Monday, April 27, 2009

Notice to the editorial board

UPDATE: 4/28 Midnight. The Bunny burns the midnight oil. V. 2.8 is now up. A bit of fiddling needed still with the references. Added Acknowledgments. If I left your name out, please let me know. Everyone contributed (but Eli did not add GKs name.....). This is pretty much final unless we all decide to knock out five pages or so somehow.

Eli has reformatted the paper to fit the International Journal of Modern Physics B format. This includes moving the references to End Note. This may yield weirdness on your work processor.

This took some time, so no changes to the text since 2.6 (4/23 10 PM) have been made. Anything received since then will be integrated into the text tomorrow. It is probably not worth anyone's while to work on the references at this point as the in house bunnies have to go through them again.

At this point the authors have to decide what they want as addresses.

Next step is to go looking for permissions for some of the Figures.

Current version is 2.7

Adobe Acrobat and older versions available here

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pass the little liver snacks

Ethon flew in and took over the spare bedroom. He said the upcoming feather flap over climate change legislation was gonna be too good to miss. The big bird didn't book early because he figured there was no way to get anything through the US Senate, but had a quiet smile on his beak thinking about how that problem has gone away. From the beginning of the year the talking pigeons were chirping that Obama would never get a vote on this short of folding it into a budget reconciliation bill which is not subject to filibuster. When the US Senate went back and forth on that the chorus got louder.

Last week the Obama administration put a gun to Congress' head. That's the entire purpose of the EPA ruling that CO2 is a pollutant that endangers health and welfare. EPA must now draft regulations to limit the damage and THAT will force a vote in Congress on greenhouse gas legislation. The fallback in case Congress does not pass legislation is no longer nothing, but EPA regulation which should concentrate everyone’s mind. Look for EPA to throw some pretty tasty draft regulations out there fast to turn the screws even tighter. Congress has to get out in front of the steamroller. Ethon is gonna look for some flattened liver treats in the middle of the road.

Since the Supreme Court has already ruled that CO2 is subject to regulation by the Clean Air Act and that if it endangers public health it must be regulated any law suits are haggling on the edges. Anyone know where Eli can find a large bird bath for the summer?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

As Arthur C Rabett said about denialism

you can't tell the difference between sufficiently advanced stupidity and snark. Eli gives you Denial Depot.

When so-called "experts" in their "peer reviewed journals" say one thing, we dare the impossible and find imaginative ways to believe something else entirely.
and the comments are even better
Joshua said...
This is wonderful. The whole AGW-scam that wants to rob us of our liberty and tax money is falling apart much quicker than I expected. Al Gore must be going bananas. God bless the cooling!

I'll be coming here more often. Keep up the good work and I'll donate!
20 April 2009 15:23

Tenney said...
Wow! This work is so good, I bet that Dr. Spencer will be glad to have you do your post-doc work with him! Congratulations!
20 April 2009 18:40
Gary Larson had a point


Sunday, April 19, 2009

The winner of the 2009 Golden Horseshoe Award*

John Boehner, Minority Leader in the US House of Representatives, on This Week

BOEHNER: George, the idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical. Every time we exhale, we exhale carbon dioxide. Every cow in the world, you know, when they do what they do, you've got more carbon dioxide. And so I think it's clear...
It's hard to get more ignorant.

* From Some are Boojums:

"In Dashiell Hammett’s story The Golden Horseshoe, much of the action takes place in a bar of that name in Tijuana. At one point the narrator, an operative for the Continental Detective Agency, kills a few strategic seconds by studying the decorations:

I was reading a sign high on the wall behind the bar:


I was trying to count how many lies could be found in those nine words, and had reached four, with promise of more …"

End of the road

UPDATE: G&Trebuttal-2-6 is now posted. Pls use this one. Lots of small formatting changes to Figures and References. Should have all correction receive until 4/23@10 PM EDT. Adobe Acrobat version also available

Thanks to everyone who participated, the Gerlich and Tscheuschner rebuttal is pretty much finished (IEHO). It has been uploaded to
Rabett Run Labs. The list of authors is incomplete, and some who are listed may want not to be listed, others who are not listed but contributed may want I. Eli tries to please. It would also be good to have affiliations for the authors, although I think not totally necessary.

After waiting a week time for further comments (and yes our Welsh mouse who bravely volunteered, for proof reading), I will send the paper to IJMP for publication. We will see what their response is (sure to be amusing:) and proceed accordingly. At the least we will place this in arXiv and perhaps at some other sites.

To give everyone an idea of the flavor of the thing, which has really changed for the better, here is the first couple of pages of the introduction.

Comment on “Falsification of the atmospheric CO2 greenhouse effects within the frame of physics”

By: E. Rabett, and the Bunnies (add or subtract your name here) Christopher M. Colose, Chris Ho-Stuart, Joel D. Shore, Arthur P. Smith, Jörg Zimmermann

Abstract: Gerhard Gerlich and Ralf D. Tscheuschner claim to have falsified the existence of an atmospheric greenhouse effect. Here, we show that their methods, logic, and conclusions are in error. Their most significant errors include trying to apply the Clausius statement of the second law of thermodynamics to only one side of a heat transfer process rather than the entire process, and systematically ignoring most non-radiative heat flows applicable to Earth’s surface and atmosphere. They claim that radiative heat transfer from a colder atmosphere to a warmer surface is forbidden, ignoring the larger transfer in the other direction which makes the complete process allowed. Further, by ignoring heat capacity and non-radiative heat flows they claim that radiative balance requires that the surface cool by 100 K or more at night, an obvious absurdity induced by an unphysical assumption. This comment concentrates on these two major points, while also making note of some of Gerlich and Tscheuschner’s other errors and misunderstandings.

