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The Truth About Renewables

September 10, 2021

By Paul Homewood



h/t Ian Magness

Many of the most popular solutions being proposed to solve our planet’s CO2 problem will be difficult, if not impossible, to accomplish. In this video, managing partners Leigh Goehring and Adam Rozencwajg discuss:

  • Flawed assumptions around future energy demand and CO2 emissions
  • Evolving emerging market energy consumption
  • Drawbacks of wind and solar power
  • The hydrogen energy craze
  • Realistic solutions to the CO2 dilemma, including nuclear power



  1. 2hmp permalink
    September 10, 2021 10:45 am

    Surely simple common sense suggests that energy demand will rise as developing countries grow richer but at least it is being explained by people who have done their homework

  2. Nick Adams permalink
    September 10, 2021 11:09 am

    The fact that nuclear power is the solution to global energy needs is glaringly obvious

    It is the greenest power source no matter what analytical metric is used

    I am in my mid-seventies and was proud of Britain’s leadership in nuclear energy production but we have just thrown it away because of non-scientific and hysterical loonies

    Two images always come to mind, both in the ’60s

    1. the hippie driven, rainbow painted 2CV belching toxic fumes sporting a “Nuclear Power – No Thanks!” sticker
    2. men wearing a “The End of the World is Nigh” Sandwich Board

    Why are we more prepared to listen to hysterical and frightened children than a considered argument backed up with facts from the likes of Leigh Goehring and Adam Rozencwajg?

    It’s far more dangerous to the future of our world than carbon dioxide

    Politicians – please see sense and see it soon

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      September 11, 2021 8:51 am

      We don’t listen – we have our opinions and we then “listen” only to those who say what we already agree with.

      The most obvious example is religion: it never ceases to amaze me that those claiming to be highly religious espouse the faith they were brought up in. And how many youngish Labour MPs proudly talk about their Labour heritage, as if believing what you’ve been brought up to believe makes you either right or clever?

      Climate change gets broad support amongst the elites because it plays to so many of their pre-existing beliefs, not bevause they have closely examined the science or the facts.

      This is why so many great scientists demand scepticism.

      • September 11, 2021 11:18 am

        Where have the RR Mini power plants got to?
        Are these based on nuclear submarine engines?
        Objections must be swept aside, unlike thse to H2 power the daftest generation idea since wind powered “renewables”.

      • Lorde Late permalink
        September 17, 2021 8:26 am

        good post!

  3. Tim Leeney permalink
    September 10, 2021 11:23 am

    Helpful, but alas the dreaded cooling towers appear again when they mention “emissions”. Also, Adam seems to think the formula of “carbon” is CO, rather than CO2. And of course, they are addressing a non-problem.

  4. September 10, 2021 11:50 am

    There is no CO2 problem.
    “Demystifying the Atmospheric Greenhouse Effect: Toward a New Physical Paradigm in Climate Science”
    By Ned Nikolov

    • Simon Derricutt permalink
      September 10, 2021 1:36 pm

      Philip – David Coe’s answer was better. See . Ned Nikolov missed the point that the atmosphere can only cool by radiation, thus an atmosphere without greenhouse gases cannot cool at the top and you no longer have a heat-engine working between ground-level (heated by the Sun) and top of troposphere (cooled by radiation to space). Without that heat-engine, you don’t get a lapse-rate because there’s no convection, so the whole atmosphere would be the same temperature and you’d have no weather.

      We thus get weather because there are gases that absorb and re-radiate at the right wavelengths above the troposphere, and allow that top-of-atmosphere to cool. Sure, the re-radiation of some of that heat downwards from the “greenhouse gases” has an effect too, but it’s the cooling effect of those gases that is a lot more critical.

