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Greenspan, Einstein and Reich

Filed under: — eric @ 29 October 2008 - (Italian) (Français)

shrekI often receive letters that range from amusing claims that we are overlooking changes in the magnetic field, to tales about how the “weight” of carbon dioxide keeps it “near the ground”. If the writer sounds serious, then I treat them seriously, and do my best to provide a helpful reply. Often, though, I find myself in a pointless debate of the most basic, well-established physical principles. I generally cut off the discussion at this point, because I simply don’t have the time. This can result in a hostile response accusing me of “having an agenda”. Most would call me naïve for bothering to respond in the first place.

But it is possible, after all, that somewhere in that barrage of letters lies a brilliant idea that ought to be heard, and could change the course of scientific history. How to tell the difference? Well, there is a story that we tell in our family that might provide some perspective on this.

The story is about Wilhelm Reich, the controversial Freudian psychoanalyist (1897-1957). Reich was a personal acquaintance of my great uncle, William Steig, creator of Shrek, and illustrator of ones of Reich’s books. Reich thought he had made a major discovery in physics that proved the existence of a previously unrecognized form of energy, which he called “orgone energy”. He had built an “orgone energy accumulator” (basically a box whose walls were comprised of alternating layers of organic material and metal). He had done some careful experiments that demonstrated that the temperature inside the box increased above the ambient outside temperature. He made calculations that (he thought) demonstrated that the increase was greater than could be explained by thermodynamics, thereby proving the existence of an extra source of heat, which he attributed to the mysterious “orgone energy”. He sent these calculations to Albert Einstein, who graciously wrote back to him, showing where his calculations were wrong. Reich then wrote again, allegedly showing where Einstein had made an error. Einstein never wrote back. Some in my family took this as evidence that Einstein was stumped. But most people would conclude that Einstein decided he had better things to do than continue an argument that wasn’t going anywhere. This story has all the more poignancy to my family because my grandfather Henry, William’s brother, died of cancer while trying to cure himself by sitting in an orgone accumulator. I don’t of course, believe that Wilhelm Reich is responsible for my grandfather’s death. But clearly, Reich was wrong, and Einstein was right.

“But wait a minute,” you might say. “You guys at RealClimate are no Albert Einstein.” True enough. But like Einstein, we’re constantly subject to criticism from our fellow scientists. That’s what the process of peer review is all about. It’s not a perfect process, but it does provide an efficient means to separate ideas that have traction from ideas that are going nowhere. Greenspan’s pronouncements about the economy, on the other hand, were not subject to any such process. There might be a lesson in that.

237 Responses to “Greenspan, Einstein and Reich”

  1. 101
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Fred Staples, I would suggest that you do some research into the difference between weather and climate–or just stick to the Weather channel if that’s what floats your boat.

  2. 102
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Lawrence Brown, The paradox I was referring to was not the existence of entanglement–I don’t think Aspect’s results really surprised any physicist. The paradox is that entanglement is the norm–and yet, to very high accuracy, general relativity describes gravitation.
    BTW, just so you know, I am a physicist with more than 20 years professional experience. I’ve solved the Dirac equation a time or two. It is kind of surprising to me how much talk there is about falsification of the Copenhagen Interpretation–in the physics community nobody talks seriously about this.

  3. 103
    Mark says:

    Ray, #102: Actually, we KNOW that general relativity gravity is wrong. It can’t explain quantum gravity effects.

    We also know that quantum gravity can’t be right either: it can’t explain general relativity effects.

    These problems are accepted and the search is on for how a new theory that devolves to either case under the right conditions.

  4. 104
    Hank Roberts says:

    Alastair, did you ever suggest an experiment that could distinguish your theory of how radiation works from the other one?

  5. 105
    SecularAnimist says:

    Ray Ladbury wrote: “It is kind of surprising to me how much talk there is about falsification of the Copenhagen Interpretation–in the physics community nobody talks seriously about this.”

    Which is as it should be since, as I have noted, the “Copenhagen Interpretation” is a name given to an informal aggregation of philosophical interpretations of the “meaning” of quantum theory. It is not itself a scientific theory nor does it make any testable predictions that could be subject to “falsification”.

