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Can a blanket violate the second law of thermodynamics?

Filed under: — stefan @ 20 September 2016

One of the silliest arguments of climate deniers goes like this: the atmosphere with its greenhouse gases cannot warm the Earth’s surface, because it is colder than the surface. But heat always flows from warm to cold and never vice versa, as stated in the second law of thermodynamics.

The freshly baked Australian Senator Malcolm Roberts has recently phrased it thus in his maiden speech:

It is basic. The sun warms the earth’s surface. The surface, by contact, warms the moving, circulating atmosphere. That means the atmosphere cools the surface. How then can the atmosphere warm it? It cannot. That is why their computer models are wrong.

This is of course not only questions the increasing human-caused greenhouse effect, but in general our understanding of temperatures on all planets, which goes back to Joseph Fourier, who in 1824 was the first to understand the importance of the greenhouse effect.

The atmosphere acts like a blanket which inhibits heat loss. In fact according to Roberts’ logic, a blanket could also not have a warming effect:

It’s simple. The body warms the blanket. This means that the blanket cools the body. So how can the blanket warm it? It cannot!

The answer is simple. The warm body loses heat to the cold air. The blanket inhibits and slows this heat loss. Therefore you stay warmer under a blanket.

The Earth loses heat to the cold universe. The atmosphere inhibits this heat loss. Therefore, the surface remains warmer than it would be without the atmosphere.

It is true that the surface loses heat to the atmosphere – but less than it would otherwise lose directly to space. Just as I lose less heat to the blanket than I would otherwise lose to the air, without blanket.

Of course, in neither case is the second law of thermodynamics violated. The heat always flows from warm to cold – just more or less effectively. The processes of heat transfer are quite different – for the blanket it is mainly heat conduction, for the greenhouse effect it is thermal radiation. The climate deniers claim that the colder atmosphere cannot radiate thermal radiation towards the warmer surface. This is of course nonsense. The cool Earth also sends thermal radiation towards the hot sun – how would thermal radiation leaving Earth know how warm the surface is that it’s going to hit? It’s just that the sun sends more radiation back to us  – the net flow is from hot to cold. More is not implied by the second law of thermodynamics.

Thanks to two Germans (Gerlich and Tscheuschner of the TU Braunscheig – deeply embarrassing for this university), the absurd claim that the greenhouse effect violates the second law of thermodynamics even made it into an obscure physics journal – obviously there was no peer review to speak of. The bizarre article was promptly demolished by some US physicists. Just recently I read the claim again in an article of coal lobbyist Lars Schernikau – with such fairy-tale beliefs of its representatives, one is not surprised by the decline of the coal industry.

The thermal radiation from the atmosphere toward the ground, which allegedly cannot exist, is of course routinely measured, including its increase (see e.g. Philipona et al. 2004, 2012).

And you can even feel it. Those who sometimes sit outside in the garden after dark know this. Under a dense, low cloud layer you do not nearly get cold as fast as on a clear starry night. This is due to the thermal radiation coming from the clouds. They are colder than our body, but warmer than the night sky in clear air.

Roberts said: “Like Socrates, I love asking questions to get to the truth.”  Perhaps he will ponder my answer next time he sits in his garden at night, or slips under a blanket.

P.S.

Here is the energy balance diagram for our Earth, explained in IPCC FAQ 1.1. The “Back Radiation” makes the greenhouse effect. It is larger than the solar radiation reaching the ground, and measured by a global radiation measurement network.

faq-1-1-figure-1

References

R. Philipona, “Radiative forcing – measured at Earth’s surface – corroborate the increasing greenhouse effect”, Geophys. Res. Lett., vol. 31, 2004. http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2003GL018765

R. Philipona, A. Kräuchi, and E. Brocard, “Solar and thermal radiation profiles and radiative forcing measured through the atmosphere”, Geophys. Res. Lett., vol. 39, pp. n/a-n/a, 2012. http://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2012GL052087

229 Responses to “Can a blanket violate the second law of thermodynamics?”

  1. 1
    Ric Merritt says:

    As soon as I saw the question in the title, I thought No spoilers please! I don’t want to know the answer until I’ve read the whole post!

  2. 2
    Russell says:

    Politicians are seldom easy to teach ; some take a century longer than others

  3. 3
    Birte says:

    Sometimes you just want to cry. I know people who actually still believe bumblebees can’t fly according to the laws of aerodynamics. What’s so difficult about trusting your own eyes (or, in this case, thermoreceptors) for once?

