A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).



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Greenhouse Gas warming doesn’t break the second law — Comments Overflow

Here are the first 500 comments on this thread (plus some orphans*). To make a new comment go to the original page.

Why greenhouse gas warming doesn’t break the second law of thermodynamics

*Orphan comments were recent ones attached to an older comment. When the older comment was moved to this thread they lost their position, and needed to be moved here. Sorry for any disruption to the flow. – Jo

Why greenhouse gas warming doesn’t break the second law of thermodynamics

This is generating many comments, see below for an update!

Behind the scenes some skeptics are suggesting that CO2 can’t warm us because the atmosphere is colder than the planet, and  it would break the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics (see Postma*, for example, p 6 – 7). I disagree. The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics applies to net flows of heat, not to each individual photon, and it does not prevent some heat flowing from a cooler body to a warm one.

Imagine three blocks of metal side by side. They are 11°C, 10°C, and 9°C. Think about what happens to the photons coming off the atoms in the middle of the medium temperature block between the other two. If heat never flows from cooler blocks to warmer blocks, all those photons have to go “right“, and not ever go “left”, because they “know” that way is towards a cooler block? (How would they?!)

The photons go both ways (actually every way, in 3D). There are more coming from the 11°C block to the 10°C block, sure, but the the 10°C block is sending ‘em back to the 11°C block too. So heat is flowing from cold to hot. It happens [...]

The brutal cold of the Maunder Minimum and the Great Irish Frost

A Scene on the Ice by Hendrick Avercamp, circa 1600

Dennis Avery reminds us of just how painfully cold the Little Ice Age was (see below) and also pointed me to this excellent historical description:

The Great Irish Frost of 1740, Longest Period of Extreme Cold in Modern European History

Biot Report #442:July 13, 2007

An extraordinary climatic shock—the Great Frost—struck Ireland and the rest of Europe between December 1739 and September 1741, after a decade of relatively mild winters. Its cause remains unknown. Charting its course sharply illuminates the connectivity between climate change and famine, epidemic disease, economies, energy sources, and politics. David Dickson, author of Arctic Ireland (1997) provides keen insights into each of these areas, which may have application to human behaviors during similar future climatic shocks. The crisis of 1740-1741 should not be confused with the equally devastating Great Potato Famine in Ireland of the 1840s.

Though no barometric or temperature readings for Ireland (population in 1740 of 2.4 million people) survive from the Great Frost, Englishmen were using the mercury thermometer invented 25 years earlier by the Dutch pioneer Fahrenheit. (1) Indoor values during January 1740 were as [...]

Gina Rinehart asks the business leaders of Australia to stand up against the carbon tax

Gina Rinehart, Australia’s wealthiest business leader opposes the carbon tax and asks “Where are the other leaders?”

What’s unseen are the hundreds of business leaders particularly in the top 100, especially the BCA, who say nothing. The only businesses that want an Australian Carbon Tax are the renewable energy brands and, of course, the companies who won’t have to pay it (i.e. our foreign competitors). Plenty of Chinese, Indian and Brazilian companies would surely give a schadenfreude-smile at seeing their Australian competitors hobbled.

Few Australian business leaders are brave enough to say the bleeding obvious, and I’ve mentioned before that many fear retribution. Gina Rinehart has published an article in Australian Resources and Investment this month (see below) daring them to speak up: where are Australia’s business leaders?

Bianca and Gina Rinehart with Lang Hancock in the 1980's.

Rinehart’s position in Australia is a curious one: in 2011 she is clearly top of  the rich-list, and is the first woman ever to hold that position.  Her father, Lang Hancock, opened the Pilbara but died in 1992 with his estate owing large sums and close to bankruptcy. Rinehart turned those projects around and became the most successful entrepreneur in the country [...]

Bob Carter speaks Wednesday in Port Kembla

CARBON DIOXIDE DOES NOT CAUSE GLOBAL WARMING Dr Bob Carter Adjunct research professor in the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at James Cook University


JoNova ignores cost benefit studies. What studies?

In a letter in The Australian Tom Biegler claims JoNova didn’t look at cost benefit studies:

Joanne Nova [Wasting money on Climate betrays the sick] bemoans the lack of cost-benefit analysis to support a price on carbon. She didn’t look very far. The energy economics literature is awash with estimates of the cost of both climate change and abatement measures. They disagree of course, but so would cost-benefit analyses of medical research expenditures, which Nova ignores.

A world where governments spent our money purely on the basis of cost-benefit assessments might look appealing but it’s not going to happen. Priorities reflect what voters want, annoying as that may be. It’s a small price to pay for our wonderful democracy that lets us keep arguing and trying to change each other’s minds.

