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Banging on about the Smoking Ban

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Mysterious Back-Radiation
In recent weeks, I've been trying on and off to build my own simple climate simulation model. It all began with the suggestion that global warming was taking place on the Moon (which doesn't have an atmosphere), and that NASA had known about it since the 1960s. The Moon was actually warmer than it was supposed to be.

My own conclusion, after writing my own little simulation model, was that there was no big deal. Back in the 60s, they'd just worked it out wrong, and then corrected their mistake.

After I'd created this little simulation model, I wondered whether I could add an atmosphere to it, and have a look at the greenhouse effect, whereby the Earth, warmed by the sun's rays, re-radiates that heat back into space, with some of it getting captured by CO2 and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. I started hunting around looking for information about how to work out how much re-radiated heat got captured by greenhouse gases. With that, and a few reflective clouds floating on top of the atmosphere, I'd be able to get an idea of what was going on. It was all physics, of course, but I have some experience of the physics of heat flow - after all, I used to do research into heat flow in buildings a long time ago -.

I thought it would all be fairly straightforward. But it rapidly became mysterious. It turned out that what was supposed to be happening was that some of the heat re-radiated from the warmed surface of the Earth was captured by CO2 molecules, and then shortly afterwards re-radiated by the CO2 molecules either up into space or back down onto the surface of the Earth. At the level of quantum mechanics (yes, I'm out of my depth there too!) a photon of light of a particular frequency would be absorbed by a CO2 molecule,back-radiation which would enter an excited state, with its internal bonds stretched or otherwise flexed, before releasing a photon of light in some random direction - which in practice meant that 50% would go up, and 50% down (see A at right). This started me thinking about Photon Football, with photons like footballs being captured by CO2 footballers and passed about.

I also noticed that some sources said that it wasn't a 50-50 balance between up and down, but more like 60-40, with more radiation going down than up. At one point I even came across the suggestion that 90% of the radiation from the Earth's surface captured by CO2 got re-radiated back to the surface of the Earth. How could that be? But I soon realised that if the atmosphere was not treated as a single sheet of material (the light blue line) but as several layers (see B at right), then the more layers that were added the less radiation ever got out into space. It would keep bouncing around in the atmosphere. With enough layers of CO2, the atmosphere would behave like a mirror, reflecting nearly all the heat back in - much like a thermos flask -. I could begin to see where those 60% and 90% figures were coming from.

So far, so good. But as I kept digging, I began to come across people who were objecting to the whole idea that this 'back-radiation' was happening at all. Claes Johnson, a Swedish professor of applied mathematics, was saying that this back-radiation violated the Second Law of Thermodynamics - which says, very roughly, that heat flows from hotter to colder bodies -, because it required the cold atmosphere to heat the warm surface of the Earth. It would be like your cold feet making a hot water bottle hotter, rather than the other way round. Claes Johnson asks:

Why do physicists keep silent?

And the answer, it seems, is that physicists don't know anything about the greenhouse effect, because it's not in physics textbooks (I checked my college physics textbook, and there was nothing about it there). In the comments, the physicist Anders replies:

The first and foremost is, as you say, they don't read about the Greenhouse Effect in the physics literature. Secondly, most physicists are not political activists to their nature, and sadly, most of them don't pay much attention to what is going on in other branches of physics than their own.

Physicists, it seems, know about as much about the greenhouse effect as I do.

And there are now people who are saying that the whole 'greenhouse effect' is a complete invention, and it simply isn't happening at all.

I'm in no position to judge, of course. Most sceptics seem to think that there is a greenhouse effect, but it's small. But there seem to be a growing number of physicists and mathematicians who are insisting that there isn't one.

If they're right, it's far bigger deal than Climategate. It won't just be climate scientists enmeshed in controversy, but the entire flagship science of physics. Controversies over whether light is made up of waves or particles, and the direction of time's arrow, and the nature of entropy, will burst back into life. People will wonder what we know about anything, as rival professors of physics, and theorists of quantum mechanics, slug it out on TV.