  6. 106
    Mark says:

    Fred, #89. If you’re speaking as a physicist there, you are no physicist.

    We have a theory that says the LHC will not accellerate particles beyond the speed of light.

    “As a physicist” where’s the theory that says that the temperature won’t go up?

    And as to the actual wording, that is terrible for “as a physicist”: are you saying that summer won’t come around because the temperature refuses to rise?

    Now there have been many “ideas” about why there won’t be any new climate warming. Two problems:

    a) They don’t hold up to scrutiny. If, as the denialists^Wskeptics say, a segment of scientists disagreeing means an idea is wrong, these ideas are VERY wrong

    b) When it comes to AGW and heating, fifty years data means we must wait until it’s enough data to be CERTAIN. Yet when it comes to “there’s no GW”, ten years is plenty.

  7. 107

    “Greenspan’s economics . . . couldn’t imagine that people would be willing to function with a shadow economy (credit swaps, exotic dertivatives, etc.) ~3 times the size of the visible one.”

    Shall we call it financial dark matter?

  8. 108
    Rod B says:

    Christopher (100), I understand your position, but that doesn’t alter simple math. If the uptake this year, say, is 2.5% of all of the total “excess” (CO2 not uptaken — probably not a word, but ought to be…) or 57% of just this year’s total CO2 emissions, it’s all the same. It might be misleading as you say. For instance some might infer that 57% of next year’s CO2 emissions will also be absorbed. That inference would likely be incorrect, but it’s not what was said. Your concern is valid but can’t change arithmetic.

  9. 109
    member of the public says:

    that shadow economy is interesting, being at least 3 times the size of the physical economy. there does seem to be a sort of amplification going on: estimates of the resources being consumed by developed economies are at such a rate that 3 or more planet earth’s are required to sustain the consumption.

    as that shadow economy annihilates itself, maybe the overbearing demands on the planetary resources may subside somewhat.

  10. 110
    Lawrence Brown says:

    102 Ray
    I do respect your background and experience.I regret that I underestimated it. If I sounded exasperated above it’s likely due to my frustration at trying to understand the quantum world at a depth greater than a superficial level. My hat is off to anyone who can understand the Dirac equation, let alone solve it.

    I’m only grateful that in the climatological world,we can,in principle, to acceptably accurate precision, define both the location and velocity of say the Petermann or Jacobshavn glacier, and other elements of climatology.

  11. 111
    jcbmack says:

    Free trade versus strict regulation, well, economics is an art and has a little math.:) No system is fool proof. Greenspan made long term judgments, some positive, (good) some negative,(bad) many coupled sytsems which are of course loops of positive and neagive feedback.

    Free trade is not to blame alone; look at the finance draining Iraqi occupation, bailouts, (not in tradition of the new deal) and high taxes on the middle class. That was not for the most part resulting from Greenspan, now then again, housing values are low and payments are high due to lack of Greenspan’s lack of forsight.

  12. 112
    jcbmack says:

    Ray Ladbury, I enjoy your posts!

  13. 113
    jcbmack says:

    Just a couple of further comments about the Copenhagen Interpretation.

    It is worth noting a couple of points from Wikipedia’s article

    Unnacceptable! Wikipedia is not academic or thorough.

  14. 114
    jcbmack says:

    Mark # 103 we need more data not just math. They nay be not reconciled, but GR works for what is applied to, not wrong.

  15. 115
    jcbmack says:

    We need to find those particles in the accelerator!

  16. 116
    Mark says:

    Trying to understand what the clucking bell you’re saying, RodB.

    If over the last 100 years 100trillion has been put up at a rate of 1 trillion a year, removing 500 million is 50% of a years worth, but that’s a lot different from saying “50% of our annual emissions have been removed”. The implication being made available is that 50% of emissions have been removed when it’s only 1/2%.

  17. 117
    Mark says:

    Greenspan should have mentioned that the use of debt as an asset and the creation of the “dark economy” from its use is not modeled by ANY theory he’s aware of.