1. Introduction

In a paper that recently appeared in the International Journal of Modern Physics Gerhard Gerlich and Ralf D. Tscheuschner (2009, hereafter GT09)claim to have falsified the existence of an atmospheric greenhouse effect. Here, we show that their methods, logic, and conclusions are in error. The authors describe “problems” that are not really problems. They are either not related to the greenhouse effect, or well known and understood minor issues such as the differences between the mechanisms by which a glass greenhouse warms and that by which the greenhouse effect leads to a warmer surface. GT09 do not come to grips with how the greenhouse effect emerges at levels of analysis typical of the modern state-of-the-art, such as from line by line calculations of atmospheric radiative transfer, global climate models (GCMs) or even on the level of advanced textbooks (Pierrehumbert 2009), but rather criticize simple, didactic models for not being complete. They make elementary mistakes in doing so. Their analysis of GCMs is limited to quoting from unrefereed sources and pronouncing on what they consider to be the requirements for a scientific theory. Further, they suggest that a good theory of radiative transfer would require use of inappropriate theoretical tools, such as Feynman diagrams for calculating vibrational emission and absorption probabilities in the atmosphere or magneto-hydrodynamics for analysis of flow in the lower atmosphere. In the first case quantum theory provides the theoretical background (for example, such textbooks as Hollas, 2004, Bernath 2005), and spectroscopic measurements the data base for line positions and cross-sections (Rothman, et al., 2008), in the second, conservation laws and discretized versions of the Navier Stokes equations for fluid flow in an unionized medium (Washington and Parkinson, 2005, Imskeller and von Storch, 2001 are book length treatments of these issues) allow us to successfully model the major circulation patterns in the atmosphere.

A recurring element in Gerlich and Tscheuschner (2009) is that others neglect the thermal conductivity of the atmosphere, presented in the introductory (“Problem background”) section covering the first 4 pages of the paper and also Section 3.8 as well as elsewhere in passing. However, they fail to place this in quantitative context. In fact the heat flows associated with conductivity are tiny, and hardly different from the value of zero they repeatedly criticize in the work of others. For example, for a typical lapse rate temperature gradient of 5 K/km, the resulting heat flow from atmospheric conductivity is about 1.5x10-4 W/m2, (according to Table 5 of GT09) far less than the 10’s or 100’s of W/m2 associated with other atmospheric heat flow processes (Trenberth, Fasulo and Kieho, 2009). Motionless air is a fairly good thermal insulator. GT09’s repeated reference to thermal conductivity is indicative of a lack of basic understanding of the relative scales of the important processes in Earth’s atmosphere.

The second section of GT09 (“The greenhouse effect hypothesis”) presents some information about atmospheric radiative processes, but in comparison to their detailed treatment of thermal conductivity in the first section, the only quantitative value here is an estimate of the (large) number of CO2 molecules an infrared photon might see in one wavelength of travel. This, they claim, requires a complex microscopic theory in contrast to the macroscopic thermodynamic properties associated with thermal conductivity (raised yet again). GT09 fail to acknowledge that spectroscopic properties of gases are themselves well-defined macroscopic properties that have been experimentally studied in extensive detail (Rothman, et al, 2008). The absorption and emission of any given wavelength from a given collection of gas molecules can be accurately quantified, and has been verified in both laboratory experiments (Flekl, et al., 2002 and measurements of radiation passing through Earth’s atmosphere (Bianchini, et al., 2008)

The next 18 pages of GT09 are devoted to showing that the atmospheric greenhouse effect relies on different physical processes than the warming in a glass greenhouse. Their short concluding paragraph (2.6) would have sufficed. Concisely, greenhouses work by restricting the outward flow of thermal energy to the surrounding atmosphere by convection, while the atmospheric greenhouse effect works by restricting the outward flow of thermal energy to space by radiation. In both cases restricting outward energy flow causes warming, so the analogy is not as irrelevant as GT09 claim.

The problems with these three sections are characteristic of the remainder of the paper. First, the authors’ lack of quantitative familiarity with the field they are criticizing, second their claims of complexity or invalidity, impossibility, and occasionally fraud regarding well-established quantitatively verified analyses of atmospheric processes, and third their extensive diversions on topics that do nothing to further their own argument or a reader’s understanding. In the remainder of GT09 we could find only two physically based criticisms of the greenhouse effect that actually require any substantive response.

The first of these claims in GT09 is the assertion that Clausius' statement of the second law of thermodynamics forbids transfer of heat from a colder atmosphere to a warmer surface. However, the second law requires consideration of all heat flows in a process, so one must simultaneously include the larger transfer of thermal energy from the surface to the atmosphere. Clausius’ statement also does not impede temperature changes resulting from a change in system properties such as adding glass to a greenhouse, or adding infrared-absorbing gases to the atmosphere. Any warming under such a change comes from the gradual build-up of energy and heat flows to a new steady-state, not the transfer of energy from cold to warm regions.

The second physically-based criticism that we could find in GT09 is in their model of a hypothetical Earth with a non-uniform temperature distribution, and their resulting arguments regarding average temperature and the magnitude of the greenhouse effect as a whole. Following Smith (2008) which was a response to an earlier version of GT09 (Gerlich and Tscheuschner, 2007) we find that Gerlich and Tscheuschner obtain an absurd result by using a very unphysical assumption, that each part of the planet's surface immediately cools or heats to reach an equilibrium with the locally impinging solar radiation, thereby neglecting the thermal inertia of the oceans, atmosphere and ground and all other heat transfer processes within the atmosphere and surface. Were this to be the case, all parts of the Earth would immediately drop to almost absolute zero at night, and the discrepancy between Earth’s observed average temperature and the average on this hypothetical Earth would be very large, over 100 K. It is shown that a uniform surface temperature model gives a more realistic bound on the greenhouse effect, the commonly quoted 33 K. This value is a lower bound on the magnitude of the greenhouse effect and even Gerlich and Tscheuschner’s result for their unphysical case obeys this bound.

