Spencer: Slaying the Slayers with the Alabama Two-Step

“A recent article by S. Fred Singer in American Thinker entitled Climate Deniers are Giving Us Skeptics a Bad Name has caused a resurgence of attacks against those of us who believe that the Earth does indeed have a “greenhouse effect” which makes the Earth’s surface warmer than it would otherwise be.”

Roy Spencer continues:

… As a result of Fred’s article, angry E-mails have been flying like arrows, and belligerent blog posts have littered the landscape. (Well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But I enjoyed writing it.)…

Read the entire posting…

The global warming narrative advanced by the IPCC involves a chain of physical processes which must all be true in order for their conclusions to be true. The existence of the greenhouse effect is, in my view, one of the stronger links in the chain. Feedbacks are the weakest link.

16 thoughts on “Spencer: Slaying the Slayers with the Alabama Two-Step”

  1. CB, you are being ridiculously hair-splitting on notation. Due to the derisive nature of your rhetoric,you are HARMING the cause you claim to support. If I may make a suggestion: instead of saying “There is no greenhouse gas effect effect”, say “the greenhouse gas effect for CO2 is maxed out”. That’s a statement that more accurately conforms to your point of view in an initial read. I have to say, I have toned down this reply several times after re-reading your posts. My initial quick-read dismissed you as a 2nd law imbecile (you know the type, “global warming violates entropy, etc”), and it was only after I began referencing your comments for quotes did I comprehend your true argument.

    Finally, I disagree with your soccer net comparison, the atmosphere is more like a packed column because there is a possibility for increased greenhouse gas effect by increasing atmospheric density (such as extending a packed column to allow for additional theoretical trays). That density is why Venus has such a high greenhouse effect.

  2. Pardon for venting: I have developed a deep hatred for hippies and their debate-games. Usually I just avoid them, but as a matter of principle I at least tell them to go stuff themselves. Oh well.

    If you were to define back-radiation (or the GHGE) to be identical to the (existing) process of radiative feedback, then you have defined it to exist. Is there really a valid reason for renaming radiative feedback as back-radiation (and or the GHGE)? Apart from creating a phrase for use in the CO2-debate delusion?

    Two points:
    1) The hippies do not define it JUST that way: they very specifically USE as if its effect is sufficient so as to drive the other positive feedbacks. One definition is of a Process (with magnitude of effect unspecified), the other is of a Process with a sufficient Effect.
    2) There is not just the one process at work: surely if you wish to consider radiative feedback, i.e. back-radiation, then you should also consider back-conduction? Likely also back-convection (given randomness of molecules’ movement).
    For every outwards path away from the heated ground, there will (probably?) be a back-path. And should you start considering indirect paths (conduction-turned-radiation = back-cross-radiation?, etc. etc. …)…

    From the above there are at least two arguments one could pursue: one of the issue of triviality – i.e. if the effect is trivial, why bother giving it a name to begin with (especially given that it is one among many.) The second one is concerned with logical conflation: which set of processes, Exactly, are included in the term ‘back-radiation’.

    I prefer neither of the above: As far as I can see, the concept of back-radiation is little more than a propagandist idea published with the intent of fostering the delusion of comprehension among the general populace. It serves exactly zero computational purpose (unless one where to go the finite-element route), zero empirical purpose, and (as used by all the accursed climate pseudo-scientists) aids proper understanding of the physical situation by a factor of zero. It is a description of a process the end-effect of which cannot be easily separated out from others, but it sounds cool: my post was essentially aimed against this kind of bull-sh@t.

    Serious people would rather consider that all the iterative processes resolve themselves as short-term pseudo-equilibrium states in the overall gas (did basic thermo-d very long time ago – so terminology will suck). These complexities (and very many others) are why, generally, parameters (ex. pressure) related to the states are used when working with gasses. In other words, ignore the foil-hat details, and go the hard-core empirical route: which is what Wood tried to do, and did, as far as I can tell.