  4. 4
    RickA says:

    I am not sure you and Senator Malcolm Roberts are not saying the same thing.

    Isn’t it correct that the radiation absorbed by the CO2 in the atmosphere is mostly IR emitted by the Earth surface? So the Earth’s surface is warming the atmosphere – is it not? So I think you two agree on this point.

    So is not the atmosphere cooling the surface by absorbing the heat emitted by the surface? Not the way I would say it – but is it not substantially correct?

    Does not the blanket absorb heat emitted by the body – if not how else could it inhibit heat lose.

    I don’t read Senator Malcolm Roberts as saying that the atmosphere is not inhibiting heat lose – but just looking at things from a different perspective than yours.

    [Response: Roberts claims that the models are wrong, yet they include the greenhouse effect as I said, as a mechanism inhibiting heat loss from the Earth’s surface. That is why adding more greenhouse gases inhibits heat loss even more, leading to global warming. Because the Earth keeps absorbing the same amount of heat from the sun, but finds it more difficult to get rid of this heat. Roberts denies that adding greenhouse gases can cause global warming, that is the core of his claims, and it is simply wrong. -stefan]

  5. 5
    Jim says:

    Greenhouses have glass ceilings, atmospheres do not. Yes, I know. The clouds are considered ceilings but what is their net effect? How many models from 15 years ago predicted our current state? Is/was their a pause? What’s wrong with satellite temps? If predictions were accurate, why do politicians no longer believe them?

  6. 6
    Paul Donahue says:

    Stefan wrote: “Those who sometimes sit outside in the garden after dark know this. Under a dense, low cloud layer you do not nearly get cold as fast as on a clear starry night. This is due to the thermal radiation coming from the clouds. They are colder than our body, but warmer than the night sky in clear air.”

    —-

    I always though the effect you describe above is due to infrared radiation from our bodies or other warm objects into space. The clouds block the IR radiation. Of course, It is especially noticeable with dark objects. When I pet my very black cat at sundown with a clear sky overhead, his outer fur is noticeably cooler than the air – not so if he is under a tree canopy, or a cloudy sky. In a few more weeks (if the 8 months of well-above average temperatures in my area does not continue) there will be clear early mornings when the air temperature fell to near, but still above freezing. On these mornings, black-painted cars open to the sky will have frost on their roofs but white painted ones, or ones under a canopy will not. Same with dew on summer mornings.

    Is this a statement of the same effect in a different way or am I wrong?

  7. 7

    The certainty with which Roberts speaks appears to be an egregious example of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

    Thanks for this clear debunking.

  8. 8
    Chris Colose says:

    “It is true that the surface loses heat to the atmosphere – but less than it would otherwise lose directly to space. Just as I lose less heat to the blanket than I would otherwise lose to the air, without blanket.”

    This seems like a confusing way to put it. A 255 K blackbody with no atmosphere would lose ~240 W/m2 directly to space. The surface of our planet loses considerably more than this (unless you’re thinking about the net). The real issue here is that Malcolm Roberts is focused only on a local budget that dictates temperature gradients, not the whole planetary energy budget that needs to be known to close the solution and determine the absolute temperature.

    [Response: I am of course talking about the net heat loss. For an Earth at a given surface temperature, the net heat loss from the surface with atmosphere is less than without atmosphere. This is despite the extra heat lost to the atmosphere in form of latent and sensible heat (which is what you refer to). It is because of the downward thermal radiation from the atmosphere to the surface, which is in fact greater than the radiation from the sun reaching the surface. I’ve added the standard energy balance diagram to the post which should help to clarify things. -stefan]

  9. 9

    No, Mr. RickA, he is not just looking at things from a different perspective. He’s flat-out wrong. Without the atmosphere, assuming reflectivity stayed the same, the Earth’s surface temperature would be 255 K. With it, it’s 288 K, i.e. 33 K warmer. The atmosphere warms the surface. Malcolm Rogers is wrong, uninformed, and ignorant. Don’t be like him. Crack a book. I’d recommend starting with George Philander’s “Is the Temperature Rising?” (1998). For something more mathematical, Houghton’s “The Physics of Atmospheres (2002) or Petty’s “A First Course in Atmospheric Radiation” is good.

