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Discussion > Does Climate Science Exist?

To be perfectly honest I have never previously seen any reference to the Maxwell/Clausius/Carnot gravito-thermal effect of atmospheric pressure or the support it received from Feynman, is anyone else in the same boat?

Aug 26, 2015 at 11:52 AM | Registered CommenterDung

Based on what was said by Maxwell; has EM disproved the Laws of Thermodynamics yet?

Aug 26, 2015 at 12:17 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Dung, there have been various things posted on the Internet over the years, giving alternative explanations for the greenhouse effect. I am instantly put off from reading further when I see things like "How Gravity continuously does Thermodynamic Work on the atmosphere to control pressure & temperature". SLBTM, although you'd need to read it to be sure.

The chapter of the Feynman Lectures on Physics they refer to is titled:
40 The Principles of Statistical Mechanics

40–1 The exponential atmosphere
(...)
So, these are the two questions that we shall try to answer: How are the molecules distributed in space when there are forces acting on them, and how are they distributed in velocity?

http://www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu/I_40.html

Aug 26, 2015 at 1:47 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

"Biddy" "a woman, especially an elderly one, regarded as annoying or interfering."

Not you of course RR. In so far as I can understand NiV's comment I don't believe it was directed towards you personally. My take is it was aimed at the skydragons generally. There is a decided lack of patience with skydragons, presumably because denying the existence of the greenhouse effect when the reduction in OLR has been measured and published in Harries et al 2001. (As an aside, I am constantly amazed by both the scientific and medical communities' non- critical acceptance of one paper as "proof". An engineer would not accept one paper as the end of the matter, but as far as I'm aware no subsequent papers measuring OLR have been published in the last 14 years. Similarly the medical profession accepted one paper by Alcen Keys as gospel for 25 years and vilified saturated fats. This doesn't imply I believe Harries et so was wrong, just that I'm surprised he hasn't been confirmed by other researchers). Anyway whether they're right or wrong skydragons are bad PR for the sceptic cause, I believe that was the reason for NiV's waspish remark and didn't see you as the target.

Martin A. P implies Q if R implies Q then P implies not Q is as a fallacy/logical non-seqitur, but only in classical logic. If I could only get an example of how it works for the higher minds:

Flu gives you a fever.
Malaria gives you a fever.
Therefore flu can't give you a fever because "malaria" is a "better" answer.

Do you get it now?

Aug 26, 2015 at 2:08 PM | Registered Commentergeronimo

I know quite a few old biddies who are definitely male.
And the expression "stop behaving like an old woman" is definitely unisex.

Aug 26, 2015 at 2:33 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Martin A

A theory by Maxwell/Clausius/Carnot which is backed by Feynman is found to accurately predict the surface temperature of half a dozen or so planetary bodies in the solar system (the details of which can easily be confirmed) and you are not interested because it mentions "How Gravity continuously does Thermodynamic Work on the atmosphere to control pressure & temperature"???
You tell me (how to suck eggs will be next) that "there have been various things posted on the Internet over the years, giving alternative explanations for the greenhouse effect." This in response to me asking about people's previous knowledge of the Maxwell/Clausius/Carnot theory, have I upset you recently?

Aug 26, 2015 at 2:46 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Mike J it is the dictionary meaning of biddy. Although I'm not sure if it isn't bisexual in Scotland.

Aug 26, 2015 at 5:01 PM | Registered Commentergeronimo

geronimo
Martin A. P implies Q if R implies Q then P implies not Q is as a fallacy/logical non-seqitur, but only in classical logic. If I could only get an example of how it works for the higher minds:

Flu gives you a fever.
Malaria gives you a fever.
Therefore flu can't give you a fever because "malaria" is a "better" answer.

Do you get it now?
Aug 26, 2015 at 2:08 PM | Registered Commentergeronimo

I've tried but I still don't get it. I asked EM what he meant by "better" - because unless defined, it's purely subjective. And rejecting a hypothesis on the basis of a subjective judgement is not exactly "falsifying" it -it's just saying that you find the othe more convincing (or something).

Instead of admitting the fallacy in what he said, EM started coming up with bollocks such as


You have just demonstrated why the formal logic of propositional calculus should not be applied to science.It is too simplistic, which is why higher-order logical systems were developed.