    ‘Back-radiation’, as used by the hippies, is a construct designed to be opaque to thought. And I, for one, no longer see the need not to treat the products of their endless cr@pping with the contempt it deserves.

  3. Maybe, Chuck, maybe. I suspect though that honest young scientists will steer well clear of a multidisciplinary and yet undisciplined field like “climate science” where dogma plays such a devastating role.

  4. I am certainly with you on the ‘tortured and abused’ observation, ha ha.

    Yes, with focus and narrowing of scope a model can help. We use them in chemistry, engineering, and all sorts of places quite successfully. I really didn’t mean to impugn the entire concept. The key is (as I am sure you are aware) reducing the number of guesstimated factors in the model. It seems Mann, et al have just crammed in any value they thought useful to their cause and completely prostituted the science of it. More’s the pity, as something useful might have spun out of legitimate climate study instead of all this wasted effort defending against a religion instead of doing science. Then again, with so much raving and stone throwing perhaps young budding science majors may be attracted to the blood in the water and we get a fresh crop of atmospheric majors. Couldn’t hurt.

  5. You misunderstand Chuck, we have learned much of atmospheric processes, interactions and teleconnections through using computer models and it is overly harsh to label them useless. That said, they have no prognostic ability and attempting to use them as the IPCC (among others) does is completely inappropriate.

    Models have their place and it is not their fault they have been tortured and abused.

  6. “Climate models are relatively good process models (in that they can help us understand what we have observed) but they are not prognostic (no known predictive ability).”

    No and Yes (*grin*). This curent crop of computer models are all seriously flawed and have been since the git-go due to curve fitting and magic numbers all for the purpose of showing catastrophe if we don’t “do something!” and do it right away with tons of money for the doers, of course.

    As a computer science major and someone who (along with a thousand others) has been trying to build a useful computer model for chaotic systems I can truly tell you that at this point in time it’s a fools errand for complex systems like climate, futures pricing, etc. One is better off with PowerPoint and a good graphics program to draw up the theoretical event train and then publish it and stand back as the pack ravages it.

    Having said that, some folks seem to have done well with using anything but greenhouse theory as I noted above. I should take some time away from my other chores and delve into their paper and the model they came up with. At least it was able to predict the past with some reasonable accuracy, a feat the warmists have yet to accomplish consistently.

  7. Not quite right Chuck, the ‘tropospheric hot spot’ (actually a belt over the tropics warming at a greater rate than the surface, although still cooler than the surface) is a requirement for the radically enhanced greenhouse effect of CAGW and has nothing whatsoever to do with earth’s background greenhouse effect.

    The ceiling and blanket references are simply very poor analogies and descriptors.

    Yes, by abundance and activity water (in its various forms of vapor, droplets and ice crystals) is the main greenhouse contributor.

    That ghe warms lower altitudes at the expense of upper altitudes is true at least until the new equilibrium state is reached.

    It is technically possible that H2O feedback exists although the net sign of that feedback is not known.

    Climate models are relatively good process models (in that they can help us understand what we have observed) but they are not prognostic (no known predictive ability).

    It is also true that ghe is largely logarithmic in nature. The IPCC’s favored doubling formula for ΔF (change in forcing by) CO2 is 5.35LN(2) or ~3.7W/m2. Thus the first half of pre-industrial level CO2 forcing was delivered by less than 20 ppmv (24 or 16 ppmv yields 4×3.7 = 14.8W/m2, 28 or 256 ppmv yields 8×3.7 = 29.6W/m2). To actually double the ghe from CO2 would then require 216 or 65,536 ppmv.

    Totally agree with your last statement.

  8. Editor, I disagree,

    I’m a troll and I recon there is no GHE but a AE (atmospheric effect) and I recon it is a descriptor that should be rebutted because it is flawed. Labeling the effect of irradiation as ‘greenhouse’ locks in a cognitive blocker to the real effect, given there is no greenhouse enclosure but a force on particles in the atmosphere that determines the distribution of photons (energy).