  10. 10
  11. 11
    Hank Roberts says:

    http://mynasadata.larc.nasa.gov/science_projects/measuring-the-temperature-of-the-sky-and-clouds/
    Measuring the Temperature of the Sky and Clouds
    … learn about the greenhouse effect by measuring the temperature of the sky and clouds far overhead with an infrared thermometer.

    Don’t tell me you can’t afford the thermometer. Shop around. E.g.

    https://www.aliexpress.com/wholesale?catId=0&initiative_id=SB_20160920163941&SearchText=infrared+thermometer

  12. 12
    Terry Morse says:

    Paul Donahue wrote: “I always though the effect you describe above is due to infrared radiation from our bodies or other warm objects into space. The clouds block the IR radiation.”

    Well, the clouds don’t *exactly* block IR radiation. The ground radiates energy to the clouds, and the clouds radiate energy to the ground. All bodies radiate and absorb energy. The energy radiated is proportional to temperature to the 4th power, so hotter bodies radiate more energy than cooler bodies. The direction of radiant energy transfer is always from the hotter to the cooler body (per the 2nd law).

    Since clouds are warmer than deep space, they radiate more energy back to the ground, and the net heat loss is less.

  13. 13
    Joel Shore says:

    I think one thing that is implicit in this discussion that perhaps needs to be made more explicit is that the situation being discussed is what the steady-state condition is for an Earth that is being warmed by the sun and then cools by emitting radiation back out into space.

    This is very different than the situation where an object is cooling without any source of thermal energy (either from elsewhere or from the internal conversion of another form of energy). That trips up the ones who believe that the greenhouse effect violates the Second Law because they don’t understand that, in the steady-state situation, impairing the ability to cool amounts to making the object equilibrate to a warmer temperature than it would if it could cool more easily. Hence, a lot of them will say things like, “Greenhouse gases could slow cooling but they can’t make the Earth warmer.”

    By the way, to be fair, one must point out that most of the climate deniers do not deny the basic physics of the greenhouse effect. However, it is amazing how strongly those who do persist in doing so in spite of the efforts by more “mainstream” deniers like Roy Spencer and Anthony Watts to convince them of the reality of the greenhouse effect with all sorts of arguments, simple models, and data. It just shows how strong the desire to deny inconvenient science can be.

    I tend to think of those who deny the basic physics of the greenhouse effect as being analogous to Young Earth creationists while those who accept the basic physics but still deny that AGW is a problem (e.g., believe we are saved by negative feedbacks or convection or what-have-you) as being more like Intelligent Design proponents (where one is denying a lot of scientific evidence in a specific field but at least not denying basic science across a broad spectrum of fields).

  14. 14
    Joel Shore says:

    Rick A (#4) says: “I don’t read Senator Malcolm Roberts as saying that the atmosphere is not inhibiting heat lose – but just looking at things from a different perspective than yours.”

    No…It is clear that he is using his argument to deny that greenhouse gases can cause the Earth to be warmer than they would be in their absence. He is making the simple error that I point out in my post above of somehow thinking that inhibiting cooling is fundamentally different than causing warming, which it is not when the Earth is receiving energy from the sun (at least as long as you define “causing warming” to mean causing the Earth’s steady-state temperature to be higher than it otherwise would be.

  15. 15
    Desertphile says:

    The cultist’s speech is available on YouTube. It runs almost 25 minutes, and Roberts did not say anything that I could spot that was correct— maybe he mentioned the date, or commented on the weather, before that speech and he got it correct, but nothing he said about climate, or Australia, or politics, or the economy, or the environment, or ANYTHING he said is correct. It is as if he deliberately set out to make sure he said nothing correct.

  16. 16
    Joel Shore says:

    Jim (#5): You have committed at least two major logical fallacies in just one short paragraph.

    First is the fallacy of believing that by somehow challenging the imperfect analogy that gives the “greenhouse effect” its name you are somehow seriously challenging the science. Yes, a greenhouse is an imperfect analogy to the Earth’s atmosphere but that doesn’t make the actual physics of the atmospheric greenhouse effect any less real.

    The second fallacy is believing that you are somehow arguing against this basic physics by making a litany of claims about the empirical data in the form of questions. I would leave it to others to point out the fallacies in your implied claims about the data, but will just point out that even if there were a serious discrepancy between the data and model predictions, the conclusion would not be that a theory based on as fundamental physics as the greenhouse effect is incorrect. That would be akin to denying gravity because you find that a feather doesn’t fall as predicted (when you assume the only force on it to be gravity).