But so far as I can see, EM genuinely believes that a better second explantion falsifies the first..

And it seems to be a common theme among AGW believers to say something like "come up with a better explanation, then" with the implication that, if you don't, it has confirmed their belief as valid. I don't have the time (nor inclination) at the moment to dig up examples, but I think there are a number of instances of EM himself saying such things.

Aug 26, 2015 at 5:52 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Dung - keep your hair on.

have I upset you recently?
So far as I can remember, you have *never* upset me.

A theory by Maxwell/Clausius/Carnot which is backed by Feynman
Hold on.

The cited chapter by Feynman does not even mention any theory by Maxwell/Clausius/Carnot. Clausius and Carnot are not mentioned. Feynman is explaing the basic physics of gases. Maxwell is mentioned close to the end of the chapter as follows:

The first great paper on the dynamical theory of gases was by Maxwell in 1859. On the basis of ideas we have been discussing, he was able accurately to explain a great many known relations, such as Boyle’s law, the diffusion theory, the viscosity of gases, and things we shall talk about in the next chapter. He listed all these great successes in a final summary, and at the end he said, “Finally, by establishing a necessary relation between the motions of translation and rotation (he is talking about the ½kT theorem) of all particles not spherical, we proved that a system of such particles could not possibly satisfy the known relation between the two specific heats.” He is referring to γ (which we shall see later is related to two ways of measuring specific heat), and he says we know we cannot get the right answer.

Ten years later, in a lecture, he said, “I have now put before you what I consider to be the greatest difficulty yet encountered by the molecular theory.” These words represent the first discovery that the laws of classical physics were wrong. This was the first indication that there was something fundamentally impossible, because a rigorously proved theorem did not agree with experiment....

you are not interested because it mentions "How Gravity continuously does Thermodynamic Work on the atmosphere to control pressure & temperature"???

Well yes. That sentence sets off my bullshit detector. I could well be completely wrong and if I am, presumably other people will soon be explaining how it all makes perfect sense in terms of established laws of physics.

RR said that the paper says that the greenhouse effect does not exist - if so, then that would put it in the Skydragonslayer camp, essentially saying how the physics of the 20th century is wrong..

But I was trying to answer your question - I have been aware over the past few years of various explanations, involving gravity and the gas laws, which claim to explain the temperature of atmospheres.

Aug 26, 2015 at 6:54 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I'm not going to get too far into this because I tend to be out of my depth and I need a good night's sleep. But it seems to me that there is an inadequate definition of "greenhouse effect" (among a lot of other inadequate definitions, I might add!).
The "greenhouse effect" is a neat shorthand for the benefit of laymen as thick as me and thicker to explain why we are not freezing our bollocks off at 50 below or whatever.
But there is no "greenhouse effect" in the way that there is in a greenhouse. The earth doesn't have a roof and that makes a major difference. So perhaps before we started arguing about greenhouses, partial pressure and the gas laws we really ought to understand what we actually mean by these things.
I'm sure I'm not sure and the more unsure I get the more I ask if agreeing on these things and properly defining the terms would undermine a few pet theories.
See you all tomorrow!

Aug 26, 2015 at 8:08 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Mike Jackson

Yes, the name "greenhouse effect" has misled a lot of people. There are lots of rubbish definitions around, for example:

The greenhouse effect occurs when certain gases in the atmosphere (the air around the Earth) entrap infrared radiation. This effect makes the planet warmer, in the same way a greenhouse keeps its inside temperature warmer. Wikipedia (my emphasis)

Putting it into my own words, I'd say

The greenhouse effect is the effect where the ground level temperature of the Earth is higher than it would be if the Earth's atmosphere atmosphere contained no gases that can absorb (and radiate) infra-red radiation.

In saying what it is, I don't think there is a need to get into an explanation of *how* it works.

But if there were a need to include a brief explanation, I think it should be explained in terms of the lapse rate and the height at which final radiation to space occurs. Explanations that even mention 'back radiation' immediately convince me that the person giving the explanation has not properly understood what is going on or, at very least, is giving an unnecessarily confusing explanation.

Is the fact that there as so many rubbish definitions floating around another indication that climate science is not really science?

