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  • Bob Armstrong

    Logic of Liberty : The War on CO2


    In the last LoL , I ended intending to continue with a discussions of the Faux Freedoms “from”. But, because it is extremely timely, and because it is the greatest excuse ever invented for total global political control of life on earth, I will discuss only the global political class’s attempt to free us from our carbon fueled comfort.

    Logic is essential in defending one’s self and one’s liberty in all aspects of life, not just the analysis of political-economic structures. The most dangerous suppression of human wellbeing ever is now being fomented in the name of impossible claims that we not only can but do affect the mean temperature of our globe by releasing back into the atmosphere a little of the carbon sequestered during the astonishingly lush carboniferous, periods.

    Recently Al Gore -- the drum major for the notion that our raising the amount of carbon dioxide ( CO2 ) in our atmosphere since the industrial revolution from about 3 molecules per 10,000 to about 4, which has given us our modern life style and span, and the probable increase to perhaps 5 molecules per 10,000 [0] over the rest of the century will catastrophically raise the mean global temperature by as much a 1 percent -- testified before both houses of the US Congress.[1] Here’s a graph of the last 4 decades, the fastest rising of this out ‘of control CO2 explosion‘. It’s so straight, I projected it out by simple replication for another 40 years.[2] I have also plotted a line showing the, at most, 0.8c degree rise in mean global temperature of about 288K ( Kelvin ) over these past decades.

    ( One of the first lessons they teach in How to Lie with Statistics is to chop off zero and expand the graph vertically to make most of it . You see it done a lot by the GW crowd. )

    About an hour into the senate hearing, Al invited leading senate skeptic James Inhofe out to breakfast with their mutual friend Doug Coe so Jim would also become convinced of the crisis. I figured Doug Coe must be some particularly persuasive scientist so I googled him.

    He’s an christian evangelist !

    About an hour fifty-five into the hearing Gore goes off into an absolute religious nutcase harangue about desecrating the Lord’s creation literally invoking the flood and drought , pestilence, fire and famine of the hebrew's god.

    Math and physics are my gods, but if you believe in an intelligent designer, why did (s)he place the incredible deposits of coal and oil in our earth if not for our use? Some sort of cosmic joke? Another “look but don’t touch” - even if contributing to the death of millions as Castro recently rightly pointed out - tree of knowledge ?

    Politicians’ lives depend on having an excuse for their existence . Wars on this or that fill their rice bowls.

    Al, I’m going to address you directly at times below; other times I’ll turn and speak directly to the reader.

    Al, I’m looking for some answers.

    Energy is expensive. It makes dollars and sense to be efficient. In our house we have incandescent bulbs sitting unused because they are so much more expensive to burn than compact fluorescents. But, we use high color temperature halogens in one hallway with a bunch of art. Markets push strongly in the direction of maximum efficiency for a given task. So why the cry for use of the GlobalState’s Force wielded as always by lawyers, administered by massive bureaucracy, backed by guns and prisons? Aren’t Free Individuals in our internet age capable making as prudent choices for themselves and their progeny as you?

    Particularly when your science is pathetic?

    Some physics

    A quarter century ago, I thought more about how our changing the planet’s albedo, a fancy word for “reflectance”, thru agricultural expansion might warm the planet. Millions of hectares are now plowed and bare around the globe every year, and in many parts of the world, forests continue to be cleared. These must change the albedo at least a little. But that got me thinking about how, if albedo determines temperature, did we ever come out of the ice ages? Back then the Northern Hemisphere, as well as much of the Southern was covered with snow which is very reflective. Why didn’t the earth go into a spiral and freeze solid?

    Then I remembered a fact which surprised me as a child.[3]

    I spent my childhood, while you, Al, were out on the playground learning politics, pouring over little boy’s science books. Don Herbert’s “Mr. Wizard” was as Must See TV for me back then as Jon Stewart is today. I graduated from Popular Science to Scientific American about 8th or 9th grade. I got an 800 on my Physics SAT.

