Skip to comments.Sowell: Stormy Weather and Politics
Posted on 02/03/2015 1:05:14 PM PST by jazusamo
It was refreshing to see meteorologists apologize for their dire and wrong predictions of an unprecedented snow storm that they had said would devastate the northeast. It was a big storm, but the northeast has seen lots of big snow storms before and will probably see lots of big snow storms again. That's called winter.
Unfortunately, we are not likely to hear any similar apologies from those who have been promoting "global warming" hysteria for years, in defiance of data that fail to fit their climate models. What is at issue is not whether there is "climate change" which nobody has ever denied but whether the specific predictions of the "global warming" crowd as to the direction and magnitude of worldwide temperature changes are holding up over the years.
The ultimate test of any theoretical model is not how loudly it is proclaimed but how well it fits the facts. Climate models that have an unimpressive record of fitting the facts of the past or the present are hardly a reason for us to rely on them for the future.
Putting together a successful model of anything is a lot more complicated than identifying which factors affect which outcomes. When many factors are involved, which is common, the challenge is to determine precisely how those factors interact with each other. That is a lot easier said than done when it comes to climate.
Everyone can agree, for example, that the heat of the sunlight is greater in the tropics than in the temperate zones or near the poles. But, the highest temperatures ever recorded in Asia, Africa, North America or South America were all recorded outside repeat, OUTSIDE the tropics.
No part of Europe is in the tropics, but record temperatures in European cities like Athens and Seville have been higher than the highest temperatures ever recorded in cities virtually right on the equator, such as Singapore in Asia or Nairobi in Africa.
None of this disproves the scientific fact that sunlight is hotter in the tropics. But it does indicate that there are other factors which go into temperatures on earth.
It is not only the heat of the sunlight, but its duration, that determines how much heat builds up. The sun shines on the equator about 12 hours a day all year long. But, in the temperate zones, the sun shines more hours during the summer almost 15 hours a day at the latitude of Seville or Athens.
It is also not just a question of how much sunlight there is falling on the planet but also a question of how much of that sunlight is blocked by clouds and reflected back out into space. At any given time, about half the earth is shielded by clouds, but cloudiness varies greatly from place to place and from time to time.
The Mediterranean region is famous for its cloudless summer days. The annual hours of sunlight in Athens is nearly double that in London and in Alexandria, Egypt, there are more than twice as many annual hours of sunlight as in London.
How surprised should we be that cities around the Mediterranean Alexandria, Seville, and Tripoli have had temperatures of 110 degrees or more, while many tropical cities have not? Clouds and rain are common in the tropics.
American cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas often hit summer temperatures of 110 degrees or more, because they are located where there are not nearly as many clouds during the summer as are common in most other places, including most places in the tropics. The highest temperatures on earth have been reached in Death Valley, California, for the same reason, even though it is not in the tropics.
Putting clouds into climate models is not simple, because the more the temperature rises, the more water evaporates, creating more clouds that reflect more sunlight back out into space. Such facts are well known, but reducing them to a specific and reliable formula that will predict global temperatures is something else.
Meteorology has many facts and many scientific principles but, at this stage of its development, weather forecasts just a week ahead are still iffy. Why then should we let ourselves be stampeded into crippling the American economy with unending restrictions created by bureaucrats who pay no price for being wrong?
Certainly neither China nor India will do that, and the amount of greenhouse gasses they put into the air will overwhelm any reductions we might achieve, even with draconian restrictions at astronomical costs.
Arguing logic and science to the true believers is akin to explaining to an Aztec that, no, cutting the hearts out of dozens of people a day doesn’t really feed blood to the sun god so he is appeased and has incentive to continue appearing each day. In the end some of them might be better convinced of reality by pulling the curtain on the money game that really underlies (pun intended) this massive hoax.
Agree, and a massive hoax is precisely what it is. Plus this hoax has cost average people worldwide billions and made an untold number of hucksters millionaires.
I took an astronomy class last semester. We analyzed the effect of carbon dioxide on our atmosphere. The global warming argument can be articulated as follows: The sun emits infrared wavelength energy that passes through our atmosphere and is reflected by the earth and subsequently trapped, causing the atmosphere to heat on a linear regression line. My question: Why do carbon dioxide molecules behave like diodes? In other words, why don’t they block infrared wavelength energy as it travels towards the earth?
This is a quick explanation of the heat transfer process.
‘Why do carbon dioxide molecules behave like diodes? In other words, why dont they block infrared wavelength energy as it travels towards the earth?”
The “greenhouse gases” do NOT act as diodes. They do filter IR coming in. But as you probably learned in your astronomy class, the wavelength of the radiation is a function of the temperature of the radiating body. The Earths surface is much cooler than that of the sun! It radiates more in the IR band, and not at all in visible or UV wavelengths.
Now, the global-warming enthusiasts do not mention several things. First, a greenhouse does not really heat up by the so-called greenhouse effect. This has been understood for the better part of a century, so “greenhouse gases” is a misnomer. It is also the case that a car with closed windows, parked in the sun, does not heat up by this greenhouse effect, but merely because the heated air in the car does not have a chance to mix with the air outside. It is suppression of convention that does the trick. Rudolph Geiger actually proved this and described it in Das Klima der bodennahen Luftschicht, a classic book, but unfortunately not translated into English until after WWII.
Another interesting thing is that the so-called greenhouse gases act like filters (though in a very complicated way). But like any filter effect, adding more filter only effects the light not already filtered. Think of a filter than filters out say 50% of the light. If you add another such filter, it filters out half of the remaining light, leaving 25% coming through, and so on. Thus adding more filters never leads to a runaway”, but really a saturation of the process.
It probably is much the same with filtering gases in the atmosphere. If this is ignored, then it could cause great overestimates of the effect of IR-filtering gases.
The most important IR-flitering (greenhouse”) gas is just water vapor, far more powerful as a filter than CO2. It’s behavior is very complex. which may explain why the models are so often in error.
Thank you, your reply was outstanding. I’m continuing to learn more and more about this. I really appreciate your patient and thorough analysis. Cheers
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