      This whole question is not easy to fully understand, and I haven’t yet got close enough to provide more than a pointer to where to look. If we look at the absorption spectrum for radiated emissions from ground level and up through the atmosphere, where there is absorption it’s already mostly very close to 100%, so logically it’s not going to change much if you change the concentration (exception for Ozone). David Coe put a figure onto the changes, resulting in around 0.5°C per doubling of CO2, which seems about right given the near-saturation of those bands already. Not a problem in real terms – the benefits of extra CO2 far outweigh any disadvantage.

      For Ned Nikolov’s idea, some of it is right. It seems that convection processes stop at a certain pressure, and that this will be the top of the troposphere where energy is radiated to space. Below that you have a lapse rate driven by convection processes, and the pressure at the bottom together with the temperature at the top will define the temperature at the base of the atmosphere, but this works because the atmosphere is heated at the bottom and cooled at the top (by the greenhouse gases) and thus we have a convective heat engine with packets of atmosphere being continually rising and falling and thus being decompressed and compressed. Initially I rejected Nikolov’s idea because the atmosphere is only compressed once when it is formed, but I forgot about those convection processes that run a continuous compression/rarefaction cycle.

      Acting against the increased reflection of radiation as calculated by David Coe, there’s also the counter-effect of the effective radius (or height above ground) where radiation ends up going into space rather than being reflected back to the ground. The more the concentration of greenhouse gases above the troposphere, the higher that point of effective radiation, and thus the larger the radiative area. Thus as we increase greenhouse gas concentration, the total radiation from the Earth actually increases a bit. If we could see the Earth in the 4.2 micron IR range it would look somewhat larger. I haven’t yet boiled this down to actual figures, or looked at the detail of what happens at different latitudes, but that looks possible to do.

      Radiative processes are generally calculated in a single dimension (vertical) though in fact they are spherically symmetric. The vertical approximation probably isn’t that accurate.

      If you look at the temperatures from 1860-2020, the effects of change of CO2 concentration are not visible. No obvious difference between the rates of rise of temperature from 1860-1880, 1910-1940, or 1970-2000 (plotted from HADCRUT3 data series, given that HADCRUT4 has been further “corrected”, see ). Thus, experimentally, it seems that more CO2 does not significantly affect temperatures and our theory that it does affect temperatures by a lot must be wrong, since the effect is in fact minimal if it’s there. Most of that temperature rise is from *something else*, and we don’t know what that *something else* actually is. Why did temperature start rising in 1700, long before SUVS became popular? In any case, why did it drop into the Little Ice Age in the first place, and what caused the MWP and the fluctuations before that? We don’t know.

      Net result for me is that Ned Nikolov has a point, but isn’t the whole answer.

      • Broadlands permalink
        September 10, 2021 3:39 pm

        It seems to have been overlooked that every time organic carbon is oxidized the “exhaust” is made up of equimolar amounts of CO2 and water vapor, plus aerosol particles. We know what happened to the CO2 and the aerosols. It’s the water vapor that seems to have an unknown history. Or is it above pre-industrial background levels as more carbon has been burned?
        Causing a trivial rise in sea level as water is transferred from a solid to a gas and back to a liquid?

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        September 10, 2021 5:51 pm

        You may find Wijngaarden and Happer useful. Summary paper here contains a good description of the atmosphere and the physics:

        Click to access MethaneClimate_WijnGaardenHapper.pdf

        More detailed results and other papers here:

      • Graeme No.3 permalink
        September 10, 2021 9:25 pm

        Thank you for that post. I’ve copied your answer and will re-read it when I have more time.
        I am not disputing your conclusion but I would ask “what out-going radiation do we measure?” I know NASA has a satellite measuring out-going Long Wave radiation, which is increasing but are they just measuring certain wavelengths in the I.R. e.g. from CO2? That merely proves that CO2 is increasing.
        From basic principles nitrogen, oxygen (and argon) must radiate as well, but not in “the politically correct” wavelengths. [We know they can radiate if excited by the Auroras].
        And didn’t Stephen Wilde mention variation in troposphere height as part of his theory?

