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Climate scientists move to atom-bomb number system, give up on exponentials

Posted By Joanne Nova On June 24, 2013 @ 1:18 am In Global Warming | Comments Disabled

POSTED in the Satirical Tomes:

News that could have been, but wasn’t.

Climate modelers announced today that in future they would report everything in Hiroshima-atom-bomb-equivalents, or Habe. The President of Climate-Scientists-Anonymous said the old system of joules was boring, and no one understood what ten-to-the-twenty-two meant anyhow. “We leave that stuff to the computers” he said.

“The planet has been building up temperatures at the rate of four Hiroshima bombs of heat every second, and it’s all our fault, say climate scientists.”

— Neda Vanovac, Climate change like atom bomb (interviewing John Cook )

Skeptics said they preferred exponentials, but could debunk alarmists with any units. Science Blogger Jo Nova said if Neda Vanovac had called “I would have told her that while John Cook’s figure sounded like a marvelous marketing gimmick, scientifically it was meaningless. For starters, the Sun blasts 1,950 Hiroshima’s worth of energy over the Earth every second (h.t to Wellerstein). So we got four more? Did Cook forget to mention that, or was he just trying to scare people?”

Jo explains that Cook’s units are a parody of science: “The atomic-bomb delivered all the energy in one spot, but the sun spreads it out. Science becomes mindless if you mash up things like volume and area. A million square miles is not like two square feet. McDonalds sells a Hiroshima Bomb worth of Big-Macs every 8.6 days. It’s like a bomb in the same sense that black is like white, 1 is like 2, being alive is like being dead. Things can be equated-to-inanity. Cook has achieved that.”

“Plus there has been no significant warming in the last fifteen years, so technically the rate was more likely to be zero bombs a second (0 Habe), not four. And in any case, the models predicted far more than four-bombs-a-second (4 Habe) –  realistically, they missed by as many bombs as they scored.”

Apologies this graph remains in the old units of degrees Celcius.* | Graph: David Evans.

How many bombs do the models miss by?

If pressed to come up with an exact number, Jo Nova says “The rate the Earth warms at is always changing and there are 22 major models and a hundred variations. Pick a number. There are a lot of ‘right’ answers to this question.”

“In 2010, Douglass and Knox calculated that models overestimated reality by 7000 quintillion joules annually.

“Five years of planetary heating amounts to a massive amount of energy. That’s 2,000 days of the sun bearing down on an atmosphere with growing levels of CO2. According to the IPCC favored models, the extra heat stored should be 0.7 x 1022 Joules per year (or 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 joules per annum or 7,000 quintillion joules).”

That’s 2.2 x 1014 boring Joules, every second. One Habe is (supposedly) 6.3 x 1013 so the models miss by 3.5 bombs a second. Judging by the graph, this is an underestimate. Cook doesn’t mention how he calculated “4″ — what years were used, what data-set, or the Habe:Joules conversion he assumed. Frankly the number is so mindless, the process so useless, I can’t be bothered asking. We already know the models are wrong. Who care’s how wrong?”

Skeptical commenter Jaymez claims much of what Cook talks about is widely known to be wrong on internet science sites. “Neda, really should try a search engine sometime.” he said. “We know that there have always been floods and droughts, and the trends have not changed. Storm surges recorded for 5000 years show there have been much bigger storms than any we have seen. Global cyclone activity is low and about the same as it was 30 years ago. Australia had 50 degree days repeatedly in the 1800s and right across the country.”

Where are those extreme storms?

Alex Wellerstein had satirically documented the unit shift as well, and provides a calculator. Credit to him for these calculations:

  • The Sun deposits 61.34 billion Hiroshimas worth of energy onto the Earth every year — that’s 168 million Hiroshimas a day, 7 million Hiroshimas an hour, 117 thousand Hiroshimas a minute!
  • The USA uses about 24 thousand Hiroshima-equivalents worth of electricity per year!
  • The Haitian Earthquake of 2010 was equivalent to around 32 Hiroshimas!
  • Each year, McDonald’s sells around 26 Hiroshima-equivalents worth of Big Macs in the United States alone, 42 Hiroshima-equivalents worldwide (1 H-e = 21.4 million Big Macs)!
  • My electric bill for last month was for 4.42 micro-Hiroshima-equivalents! (Which is 126.2 nano-Hiroshima-equivalents less than this month last year!)

* (Click on the graph to see the post related to it).

Image: Adapted from Wikimedia  Lykaestria

Edited: H-bomb became “:atom-bomb”. Thanks Ace.

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