Section 2 below disposes of GT09’s arguments about the second law of thermodynamics, principally laid out in their Section 3.9. In Section 3, simple models are introduced and then used to demonstrate Gerlich and Tscheuschner's aphysical picture of heat flow on a rotating planet (their Section 3.7). These two points clearly demonstrate that the radiative greenhouse effect significantly increases the surface temperature of the Earth, contrary to the conclusions of GT09.

The rest of GT09 essentially follows their initial pattern of poor physical intuition, wild claims, and irrelevant diversion. One example of their wild claims is the denigration of a simple net energy flow schematic for the earth such as is shown in Fig 1 below and Fig. 23 in GT09, because such diagrams (pp 322)

Go RTFR at Rabett Run Labs

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Cato Institute has one of them

Via Corante, news of a Sokol generator for computer science papers. Already has a long CV...

A Case for Clausius's Law

Ralf Tscheuschner and Gerhard Gerlich


Many physicists would agree that, had it not been for multicast heuristics, the evaluation of the imaginary greenhouse effect might never have occurred. In fact, few Nobel Prize winners would disagree with the construction of multi-processors, which embodies the intuitive principles of quantum electrodynamic theory. UreaCalling, our new algorithm for the proper classification of thermodynamic Feynmann diagrams, is the solution to all of these problems.

Back alley bias

Eli grew up in a semi rough neighborhood where the kids were safe, but the adults had to take care of themselves (it was a long time ago). Among the things learned were that it's the back alleys, the side streets and similar where you should not go. Thus the idea that there was a main street bias in the Lancet Iraqi death studies because people were getting blown away by bombs in markets, always struck him as strange, after all, if you live anywhere, you have to go to the market, and if you live on the back alleys, you are more exposed to other problems

Eli pointed out at Deltoid a few months ago

Robert Shone, you can't make an argument that people don't go to markets, so yes, it is likely that people from all areas go to the markets to buy stuff. You can make an argument that if it gets dangerous to go out, people will send the guys in the family and not the kids and women, and they will not linger which makes their exposure smaller, e.g. decreases the so called bias.

Now there is one exception, the people who live at the back of the store IN the market, but markets themselves are off main streets, not on them (look at the Google maps).

What is missing here is the fact that abductions will not happen on main streets as a general rule, that drive bys and abductions are a lot easier on uncrowded streets, and that the actual killings take place in isolated areas. Add to that the fact that vast housing tracts in Iraq were controlled by sectarian militias that could easily grab their victims wherever and whenever they wanted and the so-called MSB vanishes.

As Eli has been saying lo these many threads (sg is getting it), to demonstrate a bias related to proximity to main streets, you have to show that there actually is one with the available data (IBC for example), not merely throw the thought out. Otherwise you are engaged in academic onanism, a pleasant occupation, damaging to your metal and social well-being.

Now, of all things, comes Spagat in the New England Journal of Medicine, using the IBC database
The greatest proportion of victims — 19,706 of 60,481, or 33% — were killed by execution after abduction or capture. Of the bodies of those who were executed, 5760, or 29%, showed marks of torture, such as bruises, drill holes, or burns. (A typical media report about this particularly appalling form of violent death reads: "The bullet-riddled bodies bore signs of torture and their hands were tied behind their backs.") Iraqi civilians also suffered heavy tolls from small-arms gunfire in open shootings and firefights (20% of deaths), apart from executions involving gunfire, and from suicide bombs (14% of deaths).
who steps on his own line, showing that abductions, highly personal backstreet blowaways and similar were the most common source of extreme prejudice. The problem with denialists is cognitive incoherence.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Prof. Rabett sends Easter Greetings

Send your cards and letters

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Hank asks:

Dear Eli, would you consider having a suitably unidentifiable photograph taken of yourself with a pancake on your head, or perhaps a waffle?

For climatological applications of the "I have no idea what you're talking about, so here's a picture of a rabbit with a pancake on its head" response?
Eli is mystified, but aware of all INTERNET traditions.

Frankly tho he preferred ankh, who he imagined was an ancient Egyptian priest with a pancake in his head

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

In case you haven't seen this


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Problems. Gerlich and Tscheuschnur have problems.

Eli is adding this to the end of the paper. It is an abridged version of what Joerg Zimmermann wrote. A new (edited and less snarki? Eli has been informed that more desnarking is needed. He agrees (I don't, but what do I know) but he is quite willing for others to do the work, esp. since next week is conference time and his ears are in a twist. Ms Rabett is administering tender loving blows to the head to bring him down) version of the paper is available at Rabett Run Labs

The authors describe “problems” that are not really problems. They are either not related to the greenhouse effect, or well known and understood minor issues such as the differences between the mechanisms by which a glass greenhouse warms and that by which the greenhouse effect leads to a warmer surface. GT09 do not come to grips with how the greenhouse effect emerges at any significant level analysis typical of the modern state-of-the-art, such as from line by line calculations of atmospheric radiative transfer, global climate models (GCMs) or even on the level of advanced textbooks (Pierrehumbert 2009), but rather criticize simple, didactic models for not being complete. Their analysis of GCMs is limited to quoting from unrefereed sources and pronouncing on what they consider to be the requirements for a scientific theory. Further, they suggest that a good theory of radiative transfer would require use of inappropriate theoretical tools, such as Feynman diagrams for calculating vibrational emission and absorption probabilities in the atmosphere or magneto-hydrodynamics for analysis of flow in the lower atmosphere. In the first case quantum perturbation theory provides the theoretical background, and spectroscopic measurements the data base for line positions and cross-sections (HITRAN), in the second, discretized versions of the Navier Stokes equations for fluid flow in an unionized medium allow us to successfully model the major circulation patterns in the atmosphere.

