Reviewing Earth’s energy budget for those not afraid of a few weeds: Part One

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Too many scientists and laypeople accept the NASA/NOAA climate change models without question, as well as 100 others financed by our government at academic institutions. Their Earth’s Energy Budget have become articles of doctrine and religious fervor. Yet other scientists, who adhere to the scientific methods, attempt to explain that fundamental physics does not support this doctrine, nor does thermodynamics, atmospheric dynamics, or atomic physics, etc. Can this gap ever be reconciled? Can public policy decisions be shaped that satisfy everybody’s desire for a clean, sustainable environment without bankrupting the economy and destroying our social structures and values? This two-part essay will point out the many and significant shortcomings of the Earth’s “accepted” Energy Budget as presented by NASA/NOAA.

Reviewing Earth's energy budget for those not afraid of a few weeds: Part One

Background. Figure-1 Attempts to demonstrate the sources of heat transported to our Earth by the sun. When the incoming heat does not balance with the outgoing heat, we have climate change. We must first explain that there really is no heat coming from the sun to the Earth. The sun does not send heat. It sends electromagnetic disturbances we call radiation which, of course, we call visible and non-visible light. Some of this spectrum of radiation wavelengths turns to heat when it touches the Earth’s materials such as air, rocks, water, people, etc.

In yellow, we see the radiation energy from the sun arriving on the Earth. It is measured in Watts per square meter (W/m2). About 30% is immediately reflected into space by air, clouds, and solid surfaces. About 48% is absorbed by the lands and waters (surface), and about 23% is absorbed by the atmosphere and clouds. A small amount ( about 0.18%) is chemically converted by photosynthesis into plant sugars, on which all life on Earth depends. Before the Permian period, about 300 million years ago, nature had not yet evolved/invented the good bacteria/enzymes that could break down this plant and animal material into CO2 and methane. So, this material kept piling up, and over millions of years, stored some of that solar energy into the fossil fuels such as coal and oil

Based on the law of conservation, energy cannot be created or destroyed, and this energy must go somewhere and, in some form, so where does it go? But, before heat energy can go from the Earth to space and cool the Earth, it must change its state. The heat energy must switch back to electromagnetic radiation energy. We see this happen all the time when a very hot steel object, like a stovetop, glows a bright orange color which matches the frequency of the radiation energy being emitted, infrared in this case. This escaping radiation is illustrated by the complex-looking red arrow in Figure 1, which will be discussed later. More simply shown are two purple colors on the right. The first is labeled “convection,” which is warm air rising like smoke from a fire. The second is labeled “latent heat,” as water turns to water vapor. When you come out of a pool, your body feels cool because the water on your skin turns into water vapor, drying you and carrying

Reviewing Earth's energy budget for those not afraid of a few weeds: Part One 1heat away from your body. When we total all the heat arriving from the sun and the same amount that goes back out of the Earth, then the energy budget is zero, and we have thermal balance, no global cooling or global warming. So, this short paragraph provides a convenient and straightforward explanation for children and Al Gore and the uninformed general public. But it is far from complete or accurate for real climate scientists because it is unsupported by any test results, data, or scientific evidence or reasoning based on accepted laws of physics, chemistry, thermodynamics, or mathematics.

Unanswered and unaddressed Questions. Let us first examine the complex red arrow in Figure-1, ask some critical questions.

  1. Is some heat missing? Does the sun account for all the heat on the Earth? The answer is no. In Figure 2, we see where the sun is providing radiation of 244 Watts/Square meter W/m2, and the same 244 W/m2 goes out; thus, it appears the Earth is in thermal balance, and no warming or cooling is happening. But then we note that the Earth’s surface radiates 394 W/m2 to the atmosphere; what happened or what is causing the missing 150 W/m2? NASA/NOAA gives us their convenient response that it is the “greenhouse effect.” OK, it

