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Earth Government Science

Climate Contrarians Seek Leadership of House Science Committee 518

An article at Ars examines three members of the U.S. House of Representatives who are seeking chairmanship of its Committee on Space, Science, and Technology. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) said in an interview, "My analysis is that in the global warming debate, we won. There were a lot of scientists who were just going along with the flow on the idea that mankind was causing a change in the world's climate. I think that after 10 years of debate, we can show that that there are hundreds if not thousands of scientists who have come over to being skeptics, and I don't know anyone [who was a skeptic] who became a believer in global warming." James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has a similar record of opposing climate change, as does Lamar Smith (R-TX). Relatedly, Phil Plait, a.k.a. The Bad Astronomer, has posted an article highlighting how U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the Senate's Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, has declined to answer a question about how old the Earth is, calling it "one of the great mysteries."
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Climate Contrarians Seek Leadership of House Science Committee

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  • Re:Richard Muller (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @09:18PM (#42049869)

    Muller was never a skeptic.

    No skeptic I’ve met said that “ carbon dioxide from burning of fossil fuels will prove to be the greatest pollutant of human history. It is likely to have severe and detrimental effects on global climate.” (Richard Muller, 2003). So perhaps he became a skeptic later? Not so much. Richard Muller, 2008: “There is a consensus that global warming is real. it’s going to get much, much worse.”

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @10:03PM (#42050173)

    And yet history is full of examples where Government pollution laws have decreased quality of life or caused prices to rise for consumers:

    - Removal of TSP from detergents causes them to be less effective at cleaning

    - Ultra low sulfur diesel requirements made diesel fuel more expensive than gasoline
    - Mandated (and formerly subsidized) ethanol in gasoline lowered gas mileage, increased costs, and has done damage to small engines and fuel systems

  • Re:My two cents... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Troed ( 102527 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @10:07PM (#42050205) Homepage Journal

    At all other times in the planet's history when there have been periods of warming, it's taken orders of magnitude longer than the current period.

    No. []

    How do we know? Ice cores.

    No. []

  • Re:My two cents... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @11:31PM (#42050863)

    Apparently unlike you, sir, I have a basic understanding of math and physics. Please explain to us all where the Stefan-Boltzmann radiation law is in error.

    Hilarious. My Ph.D. is in statistical thermodynamics. The Stefan-Boltzmann radiation law is not in error. Nor does it disprove the greenhouse effect or any other well known result in radiative transfer physics.

  • Re:My two cents... (Score:3, Informative)

    by ridgecritter ( 934252 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @11:40PM (#42050949)

    I can recommend the Wikipedia article as a place to start:'s_atmosphere []

    In the Sources section, it states that humans release about 29,000 megatonnes (= 29 gigatonnes), compared to natural processes that release about 439 GT annually. That would make the human contribution about 6.6% of the "natural" contribution.

  • by ridgecritter ( 934252 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @11:50PM (#42051033)

    and removing TSP (trisodium phosphate) removed an antropogenic source of phosphorus that was aggravating eutrophication of lakes; see, for example, [] Lowered oxygen->fewer fish, etc.

    and removing sulfur from diesel reduced the amount of SO2 in the atmosphere, which reduced the amount of SO3 -> H2SO4 production, which reduced the acidity of rainfall, which has a number of beneficial effects which you can explore if you're interested.

    The price rises for consumers simply indicate the fact that the full costs weren't being accounted for in the first place. As we learn more about the various complex processes that sustain our lives, we're better able to determine what it actually costs us to live. Don't expect those data to be especially comforting.

  • Re:Richard Muller (Score:4, Informative)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Tuesday November 20, 2012 @11:55PM (#42051083) Journal
    I really don't think Muller was a skeptic, at least I can't find any old reference where he said he denounced global warming. The closest he came was doubting that the hockey stick graph was real. Here is what he said in 2004 []:

    If you are concerned about global warming (as I am) and think that human-created carbon dioxide may contribute (as I do), then you still should agree that we are much better off having broken the hockey stick.