GT09 begins with a three page discussion of thermal conductivity, showing that doubling the concentration of carbon dioxide would have a vanishingly small effect on heat transport by conduction, a point that no one disputes. Unfortunately they do not bother to quantify the role that conduction plays in atmospheric heat transport, which is very small, principally smoothing temperature profiles in the first meter or so of the surface-atmosphere boundary. Thermal conductivity k, is defined by dQ/dt = k A dT/dx where dQ is the heat transferred in time dt across distance dx and temperature difference dT. Since the thermal conductivity of air at 1 atm and 300 K is about 0.026 W/mK, the rate of heat transfer by conduction across 1 m and a temperature difference of 1 K would be 0.026 W/m2. In the atmosphere, the decrease of temperature with altitude, called the lapse rate, is ~10K/km. For atmospherically relevant distances the rate of heat transfer by conduction would be ~ 0.00026 W/m2 which compared to the hundreds of W/m2 transferred by convection and radiation can be ignored.

The citations are another problem. They include many books, including textbooks, without page numbers. One would have to read the entire book to discover where it supported or did not support a statement in the article. This is not helpful. Many of the cited books are works of opinion, not climate science. Many of the references are to polemics, anonymous contributions or newspaper articles. This is very unusual in a scientific article. Even many of the references to the scientific literature have no relation to the greenhouse effect or to questions of radiation balance.

Section 3.4 has a revealing example. It starts by quoting from a report by the U.S. Department of Energy, that the designation "greenhouse effect" is misleading, because greenhouses do not work the same way as the atmospheric effect does. This does not prove what GT09 assumes it does, that there is no clear definition of the greenhouse effect and that it would be impossible to experimentally observe the greenhouse effect. They extrapolate from this misreading to a general condemnation of climate science

For the fictitious atmospheric greenhouse effect one cannot watch anything, and only calculations are compared with one another. Formerly extremely simple calculations, they got more and more intransparent. (sic) Nowadays computer simulations are used which virtually no one can reproduce.143
The reference is to the online Journal of Irreproducible Results, without any page or volume number. The authors provide no citations from the scientific literature for their extraordinary claims. The facts are that calculations of down and upwelling thermal IR radiation have been successfully compared with observations for the last fifty years. The many different radiative transfer codes have been incessantly compared with each other and measurements, leading to significant improvements over the years. (needs references) While it is true that with increasing complication interpretation becomes more difficult, that, after all being the point of simplification, increasing complication reveals more details, which again, is the point of increasing complication. One chooses the mixture sufficient for the educational or research purpose.

This type of citing is unfortunately typical of GT09. Where Gerlich and Tscheuschner do provide references, they often provide strained and incorrect interpretations. An outstanding example is found on pp 306, where they quote a description of the greenhouse effect by the German Meteorological Society (1995). In the second paragraph, the GMS writes,
Contrary to this, in the infrared range of the spectrum the radiation emitted form (sic) the ground is absorbed to a large extent by the atmosphere.. and depending on the temperature, re-radiated in all directions. Only in the so-called window ranges (in particular in the large atmospheric window (8-13 ?m) the infrared radiation can escape into space. The infrared radiation that is emitted downwards from the atmosphere (be so called back radiation) raises the energy supply of the Earth’s surface.
Gerlich and Tscheuschner believe that the GMS statement means that
The assumption that if gases emit heat radiation then they will emit it only downwards, is rather obscure.
The same occurs throughout Sections 3.3-3.4 where definitions of the greenhouse effect are discussed. Some of these are impossible to trace, as they are credited to “Anonymous” and not referenced. Others are to popular writings.

On page 309, they quote a definition from Rahmstorf’s web site. Rahmstorf’s explanation is ripped from its context in which he explains that the atmosphere emits longwave radiation which thereby contributes to surface heating in addition to solar radiation, thus warming the surface. The authors pretend that Rahmstorf had alleged that the greenhouse effect involves the reflection of radiation from the surface by the atmosphere. That is not what was written, and would of course be wrong. The authors then claim to have refuted Rahmstorf.

Gerlich and Tscheuschner claim in several places that others are confusing reflection with absorption followed by molecular emission, basing this on misreadings, as discussed above or illustrative figures taken from Al Gore's Powerpoint presentations. Section 3.5 is a four page discussion of the fact that absorption/emission is not reflection. Again, no one has ever claimed this to be true, only Gerlich and Tscheuschner claim that they have.

The authors introduce long lists of physical equations without any demonstration of where and why they are relevant. Many, indeed most of these can be neglected in climate models, such as those for conduction in the atmosphere. Section 4.2 is an example of this. In 4.2.2 to 4.2.10 GT09 derives a differential equation for the entropy density of a charged system starting from Maxwell’s equations, and conservation of mass and charge. They claim that magnetohydrodynamics is needed to treat atmospheric flows. There are very few ions in the troposphere and stratosphere, and they do not explain what is gained by introducing such a complication. In the last step they arbitrarily introduce a heat density source, Q, and a heat current density term, q, to represent the flow of thermal energy. They claim that these terms have no dependence on CO2 concentrations, but, of course, the equations that they wrote down do not include emission and absorption of radiation by molecules except by implication in Q and q. GT09 do not go beyond this single formula. They do not show how it could be applied to calculate global circulation or radiative transfer in the atmosphere. They do not discuss the methods used in state-of-the art radiative transfer or global climate models.