On Monday, one of the principal figures in the global warming controversy, 65-year-old Stephen Schneider, died of a heart attack on a plane landing at Heathrow. He was one of the pioneers who developed climate simulation models. It could just be that his number was up, and he was always destined to die that day. It could also be that he was under enormous pressure as a climate scientist already, and that pressure was getting worse. Add to that the stress of landing in a jet at Heathrow. Schneider may well have been a casualty.

It goes deeper. Quoting a variety of physicists, Claes Johnson asks:

Does anybody understand thermodynamics?

Every mathematician knows it is impossible to understand an elementary course in thermodynamics. (V. Arnold)

...no one knows what entropy is, so if you in a debate use this concept, you will always have an advantage. (von Neumann to Shannon)

As anyone who has taken a course in thermodynamics is well aware, the mathematics used in proving Clausius’ theorem (the 2nd Law) is of a very special kind, having only the most tenous relation to that known to mathematicians. (S. Brush [8])

Where does irreversibility come from? It does not come form Newton’s laws.
Obviously there must be some law, some obscure but fundamental equation. perhaps in electricty, maybe in neutrino physics, in which it does matter which way time goes. (Feynman [9])

Climategate may well turn out to have been the first rumble of thunder in a colossal storm which is going to engulf the whole of science, and have profound effects on how it's done, and what's called 'science' and what isn't. There'll be calls for a thorough reformation of science, and the ejection of pseudosciences of every kind.

One of which, of course, is the Nazi antismoking 'science' which is being used to demonise smokers and close pubs and destroy communities.

It might be a good idea to stock up with popcorn. And mug up on the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and the nature of electromagnetic radiation, and the direction of time's arrow. Because you may well be hearing an awful lot more about them soon.

Further reading: John O'Sullivan, the Hockey Schtick. American Thinker, Climate Change Fraud

PS. 24 July 2010 update: Dr Roy Spencer on how cool objects can make warm objects even warmer.

Climate cghange post: utter nonsense

This post is complete bollocks. And not new bollocks either - claims that climate change theory violates the laws of thermodynamics can be found on virutally every crank and denialist website in cyber-space.

If this argument were correct, then the second law of thermodynamics wouldn't just disprove global warming it would mean no heat energy from the sun could reach the comparatively warm Earth, which make everything very cold indeed. Duh.

The second law of thermodynamics states that heat will never move from a colder to a warmer body unless some outside force causes it to do so. When heat is reflected off the Earth's surface and encounters greenhouse gases in the atmosphere it bounces off the gas molecules in random directions. Some goes into space, and some goes back toward Earth.

So the theory of global warming makes no claim that heat spontaneously shifts from a cold body to a warmer body.

Rather, heat photons that would otherwise have all reflected back into space are propelled in random directions when they bounce off of greenhouse gases, roughly half of them heading back toward the Earth and making the planet warmer. The second law of thermodynamics is never violated.

Climategate "the first rumble of thunder in a colossal storm which is going to engulf the whole of science". Crap. If any scientist were able to provide a convincing refutation of climate change theory they would instantly become the most famous scientist in the world, with Nobel prizes descending from the heavens.

"Nazi anti-smoking science"? That's tripe too. And as for gloating at the death of an eminent scientist, words fail me.

The interesting question is why there are still nicotine and petrol crazed nutters peddling the same old nonsense again and again and again, no matter how often their errors are exposed.

Re: Climate cghange post: utter nonsense

When heat is reflected off the Earth's surface and encounters greenhouse gases in the atmosphere it bounces off the gas molecules in random directions. Some goes into space, and some goes back toward Earth.

No, that's definitely not what happens. CO2 molecules don't reflect radiation: they absorb it and re-radiate it shortly afterwards. So also does the surface of the Earth. If radiation was being reflected, it wouldn't cause any warming. It's only absorption that warms.

That's not to say that there isn't some reflection going on as well.

I'm reporting something that's been developing over the past few months among physicists and mathematicians rather than climate scientists. If it continues to develop, there's a storm on the way.

Nazi anti-smoking science"? That's tripe too. And as for gloating at the death of an eminent scientist, words fail me.

Anti-smoking 'science' started life in Nazi Germany. Clearly you don't know that.

And I wasn't 'gloating' about the death of Stephen Schneider. Read what I wrote. I was suggesting that the developing furore surrounding Climategate and climate science in general may well have contributed to his death.