  17. 17

    RickA, #4–

    “Isn’t it correct that the radiation absorbed by the CO2 in the atmosphere is mostly IR emitted by the Earth surface? So the Earth’s surface is warming the atmosphere – is it not? So I think you two agree on this point.”

    Read the Senator’s statement again. He specifically states that the ground warms the air “by contact.” So, no radiation involved. Presumably, no CO2 involved.

    Yes, it’s trivially true that in both models we’re considering “the ground warms the air.” But how and to what effect differs. It would appear that the good Senator is unable to imagine that the word ‘warming’ can be used in more than one sense.

  18. 18
    Scott (who is not the other Scott) says:

    Like so many in your field, you’ve confused a physical barrier to convection with a “greenhouse gas”. These aren’t the same things.

    GHGs don’t form a barrier to convection. Greenhouses (real ones) do, it’s how they work. Blanket? Same idea.

  19. 19
    Scott (who is not the other Scott) says:

    BTW, Fourier’s model predicted the “ice ball Earth”. A poor example. Do you folks even bother studying climate science? At all?

  20. 20

    Jim, #5–

    The the lack of an atmospheric roof is irrelevant since as Stefan says “The processes of heat transfer are quite different – for the blanket it is mainly heat conduction, for the greenhouse effect it is thermal radiation.”

    For a graphic showing an updated model-observation graph, see this:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2016/05/comparing-models-to-the-satellite-datasets/?wpmp_tp=3

    Be aware that predicting climate is not the same as predicting weather; basically every model run has its own internal ‘weather’, so will not match the real world observations. But a skillful model over repeated runs will yield climate statistics reffective of the real world.

    Was there a ‘pause?’ Tell me what you mean by pause and I’ll tell you if I think so or not.

    What makes you think there is something ‘wrong’ with satellite temps? One possible answer is here:

    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175

    Lastly, are you really so naive as to think that the only basis for politicians to ‘believe predictions’ is the accuracy thereof?

  21. 21
    Marco says:

    “So is not the atmosphere cooling the surface by absorbing the heat emitted by the surface? Not the way I would say it – but is it not substantially correct?”

    No, it is substantially wrong. Without the atmosphere, the surface would cool faster. The cooling of the surface as such has nothing to do with the absorption of radiation by the atmosphere. The cooling *rate*, on the other hand, *is* affected: it cools slower in the presence of the atmosphere.

  22. 22
    Slioch says:

    RickA, “So is not the atmosphere cooling the surface by absorbing the heat emitted by the surface?”
    No, it is not. (This refers only to radiative transfer, and ignores convection and conduction).
    Imagine a fire steadily burning in the desert. You observe it from afar, but cannot detect its heat. You walk towards the fire and sit down close to it and feel its warmth. Are you then cooling the fire – that is, are you causing it to lose heat more rapidly than previously? No, of course not. In fact, because some infra-red will be radiated from your body back to the fire, you are actually warming the fire slightly by sitting next to it: if you weren’t sitting there the radiant energy from the fire would continue on its journey out to space or the distant desert.
    A body (all bodies) above absolute zero loses radiant energy from its surface, proportional to the fourth power of its surface absolute temperature. The amount it loses is irrespective of what, if anything, is sitting in front of it (how could it be otherwise, since the body does not “know” what is sitting in front of it?). BUT, if something IS sitting in front of it, then some radiant energy will be sent back to the body, making it warmer than it otherwise would be.
    In the case of the greenhouse effect, the atmosphere (containing infra-red absorbing greenhouse gases) is sitting in front of the Earth, radiating back some energy that would otherwise have already been lost to space and thus making the Earth’s surface warmer than it otherwise would be.

  23. 23
    Steve Milesworthy says:

    Paul #6: “I always though the effect you describe above is due to infrared radiation from our bodies or other warm objects into space. The clouds block the IR radiation.”

    Your body radiates energy depending on its temperature whether or not there are clouds.

    Even if the clouds are there, the fact that they absorb your emitted IR does not help you keep warm as the energy has instead warmed the cloud.

  24. 24
    Silk says:

    #18 – Your logic (Blanket is barrier to convection, therefore blanket keeps me warm) is trivial to dismiss, since it suggests that a layer of tinfoil 1mm thick would keep me as warm as a layer 1 inch thick of of wool.

    The point of the original post is perfectly sound. It is nonsense to suggest that greenhouse gases violate the 2nd Law, in /exactly/ the same way as it is nonsense to suggest that a blanket violates the 2nd Law.