    Not having done so, he retains the blame for allowing it to continue. If he’d said something, people would not have thought of relying on the economy to obey the rules that told them everything was just peachy.

  18. 118
    Mark says:

    Jobmak, #114. No, more data won’t work. The theory of gravity in the two areas WILL NOT WORK in the realm of the other.

    Just like “the earth is flat” is good enough for walking on it, but doesn’t fit when you’re shooting a missile 100 miles. There’s a “better” model for gravity that isn’t either, though it reduces to the same thing (exactly like special relativity reduces to simple newtonian motion if you are slow enough) if you make the assumptions that place it in one realm or the other.

    Data is not missing to make one or the other work.

    Data may help find out WHICH of the new candidates for gravity to ***replace*** both models is the best, but it won’t make either of the two old workhorses (quantum and relativistic gravity theories) true outside their application.

  19. 119
    Mark says:

    Rereading your post you misunderstand “wrong”. The explanation is wrong in the same way as “the pond is flat” is wrong. Or “my desk is flat” is wrong. For the sufficiently appropriate use, they are right. However, they are wrong.

    “flat” is wrong. But not wrong enough to matter.

    Similarly, newtonian gravity is wrong, but not wrong enough to matter if you’re talking about landing a probe on Mars. Its wrongness was fixed with general relativity.

    And now GR (or quantum gravity) are wrong and will be replaced by a new theory.

    And, just as GR reduces to Newtonian if your masses are not too big, the new theory will have to be able to explain both GR and QG if you are sufficiently massive or sufficiently small.

    But they are as wrong as Newtonian Gravity is wrong. Or my table is flat.

  20. 120
    jcbmack says:

    It is only data that will work Mark.True application is all we can consider in these two models, but they both work in their respective applications. In the future the understandings we have will have amendments and additions, and perhaps omissions, however, we are not seeking to replace either, but fit in new statements as new data is validated. I am not sure what you mean with the flat earth analogy precisely, perhaps that there is no duality of thinking is credible, only one answer will do? Just as the Earth is not flat, our current models, do not tell the whole story, with the precision or accuracy needed? Well, that is certainly true to a point. There will never be a complete replavcement, becasue each model does accurately and succintly tell the story quite clearly up to the point that we cannot combine or reconcile such models.
    Data, however, is the ONLY thing that we have regarding knowing anything new or even ‘replacing,’ any model. No math alone, no postulate alone, no intelligent logic or argument can be incorporated confidently without data. There is data to support Einstein’s greatest contributions, the Schrodinger equation, global warming trends and what ester compound a particular flower uses to create a scent:)

    No data, no validation, no peer review process, no amendments based upon evidence, not a good scinetific theory in the sense of having ample explanatory power or any potential predictive qualities.

    Now it may be some legitimate geniuses are working on x,y, z, however, they all unaminously state “we need more data,” like in the major progenitors and perpetuators of super position theory and st ring theory:)

    Unsure of your background exactly, I can make a few general recommendations: Scientific Amercian, (last months issue on big bounce theory, four months ago, I believe on super position theory)PBS specials online and on DVD on string theory, relevant articles on quantum mechanics in Encyclopedia Britannica and the best Pchem book in publication; in my humble opinion: Peter Atkins Physical Chemistry,

  21. 121
    member of the public says:

    Interesting that there isn’t a Plunge Protection Team (PPT) for the climate … yet. Once the PPT has finished its work on the collapsing financial system it could offer some advice on operating a PPT for a climate tipping into dangerous change. It is really is all about phase transitions. The financial system going from liquid to solid (“the liquidity crisis”) and the ice caps going from solid to liquid.