Aug 26, 2015 at 9:09 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I think it's this business of the lapse rate that is starting to get people more confused than they were before.
We are now starting to see disputes popping up between those who claim it's fixed and those who claim it can vary according climatic conditions.
There is also no meeting of minds on this question of "back radiation". That was one of the first things that I recall MyDog (as he then was) claiming didn't exist. And two of the reasons I was inclined to come down on his side were 1. that it seemed logical to an ignorant layman like me that a "piece" of energy (however defined) could only do its job once and couldn't keep on radiating more or less ad infinitum and 2. that no-one was challenging him on his claim.
I'm not sure I'm right about 1; but I'm damned sure I'm right about 2! If he's wrong will one of these climate geniuses for whom back radiation is essential to the cause of next month's salary cheque please prove he's wrong because until they do his hypothesis is, to my mind, as good as theirs.
And I agree with you about the definitions but it's also the "sub-hypotheses" (like back radiation) that are dragged out whenever a bit of distraction is needed. As McIntyre said, you really do need to keep your eye on the thimble the whole time.

Aug 27, 2015 at 9:11 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

"I've tried but I still don't get it. I asked EM what he meant by "better" - because unless defined, it's purely subjective."

Only in classical logic Martin A. If you'd have studied higher logic under Professor Cook at the University of SkS, as EM has you'd understand thaw;

If flu causes a fever and malaria causes a fever then flu (or malaria if it suits you better) can't cause a fever,

As with many thing Lewis Carroll got there before us: "...Imagination is the only w!eapon in the war against r!eality."

Aug 27, 2015 at 10:50 AM | Registered Commentergeronimo

Maybe Martin can work this out ^.^:

when energy is reflected from the earth's surface, back towards top of atmosphere and if in the volume of atmosphere above that point, only 0.000395% of the molecules are CO2, what percentage of the radiation reflected from the earth can be expected to find a CO2 molecule? hehe

Aug 27, 2015 at 1:10 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Dung
I've tried that one. It's the "how can something that is only 400ppm have so much greater effect than when it was only 300pp.?" question.
It's all to do with IR bands and don't look too closely behind that curtain, if I remember correctly.
We could try rephrasing it, I suppose.
What percentage of the atmosphere is water vapour? What percentage is CO2? If I increase the CO2 by one-third by what percentage do I increase the amount of IR absorbent gases?
I'll tell you the probable answer:
"It's not that simple but in any case you should still not look behind that curtain. Now! About the polar bear problem, Did you know ....."
Watch that pea, Dung!

Aug 27, 2015 at 1:25 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

I recommend the discussion at the Science of Doom website.

Aug 27, 2015 at 2:31 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

Maybe Martin can work this out ^.^:

when energy is reflected from the earth's surface, back towards top of atmosphere and if in the volume of atmosphere above that point, only 0.000395% of the molecules are CO2, what percentage of the radiation reflected from the earth can be expected to find a CO2 molecule? hehe
Aug 27, 2015 at 1:10 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Dung, I'm not sure what is the implication of your question. That the greenhouse effect is a myth? If so, then please don't expect me to acquiesce with the implication.

A couple of points. You ask:

what percentage of the radiation reflected from the earth can be expected to find a CO2 molecule?

The energy literally reflected from the earth is primarily visible radiation which has essentially zero absorption by CO2, so the literal answer to your question as asked is "as close to zero percent as makes no difference to anything".

But what percentage of the energy absorbed as visible radiation and then re-radiated from the surface as IR (not "reflected") can be expected to find a CO2 molecule? Without either working it out or looking it up, I can say with that the answer is "quite a significant percentage"

If my calculation is correct (after midnight and with C2H5OH. in the system), 0.000395% equates to each square foot of ground area having about one pound of CO2 above it (~14oz).. A pound of an effective CO2 absorbant, spread over a square foot, is non-negligible quantity.

Aug 27, 2015 at 11:27 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I recommend the discussion at the Science of Doom website.
Aug 27, 2015 at 2:31 PM HaroldW

Harold W +1

Isn't it ironic that the most comprehensive, clearly expressed source of information on climate science seems to come from someone (so far as I can tell - mainly a guess but inferring from his remarks) who is not professionally involved in climate science. Another indictment (in my view) of 'climate science' as a branch of science.