    One of those childhood bits of wisdom was a question :

    You have two stones out in the baking sun out in the middle of the desert.

    One is white and one is black.

    Which is hotter?

    Well, if the black one’s hotter then you can extract energy from the difference between its temperature and the white stone’s . But that energy will be released into the environment and add to the ambient temperature. And that would mean you’ve created energy out of nothing; you have made yourself a perpetual motion machine.

    The stones will be the same temperature. Compared to black and white stones, changing one molecule per ten thousand in the atmosphere of the earth is a very small change in its color.

    This truth is now days called the 0th law of thermodynamics. Things asymptote to thermal equilibrium with their surroundings. That’s why it’s possible to have thermometers which agree with each other.

    Gustav Kirchhoff[4] nearly 150 years ago proved the consequent corollary that the ability to absorb and radiate energy for any material ( molecule ) must be equal, That is, any material at a given temperature must either be transparent to a particular frequency radiation, reflect it, or absorb it. If it absorbs it, It must be equally prone to radiate it. Otherwise, things would quickly spiral to being either infinitely hot or absolute zero.[5]

    Thus, it is very hard to understand how any composition of the atmosphere can cause the mean temperature of the planet to rise above that of the any other sphere the same distance from the sun . Heat flows down hill, not up. Fourier’s heat flow equation is essentially that because of this any hills and vales erode to flatness.[6] What changing the insulative properties of the atmosphere can do is change the variance , the rate of change of the temperature. Putting an overcoat on a corpse won’t warm it up, but it will keep it from getting cold as quickly.

    Al, you assert “all the scientists” at a “higher pay grade” than you have proved that you can make a stack of filters which, when layered uniformly on a sphere, can cause the sphere’s interior temperature to be higher than the Stefan-Boltzmann temperature of the space surrounding it. And that that increase in temperature is on the order of 1% for a change of about .01% in the composition of your filters.

    I humbly request that you prove this to me before I cede my own decisions to your bureaucracies, armies and prisons.

    Make it easier; solve it in one dimension. Define a sequence of filters which will cause one side of a membrane to stay permanently hotter than the other. You don’t have to get into any complexities of turbulence. Prove you can do it in some direction. I think every physical parameter is established with significant accuracy which is not true for parameters like mean planetary temperature for earth and its neighbors.

    I’ve video taped a Mr. Wizard style experiment with white, flat black, and chromed ping pong balls which provides pretty strong evidence that color, at least in the visible peak of the spectrum makes little difference, that the stones in the desert are the same temperature. I am uploading to Google.[6] When you see the experiment, it is very clear I have neither Big Business nor Gargantuan Government money funding me. The experiment should be easily refined by any university with a vacuum chamber and could be done in an ultimate fashion next to the international space station. I think it would make a gangbusters MythBusters episode.


    So, what do we know?

    We certainly can and do affect the climate . The warming experienced by most, the terawatt heat islands around major cities shows that. Agriculture by changing the evaporation and albedo ( reflectivity ) of large areas also affects climate in its vicinity .

    What changes in the atmosphere can do is change its insulative properties, change its rate of heat flow both outward from geological sources and our direct heat production, and inward from the sun.

    The insulative effect of the earth’s atmosphere on temperature variance is very evident here 2500 meters - about the one third point in the atmosphere - up in the Rockies where I’ve moved to from Manhattan. Water boils around 90c instead of 100c, and the average variation from daily high to nightly low is about 20c compared to about 8c for NYC.[7] That’s about a 7% change versus a 3% change in absolute temperature in the course of a night. The air doesn’t hold an awful lot of heat; if the sun went out, we‘d be a lifeless snowball over a holiday weekend. It seems only recently that “the sky is warming” alarmists have been forced to admit that the sun may have some effect on our temperature.