    Scientists, sceptical or not, have difficulty both at the policy interface and giving reasonable explanation to the ultimate end users of the science, the public. Because insolation and it’s effect on Earths surface is diurnal, I think it would be much better to express how AE effects the surface and how this causes climate change.

    Thing is, none of the other planets are effected by ‘backradiation’, so it will be a eternally difficult descriptor to explain, especially how the net flow of photons radiated to space can be slowed by a colder bodies flow of photons onto a warmer body. The delay caused by electromagnetic radiative feedback must be quick considering the speed of energy.

    Good luck with the trolls.

  9. excuse me but from all the papers I’ve read on this, to be a greenhouse effect there has to be a mid tropospheric hot spot and that does not exist, there is no ‘ceiling’ or ‘blanket’, or whatever holding in the heat, the convective engine keeps on running and dumping heat into space

    in addition, my understanding is that water vapor is the main net heat absorber in the lower altitudes and that a finer ‘mesh of net’ (as above) will pump more heat into the water vapor thus increasing the net temperature at lower altitudes. Where the whole CAGW idiocy goes off the rails is in claiming positive feedback for water vaport and no such thing exists. A follow-on paper on the Iris Effect has considerable bearing on the self righting mechanism of the atmosphere as well.

    I would like to point out the various studies and papers that used only the sun, oceanic oscillations, volcanism, and cosmic ray (theory) to create a time and temperature map. The map very closely follows the historical temperature data, unlike these idiotic computer climate models. As noted above, we’re very nearly saturated with CO2 (climatically) and the logorithmic response very certainly tells us that we can dump huge amounts into the system with little additional effect.

    Baby’s breath and cow farts will NOT kill us all.

  10. cb, please don’t feed the trolls, make them forage for their natural diet.

    Now, with regard to the existence of the poorly-named greenhouse effect:
    all molecules having a non-zero temperature radiate electromagnetic energy as a function of entropy;
    the atmosphere is composed of molecules of non-zero temperature;
    the atmosphere collectively then must radiate electromagnetic energy;
    some of said energy is absorbed by earth’s non-gaseous surface;
    such absorption of radiated electromagnetic energy is a feedback;
    Feedback (F) = 1/(1-f) where f is the fraction of the initial input fed back as an additional input in the first round of a recursive process;
    this feedback slows earth’s net rate of radiative heat loss;
    maintaining the same input (insolation, in this case) and slowing output (ghe) results in a higher net temperature;
    this is greenhouse effect and it is not in dispute.

    Now your argument is with how the atmosphere is warmed and it is true conduction and evapotranspiration are major components of this transfer but so too is electromagnetic absorption in specific wavelengths.

    The IPCC and advocates of CAGW believe ghe is strongly enhanced by further positive feedback, principally by water vapor. This is highly contentious and in fact even the sign of additional feedbacks are not known. The fact that earth responds little, if at all, to increasing levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases suggests that feedbacks are primarily negative.

    This does not mean ghe does not exist, merely that increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide are of trivial significance.

    The climatic arguments are not over whether greenhouse effect is a bad name – it is; whether it is physically the same as a greenhouse (blanket, whatever…) – it isn’t and nor is it about any of the poor analogies and descriptors that abound.

    Please try not to be drawn into arguing absurd positions rebutting flawed descriptors because “greenhouse” is a poor name for electromagnetic radiative feedback – it only feeds the trolls.

  11. “above collection of strawmen”: Really. Name them: or are you so dense that you really fail to see the singular line of argument that was followed. Can you even reason without having Wikipedia open in another window?

    As for ‘interesting issues’: one can create an infinite number of ‘interesting issues’ sitting on ones butt and philosophizing about a pellet of rat poo.

    Oooo, ‘that battle’. Woo! You must be, like, an expert. You mentioned, like, tables, and, like article-stuff. Like, wow. I’m, like, so blown away, man. You must, wow, like know, dunno, stuff.