Based on this unsatisfactory exposition they close in Section 4.2 by attempting a philosophical statement about what a scientific theory should look like and, based on that, "prove" that according to their statements about climate models, the later are not scientific.

Here, we have merely touched on a few of myriad mistakes, misinterpretations and errors in GT09. It is difficult to understand how this paper was published

Monday, April 06, 2009

Die Fachbegutachtung

Below is Eli's translation from the German of Jörg Zimmerman's take on G&T. The Rabett will excerpt parts of this for a final part in our opus, taking care to desnark. Eli realizes that everyone else is right damn you all, and we have to desnark to put the paper where it belongs.

At the time he wrote this Jö
rg did not have access to the IJMP paper so there will be some minor differences, different page numbers, etc. which should be allowed for, and that does not detract from the many valid points he makes.

Scientific debate occurs primarily in peer-reviewed journals. The system has been established to save time and resources. In principle, if everything were published, everyone who wanted to play scientist could submit manuscripts to the journals. That would result in publication of a phonebook thick journal every week in every field of which 90% would be useless. Expert reviews should select submissions so that the journals are readable. How well this works depends on how much time the referees take, how carefully they work and how close their own work is to the articles they review. Expert peer review is no guarantee that the work is correct. Over time the value of the work becomes obvious when others build on it, the work is frequently cited by others, whether it stands up to criticism (some papers will be commented on and this can lead to corrections), and how it matches with the work of others (good work can be replicated and the results can be confirmed by other methods). Publication usually requires two (or more) positive evaluations from volunteer referees who are themselves experts in the same field as the submitted manuscript. Normally, the referees are anonymous. In highly specialized areas, there are often only a few qualified specialists and there is a good chance that you can guess from the comments, who the referees were.

The system obviously has its weaknesses. There are negligent referees, there are those that want to wreck havoc on their competitors or wink at their friends and those who are simply overwhelmed. The latter is more likely if the submission is at the outer limits of the journal’s usual focus because the editor will have difficulty choosing competent reviewers. Some reviewers hide behind their anonymity, some fear, perhaps, that they could no longer be independent judges if the review were not anonymous. There will always be a debate about the flaws of peer review, improvements will be proposed, but for all its weaknesses, it is the system that we have and for 90% of submissions it seems to work. Unfortunately, some believe that peer review will ensure that only proper, serious, well-written articles will be published. This expectation is naive. In general, peer review ensures that 50-70% of submitted contributions will be published (more or less, depending on the reputation of the journal) and after peer review most of the articles have some value, especially if the paper is relevant to the reviewer’s own work.

Sometimes peer review fails so badly that you have to slap your head and stand speechless.

(That's Georg Hoffmann who takes on the dreaded Krammbot in the comments at Prima Klima)

The fabrication that aspires to be a scientific article

The physicists Gerlich and Tscheuschner have created a fabrication that had circulated for three years previously amidst great fanfare in denialist circles. In all seriousness they claim that they have disproved the greenhouse effect. We should not have to seriously discuss this. It is so obviously wrong that one’s time should not be wasted. There are people who still claim that a perpetual motion machine can be built, that the theories of relativity are wrong or the world was created in six days. These are not the subject of serious scientific discussion and should be eliminated by peer review. Yet, be that what it may, Gerlich and Tscheuschner have found a physics journal to house their contribution. It is the International Journal of Modern Physics, B, not a journal of geophysics, climatology or meteorology but a journal that publishes articles about condensed matter, high temperature superconductors, and statistical and applied physics. To attentive observers this immediately raises red flags that something is seriously wrong. You would not expect editors of such a journal to have much expertise about climate. According to the published rules of the journal all review articles, such as that of Gerlich and Tscheuschner must be invited which is still more concerning.

In spite of all this, this fabrication has been published in a scientific journal so we are obligated to say what is rotten with it. That is not simple to do. The manuscript is unusually long. The electronic edition has 115 pages. To be sure review articles that long have been published, but this submission does not resemble a review article. The stated issue, the greenhouse effect, can be handled in fewer than ten pages. A response to the article by Arthur Smith used nine pages to show that there is a greenhouse effect. If this was really a review of all relevant literature on the greenhouse effect, it could be somewhat longer, but this is exactly what was not done here. Scarcely any of the references deal with the supposed theme of the paper, making the submission a parody of a review article.

Another sign is that the authors mainly talk about “problems” that are not really problems. These are then "resolved", but they were never relevant to the real issue.
For example, one of these deals extensively with the contribution of heat conduction. However, the greenhouse effect is an effect of the radiation budget of the earth. Heat conduction in the atmosphere is tiny compared to radiation and convection. It can be neglected and is thus irrelevant.

The work is full of polemics, which should not be found in a scientific publication. In that regard, large sections appear not to be a scientific contribution, but a political comment with technical background. That should also be a warning sign that it is a work without scientific value trying to imitate a journal article. One is driven to presume that the paper is so long to convey the appearance of scientific competence through overcomplicated discussions of irrelevant problems where actual technical expertise is lacking.

