The Physicist and the Climatologist; FOLLOW THE MONEY!

The fatal flaw in the climate models seems to come from one repeated assumption.  The assumption is that positive feedbacks from greenhouse effects can exceed negative feedbacks.  While this situation might actually exist over a given time period (and reflect temperature increases during that time period as a result) the average over the long term must net to zero.  If it doesn’t, then everything we have learned about physics over the last 1000 years is wrong, and perpetual motion is possible.  If a climatologist and a physicist were to discuss the matter, the conversation might be as follows:

Climatologist;  I have a system of undetermined complexity and undetermined composition, floating and spinning in space.  It has a few internal but steady state and minor energy sources.  An external energy source radiates 1365 watts per meter squared at it on a constant basis.  What will happen?

Physicist; The system will arrive at a steady state temperature which radiates heat to space that equals the total of the energy inputs.  Complexity of the system being unknown, and the body spinning in space versus the radiated energy source, there will be cyclic variations in temperature, but the long term average will not change.

Climatologist;  Well what if I change the composition of the system?

Physicist;  see above.

Climatologist;  Perhaps you don’t understand my question.  The system has an unknown quantity of CO2 in the atmosphere that absorbs energy in the same spectrum as the system is radiating.  There are also quantities of carbon and oxygen that are combining to create more CO2 which absorbs more energy.  Would this not raise the temperature of the system?

Physicist;  there would be a temporary fluctuation in temperature caused by changes in how energy flows through the system, but for the long term average… see above.

Climatologist;  But the CO2 would cause a small rise in temperature, which even if it was temporary would cause a huge rise in water vapour which would absorb even more of the energy being radiated by the system.  This would have to raise the temperature of the system.

Physicist; there would be a temporary fluctuation in the temperature caused by changes in how energy flows through the system, but for the long term average… see above.

Climatologist;  That can’t be true.  I’ve been measuring temperature at thousands of points in the system and the average is rising.

Physicist;   The temperature rise you observe can be due to one of two factors.  It may be due to a cyclic variation that has not completed, or it could be due to the changes you alluded to earlier resulting in a redistribution of energy in the system that affects the measurement points more than the system as a whole.  Unless the energy inputs have changed, the long term temperature average would be… see above.

Climatologist;  AHA!  All that burning of fossil fuel is releasing energy that was stored millions of years ago, you cannot deny that this would increase temperature.

Physicist;  Is it more than 0.01% of what the energy source shining on the planet is?

Climatologist; Uhm… no.

Physicist;  rounding error.  For the long term temperature of the planet… see above.

Climatologist;  Methane! Methane absorbs even more than CO2.

Physicist; see above.

Climatologist;  Clouds!  Clouds would retain more energy!

Physicist;  see above.

Climatologist; Ice!  If a fluctuation in temperature melted all the ice less energy would be reflected into space and would instead be absorbed into the system, raising the temperature.  Ha!

Physicist; The ice you are pointing at is mostly at the poles where the inclination of the radiant energy source is so sharp that there isn’t much energy to absorb anyway.  But what little there is would certainly go into the surface the ice used to cover, raising its temperature.  That would reduce the temperature differential between equator and poles which would slow down convection processes that move energy from hot places to cold places.  The result would be increased radiance from the planet that would exceed energy input until the planet cooled down enough to start forming ice again.  As I said before, the change to the system that you propose could well result in redistribution of energy flows, and in short term temperature fluctuations, but as for the long term average temperature…. see above.

Climatologist; Blasphemer!  Unbeliever!  The temperature HAS to rise!  I have reports!  I have measurements!  I have computer simulations!  I have committees!  United Nations committees!  Grant money!  Billions and billions and billions!  I CAN’T be wrong, I will never explain it!  Billions!  and the carbon trading!  Trillions in carbon trading!

Physicist; <gasp!> how much grant money?

Climatologist;  Billions.  Want some?

