Did you check the fuse?

When I started work at Lysaghts, Port Kembla in 1980, a story was being circulated about the highly respected Chief Engineer, Ted Locke.  Power supply was lost at the CRM steel plant and, as per normal practice, the shift electrician was the first responder.  He attempted to diagnose the issue and restore power himself without success before calling for back-up.  He called the electrical Foreman and as the story goes, was asked “did you check the fuse?” to which he responded “yes; it’s OK.”  The Foreman proceeded to conduct his own fault-finding with no success.  After some time, the Foreman called the Engineer, who repeated the standard question and made his own failed attempt before succumbing.  Finally, after much downtime and frustration, the Chief Engineer was called.  The pressure was on.  The plant was now down for several hours and the problem had stumped the best and brightest.

When Mr. Locke arrived, the first questions he asked was “did you check the fuse?”  All who went before him had asked the same question and were keen for Ted to move on to more important diagnostics.  After all, checking a fuse is a menial task that does not require the skills of a Chief Engineer.  However, Ted insisted on repeating this test, to everyone’s chagrin.  When the fuse was removed from its holder and tested with a multi-meter, it showed an open-circuit (faulty).  Faces glowed bright red with embarrassment as jaws were collected carefully from the floor.  How was it possible for “the fuse is OK” hoax to be perpetrated among this group of experienced tradesmen and Engineers?  I don’t know, but the story reinforces the first and most critical step in any experiment – ensure that you check the base assumptions before moving on to more interesting things.  It’s not that the Chief Engineering was more sceptical than the rest, he was just more thorough in his approach to science.  He refused to be swayed by the “consensus.”

Arguing over consensus is pointless to anyone that understands the scientific method. The late Michael Crichton said it well in a speech to Cal Tech:

“I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science.  I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks.  Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled.  Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.

Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics.  Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world.  In science consensus is irrelevant.  What is relevant is reproducible results.  The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

There is no such thing as consensus science.   If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.”

From Tyndall and Arrhenius to Pierrehumbert, the Radiative Green House Effect (RGHE) has been proven at the molecular level in laboratories for over 150 years and is an assumed scientific truth.  Pro-AGW theorists believe it is the main cause of warming with CO2 being the most potent greenhouse gas.  They argue that the RGHE forms a “warming blanket” trapping heat in the atmosphere and keeping it near the surface of the earth, rather than allowing it to radiate back into space.  This mechanism is at the heart of Climate models.  Even most Climate naturalists believe in the RGHE, although they argue that it is far weaker.

As one rises from the earth’s surface, atmospheric temperature drops at a (lapse) rate of approx. 6.5 degrees C per km through the Troposphere.  Then some interesting things begin to occur.  The temperature stays constant through an atmospheric layer called the Tropopause and then begins to rise again through the Stratosphere.  Most climate theorists explain this using trace gas radiative physics-based infra-red cooling and heating.  However, let’s take a step back and consider what pro-AGW scientists must assume in order for the RGHE to operate as claimed.  One must expect to see thermodynamic disequilibrium in the atmosphere wherever the RGHE is operating (Pierrehumbert, 2011).  That is, pockets of warmer air separated from cooler air must exist with no mechanism to allow them to mix, stopping thermodynamic equilibrium (TE) from occurring.  RGHE proponents contend that Conductive, Convective and Radiative heat transfer mechanisms are the only ways for TE to occur and these are far too slow; hence the earth warms via the RGHE.

As with the CRM example, much time and money have already been lost in attempts to defend one particular cause of Climate Change and baulk at any other.   Where now is the modern-day Ted Locke who asks the most important question of all:

“did you check the RGHE fuse?”