I wonder if SoD is heading towards a fate analogous to that of Judith Curry... Some of the things he has posted recently pointing out flaws in the received wisdom of climate science (eg The Thirty Year Myth) may not have gone down too well with the Priesthood.

Aug 27, 2015 at 11:48 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

We are now starting to see disputes popping up between those who claim it's fixed* and those who claim it can vary according climatic conditions....
Aug 27, 2015 at 9:11 AM Mike Jackson
*the lapse rate

Mike, somebody here (geronimo?) pointed out that it is obvious bollocks to say that the lapse rate is fixed. If it were, you could always calculate the temperature at the top of a mountain from the temperature at its base.

But whether it is fixed or variable does not change the basic principle that, if the final radiation to space occurs at high altitude, then the ground level temperature has to be greater than the temperature at the height from which the final radiation occurs. Hence the greenhouse effect exists.

Whereas, if the final radiation to space took place at ground level (as it would if the atmosphere were, say, pure nitrogen), then there would be no such temperature difference, so no greenhouse effect.

Whether it's fixed or variable only makes a difference when you come to do calculations; not in understanding the basic principle.

Aug 28, 2015 at 12:07 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin A
I'm not disputing that what is called the 'greenhouse effect' exists; my beef is with the term itself which has led many people to believe that the atmosphere acts in the same way as a greenhouse.
There appear to be two points of view with regard to how it does actually work: one is that water vapour and most especially these days the demon CO2 "trap" heat thereby slowing down the transmission of heat to space which has the effect of heating the earth because more heat is coming in than is going out; the other is that, looking at how other planets appear to behave, all can be explained by atmospheric pressure and "greenhouse gases" are nothing of the sort, it being the atmosphere per se that determines the earth's temperature.
Well, that's the simple version anyway. The actual determinant in both cases being solar activity which the Climateers hotly (joke!) contest.
I largely agreed with Dung on the 400ppm question. You are talking about weight which doesn't seem to me quite to address his point. I don't know how ppm works in practice. If I assume that we are talking in molecules then it seems to me that any given unit of energy has only one chance in 250,000 of colliding with a CO2 molecule on its way out.
Then there is the question of how much of the heat loss from the surface is radiation and how much is convection and to what extent the increase from 300 to 400 ppm of one absorbant gas enhances the effect of water vapour or even whether the water vapour adjusts to compensate.
There seem to be an awful lot of 'whethers' and 'ifs' and hot air in this one area of study and not very many people keen on trying seriously to find the correct answers. (And when I read, as I did yesterday at Pierre Gosselin's site, that even mentioning the phrase 'natural variation' could get you banned from speaking I start to despair just a bit.)

Aug 28, 2015 at 10:11 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Dung, Mike Jackson.

395/1,000,000 = 0.000395 = 0.0395%

(not 0.000395%)

Aug 28, 2015 at 12:14 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A


I largely agreed with Dung on the 400ppm question. You are talking about weight which doesn't seem to me quite to address his point. I don't know how ppm works in practice. If I assume that we are talking in molecules then it seems to me that any given unit of energy has only one chance in 250,000 of colliding with a CO2 molecule on its way out.

Mike - IR photons simply do not interact with argon atoms nor with nitrogen molecules nor with (for all practical purposes) oxygen molecules. So the probablility of an IR photon being captured by a CO2 molecule is not affected by the presence of those gases. It would have the same probability of being captured if they were not there at all. The "only 400 parts in a million" is not relevant to anything.

The "14oz per square foot" says that there are still an awful lot of CO2 molecules in a column of air one foot wide between ground level and outer space. But such subjective descriptions don't really help one way or the other. What matters is the measured properties of CO2 in absorbing IR and how much CO2 each IR photon has to pass through on its way to the far side of the Universe. These to things permit a calculation of the probability of a photon being absorbed as it tries to escape.

my beef is with the term itself which has led many people to believe that the atmosphere acts in the same way as a greenhouse
Which is bollocks but which is widely believed (see the wiki definition I quoted).