Physicist;  Uhm… 

Climatologist; BILLIONS

Climatologist;  Hi.  I used to be a physicist.  When I started to understand the danger the world was in though, I decided to do the right thing and become a climatologist.  Let me explain the greenhouse effect to you…

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37 Responses to The Physicist and the Climatologist; FOLLOW THE MONEY!

  1. Rabe says:

    As an engineer I love tipping poins. All of those we have found so far were used to our advantage. Examples are
    – burning wood
    – steam engines
    – refrigerators
    – nuclear reactors
    Show me a relation that is tipping (being not differentiable) at some point(s) and we will use it to our favour.
    Show it! Where is it?

  2. Rich says:

    Mr. Hoffer:

    This is just too damned good to leave as a mere blog post. I would like to submit your article to The Libertarian Enterprise ( ) to be considered for publication there.

    If you, would, either directly submit your work to the editor of that journal or please e-mail me and I’ll do it for you.


    • davidmhoffer says:

      off on a road trip with limited access to internet but I will take a look at it and let you know in a few days. Glad you enjoyed it.

    • davidmhoffer says:

      I’m really busy and travelling to boot with awful internet access. If you want to bring my article to the attention of someone else feel free to do so. I will be happy to talk to them, though there are a couple of minor tweaks I would want to make for an actual publication.

  3. Kate says:

    Agreed. This must be published!!

  4. Rich says:

    Mr. Hoffer:

    Will do. I’ll try to make sure I copy you with the e-mail. Thank you.

  5. susan says:

    well er um, the money mostly goes the other way … but it makes a well-sounding argument, plausible if untrue.

    • davidmhoffer says:

      Which part is untrue Susan? The money part? check out where the major climate researchers get their funding, its not Big Oil. Then consider what the solution that is being proposed by the UN entails. Tax large amounts of money from rich countries and give it to poor countries so that they can grow their economies with alternative energy. The UN only wants a “small fee” to manage the trillions involved. And the poor countries are all jumping up and down supporting AGW because it means they get a pay off.

      If you are saying the physics is “untrue” then you will need to be more specific.

  6. Rich says:

    “The Physicist and the Climatologist” has been published online in The Libertarian Enterprise and is available at:

    Any errors noted in transcription are mine, and I apologize in advance.

    Thank you.

  7. Pingback: Knowledge Drift; The Science of Human Error

  8. JonDon says:

    13 Trillion Dollars here
    This might explain the position of the BBC and other government and academic organizations:

    “The group currently has over 50 members, including some of the largest pension funds and asset managers in Europe, and represents assets of around €4trillion. A full list of members is available on the membership page”.

    The IIGCC are not alone. And UNEP have their fingers in that as well.
    The world’s largest investors released a statement calling on the U.S. and other governments to quickly adopt strong national climate policies that will establish a stable investment climate and thus spur low-carbon investments to reduce emissions causing climate change. At December’s Copenhagen Climate Change Summit it was estimated that private-sector investors will need to finance more than 85 percent of the global transition to a low-carbon economy.

    The Investor Statement on Catalyzing Investment in a Low-Carbon Economy calls for rapid action on carbon emission limits, energy efficiency, renewable energy, financing mechanisms and other policies. The statement was endorsed by four groups representing more than 190 investors with more than US$ 13 trillion of assets – Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC) and the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI).

  9. Pingback: The Physicist and the Climatologist; FOLLOW THE MONEY! - Reboot The Republic

  10. Andrew Auty says:

    Very good to read the description provided above. There are some wrinkles but the overall description is much nearer to accurate than is usually portrayed.

    Building a little refinement into it though would predict the possibility of locally increased energy density differences even after the poles had warmed up. It all comes down to bottlenecks in the system of energy flow.

