Archive for Thursday, September 10, 2009

Big picture

September 10, 2009


To the editor:

When reading the article about Charlie Perry’s sunspot research (Sept. 7), I have to admit I was completely flabbergasted. If reported correctly, the statement of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s position on solar radiation is ludicrous. The article states their position being that “solar radiation plays a small part in the warming and cooling of the planet.” (emphasis added)

I will allow that humans have not always been wise stewards of Earth’s resources, BUT, to negate the influence of our sun on weather patterns is, in a nutshell, irresponsible. Before the industrial revolution — which, frankly, was not that long ago in Earth’s history — there were extreme weather problems such as the Ice Age, extremely severe droughts and problems that apparently changed the entire Earth’s topography.

The delicate balance of earth and sun allows us to live on this beautiful planet. To our knowledge, we are the only planet with this balance in our solar system. To negate that relationship is naïve and potentially dangerous. That does not mean that carbon emissions are not a problem, but let’s look at the big picture!


cthulhu_4_president 8 years, 7 months ago

Great letter. I enjoy an analogy linking life on Earth to a petri dish, or a colony of fungus. Think about it: a specific species of bacteria or fungus will grow and colonize when ideal conditions for temperature, light, pressure, etc, are met. Likewise, life on this planet is only possible through a random convergance of the correct temperature, light, atmosphere, planetary size (specifically density and mass, which determines the force of gravity), and scores of other factors that allowed complex life to emerge.
Alter any one of those factors and life becomes impossible. Trivializing the sun's involvement is ludicrous as one needs to only look at our celestial neighbors to observe how the sun affects environments.

Venus: Sterilized by heat. No organic life. Atmosphere mainly composed of c02. Contrary to popular belief, it can't be said that there is a greenhouse effect on Venus because there is no organic life to continue the carbon cycle. Atmospheric pressure around 85-90 times that of Earth.

Mars: Cold. The warmest it ever gets is around 70 (F). The coldest is around 200 (F). Thin atmosphere.

Would the UN have us believe that the sun plays only a small part in these planets climates as well?

Lastly, as the letter writer observed, you cannot hope to stabalize a climate that has not been stable for 6 billion years.

cthulhu_4_president 8 years, 7 months ago

that should obviously be "-200 (F)" in my last post.

melott 8 years, 7 months ago

Clark's letter shows the danger in reading very bad science reporting, as the letter of David Burress so clearly pointed out. The quote in Ms Clark’s letter, taken from the newspaper article, is ludicrous. Also it is not the real panel statement. So that people don’t think the UNIPCC are complete fools, I will point out that their report can be found on the internet in about 30 seconds, and one can read it. It tells us (on page 38) that CHANGES in solar radiation play a small part in the warming and cooling of the planet.

In general, what we see here is that when people find an interesting idea, they want to use it to explain everything. Most things going on around us have multiple influences. As Einstein is supposed to have said, "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."

devobrun 8 years, 7 months ago

And multiple feedback systems are the worst thing to happen to rational analysis. The multiple feedback system usually includes non-linearities. These give rise to chaos.

Chaos is similar to randomness. However, where stochastic analysis deals with random variables, chaos deals with random relationships. That is, the equations change. This leads to predictions that are very difficult to justify.

In this new world of sloppy science, chaos and its results are often used to make predictions from computer models.

Since scientists have adopted theories that cannot be tested and since these scientists have a strong link to government funding, results that meet expectations are a cinch.

You can make a climate model sing Michelle by the Beetles if you want it to. The models are constantly being adjusted to match the changing climate and a Potomac two-step is danced to justify the model problems.

Is the climate changing? Probably, but define climate please. Are humans effecting the forcings and the relationships? Probably, but we cannot separate these forcings from those of the sun, or the other things like ocean currents.

We just don't know. We are living in a country that has made a big change culturally. Everybody is scared. Seat belts, smoking, football, food additives, mercury in the water.....I could probably go on for hours listing all the things that are dangerous now, that weren't dangerous in 1959.

Given our new sensibilities, it is a wonder anybody does anything anymore. It is also a wonder how I and my fellow >50 year olds survived. We should all be dead from the food we ate and the air we breathed, and the water we drank and the activities we engaged in without proper government regulation.

