So it’s simple — so describe it

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Keith Hunter’s statement gives, as the third reason to believe in Anthropogenic Global Warming, this piece of evidence:

It is simple physics that these extra gas concentrations will trap an increased amount of outgoing solar radiation reflected off the Earth’s surface, of the order of 1.5 watts per square metre of the Earth’s surface.

Simple physics? If it is “simple physics” it should be able to be derived and written up in one page or at most a few pages of equations and calculations. How about it, Professor?

In reality, the climate systems are vast, complex and we understand them poorly. If we understood them well, people like Keith Hunter would describe them and not take refuge in weasel words that obscure the difficulties of understanding.

It was a silly mistake to mention “outgoing solar radiation” and damage his credibility. I guess that was the risk he ran of commenting outside his expertise.

The physics of the greenhouse effect might be considered simple, but Hunter here ascribes causation for warming to humanity’s increased emissions of carbon dioxide.

Which is a very different thing.

Am I wrong?

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One Thought on “So it’s simple — so describe it

  1. Clarence on 11/04/2010 at 7:46 pm said:

    The author of this statement has to be simple. It’s hard to believe it was written by Professor Hunter, even if it did appear over his name.

    The greenhouse theory is often presented simplistically. Infrared light energy leaves the surface of the earth heading for space but, if it’s in a certain wavelength band, it may react with greenhouse gas molecules en route. If so, the reaction radiates heat in all directions, and some heads downwards – back to the surface. Then, it’s deja vu all over again.

    To see what happens next, go to The Decreasing Influence of Carbon Dioxide, on this very blog.

    The Royal Society says the “extra [greenhouse] gas concentrations will trap an increased amount of [energy]” equal to about 1.5W/m2. Is that when the atmospheric concentrations of GHGs are 280ppm CO2E or 450ppm? Or any other concentration?

    How much “extra gas concentration” is required for 1.5W/m2? The amount accrued since 1950? The amount expected this year? The cumulative amount predicted for 2100? Is this the extra warming that will occur by the time the saturation point of CO2 is reached?

    Prof Hunter is not clear whether his radiation measure includes all the feedbacks or ignores them. I suppose any discussion of the earth’s ‘carbon sensitivity’ would immediately disprove his contention that it is all “simple physics”.

    What is “outgoing solar radiation”? If the Royal Society means visible sunlight which is reflected off clouds, or snow, or other reflective material at the earth’s surface, then this doesn’t enter into the earth’s energy budget at all. This is a big part of Al Gore’s scary scenario – the Arctic ice cap stops reflecting sunlight into space, so the oceans heat up. But the Royal Society make the albedo (reflection) effect sound like a bad thing.

    Is this just a chemistry academic making bitchy comments implying that other science disciplines are “simple”?

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