The “Heat” issue once again …

I want to applaud Joseph Postma and his latest blog post, spelling out his grievances against the “Greenhouse Apologists” and how they consistently manage to worm their way out of ever providing a definitive, coherent clarification of how the hypothetical “Radiative Greenhouse Effect” (RGHE, rGHE) is actually meant to work physically, brushing all sceptical objections to their vague – as it seems, deliberately equivocal – contentions aside by simply claiming that our differences are purely of a semantic nature. It doesn’t matter to them whether we describe one and the same process as “reducing cooling” or “increasing warming/heating”, because the end result – a higher temperature – will allegedly be the same either way, ignoring the simple fact that, in reality, these are two fully distinct (as in ‘opposite’) thermodynamic processes: 1) INSULATION, 2) HEATING. And so, conflating them, as if they were somehow basically the same process, causes confusion.

Unnecessary confusion. Scientifically pointless confusion.

Postma puts it very neatly and succinctly: Continue reading


‘To heat a planetary surface’ for dummies; Part 4

I rounded off Part 3 of this series by suggesting the following:

Next up: How do you heat a planetary surface, then? If not by the Earth’s own thermal radiation, a result of its temperature rather than a cause of it … How does the atmosphere insulate the surface?”

Not so. This will have to wait a bit still. Next post, perhaps. I will rather try to clarify my stance on the whole ‘bidirectional flow’ concept thing, seeing how this topic has a tendency of stirring up both emotions and misconceptions.

There is quite a bit of confusion surrounding the whole issue of electromagnetic radiation, the Stefan-Boltzmann Law and the thermodynamic concept of ‘energy transfer’.

I will try to explain why there can be no such thing as a bidirectional energy transfer between two objects radiating at each other. Yes, they are radiating at each other! Radiation goes in all directions. Continue reading

‘To heat a planetary surface’ for dummies; Part 3

We’re still discussing Willis Eschenbach’s ‘Steel Greenhouse’.

How come the warming EFFECT of putting the shell around the sphere is real but Eschenbach’s “back radiation” EXPLANATION of how it comes about is wrong?

Simply put, it’s because the effect doesn’t violate the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, but the explanation does.

In Part 1 and Part 2 we established some fairly basic principles of thermodynamics that we can now put to use in analysing Eschenbach’s explanation of why and how the radiating central sphere needs to warm with the steel shell surrounding it:

“In order to maintain its thermal equilibrium, the whole system must still [after the steel shell is placed around the sphere] radiate 235 W/m2 out to space. To do this, the steel shell must warm until it is radiating at 235 watts per square metre. Of course, since a shell has an inside and an outside, it will also radiate 235 watts inward to the planet. The planet is now being heated by 235 W/m2 of energy from the interior, and 235 W/m2 from the shell. This will warm the planetary surface until it reaches a temperature of 470 watts per square metre. In vacuum conditions as described, this would be a perfect greenhouse, with no losses of any kind.”

The first part of this paragraph simply describes the necessary conditions for reaching a new dynamic equilibrium upon putting the steel shell up around the radiating sphere. Nothing mysterious about it at all.

But then (in the bolded part) Eschenbach starts ‘explaining’ how he sees this new state of dynamic equilibrium to be accomplished.

And this is where any connection to basic, ordinary physics – and hence, to the real world – appears to be lost.

Let’s parse what he’s saying: Continue reading

Postma’s confusion

This could hopefully be a nice learning experience as part of our ongoing discussion on ‘how to heat a planetary surface’.

I went over to Joseph Postma’s site to see how they treat the whole sphere/shell problem there, having learned that some commenter had linked to my last post on the subject on one of his threads, evidently leading to the appearance soon after of a couple of regulars on this blog.

What I found quite frankly appalled me.

It is just as much a cultic echo chamber as any warmist site I’ve ever visited. They live firmly and tightly packed inside their little pink bubble, completely detached from reality, but keep patting each other on the back, congratulating themselves whenever more elaborate ways are found to consolidate and entrench the cult’s profoundly absurd ideas about the world, loudly and indiscriminately thrashing everyone not agreeing with them, calling them idiots, criminals and the like. Anyone who dares question the dogma is immediately and summarily labelled a ‘sophist’. The cult leader, Postma himself, is of course first in line, the worst of the lot, a person with clear megalomaniacal tendencies, whose modus operandi when it comes to meeting a challenge consistently revolves around twisting the opponent’s every word, nitpicking on irrelevant semantic details to evade major points being made, constantly ‘misunderstanding’ opposing arguments, thus creating the opportunity to divert and build straw men to tear down, all of it sprinkled with a nice dose of mockery and verbal abuse.