    As far as I can tell, he's been concerned about global warming for a long time.

  • Re:My two cents... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @12:22AM (#42051265)

    According to the Stefan-Boltzmann radiation law, unless the substance in question is an ideal "black body", which is a perfect absorber (and radiator) of energy, and which frankly does not exist, it's just impossible.

    The Stefan-Boltzmann law is almost totally irrelevant to this discussion. It does not dictate which objects can transfer energy to which objects. (Hint: any body can transfer energy to any other body through radiation, as long as nothing blocks it.)

    Warmer objects cannot, and do not absorb lower-energy radiation from cooler objects.

    Warmer objects ARE REQUIRED BY THE LAWS OF PHYSICS to absorb radiation from ANY source, with some quantum mechanically determined probability that depends only on the momentum of the radiation and other properties of the absorbing atom. (Hint: that probability isn't zero if the photon is "lower-energy", which isn't even physically meaningful when you get down to the level of atoms.) Good grief, man. Just consider what's going on at the atomic level. Do you think there's some radiation police sitting outside the atom saying "sorry photon, you came from a cooler object, get lost"? Sheesh. Add ignorance of quantum electrodynamics to your ignorance of thermodynamics.

    This whole stupid argument is predicated on a fundamental misunderstanding of what the laws of thermodynamics actually say. Hint: they talk about NET absorption of radiation between warmer and cooler objects. The cooler object absorbs radiation from the warmer object, and the warmer object absorbs radiation from the cooler object. It's just that more goes from warmer to cooler than vice versa.

    While I'm at it, let me respond to your other comment downthread:

    Latour's math is sound, Spencer's is not. Latour's physics are sound (which he clearly shows), Spencer instead relies on "common knowledge" and intuition.

    You are absolutely incompetent to judge anybody's physics, too stupid to realize it, and too stupid to be educated better.

    It's pretty easy to see who -- scientifically -- is the winner here. And it sure as Hell isn't Spencer.

    Well I'm glad you cleared that up with your proof by assertion.

    Jesus Christ. Did you actually just make a statement that ignorant? That's what the whole fucking articles are about.

    I realize that's what they're about. That's precisely my point: there is absolutely no incompatibility between the Stefan-Boltzmann law and the greenhouse effect. Hence the reinforcement of your stupidity by bringing it up.

    With that, I'm done with this stupid argument. If you want to know more, go to the Science of Doom tutorials you were referred to earlier. Then pick up a textbook. And educate your damn self.

  • Re:My two cents... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Namarrgon ( 105036 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @12:34AM (#42051315) Homepage

    Latour is a chemical process engineer trying to explain thermodynamics to a climate scientist. His "rebuttal" is full of basic misunderstandings and laughable examples (that headlights example still makes me grin). He flatly declares (without backing evidence of course) that warmer bodies cannot possibly absorb any energy from cooler bodies (guess what? it slows cooling!), which directly contradicts nearly two centuries of well-established greenhouse theory and countless observations (starting with Fournier in 1824). He does not even try to address the primary issue of disparate absorption of thermal radiation from the Sun and Earth. And he then has the gall to accuse climate scientists of not understanding the difference between radiation and convection.

    When (to cut through the misunderstandings) Spencer offers him a simple observational experiment he can do himself to prove the theory, he dodges it and accuses Spencer of shifting the goalposts. It's no wonder Spencer (a practicing climatologist with better things to do) didn't bother to engage further.

    If you still think greenhouse theory is nonsense, read this []. If you think greenhouse theory somehow violates thermodynamics, read this [].

  • Re:Just trolling... (Score:4, Informative)

    by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @12:37AM (#42051333) Journal
    Stop playing dumb and innocent your not fooling anyone, someone below pointed out the answer was in the comments section of the link you provided. Nobody has disproved SB, they don't need to. I myself have given you the reason why that is so several times in the past couple of years. Listen very, very, carefully this time and try and form an intelligent response. Earth is not an ideal "black body", SB applies ONLY to ideal black bodies. Just to be sure you heard it, here it is again...