    Reviewing Earth's energy budget for those not afraid of a few weeds: Part One 2 sounds reasonable for now, right?i Well, actually, NO! The number 244 radiated by the sun is data obtained by accurate and repeated instrument measurements. And so is the 394 and the exiting 244. But the 150 (394-244) is not data; it is simple arithmetic. Second, the statement that “it’s the greenhouse effect” is pure speculation or, at best, a hypothesis with no data to back it up, nor scientific evidence based on the laws of physics, thermodynamics, etc. It’s a manufactured convenience.
  1. The Earth’s nuclear furnace.ii Based on data provided by NOAA, the US Government National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the Scientific American, and other outlets wrote on July 18, 2011, “Nuclear Fission Confirmed as Source of More than Half of Earth’s Heat.”iii That’s an interesting statement that is never discussed in the press/media. Figure-2A shows the significant layers of the Earth, and we will provide a few simple facts.iv

    1. First, the outer core is made of molten iron and other heavy metals at a temperature about the same as the surface of the son, about 10,000 0 F.

      Reviewing Earth's energy budget for those not afraid of a few weeds: Part One 3
    2. Second, this molten metal core makes up about 1/3rd the Mass of the Earth rotates at hundreds of miles per hour.

    3. This energy pushes continental plates around and erodes the mantle at its boundaries. It also powers tens of thousands of volcanoes, 85% of which erupt unseen on the deep ocean bottom, as shown in Figure-2B. This energy is not a steady amount that could be ignored or treated as a constant. In the process, this furnace heats the oceans, blows up mountains, releases enormous amounts of CO2 and other gasses. Most of the historical geological records seem to punctuate new Periods like the Triassic and the Jurassic. Yet, it is not even given a footnote in the Earth’s energy budget. Figure-2Bv vi also demonstrates a second and more relevant point by showing the dramatic increase in volcanic activities in the last 220 years. We can infer that this increased activity may have terminated the Little Ice Age and prevented the Earth from quickly starting another Ice Age.

    4. Could the Earth’s nuclear furnace provide all or some principal amount of the missing 150 W/m2 and the greenhouse effect provide none or only a much smaller portion? To this day, scientists have not resolved how to figure this out. Respected scientists like Will Happer and Richard Lindzen say we do not know. Yet NASA/NOAA says it is the greenhouse effect.

  2. Another central question is raised. In Figure-1, we see Thermal (18.4 W/m2) and Latent Heat (86.4 W/m2) going from the surface into the atmosphere. The chart does not show how this heat ever escapes to space. Combined, they represent 70% of the missing 150 W/m2. What is the takeaway message for the casual reader and even for physicists? Now we know that when water vapor condenses into clouds by water (rain) or ice or hail or snow, a tremendous amount of heat is released. Where does this released heat go? And then as the rain, snow, hail falls, it must also cool the atmosphere and surface. How is that accounted for? Again, why is the Earth’s Energy Budget silent on this point? Atmospheric physicist Dr. Lindzen says science and mathematics are too complicated and not understood very well.

  1. Other significant heat sources that are not accounted for in the Energy Budget include animal respiration and bio-fermentation. We are forever reminded about the damage to the planet caused by human-produced heat with combustion, but this heat source is again ignored.

  2. In his article in the Wall Street Journalvii, Dr. F Singer wrote in January 2003 how insignificant the greenhouse effect of CO2 and all greenhouse gasses is compared to the greenhouse effect (GHE) of water vapor. Here are the key numbers to remember.

    1. Water vapor controls 95% of the GHE.

    2. Total (human-made and nature-made) CO2 controls 3.5% of the GHE.

    3. Human-made CO2 controls a miserly 0.117% of the GHE.

Next week in Part Two of this article, we will offer you a little more insight into our dilemma. We will not likely succeed in making you fully understand how the Earth works as to the temperature at which it exists. Still, at least you will begin to laugh at mathematical simulations of earth temperature and the silly predictions they generate.

iv, see paper by Nature’s Response To 500 Years of Cooling, by Jim Le Maistre.

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* This article was originally published here

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