 at 9:39 PM | Chris M>>>>>

Quite so Chris.

I think the comparison of Lindzen and the 'slayers' is the wrong choice as far as policy is concerned.

Policy makers don't even listen or act on what Lindzen says as his science is sceptical of CAGW.

THAT is the better comparison - CAGW 'science' vs Slayers, you'd then get a very different policy outcome.

Jan 6, 2013 at 4:22 AM | Registered CommenterRKS

RKS - thnx for the references.

Jan 6, 2013 at 8:18 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

BYJ
"If the Slayers are correct, then it will be the single biggest overthrow of accepted physical theory since Ether or Phlogiston. "

But both your examples were proved incorrect, along with the Static Universe, The Expanding Earth, miasmatic theory of disease, immovable continents and many many more theories once accepted as correct by a significant proportion of scientists if not all, so just because the theory is so far removed from the accepted view doesn't make it wrong, nor does it mean it should be ignored.

Personally I've no idea whether modern physics text books are correct or not, but I supect most of the content will eventually be proved to be incorrect or special cases (Newton's laws of motion).

This is an excellent topic for sceptics to discuss, because it does throw current physics textbooks out of the window. Why should everything we think is correct today not be erroneous?

As there are 338 comments on the "An experimental demo of GHE" discussion and none have met the requirement if I were a betting man and had to put money on it I think that I might go with the slayers.

Jan 6, 2013 at 9:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Martin, yes the moon really is of the same composition, being believed to be a reconstituted chunk of Terran debris blasted off the earth by collision with a Mars-sized object early in the formation of the solar system. Earth's atmosphere, oceans and biosphere are what make the two bodies look so different.
Jan 5, 2013 at 9:39 PM Chris M

Chris - I imagine that what matters in comparing the GHE of the Earth with the GHE (or its absence) on the Moon is:

- The specific heat and the thermal conductivity of the topmost layer (10 cm? 1m?) which will influence the rate of warming/cooling.

- The optical properties of the surface - or rather, the aspect as seen from space, which includes the clouds. In particular, the emissivity at long IR wavelenghts and its absorptivity at short IR and visible wavelengths. These will also affect the rate of warming and the effectiveness of the GHE.

Even if the rocks and core are similar in composition, I find it quite hard to see how the thermal and optical properties of the surfaces can be in any way comparable.

There is also the question of the Earth's 24 hour day and the Moon's day 28 times as long. This just has to affect the dynamics of the heating and cooling between day and night.

As I said, the mud in my back garden (or the seawater in the English Channel) seems to me vastly different in these properties from the lunar dust in the Sea of Tranquility.

I think making comparisons between Earth and other planets (such as Harry Huffman has done) and the Earth and planetary satellites is likely to be very enlightening. But because of the thermal and optical differences between the surface of the Earth and the Moon, I find it very hard to believe that observations of the Moon's temperature can taken as applying to the Earth where nothing had changed except for the deletion of the GHE.

Jan 6, 2013 at 9:19 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Roger:

Sorry to be O/T Richard.

No need to apologise. O/T is good. Refusing to countenance moving it to a more appropriate place isn't. Your contribution on both threads is a net positive, for that reason.

Jan 6, 2013 at 10:48 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

TBYJ:

If you are comparing the policies which would sensibly be implemented if it was proved - and accepted - that Lindzen or the Slayers were right, then I agree there would be no difference - both realities imply we don't need to do anything.

Thanks, that's what I was looking for. Anyone disagree with this? And as a lukewarmer is is possible for you to offer an opinion as to which - slayer or Lindzen - is more likely to be true?

In fact I think you already did this:

If the Slayers are correct, then it will be the single biggest overthrow of accepted physical theory since Ether or Phlogiston. In fact, bigger than that, because if they are right we would have to throw out half of our physics textbooks. Which is why the burden of proof on them is so high. Not only does their theory have to explain a warm earth, it also has to explain why current physics got it wrong. A big ask.

Which they can't do :)

So, if the policy outcome is the same and one approach is much more likely to be true than the other, are there any downsides in some sceptics giving the impression that the slayer option is a fundamental, make or break issue in the debate? The answer is so obvious to me that this seems rhetorical only. But let's say it isn't. Anyone want to argue that there are no downsides?

Jan 6, 2013 at 10:59 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

RKS:

I think the comparison of Lindzen and the 'slayers' is the wrong choice as far as policy is concerned.

See my previous post. Is it clearer why I asked this question now?

How can any question be the wrong choice, by the way?

Jan 6, 2013 at 11:01 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

RKS:

I think the comparison of Lindzen and the 'slayers' is the wrong choice as far as policy is concerned.
See my previous post. Is it clearer why I asked this question now?

How can any question be the wrong choice, by the way?

Jan 6, 2013 at 11:01 AM | Richard Drake>>>>

If neither [sceptical] choice is going to affect policy in any way whatsoever, as neither is accepted by policy makers, what on earth is the point of the question?

Jan 6, 2013 at 11:36 AM | Registered CommenterRKS

OK, let me ask a preliminary question. Are policy makers - and their advisers - more likely to be influenced by arguments grounded in good science or by gobbledegook to the power of tosh?

Jan 6, 2013 at 11:54 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Ah, I see where you're heading now, Richard, and I concur.

There is no need to invoke an overthrow of physics to get the result the slayers want. If they were being clever, instead of trying to get establishment science to swallow and assimilate the very difficult prospect of all their accepted physics being wrong, slayers could effect the same policy outcome by pushing the much less radical lukewarmer position as a unified position.

I agree but I also think human nature precludes this - a lot of the slayer psychology is about retribution on establishment science.

Jan 6, 2013 at 12:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

OK, let me ask a preliminary question. Are policy makers - and their advisers - more likely to be influenced by arguments grounded in good science or by gobbledegook to the power of tosh?

Jan 6, 2013 at 11:54 AM | Richard Drake>>>>

They appear to be completely influenced by CAGW gobbledegook at the moment so who knows what they might choose next. The whole exercise is political anyway, started by Maggie Thatcher and dropped by her once she'd beaten the miners and achieved her seat at the international tables of influence, so whatever science achieves their political ends is the one they'll choose.

Jan 6, 2013 at 12:18 PM | Registered CommenterRKS

To answer Richard's original post: nothing would change. The narrative is already shifting to sustainability, security of supply (sic) and getting away from "dirty" forms of generation.

Agenda 21 isn't tin foil hattery, the UK is fully signed up.

Jan 6, 2013 at 6:34 PM | Registered Commenterwoodentop