  22. 122
    jcbmack says:

    The IF spectroscopy data is pretty clear/: The satellite data supports models even if they have margins of error +- some value. CO2 absorbs radiation. It is used to put out forest fires. Let is not forget the NOAA data on ocean acidification through CO2 absorption (but only about 33%, where does the rest go folks?)Carbonic acid anyone? And keep in mind there are set points and upper limits the sea life can adapt to, further changing 02 and CO2 interfaces. Biochemical systems themselves can only buffer so much before acidity has a marked effect and some species of various life forms die out. When I have more time I will present the relevant data to this CO2 issue. I highly recommend Environmental Organic Chemistry second edition to all of your libraries, by Schwarzenbach, Gschwed and Imboden:) Happy readings:)

  23. 123

    Re #104


    I did explain that no new experiments are needed but my post has not appeared. I fear that my views did not meet with Gavin’s approval :-(

    Anyway, William Connolley has a web page which describes an experiment performed by Prof. R.W. Wood which shows that a greenhouse does not work by the glass reflecting or absorbing the IR radiation. It operates by the absorption of IR radiation by the greenhouse gases in the air – no big surprise there then. See

    I daren’t explain more for fear of this post not appearing either, but I will be expanding on it in my blog.

    Cheers, Alastair.

  24. 124
    jcbmack says:

    Mrk # 119: Then perhaps ‘wrong,’ is not the operative word then. Yes depending upon the reference frame, depending upon the application, a given theory and set of frameworks will better work or will only work under specified conditions. What I take issue with is when lay persons or some early undergrduates wrongly assert GR ‘superior,’ to Newtonian mechanics. This is not the case. Corrections are needed to make predictions work under a different set of principles, no doubt about it. We can also say the same of SR versus classical physics, again no argument.

    It is like when we look at atmospheric chemistry or solar physics and forcing issues: what is the acid, or the base? The greater forcing agent or feedback loop… the ice, earth, or different altitude clouds, the data collection is ongoing, the models made more accurate and tools better calibrated. The same can be said of our understanding of gravity, light’s properties and velocity etc… As science advances newer advances will change past ones, but only insofar as the past data and long standing theories and discoveries guide us. There will never be a complete abolishment of Einstein or Newton and this is the common misconception in undergraduate circles and sensationalized in the media. What we know or will know is based upon what we knew and what we believed in the past; two pronged, facts versus understandings of facts.

  25. 125
    jcbmack says:

    Eric response to #1 Well, that is certainly the point, a theory in science that holds long term, with continued evidence, plausability, and even facts (or a series of predictable outcomes) is far more grounded in reality than a theory of a layperson or professional non-scientist. Theories in science are atleast two fold in this manner: they have no mathematical formula to neatly quantify them, and they are the best explanation for a given set of phenomena. The theory of relativity, the theory of evolution and the so forth even in light of new findinfs do not get overthrown no matter what the ‘paradigm shift.’

  26. 126
    Geoff Wexler says:

    re :#98

    “Thanks for responding. It seems that it is a courtesy that neither Eric or Gavin is willing, or is that able, to make”

    It may be worth checking that a response or something relevant to your comments is not already there .. somewhere in Realclimate’s pages. For example the postcript to your #68 asserts that

    “Carbon dioxide radiates at its vibrational temperature not at its kinetic temperature.”

    I think I read in RC, that the probability of intermolecular collisions at most pressures is fairly high. This would mean that the two temperatures would be essentially the same. Have you estimated the mean time between collisions and compared it with the lifetime of the vibrational state concerned? If not then you cannot assert that Realclimate is wrong.

    It would of course be true that a CO2 molecule cannot emit infra-red unless it is in an excited vibrational state but it would still belong to an equilibrium distribution with the one common temperature, the temperature of the air. This remark does not apply at very low pressures. Does this not answer the main assertion before the postcript i.e. :

    “The greenhouse effect happens in the air at the surface of the earth, not high in the troposphere.”

    Since the assertion is a bit unclear , it may be worth clarifying it with a thought experiment. Suppose first that the mixture of greenhouse gases and air is characterised by a single temperature (in contradiction to your postcript) at each point and that that all of the greenhouse gas were to be concentrated in a thin layer (a) close to the ground or (b) at a single high altitude. What do you think would happen to the greenhouse effect in the two extreme cases? (I apologise if you consider this question to be too elementary).

