Monday, February 06, 2012

Someone Please Call Doug Chapman

Via Bill Chameides (whose blog The Green Grok is worth reading) I found this remarkable letter in the Wall Street Journal, from December 24th of last year. Remarkable because, while it complains that much of the science behind global warming is not scientifically proven, it then puts forth complete scientific nonsense:
Bjorn Lomborg's suggestion that we look for adaptive steps to deal with environmental changes is common sense, whether or not man's activities cause these observed changes ("Global Warming and Adaptability," op-ed, Dec. 12). The real problem is the science, or lack of quality science, regardless of which side of the debate about the cause we find ourselves. This is because the warming problem drives us to find solutions to a cause that is not yet scientifically proven.

Carbon in the form of CO2 is one of the heaviest molecules found in our atmosphere in such large quantities, though not the heaviest. It makes sense that molecules containing carbon (CO2 at about 390 parts per million or 0.039%) would absorb more heat then oxygen (21%) or nitrogen (78%), for example, since both are lighter than CO2. This fundamental idea gives rise to the hypothesis that carbon increases will cause an increase in our planet's average temperature by absorbing more heat from the sun....

Prof. Lomborg makes the statement, Do we "help the developing world by making drastic carbon cuts?" By saying that, he seems to be suggesting that humans are the cause of global warming. He might contact Prof. Henrik Svensmark, who is nearby at the Danish National Space Institute in Copenhagen, for other causes of climate changes.

Dr. Svensmark has observed that sun spots help to control cloud cover on the earth and in this way more or less energy from the sun is absorbed into our atmosphere, causing warming and cooling cycles. This mechanism has little to do with the carbon changes in our atmosphere, and it is not man-made, nor can it be controllable by man....

Doug Chapman
North Tustin, Calif.
Where to start??? I suspect most readers here know, but for the sake of completeness:

(1) The absorption properties of CO2 have nothing to do with its weight, but with its molecular properties. (Water is lighter than N2, O2, and CO2, and it strongly absorbs infrared light. Same for CH4.)

(2) CO2 doesn't absorb heat from the Sun, but from the Earth's surface.

(3) Svenmark's hypothesis isn't that sunspots directly control the Earth's cloud cover, but that their influence on the Sun's magnetic field affects the Earth's incoming flux of cosmic rays that, in turn, influence aerosol production and hence cloud formation.

(4) Svensmark's hypothesis is completely unproven. In fact, here is what the scientists behind the recent CLOUD experiment at CERN wrote in their July 29, 2011 press briefing notes:
This result leaves open the possibility that cosmic rays could also influence climate. However, it is premature to conclude that cosmic rays have a significant influence on climate until the additional nucleating vapours have been identified, their ion enhancement measured, and the ultimate effects on clouds have been confirmed.
Anyway, you just can't trust the WSJ when it comes to climate. Or, clearly, Doug Chapman of North Tustin, California.

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