I really hope you’re right, and I really hope that Climategate and its consequent fallout brings about a complete overhaul of how science is “done” and a new set of stringently-accepted standards as to what might be called “science” or “scientific proof” (which wouldn’t include epidemiology which, as far as I can see, is largely a specific kind of statistics), and I hope that this overhaul makes headline news so that the world and his wife are no longer in any doubt as to what does or doesn’t constitute “scientifically proven.” But sadly, the sceptic in me rather doubts it. As Booker & North point out in their excellent book “Scared to Death,” when the truth about various scares is finally revealed, and the scam uncovered, it is rarely met with the kind of shouted headlines that the original, inaccurate claims did.

But who knows? Maybe, with the Internet now much more commonly used, such news might well reach more people than in previous years, when their only access to “news” was via the mainstream media. I watch and wait with interest ……

First, may I say I _love_ the idea of "photon football"! I'll never think of spectroscopy the same way again...

Speaking as someone who'd be somewhere on the "denier[1]" end of the skeptic scale, I've found that http://scienceofdoom.com/ has a _lot_ of useful background to what atmospheric physics is actually about. Especially, I learned there _why_ people talk about "Short Wave" vs. "Long Wave" radiation rather than UV/visible vs. IR. (IR is heat, but lots of it is actually incoming, rather than outgoing. Who'd'a thunk it?) Also, knowing how small amounts of CO2 behave in a lab spectroscopy experiment doesn't transfer directly to a whole troposphere full of assorted gases. [That'd be called non-radiative decay, or "bumping into all the other molecules"]. Oh, as for the second law thing, _net_ heat flow is from hotter to cooler. The Sun is hotter than the Earth, so it warms us more than we warm it. Heat comes in, heat goes out. On the day-side of the planet we warm up, on the night-side we cool down, despite the fact that (for a while) the colder side of the planet is cooling and the warmer side is warming.

[1] Well, as defined by True Believer Types. I think of myself as intelligent and reasonable. Reducing the UK's CO2 emissions by 80% over the next 40 years (as required by the Climate Change Act) is only achievable by killing more than 80% of the UK population. Because I'm intelligent I actually noticed this, unlike the vast majority of Mp's. Because I'm reasonable I don't think it's a good idea.


First, may I say I _love_ the idea of "photon football"

Well, the World Cup was on, so I had football on my mind.

IR is heat,

Is that what "heat" is?

On the American Thinker article (link at the bottom of my piece) it said that "heat" was the jostling of molecules.

I guess I tend to see it all as rather abstract "energy". The sun fires out lots of energy in all directions. Some of this energy arrives at the surface of the earth, where it warms up the surface, which makes all the molecules jostle around. That jostling gradually extends down into the ground, and we call that conduction. But the warmed, jostling molecules also fire off energy as photons into the atmosphere, where some of them collide with CO2 and get them jigging around too, and also firing off photons in all directions. The main thing is that the 1st Law is obeyed, and there's no energy actually lost in toto.


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(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand

Back fire

Carbon reduction policy will be the end of the political classes because they cannot control the climate .
It will reduce the public trust massively (escpecially when it hits the pocket),because the lies will be apparent to anyone who merely looks out of their window,even sometimes.

Still Complete Bollocks

Ok. Well if plain English discussion of the laws of thermodynamics doesn't convince you that you are talking nonsense, then try http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0802/0802.4324v1.pdf.

Re: Schneider, perhaps "gloating" was too kind. You implied - without any evidence of any kind whatsoflamingever that his death was due to "pressure" from threatened exposure of (non-existent) scientific fraud. I find that disgusting. Your head is clearly so far up your own ideology that you cannot understand why. Ugh.

And re: "Nazi science", this is just the ancient logical fallacy known as poisoning the well. Look it up.

Re: Still Complete Bollocks

plain English discussion of the laws of thermodynamics

I'm not very interested in a plain English discussion. I'm interested in the physics, which is mathematical. That's what I need to build simulation models.

You implied - without any evidence of any kind whatsoflamingever that his death was due to "pressure" from threatened exposure of (non-existent) scientific fraud.

As for Schneider, what I wrote was:

It could just be that his number was up, and he was always destined to die that day. It could also be that he was under enormous pressure as a climate scientist already, and that pressure was getting worse. Add to that the stress of landing in a jet at Heathrow. Schneider may well have been a casualty.