    • Energy density differences are the driver behind the weather; which, among other mechanisms, acts to eliminate such differences.
    • The point about greenhouse gases is that they preferentially increase the energy density in the lower atmosphere, where we live.
    • The poles are important but there are many other factors in energy redistribution mechanisms and energy density gradients.
    • For my part it is the effect on lower atmosphere weather and sea level that matter.

    Heat flow from surface/lower atmosphere to space goes via many mechanisms. If any are not capable of sufficiently increased throughput then other routes would be called upon. If the overall redistribution mechanism cannot cope with the increased energy density at a given point in the system then the energy density at that point [e.g. parts of the lower atmosphere] will increase until mechanisms of energy loss become big enough.

    Where exactly in the redistribution process would these steeper gradients be and what effect would they have on things that matter to us? This cannot be predicted from first principles (the system is chaotic apparently) and this is the point of modelling work.

    Perhaps most interesting at the moment is that measuring overall global temperature might not be much help in assessing things which matter to us. If it is increasing at some point in the overall mechanism, it tells us that at the moment the mechanism at that point hasn’t adjusted enough. Can it adjust? Answer, it must. When will it adjust? Answer, dunno. What will the weather be like when it has adjusted? Dunno.

    The key parameter to measure is energy density difference in those mechanisms that carry the energy back into space. If those differences are currently increasing then change can be expected until the system adjusts.

    Some changes may even be sustained if there are rate limiting steps. But are there? This is the key question for predicting the effects of localised increase in energy density at any part of the system.

    Global average temperature has become a Talisman of the popular culture. If politicians really need a Talisman then a definition of global average temperature could be found which actually incorporates its significance to us. Temperature would be weighted by its effect on energy flow (perhaps crudely represented by temperature differences), but this too would require modelling work. The bottlenecks in the system need to be fully understood.

    For my part it doesn’t matter if professors in East Anglia lose bits of paper. The significance of them to things which matter to us short term or long term can only be determined by modelling a chaotic system. At that point the informed physicist has to shrug his shoulders and hope that
    • the modellers haven’t forgotten anything important…again,
    • the modellers don’t calibrate their models using recent observations and
    • global average near surface temperature is not a key parameter in the models but that it is instead predicted by the models

    • davidmhoffer says:

      Agree with pretty much everything you said. As soon as people want talk about changes in the system resulting in a change in temperature gradient, I am happy to discuss with them. As soon as they start yipping about positive feedbacks while ignoring negative feedbacks… well let’s just say I’ve got an over active sarcasm gene. When someone starts to explain to me how CO2 increases the downward radiation over the long term, but not the upward…. I start to think perpetual motion. Until we get past the perpetual motion argument, we cant get to a proper discussion of gradient.

  11. Gabriel says:

    Isn’t it important to at least partially quantify use of the word ‘temporary’? In this case, the temporary increase in temperature will last until solar forcing is reduced. When the solar forcing is reduced, the extra heat retained during the warming phase of equilibrium will be released during the cooling phase of equilibrium. Significant reduction in solar forcing is not expected for tens of thousands of years. Saying that any AGW will probably only last for tens of thousands of years is not something that many would find very comforting.

    • davidmhoffer says:

      sorry gabriel, what reference to temporary are you referring to?

      • Gabriel says:

        The explicit reference is quoted here (although I think the same sentiment is expressed in the first physiscist quote, without the word temporary being used):

        Physicist; there would be a temporary fluctuation in temperature caused by changes in how energy flows through the system, but for the long term average… see above.

  12. davidmhoffer says:

    Oh THAT temporary!

    you’ve asked the 64,000 question, or in this case the 4 trillion dollar cap and trade question3 Duration of the fluctuations is unknown and hotly debated. But a fluctuation is solar energy is probably a long term thing, decades or centuries, the reason being that solar energy is short wave and so can penetrate as much as 300 meters of ocean. CO2 is a longwave argument, so even if it is significant it would be a pretty short term thing. Longwave only penetrates a few millimeters of ocean so can’t heat the whole thing up, evaporation takes it off the surface and into the atmosphere almost right away.