    Earth is NOT an ideal black body, SB applies ONLY to ideal black bodies.

    Now that I have given you the answer (again) I expect a thank-you, or at least a fact based rebuttal. ;)
  • Re:Richard Muller (Score:5, Informative)

    by pitchpipe ( 708843 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @12:39AM (#42051343)

    ... we don't WANT a speedy federal government (remember the PATRIOT Act?)

    So how come they're really fast to take away our freedoms when confronted with imaginary threats, but with *real, actual threats they act like a toroise with its fucking legs cut off?

    * Like car crashes (PDF): []

    In 2010, 32,885 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in the United States - the lowest number of fatalities since 1949

    That's ten times the number that were killed in 9/11, and that was the lowest year in a long time!

  • Re:Richard Muller (Score:4, Informative)

    by CaptainLard ( 1902452 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @12:58AM (#42051435)

    There's also big money to be had in the carbon trade markets. $180 billion worth [] of carbon dioxide emission credits were outstanding in 2011.

    Holy smokes thats a lot of money! Thats over a third of Exxon's revenue for 2011! It was $486 Billion btw. For one oil company. What got me is back when BP had that the oil spill in the gulf and everyone was reporting that they put $20 Billion in escrow, a few sources reported that's less than a years worth of profits (note profits, not revenue which is also in the hundred billions). If Germany is increasing its power exports with a $130B investment (, Imagine what they could do with $500B. As for political motherlodes, what do you call the 10's of millions the Koch brothers spend on lobbying every year?

  • Re:My two cents... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @01:29AM (#42051601)

    I think every mirror ever used in a high-energy laser experiment would disagree with you - *reflection* (such as from clouds) is a highly localized surface phenomena that does not require an ambient energy level sufficient to radiate. If it didn't those mirrors would all themselves melt when reflecting laser beams capable of melting through their glass backing. (Just one of the reasons that high-end laboratory mirrors are silvered on the *front*, so that the reflected beam never passes through the glass substrate).

    As for actual radiation - any symmetric body above absolute zero will radiate energy in a symmetric pattern - the upper atmosphere doesn't somehow "know" that the Earth is warmer and not radiate in that direction, it radiates fairly uniformly in every direction - i.e. half of it goes downwards again, and *something* will absorb it (unless it gets reflected) Of course the *net* heat transfer will still be from the Earth outwards because the Earth is much warmer and hence radiating more energy. The problem is just that forcing even a tiny extra percentage of the heat radiated by the Earth to make an "extra bounce" before it escapes means the total energy within the atmosphere increases similarly - and even that tiny percentage translates to a truly staggering number in absolute terms.

  • Re:My two cents... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Namarrgon ( 105036 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @02:14AM (#42051785) Homepage

    Maybe I should've linked to the Basic page [] instead. The Intermediate page seems to have bounced off you.

    Stefan-Boltzmann [] still applies, of course - warm bodies radiate energy - but it says nothing about a warm body's ability to absorb radiant energy, even if produced by colder bodies. This is where you're going wrong. Warm bodies radiate faster than cool bodies (that's thermodynamics), but cool bodies still radiate some energy, which can of course be absorbed by the warm bodies, slowing their rate of cooling. Is this not intuitively obvious? It's certainly long-established science.

    Let me break down the atmospheric situation for you, in simple language: Greenhouse gases reflect & absorb certain IR bands of sunlight,but pass higher bands, like visible light. The sunlight that gets through warms the Earth, which radiates it back in the IR bands, according to Stefan-Boltzmann. Those same greenhouse gases now reflect & absorb the IR coming from the Earth as well - trapping much of the heat that would otherwise have radiated into space.

    This process is in complete accordance with thermodynamics, and has been observed and proved to virtually everyone's satisfaction long, long ago. If Latour still labours under the belief that he can challenge this, he can attempt to publish a paper, but I predict his methodology will be torn to shreds by reviewers far more capably than I could manage.

God made machine language; all the rest is the work of man.