The list of references is another sign of this. It includes many books, including textbooks, without page numbers. Therefore one would have to read the entire book to discover where it supports a statement in the article. One can occasionally do this in special circumstances, e.g. if introductory texts are referred to, but even then it is best to use page numbers. As done here, it is not helpful. The books cited are in part works of opinion and political polemics. Many of the references are to polemics or anonymous contributions from the Internet or from the gray literature. In addition, newspaper articles are cited, very unusual in a scientific article. A major proportion of the cited literature has no relation to the greenhouse effect or to questions of radiation balance. Obviously including a discussion of temperature reconstructions of the last 2000 years is not relevant, especially not if it is just used to bash Michael Mann. A number of well known deniers are quoted, so to speak back scratching among comrades. For historical CO2 levels the key citation is to a paper published in a sociology journal by a retired secondary school teacher E. Beck. If such citations are placed on the same level as those of Keeling and other reputable researchers, then it becomes clear that this is not a serious presentation of research on CO2 mixing ratios in the background atmosphere. (At a second look, this reference is not used in the text – it remained there from an earlier version of this work.)

The falsification starts in Section 1, Introduction, which occupies only 9 pages (!) and which is stuffed with irrelevancies. For the greenhouse effect thermal conductivity of CO2 or other gases is unimportant. Further, the IPCC’s basic argument about the greenhouse effect is not, as G & T argue, that there must exist a mysterious consensus, but from the cited literature (see below).

The atmosphere is not a greenhouse

One now comes to section 2. First, in 2.1 the authors entrap us into a long, overcomplicated calculation, to show that the Stefan-Boltzmann Law does not apply, to emission and absorption from molecular vibrational bands. This is true, but is also known, and for the greenhouse effect it is not relevant. The Stefan-Boltzmann law is not used to calculate the greenhouse effect in any except the simplest models. It serves only in simplified models to estimate the magnitude of the greenhouse effect. In Section 2.2, the sun is described as a black radiator at a temperature of about 5780 degree. What a surprise! One would have to refer to a textbook or even cite the relevant literature. This attempts to inflate the authors’ contributions in an effort to make them appear to be scientific. In 2.3 and 2.4, they then explained that a car on a beautiful summer day is hot inside, and a very long, complicated explanation of why this is so follows. Long explanations, pages without any reference to the actual topic, namely the greenhouse effect, but in which many of the same polemics against scholars such as Raschke are hidden. In 2.5 they add an experiment about a greenhouse made of potassium or sodium chloride instead of glass. This way visible and infrared light can pass the windows. This is to demonstrate that a greenhouse blocks the transport of heat by convection. This has no relation to the greenhouse effect in the atmosphere. All this would make sense for a polemic, or as a teaching example selected to explain the atmospheric greenhouse effect to students, but there is no connection to scientific work on the greenhouse effect. Putting everything together, again, the main message of Section 2 is that a greenhouse functions not by blocking infrared radiation, but by stopping turbulent heat convection. Since the atmospheric greenhouse effect is associated with the radiation budget of the earth, this whole discussion is irrelevant.

In Section 3, the authors search wide and far for a definition of the greenhouse effect. Section 3.2 is an overview of, no, not the scientific literature, but gray publications and press clippings from deniers and just about anything else from anyone anywhere. This is something I've never seen in a journal article. In 3.3 we find arbitrary statements of what the greenhouse effect is taken from anonymous sources found hither and yon (referred to as Anonymous 1, 2 and 3, completely untraceable. They could even have been invented by the authors) and a dictionary. It would be funny if it were not so sad. There are textbooks in which the greenhouse effect is explained precisely. One only needs to use them. This strange collection Gerlich & Tscheuschner can partly refute at least formalistically. But that is not relevant. This is yet another strawman attack, of which I have already described several.

Among the citations, for example, there is one correct description of the greenhouse effect issued in 1995 by the German Meteorological Society (GMS). The authors attempt to refute it. They attack, not the basic message of the statement, but claim that it confuses heat and thermal radiation (this is not the case). They try to convince us that the concept of a radiation budget is meaningless. That is nonsense and it is not justified by them in the slightest. They assume that radiation from the atmosphere is only emitted toward the ground. This is a straightforward barefaced lie, because the text of the GMS statement explicitly states that the radiation is emitted in all directions. This is a perfect example of the author’s approach. Such a thing should never get through peer review.

In another place, Rahmstorf’s explanation is ripped from its context in which he explains that atmosphere itself emits longwave radiation which thereby contributes to surface heating in addition to solar radiation thus warming the surface. The authors pretend that Rahmstorf had alleged that the greenhouse effect involves the reflection of radiation from the surface by the atmosphere. That is not what was written, and would of course be wrong. The authors then claim to have refuted Rahmstorf. Such reasoning might be suited to the beer cellar, the pub, the country club, or wherever you partake of your beverage of choice, but does not belong in a scientific journal.

Section 3.4, quotes from a report by the U.S. Department of Energy, that the designation "greenhouse effect" is misleading, because greenhouses do not work the same way as the atmospheric effect does. This does not prove what G & T assume it does, that there is no clear definition of the greenhouse effect and that it would be impossible to experimentally observe the greenhouse effect. Even worse, at this point, G & T claim that virtually no one can reproduce model calculations on the greenhouse effect. This statement is not substantiated. They try to make it appear as a quote, but the reference is only to the “Journal of Irreproducible Results”. Not an article in the journal, or an issue. The entire journal. Perhaps this was meant to be a "joke", but one that has never been seen in a serious article.

In another example, G & T quote elsewhere from an article by Bakan and Raschke in a booklet, in which the later correctly explained the greenhouse effect and also point out that the comparison with a real greenhouse is superficial. What prevented the authors from looking more closely at the literature they cite?

A biased overview of the history of the greenhouse effect

In Section 3.5 Gerlich and Tscheuschner then partially describe how Gore's popular-science lecture is wrong. For a scientific paper this is irrelevant and only polemical. For the most part, the section shows that reflection and the absorption / emission of radiation are different. That surprises no one. Again, it is simply irrelevant. Section 3.6, after a brief mention of the pioneering work of Tyndall and Fourier, shows why Arrhenius’ calculations were flawed. A century has passed since then, with higher-resolution spectra, much better models and better data on the composition of the atmosphere which all allow for improved calculations. The question arises about what is going on here, because it is well known that the Arrhenius’ calculations had problems, and they are now only of historical interest.