  13. Gabriel says:

    I don’t feel like you have answered my question – perhaps I didn’t make myself clear. This post (and also the one that follows it I notice) seems to argue that a long-term increase in atmospheric and surface temperature due to AGW is in violation of thermodynamics. This is only true if your definition of long term is close to forever. While the increased temperature cannot be maintained literally forever, it can be maintained as long as solar forcing does not go down and greenhouse gasses do not go down. Once solar forcing or greenhouse gasses go down, the extra heat will be lost into space, with more being lost than if AGW had not happened thus making everything even out thermodynamically. While it may be theoretically possible to maintain the composition of the atmosphere indefinitely, solar forcing MUST inevitably fall at some point, even if it is only in the extreme case of when the sun burns out.

    So, when asking how long AGW can last, we need to ask how long before solar forcing or greenhouse gasses are likely to go down. And in either case the answer from climate science is: easily thousands or even tens of thousands of years. Which makes the Physicists claims that the long term average will not change seem like cold comfort ;). Hence my question: isn’t it important to quantify the timescales, at least a little bit?

    • davidmhoffer says:

      The violation of thermodynamics is to assume that the net positive inputs can exceed the net negative inputs over the long term. Energy must always balance, but a fluctuation can occur. So amount in = amount out. But when there is a fluctuation, at any given point in time they need not match. So the question becomes, what is the amplitude of the fluctuation, and how long will it last? 1 degree and 5 minutes, no big deal. 10 degrees and 100 years… very big deal.

      Do I know the answer? No. The modelers who assumed they could invent energy to explain how co2 affects climate? No. What’s my opinion? CO2 is at about 380 ppm of the atmosphere, so very small amount of atmosphere, and in terms of that compared to the mass of the planet land surface, ocean, etc that interact with longwave… even smaller.

      So if I go down to my favourite swimming hole and throw in a fist sized rock, I will notice ripples (fluctuations) on the surface. I could even measure their amplitude with a wooden ruler. Does the rock now lying at the bottom of the lake raise the level of the water in the lake? Yes. Can you measure it with a wooden ruler? Not a chance. You will need a laser micrometer. If you want to set one up, fine by me. I’m going swiming and all my splashing around (clouds, convection, ocean currents, etc etc etc) are going to be WAY bigger than what you measure with your laser micrometer. Just my opinion 🙂

    • Gabriel says:

      I don’t get the point of the lake analogy – if you throw rocks into it day after day for decades and centuries, the increase becomes easier and easier to measure.

      There is no such thing as a “net negative input” in thermodynamics. That way lies sloppy thinking. There are only inputs, outputs and lesser/greater input and outputs.

      You haven’t shown where any energy needs to be invented to explain the greenhouse effect. If the earth becomes hotter because less energy is radiated away from it, then the surrounding space will become cooler because of less energy being radiated toward it from earth. Of course space is a big place with few molecules, so the actual temperature difference is minimal due to being so spread out.

      And if you still think CO2 in the atmosphere cannot effect climate, I would be fascinated to see how you account for Venus being hotter than Mercury despite receiving lower rates of solar energy. Of course maybe the astronomers are in on the con too – that could be your next post!

  14. Rich says:

    Gabriel, if you wish to extend the “lake” analogy, consider that despite throwing “rocks into it day after day for decades and centuries,” there are NEGATIVE feedback factors at work on the lake’s water volume. Overflow, seepage, and evaporation being the most prominent.

    Similarly, in terms of both carbon dioxide content and energy absorbed, the Earth’s atmosphere is under the influence of negative feedback mechanisms which function to maintain what might be called a homeostasis.

    (My training is in biology and medicine, so I tend to come at things with what I acknowledge to be a kinda limited intellectual toolkit.)

