Category Archives: Philosophy and Science
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.
- Collect unbiased observations of temperature, sea level and effects of extreme events over many years.
- Analyse climate data impartially to detect trends and all potential causes.
- Identify worst consequences of effects for people, fauna and flora.
- Consider most likely cause(s) of worst effects.
- Select verified mitigating and preventative actions.
- Obtain agreements and funding.
Skip steps 1-6, vilify benign CO2 emissions, exhaust supplies CH4, sabotage Australia’s coal industry, deplete scarce World oil, exact payments from electricity users, install renewable energy technologies that cause more warming than coal, prevent public debate, pretend that government is in control.
Cicero, 106-43BC, a Roman statesman, is reputed to have been the greatest orator ever. He said the three most important features of any speech are delivery, delivery and delivery. He used 16 devices bracketed in my illustrative piece below, designed for post Truth consideration, with apology to science adherents.
COFFEE – A PERSUASIVE SPEECH
The smell, the taste, the ritual, the warmth of the cup, the feeling of joy in my heart when I take that first sip. Since the 9th-century, coffee has been taken as a stimulant, sometimes addictively. It activates the heart and nervous system with hormones, to increase alertness.
Does meeting with friends at a cafe need the superficial and frenetic verbal intercourse that coffee causes? (Loaded emotional language) What do we lose when we hide our true feelings? (Fearmongering). Do we need life au naturel or hyped up with coffee?
‘Tired, stressed and depressed (Rhyme), coffee props your eyes open and helps you stay alert in a bad situation. Coffee keeps you going, holds your frazzled mind together, enabling you to play the game, get that raise and survive until the next holiday. When you lack energy and are straining to stay on top, you doubt you can manage without it. (Appeal to emotions).
‘I have a coffee addiction,’ said Jennifer Garam in Psychology Today. ‘I am doing a coffee detox one day at a time.’ (Testimony)
The 200 billion dollar coffee retail and supply industry would stop addictive qualities or harmful effects being publicised without conscience. (Mud slinging) There seems to be no legal obligation to display warnings on products other than pharmaceuticals.
Production of 10 millions tonnes per annum of coffee is not without its problems. The demand of coffee addicts (Labelling) commands prices for coffee beans that farmers in developing countries find irresistible. (Exaggerated). Tropical forests should not be felled to grow coffee. Would the Gods want us to sacrifice so much for so little? (Appeal to Gods or religion). Forest should be preserved, with the best fertile land and water going to growing rice and other grains. Lesser land should be used for dairying and grazing. The growing of foods should have priority over coffee.
Marijuana gives more buzz per hectare than coffee, requiring less land and less water. Coffee is expensive. Dollar for dollar, coffee swallows up to 30% of family grocery bills but contributes nothing to family nutrition, hygiene or health. Coffee is a scourge of humanity and should be rejected in the same way that tobacco has been (Guilt by association) and sugar will soon be (Divert and distract).
But coffee can be an instrument of revenge. Nancy Astor, Britain’s first female MP, told Sir Winston Churchill that: ‘If I were your wife I would put poison in your coffee.’
Churchill famously replied ‘Nancy, if I were your husband, I would drink it.’
To save ourselves we need to denounce coffee as a poison. I call upon all coffee drinkers to wake up to coffee’s effects and reduce their consumption before it is too late.
Voices of the Voiceless, from Baylor University Press, 2019, on Amazon, edited by Zoe Knox and Julie de Graffenried, is a valuable cache evidencing that the Soviet antireligious hegemony was prosecuted with cruel determination in many eastern countries and resisted by the faithful of many religions with great conviction and hardship. One-page documents reveal how antireligious governments not only forbade practice of religions, but demanded obeisance to the totalitarian atheism, as satirised in Orwell’s book 1984.
Evidence of persistent religious devotion, dissent, competition, extremism and martyrdom, is juxtaposed against evidence of official prejudice, ignorance, repression, persecution, destruction, illegality, greed, corruption and murder.
Voices of the Voiceless presents evidence of a heartless social experiment that failed harming millions of wholly innocent people. Most books seek to divert, amuse, chronicle, record, access, discuss, support, inform, expose, confront, shock or persuade. This book is different. The editors have cleverly separated the pieces for readers to reach their own conclusions.
Your conclusions from preview may be different to mine. To prompt you to check the evidence in this marvellous book, mine are that the Soviet anti-religion policy was considered necessary but its failure unexpected. It was prosecuted by malignant totalitarianism, not by toxic atheism. It was a failure of humanity as much as by religious intolerance.
The materials do not include conforming voices that may have been voiceless but had nothing to say. Atheism presumably proceeded in school science lessons without much objection. There is no indication how prevalent or minor was religious dissent overall. Was it so limited authorities didn’t acknowledge futility until the 1980s?
Soviet atheism and ultimately communism failed because they misconceived faiths could be suppressed. The atheists attempted to amputate a rich part of Russian culture, not just religious worship, but also Christian art, idealism, critical thinking and social reform. The Soviet authorities were ruthless and determined, as if religion could be excised from the mind like a dysfunctional growth from the body, when it has already metastasized. This wonderful book showed me that the Soviet anti-religion experiment could not succeed because individuals’ rights to their religion were deeply engraved on their psyches. When you check the evidence, your take might be different. I recommend this wonderful resource.