      • September 10, 2021 11:27 pm

        In your post you make a number of assertions and I want to address these in turn.
        1. “that the atmosphere can only cool by radiation, 2. thus an atmosphere without greenhouse gases cannot cool at the top”
        Statement 1 is true but statement 2 is false.

        The primary mechanism that results in the loss of radiant energy to space from an atmosphere is the presence at altitude of solid particles, either in the form of a frozen condensing volatile or from dust (e.g., the atmosphere of Mars). For the planet Venus the frozen condensing volatile is concentrated sulphuric acid held at an altitude of 63 km and a temperature of 250 Kelvin. For the Earth the frozen condensing volatile is super cooled water droplets at a temperature of 230 Kelvin and an average planetary elevation of 17.8km. The key point at issue is that solid particles are supremely efficient thermal emitters because of the ability of solid particles to transmit shear waves and therefore undergo multimodal flexural states. It is this solid body flexure which links matter to the process of emission of electromagnetic radiation.

        3. “between ground-level (heated by the Sun) and top of troposphere (cooled by radiation to space). 4. Without that heat-engine, you don’t get a lapse-rate because there’s no convection,”

        Statement 3 is true and I am glad that you agree that it is the Sun that heats the ground.
        Statement 4 is absurdly false. The open atmosphere lapse rate is a function of gravity and the specific heat of the constituent atmospheric gases. The adiabatic lapse rate (the name is a hint) is derived from basic physics and as such is completely independent of atmospheric thermal radiant properties. Would you like to try and convince me that a pot of water on the stove will not convect when it is heated from below? Would you like to claim that because the water is thermally opaque that it is this property that drives the convection cells in boiling water? If so, does that mean that liquid nitrogen does not convect when heated from below?
        Just how many straw men do I need to create here?

        5. “Sure, the re-radiation of some of that heat downwards from the “greenhouse gases” has an effect too,”
        Statement 5 is nonsense. You have already established (and I agree) that the Sun heats the ground, and that the tropospheric air aloft is cooler than the ground (the adiabatic lapse rate). So now we come to the absolute fundamental crux of the greenhouse gas back-radiation lie. Radiation frequency is a function of temperature. Low frequency radiation can NEVER impart high frequencies to another body that is itself at a higher temperature and therefore possesses higher frequencies than the colder emitting source. This back-radiation frequency enhancement is the ultimate impossibility and no one should ever attempt to justify this nonsense.

        6. “where radiation ends up going into space rather than being reflected back to the ground.”
        Statement 6 indicates to me that you have fundamentally failed to grasp the clear distinction between reflection and emission.

        7.” If you look at the temperatures from 1860-2020, the effects of change of CO2 concentration are not visible”
        Consider the implications of statement 7. The logical conclusion is that the whole construction of radiative atmospheric climate science is false.

        Climate Science is built on a false model, it is a construct into which data is tortured into submission. Real physics starts with observation, data and humility. Climate Science starts with projection, confirmation bias and hubris.

      • Phoenix44 permalink
        September 11, 2021 8:58 am

        Agreed. The main problem is temperature as a single metric, particularly when averaged over both space and time and then sliced into sections that only make sense in human calendars. It is quite clear from historical data that annual global average temperatures varied significantly on every scale. There must be natural reason for that. Simply picking out averages that remove variation and the claiming there’s no variation is absurd. It is literally removing the data.

      • September 11, 2021 10:28 am

        The key message is this:
        Heat is difference in temperature, therefore Heat is difference in frequency.
        A temperature gradient is also a frequency gradient.
        It is impossible to drive the process of energy transfer up a frequency gradient without the application of Work.
        (Remember that Work Done is Force times Distance moved).

      • September 11, 2021 3:50 pm

        Like here 🙂

  5. Derek Wood permalink
    September 10, 2021 12:25 pm

    C02 is a “dilemma”? The colourless, odourless trace gas which supports the existence of every green growing thing on our planet without which any life at all would not exist? That C02? Where’s the dilemma?