    Or put another way, it can be simultaneously true that the blanket/atmosphere is be cooler than your body/the earth AND that as a result of the presence of the blanket/atmosphere the surface temperature of your body/the earth is higher than it would have been in its absence.

    Some here may need to work on their climate science. You need to work on thinking before you post.

  25. 25
    MA Rodger says:

    Kevin McKinney @20,
    Your URL link to an AMS article on satellite temperature data is incomplete. It may be you intended to link to Mears & Wentz (2016) ‘Sensitivity of Satellite-Derived Tropospheric Temperature Trends to the Diurnal Cycle Adjustment’, although there are likely many other articles that would suit at AMS.
    The revised satellite data resulting from Mears & Wentz work (eg RSS TTTv4.0) is data from a higher altitude profile relative to the TLT data that is usually thrown about as equivalent to surface measurement. (TTT averages 5.7km high, RSS TLT (which is still the v3.3) averages 4.2km high. The other much-fling satellite temperature series UAH TLTv5.6 averages 2.5km while the yet-to-be-published-but-we-can’t-wait UAH TLT v6.1beta5 averages 4.5km.) Despite this RSS TTT average altitude of 5.7km, and despite 13% of it measuring up in the stratosphere where AGW reduces the temperature, a comparison of RSS TTTv4.0 gives a remarkably good impression of a GISS LOTI with enhanced wobbly bits. I have a TTTv4.0-v-LOTI comparison plotted to July 2016 here (usually two clicks to ‘download your attachment’)

  26. 26
    Jack Barrett says:

    Heat or energy flow from a cold body to a hot one is forbidden by the second law IF that is the only flow operating. Many people make this mistake. The second law operates on NET flow. To apply it to just one of the flows in the energy budget is incorrect. Without greenhouse gases the Earth’s surface would represent the emission level and the planet would be a snowball.

  27. 27
    Dominik Lenné says:

    It’s easy prey to expose morons, it gives a warm feeling of superiority, but the tough nut is: we need to cut our energy use at least by half (in the industrialized countries in the mean, in some countries much more), and increase our investment in renewables by at least an order of magnitude, or build Thorium reactors (which I wouldn’t like), or both.
    This has to be conveyed…

    For a paper on possible transition paths one may look here:

    Sgouris Sgouridis, Denes Csala and Ugo Bardi: “The sower’s way: quantifying the narrowing net-energy pathways to a global energy transition”, Environmental Research Letters, Volume 11, Number 9

    http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/11/9/094009/meta;jsessionid=7C7607A33E3D5A5B47CBFA28AB7A725D.c5.iopscience.cld.iop.org

  28. 28

    S 19: BTW, Fourier’s model predicted the “ice ball Earth”. A poor example. Do you folks even bother studying climate science? At all?

    BPL: Fourier’s point was that the Earth would be frozen over if not for the atmosphere acting to inhibit loss of the “chaleur obscure” (‘dark heat,’ or infrared radiation). He did, in fact, discover the greenhouse effect.

    Ref: Fourier, J.-B.J. 1824. Memoire sur les Temperatures du Globe Terrestre et des Espaces Planetaires. Annales de Chemie et de Physique 2d Ser. 27, 136-167.

  29. 29
    Bunc says:

    This paper, which I’ve only skimmed, seems to be getting quoted by deniers. Anyone any thoughts on its implications or point me to some reasoned analysis of its implications?

    http://www.nature.com/articles/srep33315

  30. 30

    MAR, #25–Thanks for supplying the link to Mears & Wentz (2016)–that was indeed what I was attempting to present. And yes, the consilience of satellite and instrumental data is considerable. Denialati would have you believe that they are entirely at odds, but that is not the case.

  31. 31
    Jim Eager says:

    For RickA @4, who wrote: “So is not the atmosphere cooling the surface by absorbing the heat emitted by the surface?

    No, the surface is cooled by emitting the IR energy in the first place, wether or not it is absorbed by the atmosphere. The atmosphere is warmed by absorbing part of that IR, and the warmer atmosphere then warms the surface.

    For Jim @5, yes, the term “greenhouse effect” is a poor analogy. It’s something we all already know and have for a long, long time, but we’re stuck with it. Get over it.

    Clouds both warm by absorbing and emitting IR, and cool by reflecting incoming sunlight. The best evidence suggests the net effect of clouds is neutral to slightly positive (warming).