    So your point is… aargle?

    You are not as sorry as I am: what a waste of time crafting all those pixels. But thank you for answering my inquiry as to why this ‘debate’ is still ongoing: there clearly is no point getting involved. Do have fun sniffing your own ass.

  12. I;ll give you a hint… there are some very interesting issues with AGW that can be debated, but the above collection of strawmen won’t carry much weight in that battle….

    The infrared absorbing properties of C02 were first demonstrated by Tyndall in 1859…

    Here is a paper from 1932 on the C02 infrared absorption spectrum


    There are many others….e.g. a standard Laboratory experiment here


  13. There is no damned GHGE.

    CO2 as a blanket – bullsh@t:
    A blanket is a layer of trapped air-pockets. This is then a good barrier against conduction. Does CO2 have this property? No.
    A blanket is a physical barrier against air-flow. On the one hand the air heated by your body, stays there. On the other hand, cold (or whatever) air from the outside cannot get in. This is then a good barrier against conduction. Does CO2 have this property? No.

    CO2 as a mirror (i.e. ‘pure’ GHGE) – bullsh@t:
    Gas is not a solid. Hence it would be better to consider this as equivalent to polished aluminum particles suspended in the air. Increasing CO2 levels would be equivalent to increasing the amount of particles. CO2 is a good absorber of energy (heat), therefore (thanks Mr. Physics) it is also a good emitter (360 degrees in all orientations) of that selfsame energy.
    But here is the rub: the ‘mirror’ lies submerged, and is completely permeated, by other gasses: in other words, this ‘mirror’ is subject to both direct conduction and direct convection…
    Furthermore: These other gasses are lighter (i.e. tend to easily move up and beyond the CO2), and are also worse absorbers (and so worse emitters – i.e. SLOWER to re-emit, which means they are more mobile for longer (yes internal molecular vibration, blah blah).) This means that the energy absorbed by CO2, gets quickly emitted again; coupled with direct conduction and direct convection, the other gasses effectively take that energy and go up and away.
    Does CO2 ‘beam’ back whatever energy hits its ‘surface’: No. because it is NOT a mirror.

    CO2 as a soccer net, with a certain density of string-netting – still nonsense, but ever so much better:
    CO2 catches energy. That energy is then quickly transferred to other, lighter gases, and is transported upwards, beyond where CO2 is plentiful (beyond this point, CO2 is irrelevant.)
    Increase CO2, and your CATCH PERCENTAGE goes up: the soccer net gets more string woven in. The Question to ask now is this: how dense is the string-netting AT THE MOMENT… and how dense will it be in the future. Hence the concept of saturation.
    Since at present levels CO2 catches something like 98% of what it could, and doubling CO2 increases that to something like 99%… and doubling it yet again takes to, oh I do don’t know, 99.5%?… whoop di f-ing do da.

    There is so little CO2 to begin with, that its mass will not greatly affect the above process, either. Therefore increasing CO2 will do pretty much nothing. And increasing it even more will do even less.

    There is no GHGE. This is not debatable (unless you have the desire to attach a label to a trivial effect, that is in fact a composite of several different physical processes? Because if you want to do that, then where do you stop? Then you should, to be objective, start inventing names for all combinations of all the processes.) The mere fact that individual molecules absorb and emit (mirror-like, IF you ignore the whole omni-directional thingy), does NOT make the surface-hugging LAYER of trance gas that is CO2 a damned mirror: this is a classical logical fallacy, if I am not mistaken. And if that kind of idiocy was not enough, we are all supposed to think that doubling CO2 somehow doubles (or at least linearly increases) the mirror-ness of this mystical mirror.

    I do not understand why this is still a topic of contention: wasn’t what Wood did (empirically) enough? CO2 does NOT ‘trap heat,’ hence there is no magical GHGE. What the hell more do you want?

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