    Re #123 . Since glass greenhouses are a false analogy it is logically dodgy to appeal to them when trying to understand the way that greenhouse gases operate.

  27. 127
    David B. Benson says:

    Off-topic, I suppose. I thought I would try to understand more about aerosols and the effects on climate. I immediately found

    and want to heartily commend to authors for a most clear introduction!

  28. 128
    jcbmack says:

    So will have a ‘law,’ of global warming? Doubtful, the Earth is quite a large system indeed. Sometimes I think the theoretical consoderations get lost in abstract forms of physics and we forget about the chemistry and physical chemistry. We dismiss the equations and properties of gases, forget about calculating partial pressures and the like due to the complex dyamics, well, yes, these dynamics are enormous and contain so much variance (sorry about the vagie modifiers as that is the best under these generalized circumstances one can get:))

    CO2 cannot be good for the biosphere, atmosphere and water bodies indefinitley, this pre supposition scoffs in the face of Organic and Physical chemistry and the data collected. I will get around to posting the data, but I have students tonight…($)Refuting claims that CO2 and water vapor are not greenhouse gases is very easy… no one in the Chemistry, Phyics or Biology fields for any length of time disputes this. Most climatologists know better as well, as a matter of fact they all do, the extent is of course still being worked out, there is your variance, need of empirical, longitudinal data, and ever better models/: Do not confuse uncertainty with ignorance or with being ‘wrong.’ Lest we forget the Pauli exclusion principle, butterfly effect, and nuances in the system that can only be approximated.

  29. 129
    Fred Jorgensen says:

    Re 106 Mark:
    We have had 15 years of good temperature vs CO2 tracking (1985-2000), and
    the last 8 years of ‘not so much’!
    Reality says the jury is still out!

  30. 130
    mlandis says:

    There is a wonderful film directed by Dušan Makavejev called WR: Mysteries of the Organism ( It addresses some of the scepticism that Reich faced during the rise of communist power, both because of the claims his research made and political pressure.

    Wonderful post. First time I’ve visited.

  31. 131
    infopractical says:

    Perhaps somebody said this already and I didn’t read all 125 comments, but your response to post #1, but economics is considered a science by many, and its ideas are often subjected to hypothesis testing with quantifiable results.

  32. 132

    The real problem is that Economics is social science, not real science. As a result, just as there are different schools of thought amongst psychiatrists or social workers, there are also different schools of thought amongst economists.

    I’m an econ-blogger, despite the fact that my economics is self-taught. I have discovered that my lack of maths training is not as bad as I would have thought since economics can be discussed and understood outside all the strange equations that some economists use.

    The sad thing is, though, that economics can be pushed very much by a person’s pre-existing presumptions – their ideology, if you like. Because ideology often drives economists, they can become blind to empirical data that refutes their position, often arguing strenuously that the data doesn’t refute their position or was badly gathered (which, of course, reminds us of climate skeptics).

    The peer review process, therefore, has more to do with fitting into a certain ideology (whether left wing or right wing) rather than whether their research is legitimate.

    My experience of economics (and for me it is a fascinating subject) has led me to my particular ideological position. Hopefully I will be objective enough to change my mind on things when the data contradicts me.

  33. 133
    Barton Paul Levenson says:

    Fred Staples posts:

    We can believe Einstein because (inter alia) the large Hadron collider, like its predecessor will try really really hard to accelerate particles beyond the speed of light, and they will fail.

    There are no plans to use the LHC to do any such thing. It didn’t even come up. No physicist in his right mind thinks the LHC can make particles break the speed of light.

    On the other hand we continue to spew out “greenhouse” gasses at an accelerating rate, and the global temperature (insofar as we can measure it) obstinately refuses to increase.

    As I have told you before, apparently to no avail, temperatures are still increasing. Eliminate the dashes and read the pages this time:

  34. 134
    Geoff Wexler says:

    (Footnote to #126)

    * The term vibrational temperature can be interpreted in more than one way. This comment is concerned with “hot CO2″ ,analogous to hot electrons in solids. This might exist if all or some of the CO2 could form a thermally insulated sub-system. It would require a pressure so low that collisions can be ignored. Of course the vibrational degrees of freedom of the CO2 will affect the common temperature of the mixture by altering its specific heat but only by a tiny (negligible) amount.