    Here’s a graph of the sun’s spectrum from a neat website[8] which allows you to compare the spectrum against black body radiation distributions for any temperature you choose. Here is the fit for 5900 Kelvin. ( I assume most readers know that temperature is related to microscopic kinetic energy and the Kelvin scale is the same as centigrade but corrected to true zero by adding 273.15 . Only in Kelvin can one talk about ratios of temperatures. )


    The 19th century culminated with Max Plank’s derivation of this distribution of radiation for a theoretical 0 albedo “black” body marking the beginning of quantum physics. One method of determining the temperature of the sun is to find a best match between this distribution and the sun’s spectrum.

    What really matters in determining temperature is the energy under the curve. The effective temperature, which I called the Stefan-Boltzmann (S-B) temperature above, is that given by the S-B equation relating energy density to temperature, Near the earth, the energy from the sun is measured to be about 1370 watts per square meter. From this we can reconstruct the sun’s effective temperature by considering what portion of the total “heavenly sphere” it occupies. Both Wikipedia’s Stefan-Boltzmann page and it’s Black_body page have this derivation. ( Wikipedia is a remarkable source. In general, if not noted otherwise, you can assume that’s where my facts come from. ) The Black Body page is where I originally saw the derivation of the earth’s temperature exactly the way I thought it must be.

    I initially imagined “what would the temperature of the earth be if it were surrounded in all directions by the temperature of the sun - or any other particular temperature”? Well, it must be that same temperature. But the sun is just one little disk in the sky with the temperature in all other directions famously about 3 degrees Kelvin. So, you’ve got to figure out what portion of the whole sky the sun covers. That crunches out to be the square root of the quotient of the radius of the sun divided by two times our distance from it. It works out the temperature of the earth is about 0.04816 or 1/21 times the temperature of the sun.

    With this formula, and a value for the surface temperature of the sun, we can calculate S-B temperatures for all the planets. Here I have graphed the values for Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars along with an estimate of their actual temperature from NASA[9] . I was quite surprised, first, that NASA only lists Highs and Lows, no means, and secondly, that even those estimates were clearly approximate. For instance, the high and low for Mercury are listed as 700k and 100k. Having just the two values, I plotted their average. Obviously, with the exception of Venus, the planets are essentially at their S-B temperatures. That certainly ought to be taken as the null hypothesis and deviations from it rigorously explained.

    Clearly something strange is happening with Venus. Of course, it’s the boogieman you, Al, hold up as what could happen to us. You say Mars is colder than us because it has even less CO2, never mentioning it is 50% further away from the sun.

    Venus is strange. Its day is longer than its year and slightly backwards. Despite its extremely long day, NASA says its dark side is just as hot as its sunny side. And by hot I mean 2.24 times its S-B temperature. If CO2 can do that, let’s collect a few years output from some coal power plant and compress it into balls and then just suck energy from their centers and retire the coal plants.

    What the “greenhouse gasses”, H2O, CH4, CO2, etc, can do is insulate the planet - slow heat getting in or getting out. For instance, if there is a detectable effect of a change of 1 part in 10,000 in our atmosphere, it should be provable analytically and demonstrable in a laboratory without getting involved with issues of atmospheric turbulence or earth history.

    Venus must have some substantial internal source of heat which the very thick CO2 helps hold in.

    If there is an effect of our returning to the atmosphere some of the CO2 from the lush past, it would take the form of warmer nights and actually lower peak daytime temperatures, and warmer poles with slightly less warm tropics. This evening out of temperature gradients would lead to less violent weather. Additionally, the increased CO2 will lead to more luxuriant plant growth[0].

    Where’s the beef

    Finally, I noticed something odd as I researched this article to turn my general understandings into solid numbers: You will see I rely a lot on Wikipedia. It has certainly, along with Google, become one of the most convenient information sources cradled by the internet. When you go to the pages on Black Body Radiation, or from there to Gustav Kirchhoff, or Stefan and Boltzmann and Plank, you get generally very competent, if quite difficult pages of equations. But you clearly get a consistent detailed explanation with interlocking equations and constants. You get answers you can calculate and plot.

