Category Archives: Animal Farm 2
Why do people talk passionately using theories they often don’t understand in situations that are not defined? Climate change is a sport and knowing the moves of the sides can limit dirty play.
BELIEVERS want their majorities to rule over everyone by the consensual decrees of international forums. They don’t want further investigation because they are already sufficiently mobilised by their beliefs. Their edicts contradict and overrule scientific and democratic freedoms, which is autocracy at best and at worst hegemonic tyranny.
DENIERS is the name Believers use to label as heretics those who challenge their monotheism with arguments they are unable to counter with reason. The heresy is claimed to be self-evidently false, dishonest, illogical and too stupid to be considered. Denying is often claimed to have motives corrupted by greed, ignorance and self-interest. Believers sometimes call for reprisals against deniers. When they reject others’ beliefs, believers lack convincing evidence and their defence usually fails miserably. There is little evidence and beliefs are so fragile that compromise between believers and deniers is impossible.
SCEPTICS simply don’t know and their views are less acceptable to believers than deniers, because they are a moving target of doubt, compared with deniers who have an alternative reality. Sceptics remain to be convinced that climate change is significant when there is no accepted standard for significance and there has been bias. Sceptics want climate change to be significant before launching into remedial action. They want evidence that there is a greenhouse effect and that CO2 traps more infrared, molecule for molecule, than N2 and O2, rather than the same, which is what respectable theories suggest. Most scientists would be sceptics if they had the courage.
Believer, Denier and Sceptic, like The Three Monkeys, operate with different engagement, as mankind migrates across the savannah of human understanding of climate. Believers lead the migration to better environments, creating different survivors. They are opposed by deniers who, like predators, select their prey from the ranks of the young, the old and the disabled and pursue them in arguments to exhaustion. More agile believers are advantaged by sacrifice of the weakest. Sceptics apply reality tests to believers’ progress, checking their theories for veracity by science and logic. Sceptics try to mediate between believers and deniers. Sceptics must win, eventually, when the believers stop believing in a better climate.
My speculative fiction novel The Grass is Always Browner considers Australia 250 years in the future.
Philosopher Bertrand Russell ridiculed the existence of God by positing a teapot in space between Jupiter and Earth. It has not been falsified nor can it be. Below I liken the Enhanced Greenhouse Effect to such a teapot.
Some people believe there is a teapot (Enhanced Greenhouse Effect) that is causing tea (global warming). Their belief is bolstered by hot Venus (96.5% CO2) and glasshouses (glass acts as a convection barrier) that are supposed to be warmed by a similar teapot (conditions are so different the analogy is irrelevant). Infra-red back-radiation rains down like tea, causing temperatures to rise and ice caps to melt. The teapot uses ‘teabags’ (GHGs: carbon dioxide and methane) made from the waste products of combusting fossil fuels. Their conclusion is that we must stop producing teabag GHGs. Believers do not acknowledge that the ‘tea’ (global warming) could come from something else.
Global warming could be resulting from one or more of these processes:
- natural changes in the Sun’s interior;
- natural changes in the Earth’s interior;
3. non-anthropomorphic thermal pollution, from bushfires, volcanoes, biochemical processes;
4. anthropomorphic thermal pollution from energy production inefficiencies and consumption;
5. thermal pollution from enhanced agriculture, biodecomposition, biodegradation and cows’ digestive processes;
In view of the above alternative explanations for the ‘tea’, a teapot may not exist. It is not possible to dismiss the possibility of a teapot. The case for it would be improved had its hypothesised tea-producing effect ever been measured and reported accessibly. I have heard of it only as a supposition elaborated by qualitative theories. In some instances, the relationships have been acknowledged by the theorists who have confounded them. The absence of experimental data is preeminent in the websites I have perused.
Is it possible that a teapot could send its ‘tea’ to stay on Earth in daytime without much going out into space, even at night, having an effect like an electric blanket? Classical modelling of radiant transfer processes by Stefan Boltzmann has energy absorbed equal to energy emitted. I have not been able to find a method of calculating a Greenhouse Effect based on measurements in controlled experiments.
You may want to dismiss my lack of success in finding this evidence as incomplete or indicative of incompetence at desk research. Although I have not been employed as a climate scientist, I am a chemical engineer and during a career spanning 50 years I have studied thermodynamic processes, including radiant heat transfer, worked as an energy supply engineer, applied complex numerical simulators to problems, analysed climate reports and data as a high school science teacher, written educational materials on climate science for Education Queensland, been a blogger on climate topics, witnessed the proposal of a greenhouse effect teapot and the apotheosis of renewable energy technologies. My fruitless search for the ‘teapot’ has been mostly online — my research skills have been acknowledged by employers.
I am not at all convinced by the predictions of climate models because overfitting occurs when there are too few degrees of freedom. The ‘degrees of freedom’ is the number of observations minus the number of explanatory variables. If the number of variables is the same as, or greater than the number of observations, there are not enough observations and predictions are not sufficiently deterministic to have any confidence in them. I would like to hear from any modeller who has explained more global climate observation averages than variables he/she has tweaked.
