Saturday, 23 July 2022

Why "Climate Science" isn't really science (2)

Follow-up to Bayard's post of Wednesday. For sure, some Climate Scientists exaggerate or make false claims, but that doesn't invalidate anything.

For example, nuclear power stations 'work'. They use uranium etc to produce electricity, fact. They also appear to be profitable. We can argue - quite reasonably - about the risks and costs of pollution, safety, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, decommissioning and long term storage etc, but those are not nuclear science issues. Just because some politicians make outlandish claims like them producing "electricity too cheap to meter" does not invalidate the science.

My big bugbear with Climate Science is that it is based on the bald claim that Earth's surface is 33 degrees warmer than it should be based on incoming sunlight.

Therefore, they say, something must be 'trapping' thermal energy in the atmosphere; and that something is Greenhouse Gases (which sometimes includes water vapour and sometimes doesn't, depending what point they are trying to make).

And therefore, if Greenhouse Gases at 'pre-industrial levels' cause 33 degrees of warming, any increase in them must cause more warming (whether linear, logarithmic of geometric). And as a matter of fact, things have warmed up a bit since the end of the Little Ice Age.

The 33 degree claim was originally made, and the calculation explained by Hansen back in the late 1980s and has been Climate Gospel ever since, completely unquestioned, even by many Climate Deniers. Some Climate Deniers have put forward other explanations, some with good pointers, none watertight and some pretty flaky.

So how do they calculate the 33 degrees? By comparing half an apple with an imaginary pear is how. Here are the workings (refer to Stefan-Boltzmann equation to convert between temperature and W/m2):
What are the obvious flaws here?
- They take clouds into account when calculating weighted average albedo of Earth's effective surface (which means that part of the surface that can absorb radiation FROM and emit it directly TO space - oceans/land under cloud cover simply can't, so can be ignored here) , which reduces solar radiation IN to 238 W/m2, but then just ignore clouds from there on.
- They then assume that solar radiation IN is all absorbed by oceans/land. Nonsense, over half is absorbed by clouds, less than half by oceans/land.
- The actual question is: is the effective surface at the right temperature to emit this much (238 W/m2 on average) back to space?
- They skip these this question, come in at a tangent and say that a black body (an imaginary pear) would have to be 255K to emit as much radiation as the effective surface absorbs in solar radiation IN (this is true).
- They compare this with part of the effective surface (half an apple) which has an average temp of 288K (also true), discrepancy = 33 degrees (mathematically correct).
- They then put forward an explanation for the 33 degree difference - it's Greenhouse Gases, and the rest is all built on that - all the pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo like "radiative forcing" and "fluxes" and "effective emitting altitude" and "atmospheric windows" and "computer models" and "positive feedbacks" until your head spins (I know what these all mean. They are all dead ends or working backwards from the wrong answer).

Why not compare a whole apple with a whole apple, and take all its physical properties into account, in particular the low temperature and emissivity of clouds? That seems to be a lot more rigorous to me, so you should consider clouds and cloud-free oceans/land separately when looking at solar radiation IN and LW emissions OUT.

This is the more scientific approach. For sure, it's all rounded and mid-points of estimates and so on, but it follows the general idea based on what information I can glean. I could keep digging and add more and more lines and home in ever closer to an even more robust answer: If you do it properly, you find that Earth's oceans/land and the clouds above them are the right temperature to emit as much LW radiation as they absorb in solar radiation. Sure, the sea level surface is warmer than in the pseudo-scientific calculation, but so what? An aluminium frying pan in the sunshine gets warmer than the pavement it is resting on, that has largely to do with aluminium's lower emissivity (plus/minus dozens of other adjustments). Look at the whole of the real apple and all its physical properties, not just a part of it/them!

[Completely different sets of rules apply when considering the temperature difference between sea level and clouds - the gravity-induced lapse rate; latent heat of evaporation; reflection and re-emittance of of LW between the two; dew points at different absolute humidity, temperature, density and pressure etc etc. I can't cover all that here, but it is irrelevant to the actual topic of 'what gets to space'].

Therefore, I conclude, unless somebody can show why their approach is better than mine, I refuse to believe anything based on the 33 degree Greenhouse Effect, because there simply ISN'T ONE IN THE FIRST PLACE!!

Bonus: the above approach neatly explains the alleged Greenhouse Effect (or absence thereof) on Venus and Mars, regardless of the fact that their atmospheres are nearly 100% CO2 - it's the clouds (or absence thereof) wot dunnit.

Caveats:
- I have only been looking into this for two-and-a-half years and 'only' did O-level physics forty years ago, so clearly have plenty more to learn.
- Has the climate changed in many areas over the last century? It would appear so. Has it remained surprisingly stable in other areas? It would appear so. If the clever scientists with their millions of measurements say it has changed, then probably it has. Just because nobody is sure of the real reason doesn't mean that we should latch on to one particular explanation, especially if it based on pseudo-science.
- There are lots environmental, economic and political reasons for using less fossil fuels, sure, but those are quite different topics. For example, I'm against nuclear weapons, but that does NOT mean that I don't accept the science of nuclear fission. I am, in fact, broadly in favour of reducing fossil fuel use for precisely those reasons, but that does NOT mean that I just blindly accept their pseudo-science. We bribe our kids with the promise of Xmas presents for good behaviour; we don't waffle on about Santa's Naughty List. Treat people like adults and they might just behave like adults.