Between 2012 and 2014, father and son scientists, Michael and Ronan Connolly decided to do what no-one had done before – check the base RGHE assumption.  As I mentioned in a previous article, they looked to the skies for a better view of what drives Global Warming as surface temperature monitoring is replete with measurement errors.  Traditionally, the temperature of the atmosphere has been estimated from measurements at the bottom (surface temperatures) and from the top – satellite measurements.  The Irish duo used balloon-borne radiosondes to look within the atmosphere from the surface up to 35 km.  They used a large sample of data from North American weather stations from 2010 – 2011 as the basis of their experiment.  Using the ideal gas law PV = nRT as a base, they simply asked the question

“can Temperature profiles through the earth’s atmosphere be predicted as a function of gas Pressure and molar density, independent of greenhouse gas levels?”

If the atmosphere is in TE, the answer is “Yes” and the RGHE is not valid.  If warm and cold pockets of gas can co-exist, then the RGHE does operate in the atmosphere and PV cannot equal nRT for the weather balloon data.

Well, what did the Connolly analysis actually find?  The atmospheric temperature profiles from the boundary layer to the middle of the stratosphere could be described very well in terms of just two or three distinct regions, each of which has an almost linear relationship between molar density and pressure.  The temperature fits did not require any consideration of the concentration of carbon dioxide, ozone or any of the other infrared-active gases.  This directly contradicts the greenhouse effect theory, which claims that the various infrared-active gases dramatically alter the atmospheric temperature profile.

The RGHE theory explicitly relies on the assumption that the air is only in local energy equilibrium.  However, the Connolly analysis shows that the atmosphere is actually in complete energy equilibrium, at least over distances of the tens of kilometres covered by the weather balloons.  They also postulated a previously-overlooked energy transmission mechanism that explains how equilibrium can be accomplished rapidly.  Some simple experiments demonstrated how heat energy can transfer through gas like wave energy does through water.  Their theory also provided a better explanation for the rapid and seasonal creation of ozone, the formation of jet streams and development of cyclones.

Michael and Ronan Connolly tested the RGHE fuse and showed that it was blown.  The implication of their research is that the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere has much more to do with atmospheric pressure and thermodynamics and little to do with atmospheric composition and radiative physics-based infra-red cooling and heating.  CO2 has little effect on temperature.

An interesting comment was left on the Connolly blog site:

“Given that you appear to be Irish and given that the Irish are noted for having a good sense of humour, I’m really hoping that this site is just a very elaborate joke. I’m not confident that it is though.”

Is this an Irish joke or an amazing fluke?  Let’s look at this from yet another angle – a celestial one!

When planning this series of articles (in late 2019), I had not yet seen the following evidence.  Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller sparked a storm of controversy in climate science by publishing a study describing a mathematical model that accurately predicts Global Mean Annual near-surface temperature for all hard, celestial bodies in the Solar System, including the Earth.  They began their study with the premise that the processes controlling the Global Mean Annual near-surface Temperature (GMAT) of Earth are also responsible for creating the observed pattern of planetary temperatures across the Solar System. Thus, their working hypothesis was that a general physical model should exist, which accurately describes GMATs of planets using a common set of drivers.  If so, then such a model would also reveal the forcing behind the atmospheric thermal effect.  Instead of examining existing mechanistic models such as 3-D Global Climate Models, they determined to use an empirical approach not constrained by a particular physical theory.

To test their hypothesis, the duo sourced NASA data (including atmospheric pressure, gas composition, temperature, distance from the sun etc.) expressing each driver in terms of their fundamental dimensions of Mass, Length, Time and Absolute Temperature. Then, using an Engineering process called Dimensional Analysis (Buckingham Pi theorem), they searched for the existence (or not) of a relationship between the four fundamental dimensions.

12 different sets of dimensional relationships were tested.  Of these, one non-linear regression model (refer below) was found to fit well with the NASA data, statistically outperforming the other models by a wide margin.

Could this be the unifying theory that Nikolov and Zeller were seeking?