    • Colin R Brooks AKA Dung permalink
      September 10, 2021 2:10 pm

      As you point out Derek, CO2 is NOT a problem but the fact that our host does not share that view (apparently) certainly does worry me.
      I never base my opinions on current scientific studies and the reason for that is that the past has all the answers.
      Paleontologists and geologists show us so many situations which deny that CO2 is a problem. Our current interglacial warm period is a cold one, previous periods (when humans were not causing emissions were much warmer) plus ice core records (solid real world evidence) shows that CO2 ALWAYS rose after warming and so could not be the cause. If someone can prove otherwise I would listen.

    • September 17, 2021 10:28 am

      As “It doesn’t add up” writes above, CO2 is not a pollutant but is essential for photosynthesis.

      There is no “Climate Emergency” except in the minds of grant seeking climate scientists, many politicos a deluded public and “Extinction Rebellion”.

      All predictions based on the unvalidated IPCC climate models are wrong, overstating the impacts of rising atmospheric CO2 levels. Rather, these promote natural greenery.

      The dangers from any increase of manmade CO2 stem from wasted resources and societal upset and impoverishment, except in Eastern nations not aiming for “net zero” .

      As to these dangers, we ain’t seen nothing yet.

  6. September 10, 2021 12:56 pm

    Some useful info that politicians should look at before going to Glasgow

    Renewables YouTube

    G&R Truth about renewables
    Why renewables can’t save the planet – Michael Shellenberger
    A reality check on renewables – David MacKay
    Bill Gates – Slams unreliable wind and solar energy
    The truth about hydrogens dirty problems – green hydrogen explained

  7. September 10, 2021 2:14 pm

    In my view, there few bad things with no redeeming features most of these are “renewable” subsitutes for the real generators of power, including some hydroelectric and nuclear.
    (In my view ciggies, illegal drugs and tattoos are without much virtue, even if nottotallybad.)^

  8. GeoffB permalink
    September 10, 2021 2:34 pm

    David Mackay was saying all this 8 years ago and he was Chief Scientific Advisor of the Department of Energy and Climate Change,2009 to 2014. He was highly critical of the efficiency of wind and solar. His early death in 2016 is a tragedy for his family and common sense in government. I can only presume the present stupidity in building more wind and solar is due to simple corruption, there are so many grants and subsidies for any green projects. Surely even the thickest politician can understand the arguments in this video, how Alok Sharma, the head of COP26, who has a Physics degree, goes along with all these crazy unproven ideas to reduce CO2 is beyond comprehension. In general none of our politicians “could lie in bed straight” they are all bent to make as much as they can from lobbyists and board and advisory positions with companies. Chris Huhne springs to mind.

  9. Colin R Brooks AKA Dung permalink
    September 10, 2021 3:56 pm

    My understanding of the process of warming the planet is that the poles would warm the most and the fastest (obviously my understanding could be wrong ^.^), if that was correct then wind is a really dumb renewable to increase. Winds are generated by the difference in temp between the poles and the equator so planetary warming would reduce wind power.

  10. pardonmeforbreathing permalink
    September 10, 2021 8:24 pm

    The CO2 “Dilemma”! Does any of this pay attention to what physics says about the properties of CO2? NO! Does ANY of this pay attention to what empirical data based geological history says about CO2 which SUPPORTS what empirical data based physics says? NO!

    No it does not. Instead we have a bunch of half baked claims none of which hold water and appalling models based not on empirical data based facts but assumptions (without an empirical basis a claim is NOT science no matter how often the academically challenged Swede Swedish says the word).

    There actually IS a CO2 problem but as real science is not what any of this is about why am I not surprised that it is never discussed? I knew about it as a graduate student in the 1980’s so how come it is not main stream science today? The simple reason can only be that it does not suit the left wing political narrative which underpins all of this BS.