In short, the perfect sophist, surely a dedicated student of the Alinsky method.

Following are a couple of exchanges from Postma’s blog exemplifying precisely what I mean, highlighting the blinkered, confused nature of Postma’s world view, plus his aggressive rhetorical tactics employed whenever he needs to escape rational – but obviously uncomfortable – counter-arguments threatening to trap and expose him, keeping his flock’s cognitive dissonance safely at bay: Continue reading

‘To heat a planetary surface’ for dummies; Part 2

For something – anything – to acquire a temperature above absolute zero (0 K), it somehow needs to be able to warm. The only real requirement for something to be able to warm is for it to possess a ‘thermal mass’, or simply ‘mass’. A thermal mass provides the thing in question with what is (a bit awkwardly) called a ‘heat capacity’, meaning a capacity to absorb and store energy from some energy source (external or internal).

We already know, from basic thermodynamic principles, how energy can be transferred to (or from) an object. It can be transferred in the form of ‘heat’ [Q] or in the form of ‘work’ [W]. Whenever energy is transferred to an object, the ‘internal energy’ [U] of that object increases as a result, which simply means that the object in question has absorbed (energy isn’t ‘transferred’ to a system until it’s actually become ‘absorbed’ by it) the energy to store it inside its mass, as microscopic kinetic and potential energy of its atoms and molecules.

We already know, from the first post in this series, how system ‘internal energy’ [U] relates to system ‘temperature’ [T]. We know that a system with a high ‘heat capacity’ will warm more slowly than a system with a low ‘heat capacity’, both systems absorbing equal energy inputs, the high-heat-capacity system simply storing a larger portion of the absorbed energy as internal/molecular PE rather than as internal/molecular KE (determining the temperature). Both systems, however, will warm, only at different rates. U and T invariably move in the same direction. Unless there is an ongoing phase transition. Then U will increase and T will not. There is no process, though, where U increases and T decreases. The two correspond.

OK. We know that to make an object warm, we must make it accumulate ‘internal energy’. If it doesn’t, it cannot warm. Continue reading

‘To heat a planetary surface’ for dummies; Part 1

Happy New Year to everyone! Hope you all had a pleasant celebration.

I will unabashedly start off in 2015 with … another attempt at exposing the chasm that lies between what real physics tells us about the processes of nature (plus what we actually observe in the real world) on the one hand, and what the ‘physics’-like concoctions of the radiative GHE/AGW-establishment proclaim on the other.

The general public understanding (or should we rather call it ‘perception’?) of how the presence of an atmosphere would make the solar-heated planetary surface underneath warmer than if the atmosphere weren’t there, is so riddled with misconceptions and flawed ideas about how the world works, on such a fundamental level, that something needs to be done.

People simply need to understand that the official (and, I’m afraid, ‘authoritative’) rGHE/AGW ‘explanation’ is based altogether on self-invented nonsense physics.

The best way to let people realise this is to explain how things really work and to have this juxtaposed with the standard rGHE postulates advertised by ‘Climate ScienceTM’. Continue reading

On Heat, the Laws of Thermodynamics and the Atmospheric Warming Effect

On average, Earth’s solar-heated global surface is warmer than the Moon’s by as much as 90 degrees Celsius! This is in spite of the fact that the mean solar flux – evened out globally and across the diurnal cycle – absorbed by the latter is almost 80% more intense than the one absorbed by the former.

The Earth’s global surface, absorbing on average 165 W/m2 from the Sun, has a mean temperature of ~288K (+15°C).

The Moon’s global surface, absorbing on average 295 W/m2 from the Sun, has a mean temperature of >200K (-75°C).

A pure solar radiative equilibrium for each of the two bodies (according to the Stefan-Boltzmann equation: Q = σT4, assuming emissivity (ε) = 1) would provide them with maximum steady-state mean global temps of 232K (-41°C) and 269K (-4°C) respectively.

As you can well gather from this, the Earth’s surface is 56 degrees warmer than its ideal solar radiative equilibrium temperature, while the lunar surface is at least 70 degrees colder than its ideal solar radiative equilibrium temperature. That’s a spread of no less than 126 degrees! On average …

Still, these two celestial bodies are at exactly the same distance from the Sun: 1AU.

So what could possibly account for this astounding difference between such close neighbours?

Very simple: The Earth has an atmosphere. The Moon doesn’t. Continue reading