    Among their many, many other errors, deliberate evasions, and outright lies, the anthropogenic global warming enthusiasts fail to model adequately these negative feedback mechanisms in their computer simulations, and thus their chief theory (human-induced CO2 emissions supposedly forcing global “climate change”) fails to be supported to any real extent.

    This is demonstrated by the divergences between the outputs of their simulacra and accurate, complete information collected and interpreted without the cherry-picking and cooking (“value-added interpretation”) of which they’ve been culpable.

    I’m inclined to suggest that those AGW alarmists with education in the sciences and “certification” as experts in the field of climatology were led into grievous errors in their earliest efforts at mathematically modeling the global climate back in the ’70s. Those errors were positively re-inforced by political and media scandalmongering, and these poor fools found themselves inundated in privilege, position, influence, and money (“Grant money! Billions and billions and billions!”) as a result.

    Seductive error turned into concerted fraud, and now it’s coming apart like the proverbial Pakistani hand grenade.

    ‘Bout time.

    • Gabriel says:

      I don’t dispute the existence of negative feedbacks. Negative feedbacks like: CO2 fertilization leading to increased plant growth and the sequestration some of this (which will evantually lead to more oil), increased calcium carbonate sedimentation from the bones of marine animals which increase due to increased biomass, increased limestone on the ocean floor due to carbonic acidification of the ocean.

      Few if any credible scientists would dispute the existence of these feedbacks. And there are other feedbacks which are less understood and less accepted – like the Iris hypothesis. There are others, and some more undoubtedly unknown to science at this point.

      Because of these negative feedbacks, earth is virtually guaranteed to never to get as much CO2 in the atmosphere as Venus for example (96%). Because of these negative feedbacks, the CO2 content and the temperature of our atmosphere will be kept within a range of values.

      BUT, how big is this range? It turns out the range is really big. In the Mesozoic era, CO2 was about 5 times higher than today, and temperature was about 10°C higher. Some things were different back then – volcanic activity and continental configuration are two big ones. But the negative feedbacks existed back then as now, and yet high variability in CO2 and temperature still happened. Which for me tends to disprove the hypothesis that negative feedbacks will bring things back in line this century or next, rather than in the millenia to come.

  15. Rich says:

    Gabriel, the AGW hypothesis is not only dependent upon human-induced additions to atmospheric CO2 levels rising at the accelerated rates posited by the alarmists (overcoming what they care to take into consideration of sequestration mechanisms) but also upon the sensitivity of the global climate to this factor in the atmospheric mix, for which contention they fail to offer adequate evidentiary support.

    Lindzen and Choi’s recent publication on twenty years’ observations via the ERBE satellite give good cause to discard the dozen or more flawed mathematical models of the alarmists. The radiant energy coming in is getting re-radiated away, CO2 concentration increase notwithstanding.

    Proxy valuations of global (as opposed to regional) temperatures in prehistoric eras are bounded by great fuzzy clouds of uncertainty, and without taking into account limits of accuracy – which compound – it is difficult to appreciate fully the conditions prevailing on the planet and in the solar system as a whole during times such as the Mesozoic. Bear in mind that factors such as “volcanic activity and continental configuration” are not heat-producing influences but rather large-scale influences on heat TRANSFER.

    To the best of my knowledge, short of a relatively nearby star going nova (a hellish possibility), the only way in which more substantial amounts of heat energy can be pumped into the Earth is by virtue of an increase in insolation. The solar fusion cycle would have to ramp up.

    Can we estimate the impact of such a phenomenon from paleoclimatological proxy markers? Durned if I know. I tend to doubt it, and would have to ask of the presenter some several questions to qualify the validity of such a surmise.

    • Gabriel says:

      I am no fan of computer climate models (despite working as a computer programmer!), so I will not defend them here.

      For volcanic activity and continental configuration in the Mesozoic, I simply meant that they would have an effect of increased CO2 emission and reduced planetary albedo respectively. Sorry if you thought I was implying something else.