    The issue is that for the past 160 million years CO2 has been continuously removed from the Carbon Cycle putting it seriously out of sync. I never cease to be amazed when I read any texts or papers on the Carbon Cycle that the authors continuously avoid any mention of geological context as if the Cycle today is a constant….. it most certainly is not.

    If only this one issue was discussed more publicly then more questions would surely follow. There is a serious lack of CO2 in the Carbon Cycle and the available volume is on a 160 million year continuous downward trend which man briefly and inadvertently has halted. This is why year on year record food production is being recorded. Strange do you not think that the “impartial” BBC and the Grauniad make no mention at all of those world food production figures preferring to push a false narrative claiming the complete opposite any time they can based on a local bad harvest somewhere. You would almost think they are pushing an agenda which does not like such good news!

    These crazies think 280ppm CO2 is aspirational. Their thinking is so divorced from both science and reality that the conclusion can only be that what they are pushing for is just a smoke screen to hide a darker political agendas.

    Some take away points

    1. To find what is “good for the planet” the only place you will find this information is from geological history

    2. The average level of CO2 in the atmosphere over geological time is 2500ppm

    3. In the Cambrian, that level was around 7000ppm….. no runaway warming or tipping point(s) or mass extinction …. quite the opposite in fact.

    4. When the angiosperms evolved ( the green stuff we are forced to eat with our meat) the level of CO2 in the atmosphere was around 2500-2800ppm which is why any commercial greenhouse owner with his /her/it’s salt pumps CO2 into the glass houses because plants grow bigger quicker using less water with more CO2. What is there not to like about that?

    5. When the Primates evolved 64 million years ago the level was around 1500ppm ( you will never hear that number discussed)

    6. Around 160 million years ago marine organisms evolved which sequestrate CO2 to combine with calcium to make hard shells CaCO3. When they died a large amount of that Calcium Carbonate was not returned to the Carbon Cycle but laid down to form organic shelly limestones.

    7. The largest repository of CO2 on the planet is in the form of organic shelly limestones which contain several orders of magnitude more CO2 than the atmosphere and oceans combined. Those rocks represent CO2 which has been removed from the Carbon Cycle

    8. During the first part of the current Ice Age (Ice at the poles is the clue to that, indeed the planet has spent much more time with no ice at all at the poles than it has with ice there) the level of CO2 in the atmosphere fell to around 180ppm or put another way around 20ppm above the level at which photosynthesis is seriously compromised. That is a red line and on the planets current geological trajectory that level WILL be achieved in a little over 1 million years from now and a mass extinction WILL ensue..

    …..and we have nut jobs coming up with ways (public funded grant chasers) to get rid of CO2, the most important element to life on the planet?

    • Colin R Brooks AKA Dung permalink
      September 10, 2021 8:53 pm

      A brillant post mate apart from your comment that man halted the reduction in atmospheric CO2 ^.^

  11. September 11, 2021 8:56 am

    Money, ours, t.alks or we would not be facing ruinous AGW Nonsense.

    • Phoenix44 permalink
      September 11, 2021 9:01 am

      If over the last 150 years we had not let governments simply take our money, there would be no AGW. And we would all be perhaps 50% richer with much better health and education.

      But the majority who desire from some to total control over others and over what people do would not be happy with that.

  12. Simon Derricutt permalink
    September 11, 2021 2:40 pm

    Several comments to reply to, and no “reply” button available there.

    It doesn’t add up – thanks for the links. I’ll download and read them.

    Graham No.3 – AFAIK the outgoing radiation is measured over the spectrum, since I have a plot of such a measurement showing power from 6.3 to 25 micron wavelength. Since at any temperature the kinetic energy of a molecule can range from zero to infinity, and the temperature we measure only shows an average kinetic energy, then all absorption/emission bands of gases will be active at any temperature – it’s the power in each band that will change. Philip noted the effect of dust in the atmosphere, which is new for me and could be very important. As regards troposphere height, that seems important, and can get to ground level at the poles, and there will also be tides in the troposphere height caused by the Moon. Complex. At what point do we think we’ve accounted for all the effects – and have we missed something?