    Most models from 15 years ago predicted our current state, minus the current el Nino driven record high temperatures as el Nino and la Nina are both part of temporary internal natural variability.

    There was a brief period of relatively flat surface temperatures, none of which fell out of the predicted range, by the way, but there was no pause in the underlying warming trend, as increasing ocean heat content clearly shows.

    There are several problems with satellite temperature record. One, the satellite instruments do not measure temperature at all, they measure microwave brightness over a wide range of altitudes. It takes complex processing of the raw data through a computer model to estimate temperature. Two, that temperature is for the mid-troposphere, not the surface where we live. Three, both the satellite instruments and the satellite orbits degrade over time, meaning the record is stitched together from readings from multiple satellites and instruments over time.

    Finally, science, logic and facts are certainly not the reasons why certain politicians no longer believe the predictions, if they ever did.

  32. 32
    Dan Andrews says:

    This reminds me of the YEC claim that evolution violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Same blinkered mentality where someone’s incomplete knowledge of a subject makes them think they know something that generations of scientists have missed (or didn’t miss but were hoping you would miss).

  33. 33
    Mal Adapted says:

    Jim:

    If predictions were accurate, why do politicians no longer believe them?

    Because (substituting “believe” for “understand”) “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” –Upton Sinclair
    In the US, at least, people who are committed to apprehending and speaking truth regardless of consequences don’t get elected to public office. Perhaps that’s the case in Australia as well.

  34. 34
    Chris O'Neill says:

    Jim #5:

    If predictions were accurate, why do politicians no longer believe them?

    Politicians like Roberts never believed the predictions and never will. He is a pathological case.

  35. 35
    Jack Barrett says:

    A further comment just to make the matter quite clear. The second law is applicable to a system, not parts of the system. Individual flows might well have energy passing from a cold part to a hot part, but overall that cannot happen to the system. In the case of the space/atmosphere/surface system the overall flow is zero; that which comes in from the Sun goes out again, the two rates are equal.

  36. 36
    Thomas says:

    A quick comment to focus only on Roberts dunder-headed non-thinking skills.

    The air blows over the hot surface of the earth … I assume a road or death valley.

    So what about air masses above 0C that are blowing across the Antarctic Ice sheets at less than 0C?

    Even his own ‘notion’ of what he thinks happens is utterly flawed – he has the intellectual capacity of a rabbit on heat. :-)

    BY MOTHER GOOSE
    There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile,
    He found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile;
    He bought a crooked cat which caught a crooked mouse,
    And they all lived together in a little crooked house.

  37. 37
    Paul Donahue says:

    #23

    OK, thanks for the correction.

    To clarify, the clouds or an awning or tent or tree, do not prevent cooling of the surface after sundown by “blocking” IR radiation from the surface getting into the cold outer space, but because of the radiation from these objects compared to cold deep space. Even a cirrus cloud at high altitude has a temperature of 220K or so – a lot warmer than the 3K of outer space!

    And a black surface at night does not get colder than a white surface because it “radiates better” (whatever that could mean), but because it a black surface better absorbs radiation from other things – clouds, the air, nearby objects on the ground etc. – even if those objects are colder than the surface.

    (Can earlier dumb comments be deleted?)

  38. 38
    Hank Roberts says:

    Joel, re Jim #5, he just wants to get you to repeat his claims. That’s the point of rebunking such stuff.
    https://www.google.com/search?q=LBJ+make+him+deny+it

  39. 39
    Hank Roberts says:

    Paul D., if you’re talking about “black” and “white” as seen by human vision, you’re confusing color with emissivity.
    You can buy a “cool roof” nowadays — made with materials that radiate strongly in the infrared — in a wide variety of colors.
    https://www.google.com/search?q=emissivity
    http://www.owenscorning.com/NetworkShare/Roofing/10019919-Cool-ROOF-Colors-Shingles-Data-Sheet.pdf

    (Hint: if you’re installing a cool roof, make sure to provide several inches of taped, sealed, vapor-proof insulation immediately underneath it, because the cool surface will condense moisture from the air at night; if the underside is exposed to humid attic air, that moisture will also condense, and will rot the wood roof deck eventually.)

  40. 40
  41. 41
    Xavier says:

    Isn’t this just rudimentary logic? With a fixed rate of energy input from the Sun, adding more things that change the rate of energy loss from the Earth changes the temperature of the Earth. So adding more ‘blankets’ (regardless of whether the blankets are cold or not) or more greenhouse gases causes the Earth to warm.