Nothing about "fraud" there, or "threatened exposure". Schneider had just started a big fightback against sceptics. The battle was getting hotter and hotter. That's pressure. The same applies to sceptics. I won't be too surprised if some of them have heart attacks as well.

"Nazi science",

The principal historian of the Nazi war on smoking was Robert Proctor (who happens to be antismoking). He thinks their antismoking science was an example of good Nazi science - like the V2. I've debunked that idea elsewhere.

Here are a few links. I've got dozens more.






backradiation and 2nd Thermodynamic Law


It seems to me that the author of the first comment has no clear idea of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.

At the beginning of his comment he wrote:

"If this argument were correct, then the second law of thermodynamics wouldn't just disprove global warming it would mean no heat energy from the sun could reach the comparatively warm Earth, which make everything very cold indeed. Duh."

May be you don't have realized that Sun reaches temperatures of millions degrees, therefore Sun is surely hotter than Earth and other planets of solar system.

And therefore, according to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, Sun can surely heat a colder body (Earth + Earth atmosphere), why you wrote that Sun energy couldn't reach the Earth?

Moreover, supporters of "greenhouse theory" from CO2 cannot explain the main point that Frank Davis (and Claes Johnson) has correctly outlined: how can CO2 molecules (which are just 0.03% of total amount of atmosphere) in the troposphere/stratosphere, 6-10 km up in space, at -80° C send back IR (= thermal) radiations from Earth surface at even stronger energy than the one received (this is the concept of backradiation from greenhouse supporters)?

If this would be possible, this would be like creating "perpetuum motion" namely creating from nothing more heat and an higher temperature inside a thermodynamic system, without work from outside.

Backradiation, and the "greenhouse effect" from CO2 in the upper atmosphere (which is colder) is like admitting that you can heat a room at 30° C during the summer, by opening the door of your freezer.

A colder body (CO2 molecules in the troposphere at - 80° C) cannot heat a warmer body (Hearth surface at average +15° C), this is the 2nd Law of Thermodynamic that greenhouse theory clearly violates.

But, as outlined by several scientist, the whole concept of "greenhouse" is misleading.

Earth atmosphere doesn't work like a greenhouse: 99% of heat of Earth surface escapes to the upper atmosphere by conduction (from Earth surface to atmosphere) and evaporation (71% of Earth surface is ocean), and conduction (air and wind movements)

Only 1% of heat from Earth to space is thermal radiation (IR rays) but just 8% of this radiation can be "trapped" by CO2 molecules, and their absorption spectrum and wavelenghts.

CO2 molecules don't "reflect" IR rays, so no backradiation can take place.
Heat hitting CO2 molecules is "trapped" just for 8%, 92% passes around and goes to open space.

Grenhouses (and coats, and car with closed windows) work very differently.

They keep air hot by stopping or slowing convection, and blocking any air passage.


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Backradiation thought experiment is wrong

Frank, you nearly had me fooled.
Let's say your experiment is right, the heated plate is now 160 C and the other 100 C. Let us take this experiment a step further.
Let's wire up the second plate (assuming it is the same construction as 1st plate but disconnected) and switch it on. The second plate heats up to 150 C (same as the first plate was originally) but of course (if the hypothesis in your thought experiment is correct)it will heat up the 1st plate from 160 C to (say) 180 C. Then the 1st plate will heat the second to (say) 170 then the hotter second plate will further heat up the 1st plate to (say) 190, the hotter 1st plate will then heat the 2nd plate to (say) 185 and so on and so on in ever smaller increments.
So once the 2 plates reach equilibrum with each other they would have an equal temperature much hotter than 150 (as they would have individually) say 200 C!

BRILLANT! we have doubled (200%) our energy input but now have (say) 2 (plates)X 200/150 = 2.333= 233%. So why stop at 2 plates? Lets have thousands! This will further boost the temperature of each individual plate. Free energy! Solved the worlds energy shortage! 2nd law of thermodynamics is not really a law - just a guideline! Yeah right. No! the first plate never gets to 160 - it stays at 150, adding another wired up plate, then both will be at 150.

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