    Philip Mulholland – thanks for your comment. I doubt that I’ve got enough right, but I might have seen something that others overlooked.
    The effects of dust in the atmosphere is something I hadn’t considered, and haven’t seen discussed before. I’d expect that to be variable, and also to be a wide-band emission, and thus able to provide cooling (which shoots down my assumption of no cooling without greenhouse gases). Do you know what the current magnitude of this effect is, and do you think that this is a large-enough effect to cause variations of a few degrees at the top of the troposphere? It would be boosted by an increase in meteors (dead comet fragments which would likely drop off over time until a new comet arrives).
    However, without that cooling at the top of the troposphere, we would not get the gas there cooling and thus falling through being more dense, and thus the convection process would stop. It was an article by Robert Brown of Duke University on WUWT that showed me that, and that the lapse rate was driven because there is that conveyor-belt of convection, and that without convection then the lapse rate would not happen.
    There is still a slight inaccuracy in stating “no cooling at the top of the troposphere”, since if you’ve stopped convection then you still have some radiation transferring energy around the atmosphere, given that all absorption/emission bands remain active even though they may be very low power. However, circulation would be very much slower.
    RBG’s article was “Refutation of Stable Thermal Equilibrium Lapse Rates”, dated Jan 24, 2012.

    Thus point 2 is mostly correct, except for dust and the relatively small power from diatomic molecules in the bands they would emit at the temperatures they would reach, and point 4 is close to being correct as well.

    For point 5, that downwelling radiation is measured, and thus is experimentally verified. If it is absorbed at ground level, and in general (unless you’re getting into metamaterials) radiation wavelengths emitted by the ground will as readily absorbed by it, it will add to the heat energy in the ground. It is wrong to state that lower frequency energy cannot heat a warmer material – the 2.45GHz frequency used in a microwave oven translates to around 0.042K if I got the conversion right, and yet heats up my beans to 373K pretty fast. You can say that that’s not a black-body spectrum, but then I could point out that we could equally generate that spectrum at a high power and do the same job. Those photons don’t know what temperature (if relevant) of the body that emitted them was, and if they are absorbed then they will add to the total heat energy in the body that absorbs them. Individual photons in that microwave oven have a very small quantum of energy, but the power flux is large because there are a huge number of them.

    For point 6, the post was getting too long so I wrote “reflection” rather than going into the random-walk of photons being absorbed and re-emitted, with possibly molecular collisions happening before re-emission and possibly molecular collisions exciting a vibration-state that would subsequently emit. For CO2 at 400ppm at ground level in the 4.2 micron band, the absorption length is around 2.4m and so the random-walk results in “reflection” of around half of the ground-emitted radiation happening within a few tens of metres. Other bands have a longer absorption length.

    For point 7 I agree, which is why I really started looking for where the error was in the theory. If the changes in temperature/climate were natural before 1950, then also the changes since then appear to be mostly natural.

    “Heat is difference in temperature, therefore Heat is difference in frequency.
    A temperature gradient is also a frequency gradient.
    It is impossible to drive the process of energy transfer up a frequency gradient without the application of Work.”
    Not quite true, though often treated as being true. Knowing the temperature of something only tells you the average kinetic energy per molecule in one degree of freedom (or the 3 translation degrees of freedom if you prefer that). The actual kinetic energy per molecule can range from zero to infinity, with temperature defining which particular probability curve will apply. Transfers of heat energy between objects are always bidirectional, in fact omnidirectional unless specifically engineered, and a hotter body simply produces a higher energy flow that a cooler one, so the net energy transfer is from the hotter to the cooler.
    I’ll state that using net flow or averages loses information that could be important. Also that using nets and averages can lead to wrong conclusions. I’ve been caught out by that.

    Phoenix44 – Agreed, those averages lose a lot of data. Maybe especially since radiation intensity runs as the 4th power of measured temperature. Also they don’t take into account energy carried in water-vapour or phase-changes. It’s a blunt instrument.