14 comments:

Lola said...

Your work on the MMCC scam is really appreciated. Cynical old me had long ago reckoned that it was a scam on the basis that government and bureaucrats always lie to you and that the greenies were largely nut jobs. It's nice to have that opinion confirmed.

Mark Wadsworth said...

L, ta. The question is, how do I goad them into actually replying to this? I'm happy to learn why their crude method that gives a patently wrong answer is better than mine, even though it is a much better approximation.

Lola said...

MW. Ho! There is no way on this earth that they will engage in a debate. We are not dealing with rational science but a creed. You have been 'proto-cancelled'. (As have I in parallel circumstances to do with challenging the FCA settlement in the TSC).

Mark Wadsworth said...

L, There is no way on this earth that they will engage in a debate"

That's going to be the tricky bit, maths is easy, debunking the cornerstone of a Belief System is not.

Lola said...

MW. In short the CO2 bit of MMGW is a lie. And you cannot argue with liars.

Mark Wadsworth said...

L, it is not a "lie", it is a "Belief".

I found a thing on this, it says oh dear, Earth and Venus hard surfaces are much warmer than their effective temperate. Must be the CO2!

The preamble also mentions Mars and its effective temp and it's CO2 atmosphere (more CO2 on Mars than CO2 and H2O vapour put together on Earth), but does NOT mention that its hard surface temp is exactly the same as its effective temp. Which would of course disprove the CO2 theory. It's one massive blind spot. Such salient facts do not register.

ontheotherhand said...

I wanted to understand more so looked at the Wikipedia page for Stefan-Boltzmann. It hasn't helped because they seem to mix up 'surface' and average of all altitudes.

'The Earth has an albedo of 0.3, meaning that 30% of the solar radiation that hits the planet gets scattered back into space without absorption.... This approximation reduces the temperature by a factor of 0.7 giving 255 K (−18 °C).

The above temperature is Earth's as seen from space, not ground temperature but an average over all emitting bodies of Earth from surface to high altitude. Because of the greenhouse effect, the Earth's actual average surface temperature is about 288 K (15 °C), which is higher than the 255 K effective temperature, and even higher than the 279 K temperature that a black body would have.'

Mark Wadsworth said...

OTOH, Wiki is the usual deliberate confusion.

Yes, average albedo of oceans/land (one third) and clouds (two-thirds) is 0.3.

These are the 'effective surface' as far as exchange of radiation between sun, Earth and space is concerned.

"an average over all emitting bodies of Earth from surface to high altitude"

That is a lie.

Oceans/land are warm and emit what they emit. One-third of that gets to space, two-thirds is blocked by clouds. Clouds also emit to space. Take an average of those two, and you get the right amount going to space. See my calculations. Nothing is absorbed or emitted any higher up.

Why do they focus on oceans/land and pretend that this is the whole of the 'surface'?

I'll tell you why - if they accepted that clouds are two-thirds of the surface as visible from space (main factor in calculating albedo, absorb more than half of incoming solar, emit nearly half of all radiation going to space etc), and compared the 255K effective temp with actual average cloud temp instead, they would find little or no greenhouse effect whatsoever, maybe even a negative greenhouse effect.

Same on Venus - effective temp is based on albedo of clouds, which are nearly 100%. Tops of clouds are pretty much the same temp as effective temp. That is hardly surprising is it?

Same on Mars - there is much more CO2 there than C02 and H20 on earth combined, but there is no 'greenhouse effect'. Why? Because there are no clouds. Albedo is based on hard surface albedo; all solar is absorbed by hard surface; effective temp is based on albedo and radiation absorbed by hard surface; all radiation emitted from hard surface gets to space. The calculations are easy, just like on the Moon.

Below those clouds, temp is dictated by the lapse rate = gravity divided by specific heat capacity.

Bayard said...

"OTOH, Wiki is the usual deliberate confusion."

Perhaps you should try editing it and see what happens.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, that will last all of five minutes before it gets overwritten.

Bayard said...

Indeed, but then you will have a name to correspond with. You could start a series, Killer Arguments for AGW, Not.

Also, that sword cuts both ways: you, too can simply replace what was there before. Eventually the Wikipedia Mods will take not and then it will start to become interesting, especially if the Alarmists' initial attack is along the lines of ...blah blah conspiracy theory blah blah paid shill of Big Oil...

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, it is not a series.

You can't fight them on their own turf. The smoking gun is the sloppy calculation and diagonal comparison. I want somebody somewhere to address this. If I am correct, then the rest of it is built on sand.

Bayard said...

"B, it is not a series."

Not yet, you have to start somewhere.

" I want somebody somewhere to address this."

Wikipedia seems a good place to start. If you don't want to do it, I will have a look at what's involved at the weekend.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, that would be great, give it a whirl!