  35. 135
    Julian Flood says:

    [Response: I would beg to differ. I think IE interacts badly with our site. Come on Microsoft, get with the program!–eric]

    Sounds curiously like ‘the data doesn’t agree with the models! Change the data!’

    (Sorry, sorry, just teasing, I’ve been reading the blog by He Who Must Not Be Named.)

    While I’m here — you don’t, by any chance know where I can find a simple graph of C isotopic response to volcanoes? I’m particularly interested in C12/13 changes after high chromium and/or nickel leachate eruptions.



  36. 136
    Barton Paul Levenson says:

    jcbmack posts:

    Theories in science are atleast two fold in this manner: they have no mathematical formula to neatly quantify them, and they are the best explanation for a given set of phenomena.

    Did you mean “they have mathematical formulae?” Because I can assure you they do.

  37. 137
    Fred Staples says:

    What I am suggesting, Ray, 101, is that it is the experiment that establishes the theory, not the other way round. The Lorenz transformations which demonstrated the relativistic effects years before Einstein were based on the consequences IF the speed of light were constant. At the time, a big IF. The Michelson-Morley experiment established relativity, many years later..

    I do not claim that the last decade disproves AGW theory, although the falling temperatures do not add support.

    What I do claim is that there would be no IPCC based consensus today, and no political acceptance of the theory, without the increase in temperatures between 1999 and 2002.

    Can I ask anyone who doubts this to have a look at Taminos chart (first “this” comment 29, ‘Tropical tropospheric trends again (again)’.

    It is also worth commenting on the temperature measurements themselves. If you were trying to record the changes in temperature a few meters above the surface in an open field, miles from anywhere, over the next 50 years, give some though to the quality control procedures you would need. Precise definition and control of the measurement times and records, maintenance and re-calibration of the equipment and above all, precise control of the environment:

    No change in the surface, no tarmac, no development, no air conditioning outlets or waste disposal plants, no roads etc etc.

    Then have a look at Anthony Watts web-site, or record the temperatures as you drive into any town (Anthony Watts has a brilliant example driving acoss Reno).

    Then reflect that you have to do this everywhere in stable environments without political upheavals etc.

    Then reflect that you will still have covered less than 25% of the planet, and see how they took sea temperatures in the 20th century – buckets over the side of ships, measured with thermometers.

    Have a look at Tamino’s chart again, and ask yourself if the certainty about AGW on this web-site is justified.

    Incidentally contributors who thaink they understand wave-particle duality should look at Wikipedia – The Dual Slit Experiment.

    “Any modification of the apparatus that can determine which slit a photon passes through destroys the interference pattern,[3] illustrating the complementarity principle; that the light can demonstrate both particle and wave characteristics, but not both at the same time.”

    At the infrared end of the spectrum we are dealing with waves, not particles.

  38. 138

    #16 Eric’s

    Homework question: so why is the CO2 concentration lower near the ground than it is aloft?–eric

    is quite a nut to crack: I tried googling, following Hank’s motto “you can look this up”, but no luck.

    Let me hazard a guess: it has to do with the interaction of global circulation with sea surface temperature. In the tropics the ocean surface is at 27 degs C, which drives out the CO2 to the air, where the equatorial updraft takes it aloft. There it spreads with air currents to higher latitudes.

    In the extratropics sea water is cool and absorbs CO2 (with the help of rainfall?), depleting the lower troposphere. Surface winds carry this depleted air to land and to the tropics.

    This does require ocean currents to take CO2 rich water to depth at high latitudes and bring it up again in the tropics.

  39. 139
    Mark says:

    Fred, the Michelson-Morely experiment proved the non-existence of the aether.

    And in the infrared, they photons are still photons just like they are in the visible spectrum and act like a particle or wave just like them and under the same conditions.

    You are NOT a physicist.

  40. 140
    Mark says:

    re #132.