Tom Biegler, St Kilda East, Vic

My reply sent to The Australian yesterday:

Tom Biegler thinks I’ve ignored cost benefit analysis of climate change abatement. No sir. There are no cost benefit analysis that start with checking the science. No institute or government committee has been paid to audit the IPCC, the BOM or CSIRO’s findings. All the reports assume that the UN [...]

On climate change, the wrong choice kills people either way

Here’s a topic close to my heart. Before I became involved in climate change and currencies, my hot topic-of-choice for years was medical research and health. In my honours degree I worked to get a tiny step closer to treating Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. When I saw that The Australian Government was threatening to cut medical research, I wanted to put a razor fine point on just what muddy thinking costs us. This article I wrote is published in The Weekend Australian today. We can’t afford to get the decision wrong on climate change. We must fight the battles that matter, not build fortresses against imaginary foes.

Wasting money on climate change betrays sick Joanne Nova From: The Australian May 07, 2011 12:00AM

LOST opportunities are invisible but deadly. On climate change, the call to buy insurance by pricing carbon is a cop-out. Where is the cost-benefit analysis? We’re thinking of axing Australian medical research yet we’re supporting solar panel manufacturers in China. It doesn’t have to be this way.

All the money spent employing green police, subsidizing solar or researching how to pump carbon dioxide underground is money not spent on medical research. Opportunity cost is a killer. [...]

A Sign of the Times — Warmenist makes urban dictionary

The struggles for believers of the theory-with-no-observations are getting worse. Once upon a time they used to just ignore skeptics. Now they’re coming to terms with their fall from hallowed “untouchable” status.

The Climate Spectator posted an article  Wish I wasn’t a warmenist last week discussing the new urban terminology:

Here’s how the online Urban Dictionary defines a warmenist: “Gullible, scientificially (sic) illiterate, unthinking acolyte and zombie-fired propagandist of the Religion of Anthropogenic Global Warming.”

One in the eye, one supposes, for all those academies of science which have declared they accept the science of global warming and man’s role in it. But the definition goes on: “One who takes direct orders from High Priest King of Idiocy, Albert J. Gore. One who puts the “mental” in environmentalism. Historical inheritors of those who believed that King Canute could hold back the tides and that the wolf would eat the moon unless their first-born daughter’s virginity was sacrificed to the local shaman.”

They are even thinking of tossing out Tim Flannery (as gently as possible): “Given the level of national debate, maybe Tim Flannery wasn’t the ideal choice to champion the need to do something about climate change.” As usual when [...]

Would you like to throw billions at solar?

Have you wondered just exactly how much money you could pay for the feel-good factor of knowing that your electrons came from fashionable sources?

Thanks to the Victorian government we can get the hard numbers in the Victorian Auditor General’s Report.

In a nutshell, most alternatives are 2-3 times as expensive, except for solar which is 5 times the price.

(Luckily at the moment, renewables only produce 3 – 4 % of all energy in Victoria. Be grateful. You Victorians could be a lot poorer.)  As it is, it cost Victorians $415,000 to tell you this, but it may be the most effective money spent on renewable energy in the last ten years. (Though oddly they didn’t produce this helpful comparative graph below. I did that for free.)

The Full PDF

In 2002 the State government of Victoria decided to aim for 10% renewable energy by 2010. You can see how well that worked out for them:

The light blue line (at 10%) was what they were aiming for.

The report is 48 pages. Basically it found that nobody thought too hard about how these aims would be done. Nobody assessed how useful it was to [...]

Climate model finally produces meaningful results

Thanks to the nocarbontax website.

Editor: Satirical Press

In a shock result, a new climate model produced results that make sense. The new CCFAFM* model shows that future projected temperatures are closely tied to financial and political forcings. Unlike other climate models, the awkwardly titled CCFAFM was not coupled with oceanic or terrestrial carbon cycle simulations, but with money and politics. The model studied the flow of finance and found a quasi-linear relationship with Climate-Fear.

The NCT team concludes:

…the unbalanced outward radiation of taxpayer money, will very likely cause dangerous cooling of family finances.

We homogenized, adjusted and used liberally unprincipled component method**, too sophisticated for non-climate scientists to understand, and produced a new set of hockey sticks, giving a very robust prediction (>90% likelihood) that we are all being totally screwed (right).

A solution to the climate-financial cycle is apparent from the model

Currently information flow is unidirectional from the UN and governments to the population, so if the flow in information is reversed,  potentially, tax funds will return to the people.

Similarly, funds paid to climate skeptics may reverse the financial outgoing longwave radiation.

A large uncontrolled, non-crossover, unhomogenized study is currently underway across [...]