    All – that article from RGB ( ) solved a paradox for me. If you stop convection in a gas in a gravitational field, then the lapse rate goes to zero. However, for a molecule in that gas, it is still subject to gravity and the paths between collisions follow an almost-parabola (actually a section of an ellipse, since gravity pulls towards a central point) and thus you should end up with the sum of kinetic energy and gravitational potential energy being constant all up the column, and thus since temperature measures only the kinetic energy then the temperature should drop as we rise. In practice it doesn’t, and the lapse-rate is determined by the gas laws. If we block convection, then the radiation between molecules would still mostly provide a constant temperature with height, because the radiation is driven by the kinetic energy alone and not the potential energy. If you block both convection and radiation, as was done in a very sensitive experiment by Graeff, it is possible to measure that decrease in temperature with height in the column of gas. I’ll put a link in if people want to dissect that experiment, but I think the results are qualitatively correct though not applicable to air that isn’t thus confined in tiny hollow glass balls.

    • September 11, 2021 3:54 pm

      “Several comments to reply to, and no “reply” button available there.”

      The trick is to go back up the stack to the last reply button. Like this.

      My observations about dust and solid particles arise from our studies of the planetary atmospheres of Venus and the Earth (please look us up). I was particularly struck during my analysis that the tropopause on Venus is at the correct temperature and altitude for this process to work with sulphuric acid. In effect it appears that the physical size of a planetary atmosphere is determined by solar radiation flux and planetary gravity. The atmosphere in effect is a molecular distillation process that equilibrates to a composition that allows a link between atmospheric albedo (the solid condensed volatile) and surface temperature to become established and maintained throughout geological time.

      The microwave argument crops up so often. The microwave is a machine powered by an external source of energy. It is similar to arguing that the Dinorwig pumped-storage hydroelectric scheme proves that water flows uphill.

      I am sure that you have heard of Maxwell’s Demon and the implications this thought experiment as to why your observations do not carry any weight. Consider the use of an Archimedes Screw to lift water out of the flowing River Nile, water that then at a higher level could be used to power a dynamo and so used the generate more energy. (Does this perpetual motion scheme sound familiar?)

      Finally, I must insist that you separate the concept of Heat from that of Energy. Heat is difference in temperature; hence we have a Heat Engine that functions only because of the difference in temperature.

      • Simon Derricutt permalink
        September 12, 2021 1:49 pm

        Philip – I’ll look up your work on planetary atmospheres. The compressed summary you’ve stated seems logical.

        For the microwave discussion, note that if we have one photon we cannot say what the temperature of the source was. The photon carries absolutely no information about the source. The photon also cannot know anything about its destination (where it is absorbed) – to do so would violate causality. Both the source and destination are at the event horizons for the photon. Thus whether or not that packet of energy is absorbed at the destination does not depend on the temperature of the source, but only of the probability of the destination surface absorbing that photon (emissivity at that wavelength). That emissivity may be affected by the temperature of the destination, but the source temperature has absolutely no effect.

        Thus when we’re looking at absorption of that packet of energy that is a photon, the source temperature is of no account. Similarly, when we’re looking at what energy is emitted by a body, we can ignore what other bodies may be receiving that radiated energy. Such bodies are beyond the event horizon, and have no effect – if they did then that would violate causality.

        Thus a body radiates energy depending solely upon its own temperature, without reference to anything else in the universe. Similarly, the energy it absorbs from radiation depends on what impinges on it here and now without reference to anything else. Subtract the rate of energy going outwards from the rate of incoming absorbed energy and you get the rate of net energy change. That energy is divided up between thermodynamic degrees of freedom (DoF) (maybe some of those partially-filled) to give us the net temperature change. Some of those degrees of freedom may be manipulable (see magnetocaloric materials), and thus enable a refrigeration cycle to be set up by changing the number of available DoFs and thus the amount of energy in the translational DoFs that we measure as temperature.