    No, peer review means that, as is a prime directive of science says, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof”.

    And for papers that only state “what everyone knows” they get neither interest nor attacked because they don’t really increase the value of science, so you don’t hear about them in peer review.

    However, if a theory can withstand the counters by the current system, then it WILL be accepted.

    The Denialists can’t make anything that stands up to scrutiny by those skeptical of their claims.

    The reverse is not true: the Denialists can’t create consistent counters to the current known theories that can deflate that theory.

  41. 141
    Mark says:

    re 129

    We’ve had 150 years of VERY GOOD information about both CO2 concentrations and temperatures. Those temperatures have gone up as would be expected given CO2′s effects. CO2′s concentrations are known from fossil records (ice) for thousands upon thousands of years and temperature records (trees and such) for as long.

    Moreover, we have measurements NOW of how much of the CO2 in the atmosphere is from fossil fuels and we have two or more centuries experience in measuring and confirming CO2′s effects on LW radiation.

    You don’t have to measure my height for 30 years to know how tall I am.

  42. 142
    Hank Roberts says:

    > lower near the ground … aloft?
    Um. I can’t even find the source for Eric’s fact, in the mass of information about all sorts of scales, kinds of ground cover and soil, latitude, and diurnal and seasonal variability, even assuming “near the ground” means dirt as compared to ice or water. Near could mean within meters, or within the troposphere … ya got me on looking it up, I need a better idea of what the meaning of “it” is (grin).

    Purely speculation on my part, is ultraviolet-pumped dissociation of methane more common in the upper atmosphere, producing CO2 excess there?

  43. 143
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Fred, Even excluding the warming from 1999-2002, we’re looking at significant warming from really the 1800s to the present–perhaps half of which was anthropogenic. We’re looking at collapse of polar ice in the North, of ice shelves in the South, glaciers everywhere. It now appears we have evidence in the Antarctic as well:

    And then we have the fact that we can’t explain the amount of greenhouse warming we see sans a substantial contribution from CO2–coupled with the fact that we have no reason to expect the physics to change magically at 280 ppmv. We got us a whole bunch o’ evidence, Fred, which is why most climate scientists believed we were warming prior to the turn of the century. If I were you, I’d ask for my money back from that University where you studied revisionist history.

  44. 144

    Fred Staples takes advantage of surface temperature variability as any run of the mill contrarian:

    “do not claim that the last decade disproves AGW theory, although the falling temperatures do not add support.”

    Fred should try crunching Density Weighted Temperatures of the entire troposphere instead of using misleading well known temperature variability as the ultimate boogyman dispelling AGW… One region may be cloudier than another, it gets colder in summer, warmer in winter when cloudier the reverse is also true, variability is the norm, surface temperature trends must be judged long term. Reducing the atmosphere to one layer reveals far less variability.

  45. 145
    David B. Benson says:

    The Michelson–Morley experiment, one of the most important and famous experiments in the history of physics, was performed in 1887 by Albert Michelson and Edward Morley at what is now Case Western Reserve University.


    Einsteins Wunderjahr 1905

  46. 146
    David B. Benson says:

    Hank Roberts (142) — There is an unexplained excess of water vapor in the stratosphere, too much AFAIK, to be explained by methane breakdown.

  47. 147
    jcbmack says:

    Theories in science are atleast two fold in this manner: they have no mathematical formula to neatly quantify them, and they are the best explanation for a given set of phenomena.

    Did you mean “they have mathematical formulae?” Because I can assure you they do.

    Not in the way a law does, like the laws of thermodynamics. Gravity really is a law and GR and SR are quite established theories, but they do not have one formula that behaves as a proof in the way thermodynamics does, though no one seriously dipsutes GR and SR in the physics community, thet merely add new possibilities under differemt circumstances.

    Try neatly quantifying evolution.

  48. 148
    jcbmack says:

    Mark # 141. Absolutely.

  49. 149
    jcbmack says:

    Fred, what are you talking about?

  50. 150
    jcbmack says:

    No theory has one mathematical equation that neatly describes the whole of the theory. Check out this site for further clarification:

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