Here is an excerpt from their paper:

“A recent study has revealed that the Earth’s natural atmospheric greenhouse effect is around 90 K or about 2.7 times stronger than assumed for the past 40 years.  A thermal enhancement of such a magnitude cannot be explained with the observed amount of outgoing infrared long-wave radiation absorbed by the atmosphere (i.e. ≈ 158 W per m2)…

…This requires a re-examination of the underlying Greenhouse theory…

Our method utilizes Dimensional Analysis (DA) applied to a vetted set of observed data from six celestial bodies representing a broad range of physical environments in our Solar System, i.e. Venus, Earth, the Moon, Mars, Titan (a moon of Saturn), and Triton (a moon of Neptune).  Twelve relationships (models) suggested by DA are explored via non-linear regression analyses that involve dimensionless products comprised of solar irradiance, greenhouse-gas partial pressure/density and total atmospheric pressure/density as forcing variables, and two temperature ratios as dependent variables.

One non-linear regression model is found to statistically outperform the rest by a wide margin.  Our analysis revealed that GMATs of rocky planets with tangible atmospheres and a negligible geothermal surface heating can accurately be predicted over a broad range of conditions using only two forcing variables: top-of-the-atmosphere solar irradiance and total surface atmospheric pressure.  The hereto discovered interplanetary pressure-temperature relationship is shown to be statistically robust while describing a smooth physical continuum without climatic tipping points.  This continuum fully explains the recently discovered 90 K thermal effect of Earth’s atmosphere.

The new model displays characteristics of an emergent macro-level thermodynamic relationship heretofore unbeknown to science that has important theoretical implications.  A key entailment from the model is that the atmospheric ‘greenhouse effect’ currently viewed as a radiative phenomenon is in fact an adiabatic (pressure-induced) thermal enhancement analogous to compression heating and independent of atmospheric composition…  Consequently, … the so-called ‘greenhouse back radiation’ is globally a result of the atmospheric thermal effect rather than a cause for it…These findings call for a paradigm shift in our understanding of the atmospheric ‘greenhouse effect’ as a fundamental property of climate.”

Encouraged by the high predictive capacity of Model 12 Nikolov and Zeller decided that it should be applied further within the Solar System, i.e. to Mercury, Europa, Callisto and Pluto, where global surface temperatures are not currently known with certainty.  Each body is the target of either ongoing or planned robotic exploration missions scheduled to provide surface thermal data among other observations, thus offering an opportunity to validate the planetary temperature model against independent measurements.

The work of the Connolly’s, Nikolov and Zeller is slowly being picked up by scientists around the world.  Despite the fact that their findings are very basic yet empirically verifiable, they will force virtually every scientist to reconsider almost everything they believe to be true in relation to the atmosphere, the climate and temperature.  It has resulted in many “social media” scientists resorting to smearing and debunking in an attempt to ignore their findings.   This is understandable, as it no easy task for scientists to reject and rethink many man-years of research and thought formation.  It is similar to that confronted by Galileo’s contemporaries when shifting from an earth-centric to a sun-centred view of the solar system.

For over 190 years the temperature of the earth was assumed to be an atmospheric radiative phenomenon.  However, the work of two totally independent sets of scientists looking at Global Warming from vastly different points of view and using unique data sets have shown that the RGHE fuse has been blown all this time.  The long-term temperature of the earth is the result of atmospheric pressure, solar radiation and other natural factors and has therefore, nothing to do with the atmosphere’s composition.  Carbon Dioxide or any other gas has little to do with the long-term average temperature of the earth, or for that matter, any of the solar system’s hard celestial bodies.

In the article, Handling the Truth, I laid out the third and perhaps most important of all positions related to Climate Science.

I know that there are many fine scientists who will argue for the RGHE because of 190 years of laboratory studies and thousands of textbooks on the subject, but empirical evidence cannot lie – not just once, but twice.  Global warming cannot be laid at the feet of an invisible, odourless gas that makes up 0.04 % of the earth’s atmosphere.  If you disagree, then I believe you must have enormous faith, but in what, I do not know.