        Net result of this logic is that that “downwelling” radiation, which is measured and roughly equivalent to a body at -80°C, can indeed reduce the rate of cooling of the ground, since otherwise it would be “seeing” space at somewhere around -270°C and thus cool faster. No point going into Olber’s Paradox here – that radiative temperature of the dark space between the stars is a measured quantity. Though this downwelling radiation is stated as warming the ground, and it might seem unreasonable to say that a body at -80°C can warm ground at maybe +20°C (that is, it seems against 2LoT), it should make more sense if we state this as reducing the rate of cooling. Still, that downwelling radiation has a measurable effect.

        The energy loss by radiation depends only upon the temperature of that body here and now. The temperature is determined by the amount of energy in its translational degrees of freedom of the particles making it up. The energy gain by radiation depends only on what that body receives here and now, and what proportion of that energy it absorbs and reflects here and now.

        Temperature is always an average over space and time, and only measures the average translational kinetic energy. A useful concept, but has pitfalls. I’ve moved to looking at energy flows instead. I think it leads to a different and hopefully better understanding. In a thermodynamic equilibrium, for example, it’s only the net energy flow that becomes zero, but the actual energy flows are just as large as if one side was at absolute zero and the other was at the measured temperature, but in the equilibrium those energy flows are now equal and opposite. We measure zero net flow, but it’s still there.

      • September 12, 2021 5:39 pm

        Pressure exists even in the absence of motion, so a dynamic balance is not the issue. The issue is Work Done. A dynamic atmosphere in the presence of a gravity field on a rotating planet with a single illuminated hemisphere clearly does Work.

        At college we were taught the History of Science. I learnt one thing from this; that all descriptive analysis is based on analogy and therefore limited in application. You are using one set of analogies, I use another. I am not interested in being right, that is impossible to achieve, I simple wish to clearly identify ideas that are wrong at the fundamental level. Everything I know about Climate Science makes me discount it on principle.

      • Simon Derricutt permalink
        September 13, 2021 11:51 am

        Philip – agreed that work is done, driven from the heating at the bottom. The “reflected” radiation is however also important, and affects the heating at the ground level.

        Since you read Chiefio, you’ll know that I’ve been working at stuff that appears crackpot but hopefully actually isn’t. I agree that the analogies we use are limited, and I think there are some problems at the fundamental level. I put up what I think is more correct, since the instant peer-review and discussion should shoot down any errors in my logic.

        There are problems in trying to take an “average temperature of the globe” that could maybe be fixed by looking at energy flows and stores. Still, the surprising thing about our climate is how stable it is over time given the changing energy input. There must be negative feedbacks we haven’t accounted for.

        The articles by Wijngaarden and Happer (referenced above) give a from-first-principles calculation of the effects of greenhouse gases, but without accounting for the effects of clouds. David Coe does the same, and gets a different answer but of a similar range. Either way, CO2 is not a problem as regards overheating our world and making life difficult. That is also obvious from the experimental data (that temperature plot 1860-1920). The predictions from Climate Science have been wildly out, which shows us that the theory that informed those predictions is wrong. It needs to be fixed.

        Fixing the theory will be resisted by the people who are making a good living from it, as well as those who enjoy apocalyptic predictions and “living in the End Times”. The simple truth, that there is no Climate Crisis, and that we can’t make a measurable difference to the rate of change anyway no matter how many wind-turbines and solar panels we install, is suppressed.

        Seems it’s not really about science, but instead it’s religion, money, and probably politics.

      • September 13, 2021 12:10 pm

        “The predictions from Climate Science have been wildly out, which shows us that the theory that informed those predictions is wrong. It needs to be fixed.”
        I agree with this sentiment.
        Good luck with your efforts.

  13. September 13, 2021 12:17 pm

    A masterly Comment, Thank you
    May I mention also the names of Gerald Ratzer and Doug Lightfoot, whose writings and work are very relevant.

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