Like understanding in other fields of science, climate has had phases, punctuated by crises of individual scientists’ faith, with breakdown and replacement, referred to as ‘paradigm shifts’*.
PARADIGM 1 Until 1945
Our understanding of climate was of regular procession of the seasons. Extreme events were divinely caused. Conditions and climates would continue favourably by prayer, diligent duty and sacrifice.
PARADIGM 2 1946 – 1987
With scientific understanding, the behaviour of the atmosphere, oceans and earth became predictable causes of weather but variations in climate statistics were understood only superficially. Another ice age was possible. Weather forecasts were uncertain within days and speculative further ahead. Energy supply was managed by laissez-faire economic supply and demand. Scientific theories were tested by experiment. There was no possibility of changing climates, although there were experiments to increase rainfall by cloud seeding.
PARADIGM 3 1988 – ?
Pollutant gases seemed linked to climate after a ‘hole’ in the ozone layer was claimed to have been repaired by limiting accidental release of chlorofluorocarbons, having a catalytic effect on ozone. When there seemed to be polar ice melting, glacier retreat and higher sea levels, global warming was attributed to greenhouse gases, especially by the increase in carbon dioxide from fossil fuels combustion. When science theories could not be tested, credible assertion and modelling that explained adjusted data was accepted. Energy supply became controlled by governments. Worldwide restructuring of energy supply without fossil fuels turned to renewable energy, especially from solar and wind. Reduction of energy consumption was not considered.
PARADIGM 4 2021 – ?
The link between global warming and fossil fuel combustion is realized tenuous. Increasing carbon dioxide in air has other possible explanations and in any case its effect is non-catalytic, benign and its warming effect is unsubstantiated. Warming by other combustion products, heat and water vapour, can no longer be ignored. Carbon dioxide is recognised to be benign. Renewable energy is realised to cause warming equal to or greater than fossil fuels. To prevent global warming, energy use should be scaled back if possible in industry and all other human activities, especially in high energy-using countries such as Australia; Canada; USA; Europe.
*The term ‘paradigm shift’ is explained in Godfrey-Smith, Theory and Realist, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science, 2003. My coming novel ‘Animal Farm 2’ explains these views https://martinknox.com
The reasons are these: warming of the environment; conservation of energy resources; personal economy; disregard of others; helping less advantaged people.
1. Warming of the environment
There are several possible causes of environment warming. Anthropomorphic warming has human characteristics and is caused by or has effects on humans. Causes of global warming cannot be attributed with certainty and are theoretical. There are many causes possible. Human causes could result from various emissions. Reduced carbon dioxide emission has been theorised to have an additional reduced warming benefit. A simpler theory is thermal emissions from human activity enter the atmosphere and oceans and warm them.
By reducing these activities, there could be less warming of the environment. Activities that could be reduced with this benefit are energy conversion, transportation, residential heating, air conditioning, combustion, fermentation, decomposition and respiration.
2. Conservation of energy resources
Reducing use of energy resources of all kinds, fossil fuels, hydro and renewable energy could save them for use in the future, by others. Less withdrawal of solar energy by renewable energy technologies would reduce warming of the environment by their low temperature waste heat, with the Sun’s higher temperatures driving the ‘renewal’, by the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.
3. Personal economy
Markets are supposed to rationalise supply and demand of energy in competition with others. Monopolies of suppliers and consumers can prevent appropriate responses to emerging depletion of resources and new technologies. Reduction in energy use could be encouraged by governments. Conversely, energy suppliers encourage consumption to maintain their sales. Individuals can be free to reduce their energy consumption, but their role could seem to them small and not worthwhile until leaders espouse this cause in the public interest.
4. Disregard of others
Energy use has not been limited, except by economic and environmental costs. Users have taken as much energy as they want, like oxygen from the air. People in some countries have helped themselves to much more energy than others. Energy ends up, eventually after use, polluting the environment and oceans for others, by the 1st Law of Thermodynamics. Thus some greedy energy users cause more environment warming and more depletion of energy resources, than others, without having entitlement to do so.
5. Helping less advantaged people
Energy consumption has universal value and is a broad indicator of quality of lifestyle differences between nations. Distribution has depended on historical circumstances. Developing countries could reasonably be allowed more growth in their low energy use than developed countries having high energy use. Such allowance could be voluntary, with high energy-using individuals sacrificing high-energy technologies and activities of marginal value to help those less advantaged. Otherwise sharing might have to be mandated.
Please consider these 5 reasons and reduce your energy consumption.
My book Animal Farm 2 coming shortly addresses these energy issues https://martinknox.com
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.
Greta Thunberg’s entitlement alarmed by development.
As growing populations of Chinese, Indians and Indonesians enjoy their new prosperity brought by development of affordable fossil-fuel electricity, climate alarmists with unfalsifiable theories of climate change forecast catastrophe unless energy alternatives are adopted that will cripple economies committed to growth. World leaders wisely discounting unwarranted alarmism must acknowledge that population growth and economic growth are unsustainable and campaign for efficient use of remaining resources guided by economic markets rather than by fake science, hysteria or appeals to privilege like Thunberg’s.