Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Newsweeks Global Warming Bias

You know something is seriously wrong with a magazine article when I can poke holes in the arguments.

In the current Newsweek, gift subscription, not my idea, the article, Which Of These Is Not Causing Global Warming Today", they want to claim the sun is not causing global warming. Maybe, maybe not, but if you are going to make the claim, you should try to use facts and logic or at least try to be intellectually honest.

Two things caught my attention. First the analogy that the sun, or more accurately, the increased solar output of the sun is not enough to cause the increase in earth temperature. Fine, whatever, but do not use the following analogy
The extra solar output can no more account for that than holding a candle under a pot can account for boiling a gallon of water.
First of all global warming has not turned earth into a boiling pot of water, 1 degree increase since the 70's. The sun has a mass 330,000 times that of the earth and its volume is 1,304,000 times that of the earth. So even if the output of the sun, whose core temperature is a mere 28,800,000 degrees Fahrenheit, has increased less than .1%, it is still just a tad more than holding a candle under a pot. Maybe holding a teacup next to a nuclear reactor would be more appropriate. But even the "less than .1%" claim is dubious as it sure seems to be more than .1%, maybe a lot more.
In what could be the simplest explanation for one component of global warming, a new study shows the Sun's radiation has increased by .05 percent per decade since the late 1970s.

The increase would only be significant to Earth's climate if it has been going on for a century or more, said study leader Richard Willson, a Columbia University researcher also affiliated with NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

The Sun's increasing output has only been monitored with precision since satellite technology allowed necessary observations. Willson is not sure if the trend extends further back in time, but other studies suggest it does.

"This trend is important because, if sustained over many decades, it could cause significant climate change," Willson said.


The 2nd problem is this part:
When natural cycles such as El NiƱo cause unusual warming, they also cause unusual cooling. One place heats up and another gets a chill, as if Peter were robbed of heat to warm Paul. The result is no net global change. To warm both Peter and Paul in a closed system violates the laws of thermodynamics.
OK... so what... the earth is not a closed system, never has been, never will be. Why even bring this up?

They do not even look at the fact that other planets in the solar system are know to be warming as mentioned here, Global Warming on Pluto Puzzles Scientists and here, Mars Emerging from Ice Age, Data Suggest and here, New Storm on Jupiter Hints at Climate Change . What is the common variable? How about that large ball of fire in the sky that makes up 99% of all mass in the entire solar system.

Here is what we as humans do not seem to understand. We are really, really insignificant. Sorry to break the news to you. The mass of the earth is about 4,786,243,776,082,440,000,000,000,000,000 times more than the mass of all humans, assuming the average human weighs 150 pounds(just a guess). So if the sun is 330,000 times that of the earth... well you get the point. Well at least some of you do.

1 comment:

JC said...

A handful of planets out of the 100+ bodies in the solar system have been observed to be warming - a statistic that is hardly surprising. Uranus is cooling and Venus is stable although you don't hear that mentioned much among global warming skeptics.

The whole theory that a brightening sun is causing global warming falls apart when you consider solar output hasn't risen over the past 30 years (when warming has been highest) according to direct satellite measurements that find no rising trend since 1978, sunspot numbers which have leveled out since 1950, the Max Planck Institute reconstruction that shows irradience has been steady since 1950 and solar radio flux or flare activity which shows no rising trend over the past 30 years. Ironically, it's the sun's close correlation with Earth's temperature that proves it has little to do with the last 30 years of global warming.

Of course that begs the question - what's causing warming on other planets? Mars has had massive planet darkening storms over the last 30 years that reduce the planet's albedo (reflectivity) which has a warming effect. Jupiter's "warming" is a regional effect in what is an extremely volatile climate (eg - storms the size of Earth).

Pluto's warming consists of two observations 14 years apart noting a difference in atmospheric thickness which implies warming - scientists are unable to explain why yet. But considering Pluto's orbit is equivalent to 248 Earth years, this says nothing about climate change. It's like saying Earth is warming when comparing winter to summer. Plus Pluto is more than 30 times farther away from the Sun than the Earth is. If the Sun were warming up enough to affect Pluto at that vast distance, it would blowtorch the Earth.