Obviously, this is just part of the polemic which extends throughout the paper: they search for examples of erroneous or incomplete explanations, and then refute, what no one wants to defend. An overview of modern work follows in the same section. There, however, the authors assemble a selective and misleading compilation, in order to give the appearance that model calculations predict everything and nothing. They make much of the fact that in a large set of calculation that overall predicted significant warming, there were a few that predicted cooling that were not featured. Throughout there are political shots directed at the green movement. In something published in 2009, one would hope that the IPCC Third and Fourth Assessment Reports would be accurately quoted, including their expectations for future increases in global temperature, but also the JASON, the Charney-and the Nierenberg Reports from 1979 and 1983 are missing. It is additionally striking that while the Third and Fourth Assessment Reports are actually cited in an entirely different place and not here where they should have been. It is obvious that the authors were not interested in providing a proper representation of current climate research.

Radiation Balance

In Section 3.7 on page 58 after interminable political polemics and irrelevant discussions of everything except the relevant science they finally begin dealing with the problem which is actually the basis of the greenhouse effect. First they claim that the concept of radiation balance is false because no law of conservation of intensity can be formulated. But that is irrelevant, because we can formulate a conservation law for the transferred energy. If one assumes a stationary case in which the energy of the Earth plus atmosphere remains constant a matching radiation budget can be built. Nothing else is behind the radiation balance diagrams. These are complete, because energy is conserved and therefore the amount of energy absorbed by and emitted from the earth must be equal and they are, as observed by measurements at least within their error limits. G & T deliberately misunderstand this, and then attempt to rebut what no one claims.

On page 61, using Equation 73, they derive the temperature of a planet without an atmosphere using radiation balance. Here, the radiation from the Earth is set equal to the solar radiation at the Earth, but the effect of the known albedo of the earth, 0.3, is described as being used to "tune" the equation although what this actually means is explained in all relevant textbooks. There is a confusing explanation of how the effective solar intensity striking the surface is reduced by the well-known factor of ¼, due to the fact that the sun shines on only one side of the Earth at a time and the angle at which the light strikes the surface outside of the equator. One has to look in the footnotes to find the explanation of what are described as tuning parameters in the text is really the measured albedo, and this is probably only there because of the repeated criticisms of this section which have appeared since 2007.

If the correct factors are used, one finds the known temperature of the earth without an atmosphere of 255 K. The authors then explain that the difference between this value and the observed temperature of the Earth's surface is the greenhouse effect. That is correct, only the authors falsely call this effect "fictitious". One has to remember that the back radiation from the atmosphere can be measured. Further satellites measure a mean radiation temperature of the atmosphere into space of about 255 Kelvin. It is obvious that the mean temperature of the earth's surface must be much higher, because otherwise it would be completely covered with ice. Institutions such as the Goddard Institute for Space Science and the Hadley Center, have determined the mean temperature of the earth's surface to be about 288 Kelvin. This temperature difference is practically a definition of the greenhouse effect on the basis of measurements and is misinterpreted by G & T.

Then the authors show that a derivation of the temperature of the earth gives different results when the earth is assumed to have a uniform temperature or a temperature distribution. A temperature distribution leads to a lower average temperature. This is also well known and trivial. In the extreme case of a planet that cannot rotate where the sun only shines on one side, the calculated temperature is very much lower than an Earth with a homogeneous temperature distribution. As with any idealization, the homogeneous surface temperature is not used in current models but only as an illustration, so this result is not relevant. It does not prove that there is no greenhouse effect, but only is a simplified model of providing a lower limit for the greenhouse effect. This is the exact opposite of what G & T wanted to prove.

Although G&T do not ever actually come to grips with a realistic model for the greenhouse effect, they then proclaim that they have falsified it. But they have only shown that a simplified model is a simplified model. That we knew.

G & T then show you cannot find a closed, exact solution for the radiation balance of a rotating Earth. That may be the case, but it is not a problem, because one can find numerical solutions for radiative transfer models with given boundary conditions and not that one has to calculate accurate surface temperature distributions from radiation balance condition.

They then refer to a publication of Schack in which the IR absorption of the atmosphere due to H2O and CO2, is calculated when the CO2 concentration rises. What this contributes is not clear. It furthers the polemics but does not contribute anything meaningful to understanding the greenhouse effect.

3.8 discusses heat conduction. It is irrelevant because heat conduction contributes little to energy distribution in the atmosphere which is primarily determined by radiation, latent heat and convection. Then in 3.9 the Laws of Thermodynamics are discussed. Behind this lurks the claim that the greenhouse effect requires heat transfer from the colder atmosphere to the warmer ground. This is not the case, rather the greenhouse effect requires a radiative interchange of heat between the atmosphere and the surface, in agreement with the Second Law, which also makes this point irrelevant. It is pathetic because of how quotes from Rahmstorf, among others, which explain the situation are deliberately misunderstood.