      For the level of uncertainty in the Paleo record, I am comfortable with the notion that the uncertainty is not so great as to encompass a 5-fold increase in CO2 and 10°C increase in global average temperature. Your mileage may vary.

      For an increased temperature of the earth, all that is required is a maintenance of the same solar input as we have had in the previous few millienia, coupled with a temporary reduction in radiative output from the earth (cause by an increase in insulation effect) until a new equilibrium temperature is reached. I don’t know why you think an increase in input is required. See my previous comments on this post.

      For Lindzen and Choi 2009, I will dance a celebratory jig if the results turn out to be completely sound. But there are lots of methodological criticisms and I think the jury is still out, and probably will be until more studies are done. And again, I would wonder why a strong negative feedback would be so effective now, and yet have allowed such large variability in the past.

  16. davidmhoffer says:

    For starters, the record shows that CO2 increases LAGGED temperature increases in other interglacial periods like the Mesozoic (and that one too). Further, there were no SUV’s hanging around to be putting CO2 in the atmosphere, so we have to conclude that natural processes drive the increase in CO2 and that temperature drove CO2, not the other way around. (The absence of SUV’s byt the way is confirmed by the Flintstones record that shows transportation vehicles were clearly foot driven by Fred and Wilma).

    Asking why Venus is warmer than Mercury is also a moot question. They are of different size and composition and rotational speed and neither are similar in those aspects to earth. The question is, how does increased CO2 affect earth?

    The warmist argument in favour of CO2 is that doubling it will result in an extra 3.7 w/m2 being re-radiated or conducted (depending on whose explanation you read) to earth land and see surface and cause a 1.1 degree rise in temperaure. Negative feedback number 1, this would result in an increase of about 6.1 w/m2 being radiated by land/sea surface upward. Oops we now have a model that results in less energy being retained by earth which should result in a lower temperature, not higher. Aha! shouted Trenberth et al, we calculate that not all the 6.1 w/m2 makes it out the top, only about 60% does, which is about 3.7 so we have a net energy balance of zero AND a warmer earth land/sea surface temperature. Except if the CO2 “layer” (its not a layer, its diffused but close enough for this discussion) heats up to radiate 3.7w/m2 DOWN, then since it is floating in the atmosphere and radiance/conductance have no concept of up or down, then there must be a similar amount of energy being radiated/conducted UP. So now we AGAIN have arrived at a model that has more energy leaving the planet system (atmosphere being included in system) than is going in, while trying to claim a temperature that is rising. Temperature being a measure of energy/unit mass, this can only result in a drop in temperature.

    So let’s get back to what the physics actually says and see if it is reasonable if we make reasonable assumptions instead of drawing conclusions and trying to make the physics and data fit.

    CO2 does in fact absorb LW emitted from the earth, which raises the tempersature of the CO2. This causes the CO2 to heat up. This in turn causes the CO2 to distribute energy by radiance, both up and down, and by conductance (molecules banging into each other) both up and down. This causes slight increases in the atmosphere close to the CO2 (mostly by conductance) and slight increases in land/sea surface, mostly by radiance of long wave. So we would get SOME extra long wave going up from the land/sea surface, and SOME extra long wave gong up from the CO2 itself, plus the nearby molecules in the atmosphere heated by conductance which now start to radiate both up and down (and conduct too). The system would fluctuate around until there was a “warm band” around the CO2, and the total energy going out of the system would equal exactly the energy going in. Aha! says the warmist, but in this model the earth land/sea surface are, in fact, slightly warmer than before.

    Correct. How much? I don’t know, but a LOT less than 1.1 degrees. At 0.000000280 (normal) of the earth’s atmosphere, the amount of energy required to heat the extra 0.000000100 that is man made CO2 to set off the fluctuations leading to a new equilibrium is tiny. If we were to go a step further, and calculate the amount of energy that the CO2 were to retain against the total mass of the atmosphere plus oceans plus land surface, there would be so many zeros after the decimal place that it would look silly. Temperature being a measure of energy/unit mass… we need a MASSIVE amount of CO2 to get a significant temperature rise.