    In contrast, going to pages “explaining” global warming is like falling off an intellectual cliff. I first noticed this when following up Al’s assertion in his testimony that we are changing the Radiation Balance of the planet. I thought “ah, here I will find the explanation of how they get heat to flow up hill”. It’s pathetic. There is no derivation. There is only one simple summation of a few undefined terms and no possible way to calculate anything. Same thing with other pages like the Greenhouse effect or Radiative Forcing. Lots of hand waving and talk about the atmosphere, but no equations to calculate or explain anything in terms of the more fundamental equations. No Proof.

    I may struggle with the equations, but at least give me equations to struggle with.

    Nothing to do with the earth, please, just spectra, energy, and temperature.

    And please explain why the white, black, and chrome ping pong ball in my video end up about the same temperature despite being as different as I could make them in the peak visible spectrum? The paint is the same order of thickness, about 0.3mm, on the balls as our atmosphere is on the earth. Please demonstrate that you can paint a ping pong ball so that it gets hotter than its neighbors and give some figures for how hot based on what parameters.

    The Eco-statists

    Like the 20th century economic Marxists, the anti-human-life eco-luddites seek, on the basis of their superior intelligence and care for your children, to suppress quality of life of individuals living now for a supposed greater future. As, ironically, Fidel Castro recently pointed out, they can end up killing millions. For, when you talk about raising costs, you are talking about making life itself less affordable for those on the margins. Castro was talking specifically how the diversion of corn for the grossly eco-government distorted ethanol boom has raised the price of corn for tortillas to the point where it threatens to cause malnutrition if not starvation among the poorest. It’s common knowledge that corn ethanol saves only marginally over the petroleum it takes to produce it. Sugar Cane is a much more efficient feed stock. Yet our supposedly eco-concerned congress subsidizes domestic corn ethanol $.51 per gallon and puts a $.54 per gallon tariff on Brazilian sugar ethanol. Given a free market, ethanol would actually be a little cheaper, made from appropriate feed stock, and not be running up the price of corn meal.

    Statists and those who parrot them without thought constantly insult the businesspeople who supply all the essentials of all our lives for doing exactly that. Exxon, BP, Chevron, et al are evil and anyone funded by their pittance, compared to the leviathan governments’ grants is pilloried.

    But, the corporations are just conduits. If your apartment is a tolerable temperature, if you ever travel anywhere, or consume anything transported to you. YOU are the consumer of energy. The corporations only exist because YOU consume their product. If there is an enemy, it is YOU YOUSELF; they just serve you. Likewise, any increased costs incurred by taxes, caps or mandates will be incurred by YOU; the energy vendors will, again, only be the conduits. So costs better be rational

    It’s hard not to see the eco-statists as being anti-human life. Decades ago they first destroyed America’s nuclear power industry at a cost of hundreds of billions, Now the US is playing catch up with much of the rest of the world.[10] By crushing nuclear they are directly responsible for much of the increase in the CO2 they have now found to be their ultimate cause -- because it is inescapable. Crushing nukes, they induced the building of massive natural gas power plants when that was obviously a tremendous waste of a relatively scarce resource. Today no one defends that short-sighted, expensive, foolish extravagance. During Al’s testimony to the House, Bob Inglis described an immanent decision by a South Carolina utility between building either a new coal or a nuclear power plant. One or the other is going to be built. He tried as best he could to get Gore to agree that if Global Warming is the threat to human existence he claims, the choice should be nuke. No way Gore would commit. All he offers is future pie; for now we’ll just have to tighten our belts, go cold and slow in the dark.

    Of course, it’s a sin to drill for petroleum too, even in the most desolate reaches of the arctic. Al is immaculate. He pays a premium in his $20,000 utility bill for all “green” sourced energy. A pig eating caviar is still a pig and raises the price of caviar. And Teddy Kennedy wants windmills, but not off his Hyannis Port mansion.