My advice to you all is disregard the climate models. They are so large and so full of possibility for mistakes that they are worthless. Speculation without the hope for a test is not science.
Read Nostradamus. Read Revelations in the bible. Listen to Al Gore. It is all the same arrogant pontification. I don't know, and neither do you what the climate will be in 2030.

melott 8 years, 7 months ago

There are computer models, and there are ways to validate them. I won't go into how it's done. A place like this is no place to try to do any serious teaching, the trolls make sure it cannot happen. However, there is a thing called an absorption spectrum. You can do a computer model of what will happen if you park your car out in the Sun on a sunny day. The windows let the light in, but block the heat going back out. CO2 assists the latter effect--the blocking of the heat going back out. This is not statistical, and you don't need a computer--global warming was predicted in about 1905 by Arrhenius, a Swedish physicist.

BigPrune 8 years, 7 months ago

Al Gore won a nobel prize because he is a climate expert. It was NOT politically motivated whatsoever. They felt sorry for him because he grew a beard and went into a great depression after he lost the presidency, wrote a book based on half-truths and then a movie using all of Hollywood's magical special effects to make it look realistic. Of course the sun has very little to do with climate change. I watched Al Gore say this in a televised speech on C-Span, he's an expert, won a nobel prize because of his expertise, so it must be true.

Kirk Larson 8 years, 7 months ago

Cthulhu- One minor correction. As a matter of fact, the Greenhouse Effect of carbon dioxide was first discovered by astronomers studying Venus. They couldn't understand why, since Venus isn't THAT much closer to the Sun than Earth, it was so much hotter than Earth. The answer being that the CO2 in the atmosphere holds in the heat. That was when they first realized that CO2 and other gases had a lot to do with the temperature and climate of our own planet.

devobrun 8 years, 7 months ago

Melott: Of course there are computer models and there are ways to validate them. I use SPICE models all the time to design electronic circuits.

Then I build a prototype. Then I test the function of the circuit and measure the various voltages and currents and temperatures of the loops, nodes and components.

I do it. I test it. I modify the circuit. I run more tests. I experiment. You know Melott, the good ole lab stuff we used to do back in the time before computers. In Malott hall, Learned Hall, Nichols Hall.

Today, we use a computer model called a global circulation model to model the car-in-the-sun example you gave. But the earth is far more complicated, especially regarding evaporation and the fact that their is no glass or steel roof to the earth. Convection currents are an important part of the earth system. Moisture is transferred from the ocean into the upper atmosphere and clouds form and....what is the albedo of a thunderstorm, Melott?

You don't know because nobody knows.

Now to test the GCM. Change the energy output of the sun in increments of 0.01% and wait 50 years to see how the atmosphere and ocean respond. Hold everything else stable. Repeat over a range of plus or minus 0.5% (100 data points) This will only take about 5000 years.

Oh, wait, we can't do this or anything like this..... No test, no science. GCMs are what is wrong with science today, Melott. We have theorized beyond our ability to test and somebody convinced the majority of scientists that a computer run can replace the experiment.

It is the big lie that scientists bought. A computer model is just a mathematical implementation of a theory. It isn't real. It is another abstraction. But it is so seductive that computer runs using full color graphics rule the day in science. Computer output to a scientist is like beads to a native American in 1600. You love those computer runs even though they aren't really worth much.

Some day you will grow up and realize that computer baubles are not what you thought they were. The lie will burst and people will realize that sophistication isn't making our world better. It is hiding reality. There will be a backlash against spreadsheet science and endless correlations and model will reinvent itself in the form it had in 1959 and we will be better for it.

Chris Golledge 8 years, 7 months ago

Snippets taken out of context.

“solar radiation plays a small part in the warming and cooling of the planet.”

"BUT, to negate the influence of our sun on weather patterns is, in a nutshell, irresponsible. Before the industrial revolution" "Would the UN have us believe that the sun plays only a small part in these planets climates as well?"

What? Do you think that all of the hundreds or thousands of people who have spent decades of their lives studying the problem are stupid? Of course the amount of energy coming from the sun has an influence; they are well aware of that. The problem is that the total solar irradiance has gone through cycles, but shown little or no overall upward trend. In contrast, CO2 is definitely going up and the temperature is definitely going up. So, explain how TSI provides a more than a marginal influence on the current warming in comparison to CO2.

"Lastly, as the letter writer observed, you cannot hope to stabalize a climate that has not been stable for 6 billion years."

Stability is relative. Change the average temp by 4-6 K over a million years and plants and animals adjust. Change it by the same amount over a few hundred years and there will be a different story.

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