    So let’s look at the data and see what it says. I once took the CO2 levels from NOAA and extrapolated them on a graph scaled to the same rough scale as the NASA/GISS temperature data. You can see the graph here:

    And you can see the whole post explaining how I got this here:

    But you can easily see that the increase in CO2 doesn’t seem to be having much of an effect on the long term temperature trend, which in fact seems to be tailing off even though CO2 is increasing. Now jump on over to NOAA:

    Where you can see the CO2 levels are rising, but they are fluctuating as thewy rise, with peaks in the July/Aug time frame. Now zip over to AMSU-A (you will need java installed for this one) and click on the global atmosphere temperature trend link on the page:

    And take a look at a few different channels. Turn on the last few years for sea surface and you will find that there is usually a peak in early spring, a depression in July/August. In brief, CO2 goes one way, and 3/4 of the earth’s surface goes the other. Then check out near surface as well as 4.4 Km and you will find that both of those peak about the same time of year as CO2. (The NOAA measurements are done at 3.4km, so close to the 4.4 km channel at AMSU-A).

    Conclusions? Land mass and atmosphere temps oscillate together, ocean and atmosphere don’t. For 3/4 of earth surface (sea) CO2 forcing appears negligible. For land mass, which is mostly NH, there is a peak in the NH summer and the heating of the land (which has much higher temp swings than the ocean) results in heating of the atmosphere, but there is no secondary (smaller amplitude wave imposed on the primary) that mirrors the annual fluctuation in CO2.

    The physics doesn’t suggest 100 ppm of CO2 can drives significant warming via re-radiance, the mass of the CO2 being heated up is infitesimal in comparison to the mass of what it is supposedly heating, and the data does not reflect the changes being projected by the climate models that disagree.

    Which leaves us with only one logical conclusion.

  17. Gabriel says:

    Thanks for taking the time to write such a long response, but I think we are getting further and further off topic. Can’t we keep a post to a single topic like on CA? It is probably the best feature of that site. The paleo record does not give us an exact correspondence to the changes we see today – most like due as you point out to the relative rarity of SUVs in the prehistoric era. But my point was – CO2 was high, temperature was high: where are the negative feedbacks that are supposedly so effective at keeping things the same?

    I think I may have understood a subtlety in you argument. Perhaps you are not arguing that a greenhouse effect that involves a constant value temperature increase per CO2 doubling is in violation of the laws of thermodynamics. Perhaps you are just arguing that the thermodynamic error is within a specific calculation someone made to provide a specific estimate of that constant value. Is this the case?

    • davidmhoffer says:

      Multiple issues, I will try and be brief:

      1. You can’t have a discussion about the physics of something as complicated as the climate without it expanding and wandering. It would be like proving that an aluminum boat can’t float because aluminum is heavier than water and refusing to discuss other factors.
      2. CO2 and temps being higher in the mesozoic doesn’t invalidate negative feedbacks. AGW theory proposes physical properties of CO2 that cannot generate the proposed temperature increase unless negative feedbacks from those proposed properties are ignored. Hence the discussion of negative feedbacks invalidating the proposed temperature increase. That does not, however, suggest that these are the only factors that determine temperature, or that there are not other factors that can result in long term temperature changes. Only that CO2 doesn’t.
      3. CO2 increases lag temperature increases. The logical conclusion is that the primary driver(s) of temperature increase are natural factors and CO2 is not one of them.

      • Gabriel says:

        Thanks for your reply David. I don’t think it contains anything we haven’t already gone over in these comments. I was going to say we would just have to agree to disagree, but then it occurred to me that the Internet was running desperately low on hokey analogies. So in the spirit of wide-ranging argument, here is one for your consideration:

        Imagine a room (a kitchen in fact, and with an open window) with an ambient temperature of 10°C. In it is a stove, and on the stove is a steel kettle half filled with water. And, because I am a bizarrely perverse person, my kettle has been welded shut so that no water or steam will escape.