    Let me end with a couple of quotes:

    Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had. -- Michael Crichton --

    And, compare the following with the quote from Lenin with which I concluded my LoL in Serf City 2.3 :

    "it is journalistically irresponsible to present both sides as though it were a question of balance. ... I don‘t set very much store by looking at the direct evidence. ... To avert the risk we need to get some broad-based support, to capture public imagination. That, of course, means getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up some scary scenarios, make some simplified dramatic statements and little mention of any doubts one might have. ... Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. -- Global Warming alarmist Stephen Schneider --


    The overwhelming evidence, all reputable sources agree, is that when you hear the phrase "the overwhelming evidence, all reputable sources agree, ..." you are may be listening to a statist.

    -- me --

    Suggested reading :John Hospers : Freedom and Utopias , 1983[11]

    NOTES :

    [0] We exhale about 400 molecules per 10,000 with every breath. Plants in greenhouses start suffering when they pull the CO2 level down to around 2 per 10k, and grow about 50% better with CO2 levels up to 10.

    Hence the propane burners used simply for the CO2 by grow ops, both legal and criminalized. The implication is strong that increased CO2 will lead to a greener planet and there is evidence ( I strongly recommend Dr Art Robinson's lecture, http://www.oism.org/oism/s32p686.htm, and review http://www.oism.org/oism/lecture/resources/review.pdf ) that this greening is already happening. Perhaps the exhaust from fossil fuel power plants should be piped out to agricultural fields or algae ponds as a fertilizer.

    I was surprised to learn that there is a lot more of the noble gas Argon, about 93 molecules ( atoms ) per 10,000, in the atmosphere than carbon.

    [1] Former V.P. Al Gore at Senate Environment & Public Works Cmte. Climate Change Hearing

    : rtsp://video.c-span.org/project/energy/energy032107_gore.rm

    [2] Mauna Loa Carbon Dioxide : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Mauna_Loa_Carbon_Dioxide.png

    [3] A simple observation by Huseyin Yilmaz in a manuscript given me by Don Campbell which ended up with Baba Ganesh ( google these people ) in India also stuck with me: The earth radiates everyday the energy it receives.

    [4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gustav_Kirchhoff

    [5] The only place I have seen any formula to explain warming is Patrick J. Michaels : Meltdown : The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media. He opens his book with it. But he, I believe inappropriately, separates albedo and emissivity, exactly what Kirchhoff says you can’t do. This may be the same mistake the chemist Svante Arrhenius made in 1896 kicking off the notion of CO2 ending the ice ages. Obviously I side with his fellow Swede, physicist Ångström the younger, whose study was solar radiation and who dismissed Arrhenius’s conclusions. It would be interesting to know the details.

    [6] Check my Climate and Energy page, http://cosy.com/views/warm.htm, or the www.SerfCity.US blog for the link to the video. Bottom line, in the Colorado sun, a black painted 40mm ping pong ball and an unpainted white one seem indistinguishable in asymptotic temperature. To be complete, I also tried a chrome painted ball. That one, for reasons I clearly don’t understand, appears to asymptote perhaps 1.5 to 2 degrees cooler than the others. (That’s what one gets for actually doing experiments. Now I really would like to see the experiment properly done in a vacuum.) In any case, if the most extreme temperature change I could produce with extremely different albedos is 2 degrees, how can a change of one hundredth of one percent in the composition of our thin atmospheric layer (about 0.3mm on the scale of a ping pong ball) create a change of that magnitude?

    [7] From weather.com monthly averages for NYC and Woodland Park, CO. I first became aware of how relatively little heat the atmosphere holds when I made a party invitation in 1984 showing the path of the sun north and south thru the seasons and the temperature at Buffalo NY lagging by only a couple of weeks.

    [8] http://marzipan.atmos.washington.edu/ion_script/ATMS558/main_blackbody.html

    [9] http://sse.jpl.nasa.gov/planets/

    [10] A side effect is to cause Americans to fail to understand Iran’s absolute demand to be a peer with all other countries with the right to process and use their own uranium deposits saving their oil to generate foreign exchange.

    [11] http://www.fee.org/publications/the-freeman/article.asp?aid=1128

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