  42. 42
    Jeff says:

    I like the thing about feeling the night sky. Nice tactile memory anyone can easily re-experience.

    It might also help to explicitly say that the atmosphere doesn’t warm the Earth, the sun does. The atmosphere only acts like greenhouse glass does in keeping the inside from losing as much heat as it would with no glass. To think of glass by itself warming the inside of the greenhouse is silly; likewise thinking the temperature of the glass matters is silly.

    I’m trying to work conduction, convection and radiation into a coherent but not too complicated argument, too.

  43. 43
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    5. – “How many models from 15 years ago predicted our current state?”

    The current state is weather. Climate models predict climate, not weather.

    5. – “What’s wrong with satellite temps?”

    Satellites don’t measure temperature, but measure some integrated signal that is emitted by the whole atmosphere and which must be heavily modified in order to extract an approximation of the temperature of thick swaths of atmosphere.

    UAH TLT – what is generally jabbered about by Denialists as the “satellite data” , provides a measure of the weighted average temperature from the surface of the earth to an altitude of 10 km or so, and is much more heavily manipulated than the surface temperature record that is measured by real thermometers.

  44. 44
    Vendicar Decarian says:

    5.”If predictions were accurate, why do politicians no longer believe them?”

    If Saddam had no WMMD, why did the Bush Administration continue to claim that he did?

    It would appear that Conservative Politicians are spectacularly dishonest.

  45. 45
    Andrew Dodds says:

    Well, my duvet is infested by Maxwell’s demons, and tends to set the rest of the bedclothes on fire. I’m trying to coax them into my car engine so I can get negative MPG.

  46. 46

    Andrew, #45–“…my duvet is infested by Maxwell’s demons, and tends to set the rest of the bedclothes on fire…”

    My condolences. But forget the car engine thing; you’ve clearly got the makings of the best geo-engineering strategy ever.

  47. 47
    Mack says:

    You must be hellishly hot at night Sefan. According to your Trenberth Energy Budget diagram..you’re only getting a solar radiation of 161w/sq.m. giving you that suntan, melting the tar on the roads,etc… but you’ve also got 324w/sq.m. ,belting down from the ATMOSPHERE 24/7. !!!?

    [Response: Perhaps you forgot that those numbers are global annual mean numbers, including night time? With that average sun, you’d hardly get a tan let alone melt tar. -stefan]

  48. 48
    Thomas says:

    VD: “If Saddam had no WMMD, why did the Bush Administration continue to claim that he did?”

    Because Tony Blair told Bush he really really truly did have ’em? :-)

    And all Conservatives know a Labour Lefty PM would never lie. (grinning)

    “It would appear that ALL Politicians are spectacularly dishonest.”

    (there fixed it)

    Be well.

  49. 49
    Hank Roberts says:

    > if predictions were accurate, why …

    There’s the predictions you show the public, and there’s the predictions you show your shareholders, and there’s the predictions you show your corporate masters, and there’s the predictions you show your accountants.

    They can’t _all_ be accurate!

    http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/09513571011065871
    http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09513571011065871
    Findings
    – The paper highlights the power of ideology to create a desired outcome. It finds that Sarbanes‐Oxley represented a neoliberal victory in that it legitimated shareholder primacy and continued use of a failed corporate governance model.

    Practical implications
    – Sarbanes‐Oxley did not address the systemic problems associated with deregulation; it will not resolve the basic problem of how to prevent corporate malfeasance in an economic environment that rewards arbitrage capitalism, high risk and a focus on short‐term profits.

  50. 50
    TTT says:

    Mr. Malcolm Roberts’ argument is the same as the Sky Dragon Slayer’s and by the way that was refuted even by Dr. Judith Curry.
    Atmosphere is part of earth. It is part of global warming, especially the lower one. It is warming thus it is holding more water vapour, more rain & snow. Heat in the atmosphere can’t conduct its heat out to space because there’s nothing in space to conduct heat to. It is only radiations and greenhouse gases delay that transfer out to space, like the blankets over you. Of course, I’m sure the reality is much more complex though.
    Thing is if the words sound good enough it is a good enough reason sometimes and to some people, and peppered with some sciency words to conflate and confuse the better. They don’t have to explain it properly. They only have to sound it to put doubts, uncertainty in the science.