There appear to be two points of view with regard to how it does actually work: one is that water vapour and most especially these days the demon CO2 "trap" heat thereby slowing down the transmission of heat to space which has the effect of heating the earth because more heat is coming in than is going out; the other is that, looking at how other planets appear to behave, all can be explained by atmospheric pressure and "greenhouse gases" are nothing of the sort, it being the atmosphere per se that determines the earth's temperature.

"trapping heat" "slowing down the transmission of heat" are misleading.


As you say, there do seem to be two views:

- the "standard" view that the greenhouse effect exists and it results from the atmosphere being more or less opaque to IR, so that the final radiation to space has to take place at altitude where the air is colder than at ground level as a result of the lapse rate.

- the "alternative" view that ground level temperature is determined by the level of incoming solar energy and the properties of gases in gravitational fields.

I think that some proponents of the "alternative" view are committing what I will, from now on, call "The EM fallacy"; that is to say that, because they have come up with an alternative hypothesis as to what controls the temperature at ground level, they consider that this has falsified the greenhouse gas theory. But, as the discussion about EM's fallacy highlighted, to falsify a theory, you have to show why it is wrong. Coming up with an alternative explanation, even if somebody thinks it is a "better" explanation, does not do that.

Aug 28, 2015 at 1:08 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Martin A

Would you not accept that when there are two competing theories about an issue then a la Feynman; the theory which most corresponds with experiment/observation is the one to back? Under those circumstances greenhouse gases are an irrelevance other than being part of the total atmosphere.

Aug 28, 2015 at 1:51 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Martin A
Thanks for that. I take the point about "radiatively inactive" gases and I never subscribed to Dung's percentage figure, honest! If anything I prefer the 1:2500 arrangement which I find more easily understood.
I try to be a bit wary of getting too far into physics but on the question of temperature vs pressure I was under the impression that, as RR argued the other day, observations (insofar as one can observe Venus at close quarters!) supported the hypothesis that CO2 was irrelevant to temperature, that comparing like with like between the two planets the temperatures were similar even though the atmospheres are quite different.
At least someone is explaining why that is so in a way which this "barmaid" can understand and which doesn't involve a stand-up fight about back-radiation or the extent to which the relevant IR wavelengths are or are not saturated or whether CO2 only absorbs up to 200ppm, all of which seem to be aspects that engage the warmist philosophers (for want of a better word) who would presumably be on the dole if they ever reached a conclusion!
I think I'm probably speaking for Dung and RR as well when I say that this is all going on well above our heads and that we are being expected to swallow whichever theory happens to suit those who are making a good living out of pushing the CO2/global warming hypothesis which, frankly, seemed to us to be a bit unlikely to start with and is starting to look more threadbare by the day.
I think I might stop trying to understand the science; it's not good for me!

Aug 28, 2015 at 2:23 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

"But, as the discussion about EM's fallacy highlighted, to falsify a theory, you have to show why it is wrong. Coming up with an alternative explanation, even if somebody thinks it is a "better" explanation, does not do that."

True, but what is the theory we're trying to prove wrong?

1. CO2 is a GHG? Irrefutable if the Harries et al 2001 paper is to be believed. They clearly showed evidence of a reduction in the OLR at the 4 and 15 micron wavelengths as expected for CO2. (Although I come back to the question as to why it doesn't seem to have been replicated).

2. Increasing CO2 will cause increased temperature in line with the Arrhenius equation. Possibly, but the use of that equation doesn't take into account natural variations so its application to any given situation does not lend itself to proving the equation useful.

3. Increased temperatures will cause more water vapour which will magnify the effects of CO2. The physics is right at the linear level i.e. more warming will cause more water vapour, but any increase in warming from any source would have this effect. Moreover we have enough information from recent warming events to that historically increased heat hasn't triggered positive feedback. Unlikely.

4. Continued increases in CO2 will cause warming that not only will have no beneficial effects whatsoever but will cause catastrophe and mayhem to the planet. That is in my file entitled "Complete Bollocks".

It is really only 4 that matters in the long run.

Mike Jackson we have our conversations about the science, sometimes heated, but the science is only a vehicle for political control, and political control can only be achieved if the people are scared. There is no science in soothsaying it's opinion.

Aug 28, 2015 at 3:24 PM | Registered Commentergeronimo