        Now consider scenario A: I turn on the stove, but I only put it on quite low. So low in fact, that the kettle and its contents heat up for a little while, but by the time the water averages 20°C, the kettle is radiating the same amount of heat that it gets from the stove, and so heats no further. The kitchen is now a little warmer than 10°C because of the second-hand heat it has received from the kettle. But not much warmer, especially since the window is open and so the warmer air tends to convect outside into the world at large.

        Now consider scenario B: I turn on the stove element to the same setting as scenario A, but before I do that I put a tea-cosy on the kettle. The tea cosy insulates the kettle so that the water is now able to reach an average of 30°C before the kettle is radiating the same amount of heat that it gets from the stove, and so heats no further. The kitchen has also heated a bit under this scenario, but not quite as much as for scenario A because it received less energy from the insulated kettle before it reached the stable temperature.

        In each scenario it took only a few minutes for the kettle to reach a stable temperature, and from that point on I could leave the stove on indefinitely and the temperature of the kettle would not change. Suppose in each case I left the stove on for an hour. In each scenario the stove was providing energy at the same rate and for the same time, and so in each case the energy input to the kettle is the same. And in each scenario, the temperature of the kettle is stable so long as I leave the stove on and remember to pay my utility bills. But in one case the stable temperature is 20°C and in the other case it is 30°C. How to reconcile the difference? Simply because, in scenario B where the water is 30°C, the air in my kitchen and from there via convection to the atmosphere at large received less energy and hence is slightly cooler. How much less energy? The amount required to heat the water to the higher temperature.

        I put to you that:
        a) The only energy source is the stove, and all energy is conserved.
        b) One kettle has water which is hotter than the other.
        c) This is a reasonable correspondence between this and a model for the black-body radiation budget of the earth, especially since the fact that the kettle is insulated on the top and sides where it is most likely to lose heat, but NOT insulated on the bottom where it is most likely to receive heat. This matches the behavior of the atmosphere allowing shortwave radiation to enter unimpeded, but limiting the longwave radiation going out.
        d) The higher temperature can be maintained for an extremely long time. In fact, until something else changes to reduce the energy input.
        e) If you believe that energy input implies no long term difference in atmospheric temperature regardless of greenhouse effect, then you must also believe that constant energy input implies no long term difference in kettle/water temperature regardless of tea-cosy.

        That ended up longer than I expected, but thanks for your time.

  18. davidmhoffer says:

    There’s a whole pile of things wrong with the kettle and tea cozy analogy, but at least you are claiming that the tea cosy is just an insulator and doesn’t put any new energy into the kettle. Yes in this scenario you would get a warmer kettle and energy would be conserved.

    Now let’s scale it so the ratios are in line with CO2 and planet earth. Your tea kettle is say 30 cm in diameter. The corresponding tea cosy would be 0.0000000000001 cm thick. So yes, it would raise the temperature of the kettle. Good luck measuring how much.

    • Gabriel says:

      Yes, you are quite right that the tea-cozy analogy tells us nothing about the actual magnitude of any possible effect of CO2 in the atmosphere to reduce the rate of energy transfer from earth into space. Only that if such an effect exists, then it can lead to a long-term warming.

  19. davidmhoffer says:

    For those who are following, it has been a beef of mine that physicists have not been speaking out against the climate nonsense. That all just changed. When an institute with 36,000 members speaks this way to the government of an entire country, people should listen:

  20. Matthew Moat says:

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  21. Usha Tulk says:

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  22. Judy Crayton says:

    Someone posted your site on Gather. Thank you so much for taking the time to write and publish this. It is indeed a keeper. A treasure for the many of us that don’t actually talk the language and are just holding on by our fingertips :):)

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