Attack on climate science in general

Section 4 carries the grandiloquent title "Physical fundamentals of climate science." Textbooks provide such things. The authors want to show that such fundamentals are not associated with the practice of climate science. Climate science is seemingly equated with climate models. Each climate model is based on a particular abstraction of nature with a matching set of physical, chemical, geological and biological equations. It is absurd, to try to make a single overarching statement about them. G & T quote, for example, criticisms of the models by the physicist Dyson which prove nothing or they cite a press release (!) of the British weather service, to present a counter position. They insinuate that climate models are not capable of adequately reliable statements about the future climate, because forecast models only give reliable predictions for a few days in the future {not in the IJMP version[JZ1]). I have already explained that this comparison is wrong: Weather forecasts are initial value problems, climate models solve boundary value problems, they have nothing to do with each other. G & T do not understand what they are reporting on here. Continuing, the authors make apparently scientific statements about the equations of fluid dynamics in order to show that models simplify nature too much to have any value. I have deliberately used such plain words - it is what is behind the statements of G & T's. Their statements are not provable and also nonsensical. Models are fundamental tools of science. Each model has a scope and associated uncertainties. Whether the results of the model are significant, must be determined in each case. Global judgments are nonsensical.

In 4.2 there is a long list of potentially relevant physical equations, without any demonstration of where and in what way they are relevant. Even worse equations appear that can be neglected in climate models, such as those for heat conduction, or such as Maxwell’s equations, that, to be sure are the basis of electromagnetic phenomenon, but without which one can describe the natural absorption and emission of radiation by greenhouse gases. Moreover, the basic equations are discretized in models (they are solved at grid points, in the atmosphere and the oceans), and as far as necessary, simplified. That is attacked without the authors demonstrating for even one model the extent to which these simplifications make the actual results for the given application useless. The criticism appears to be formally correct, but virtually has no substance and is irrelevant.

Section 4.3 is even worse, where the authors attempt to make a philosophical statement about what a scientific theory should look like, and, of course, "prove" that according to their statements in 4.2, climate models are not scientific. They falsely claim that the existence of a consensus in climate science is wrong and in any case was based on polls. Comically, the section ends with a polemic against the blog Real Climate.


In summary, enormous time is taken to contradict what no one believes. G&T never attack the greenhouse effect which they don’t understand and don’t want to understand

What appears to be a scientific contribution hides a political polemic. Such things should not be published in any journal that wants to be recognized as serious. Something like this should not be published by anyone who wants to be accepted as a scientist. But unfortunately it has happened.

Saturday, April 04, 2009


One of the things missing in the debate about coal is that the energy used is less than half of the energy produced. In the case of electrical generation, the electrical energy produced is only a third. Thomas Casten and Philip Schewe write in the American Scientist that up to three wedges may be available (ok, that is the outer limit) with current technology by paying attention to rejected heat. They write that

The power industry is peculiar. What other business throws away two-thirds of its input? In what other industrial field has energy efficiency been flat since the Eisenhower administration? Indeed, in terms of total energy usage, Thomas Edison‘s early power plants in the late 1800s converted more of the input energy to useful work than any of today’s electric-only power plants. How can that be? Surely modern electrical generators are better than those used a century ago. Yes, they are, but that isn’t the economic point.

Edison used the castoff heat from his generators to warm nearby homes and factories. Consolidated Edison, the descendant company of the one he founded, still delivers heat to thousands of Manhattan buildings via the largest commercial steam system in the world. But few modern fossil- fueled power plants bother to use their heat. They instead vent it into the air. Why throw this valuable thermal energy away? Why burn money? The reasons for this lie in the evolution of the power business, but basically it comes down to one logistical factor: As the years went by, larger plants required more real estate and were built farther from the customer. After all, who wants a sooty coal plant next door? Electricity easily travels many miles, so power plants could be built hundreds of miles away, where they could tap the energy of a river, or where local coal was especially cheap.

Today, emissions from modern coal burning plants are much lower, and can be made lower still. Indeed, instead of beating on China not to build coal burning plants, everyone should be beating on China to build modern coal burning plants and close down the old soot belching ones, eliminating a large portion of the black carbon problem. Using waste heat in South (e.g. India/Pakistan) and Southeast Asia for cooking could make another contribution. Even using the waste heat to process the dung used today for cooking would be a relative winner.

Casten and Schewe think there is a minimum of one wedge and the possibility of two or three to be gotten from using waste heat. The magnitude of what can be gotten is that waste heat use in Denmark accounts for about 50% of the energy used, in the US, 8%. The US uses a lot more energy.

Its not only large power plants that can use waste heat. There are small units that produce heat and electricity to power and warm a house. It's not just coal, natural gas in pipelines runs at much higher pressures than used in homes. The expansion could be used to power turbines. Many industrial process produce heat which can be used to produce electricity or for heating, and increasingly they are purchasing heat from power plants. Dow Chemical was an early adopter of these strategies.

Optimizing energy recycling requires planning and a favorable regulatory environment. It is worth doing. (The paper is behind a paywall, but available to all Sigma Xi members, e.g. the smart bunnies=:>)


Friday, April 03, 2009

Reading Assignments

Rabett Run Labs has put up the beta version of our reply to G&T You can get it directly or on our web site. If you edit it, please turn on the show edits markup so we can merge your changes. If you have contributed (and the guilty know who they are) let Eli know you want to be included. Please include any affiliation that will not fire you if identified. There is one other piece being worked on, a meta-summary of how the article was constructed, which should be posted tonight.

Let it be so.

UPDATE: The article is quite long and not very snarky. If you want a short, and simple example of why as Gavin Schmidt says about G&T

It’s garbage. A ragbag of irrelevant physics strung together incoherently. For instance, apparently energy balance diagrams are wrong because they don’t look like Feynman diagrams and GCMs are wrong because they don’t solve Maxwell’s equations. Not even the most hardened contrarians are pushing this one…. - gavin
go here

A slightly lot shorter summary is here, a discussion of some of the problems with G&T are here and here, a discussion of the failures of the peer review system of which G&T are one is here and lots more at Rabett Run