If a teapot is causing the tea heating Venus, then the teabags it uses are 2500 times more concentrated, the sulphuric acid clouds on Venus are absent on Earth and the tea there is so much stronger, over 400oC, that the planet’s thermodynamic balance does not substantiate that a teapot there would have processes able to be scaled down to conditions on Earth with any reliability. There is nothing about Venus that is evidence for a teapot in the Earth’s atmosphere.
A greenhouse effect is a theory that lacks the respectability of being validated by empirical science.
Glasshouses warm up in daytime and cool down at night. They have heaters. Is there a greenhouse somewhere that is getting warmer and warmer, as it is supposed Earth is?
Karl Popper’s philosophy of science is that anyone can put up a hypothesis without evidence, like a ‘teapot’. In his view, it is scientists’ role to try and falsify it. A dearth of evidence for the Greenhouse Effect does not falsify it, but you should be doubtful because I have presented several sound alternative explanations. My explanations, which are 6 hypotheses that explain the ‘tea’ and increased presence of ‘tea bags’, are respectable and demonstrably testable. If the ‘teapot’ has other evidence for it, let’s hear it. If you cannot provide such evidence and the ‘teapot’ story has captured your imagination, then think again. Faith is not a sufficient reason to abandon technologies that are serving the public well.
Bertrand Russell used his teapot analogy to illustrate the idea that the burden of proof lies on the person making the unfalsifiable claim rather than shifting the burden of proof to others. This is more demanding than Popper’s position. Because a Greenhouse Effect teapot cannot be falsified, then the onus is on scientists to ‘prove’ that it exists and does not require me to prove that it does not. When I apply Popper’s more relaxed condition, am able to dismiss the teapot as whimsy until I obtain evidence to the contrary. It is logical for me to adopt a sceptical position.
The energy we consume warms up the Earth: energy does not disappear. It all ends up in the environment as entropy, or thermal pollution that is at too low a temperature to be re-used. It stays in the environment, only slowly being radiated away into space and replaced by energy from the Sun. The amounts are enough, I have calculated, to account for all of the warming reported. I can show you my numbers. The amount of warming by greenhouse gases is relatively uncertain and I know of no incontrovertible evidence that they cause any warming at all.
It is logical to reduce entropy production to decrease atmospheric warming. This should be pursued by insisting on the most efficient energy supply technologies to convert fossil fuel and renewable potential energy with least wasting of energy due to production technology inefficiency. Coal fired base load technology has been relatively efficient. Renewable energy has so far been relatively inefficient, see hypothesis #4, and would increase global warming. Redirection of electricity production to efficient and away from inefficient technologies is not occurring as it should. The redirection of electricity production to the least efficient technologies has raised the cost to electricity consumers. Falling electricity demand will mitigate the increase in entropy production, so might be less ‘tea’ but not less than there would have been without the ‘teapot’ and without the ‘teabag’ scare. The hysteria has impose costs on ordinary consumers that are unwarranted. The concern about ‘tea bag’ production should be put aside until there is more evidence of a ‘teapot’. It could take evidence that does not exist anywhere, as far as I know, to change my mind.
CORRECTION: I apologise for my post on this topic last week. It contained errors.
The table compares environmental warming by a coal station, with a solar panel and a wind turbine, which have equal capacity to convert and transfer electrical energy.
All input energy ends up in the environment, whether absorbed, converted or used.
Energy conversion efficiency E is electrical output/total energy input.
Different energy sources and technologies can be compared with equal electricity output as environmental energy input, or warming, in the table below. Relative environmental warming per unit of electricity produced is the reciprocal of conversion efficiency 1/E. It is ‘inefficiency’ of conversion, or input for output.
After subtracting 10% for reflection due to albedo or whiteness of a panel, typically 15-30% of incident solar energy is converted (0.15-0.30).
* Environment warming would be reduced when the solar panel is installed on a roof above a cooled interior.
Assume efficiency of rotary multi-blade turbine is 30% or 0.30.
Assume station thermal efficiency = 40% or 0.40
Coal would have a 25% lower environment warming effect (3.33-2.50)/3.33 X 100. A renewable energy technology could warm the environment more than coal. A technology of lower thermal efficiency is more thermally polluting. It is one of several important factors such as cost to be considered before installing it to replace a more efficient technology.
Renewal of energy input is ultimately from the Sun, for solar and wind, or by combusting coal. The heat flows from hot to cold, cooling down to ambient temperature, ending up as heat warming the environment as entropy: heat that cannot be used. For technologies having low efficiency, the amount of ambient warming is significant. This thermal pollution could be sufficient to disadvantage individuals of many species, locally and globally.
No amount of warming has been included from an Enhanced Greenhouse Effect, due to CO2 and CH4. I am not convinced that the postulated mechanism exists and I would need a method I can use to calculate any effect.
It is claimed burning fossil fuels to produce electricity or heat is responsible for roughly half of global warming (Google, April 13, 2014). Installing solar panels and erecting wind turbines to replace coal may not reduce warming and could increase it.