Where does the energy hitting the earth go?
“Simple physics” should tell us all these numbers are correct. However, in
the original presentation of global warming, there were “forcings”--additions
necessary to push CO2 into being the culprit for warming. As far as Mr.
Stickman can tell, back radiation is one such forcing. Mr. Stickman also notes
that the NASA diagram does not include back radiation. It does on some parts of
the site. The one diagram may be ”net” or something. While all of this should be
simple physics, it seems some of the numbers are not yet worked out fully.
Some argue that “back radiation” is not real and that only
the net energy exchange counts. Stickman is leaning
toward that theory, although can understand why global
warming believers want back radiation included as it makes
GHG extremely important in keeping the earth warm and
This is ALL greenhouse gases, not just CO2.
Wow! Mr. Stickman's head is spinning!
He thought this was “simple physics”.
Let's try another subject:
Incoming solar radiation and the solar
The solar constant is based on the surface
irradiance of the sun, the radius of the sun
and the average earth/sun distance. This
is the amount of energy received at the top of the earth's
atmosphere, perpendicular to the Sun's rays. It is
generally accepted to be 1368 W/m2
Next, albedo. Mr. Stickman likes the sound of that term! Actually,
it means how much energy is reflected by the earth. Obviously,
snow and ice are highly reflective. The more snow and ice, the more
energy gets bounced back into space. Which is why there is such
emphasis placed on the Arctic (and one would think Antarctic, though
not so much) ice. If the ice melts, the earth retains more
energy. Unless some other factor cancels this out.
(Mr. Stickman did not actually learn that last statement in class, but
Mr. Stickman realizes that climate is very complex and that other
factors can and do rearrange the earth's energy budget.)
Another reflector of energy is desert sand. Large desert areas
reflect heat back into the atmosphere. The oceans absorb heat.
This website has maps that illustrate albedo:
Absorption bands: Water has the largest
bands and overlays others, including CO2
in one band. CO2 has two peaks as does
methane. Absorption bands are used to
identify what chemical element is absorbing
CO2 releases radiation to warm the air, but it
is released in all directions, not just
downward. Perhaps later in the series, there
will be an equation that calculates how much
of the radiation is directed at the earth and
how much dissipates into the upper
atmosphere and space. That would be very
Snowball earth was another subject.
Stickman was very disappointed to find that no one knows how it
started or why it started.
Glaciation was not total but there was a point
at which glaciation became “inevitable”--
basically a runaway cooling effect.
Stickman wonders why scientists don't worry
about another episode of runaway cooling
episode. If they don't know what caused the
first one, they obviously have no clue as to
when or how it could happen again.
There were multiple theories on how we came out of
snowball earth: volcanoes, GHG, fires, biomass
emitting methane, etc. Science does not seem to
know how it happened so they can't explain that
warming and how we stopped being snowball earth.
The ideas are not mutually exclusive, of course.
The Young Sun Paradox was quite interesting. Stickman had
only heard of this in passing.
The sun is believed to have been 30%
less radiant when the planet came into
existence, yet earth was not a snowball.
We know this because of waves, ripple
marks, etc in rock dating back millions of
Many theories abound to explain this: GHG,
ammonia (this one is mostly discredited), etc. The
GHG concentration would have had to be very, very
high and evidence is lacking that this was true.
Stickman did find an interesting theory from the creationist camp:
They maintain if we did not insist the earth was 4.5 billion years old,
the problem would not exist. Then there's no problem. Stickman
notes that such a theory would require modification of much of
physics to explain why the rocks appear much older, but it is a
theory and one Stickman had also not heard before. (This was
not part of class—independent research.)
Stickman become furious when this term is used. It screams “I
am so scientifically illiterate that I cannot tell an acid from a
base”. While technically possible, if one defines the term as an
increase in hydrogen ion concentration, the term is definitely
alarmist. Stickman rejects arguments that this is not designed
to frighten people. There is NO reason why the process cannot
be described as “less alkali” other than that's not scary. It is
absolutely correct and far more accurate. When Stickman
hears this term, he immediately knows the person is not
imparting science, but rather alarmism.
(All arguments that this not alarmist are rejected. Unless
someone can explain why the alarmist term “acidification” is
more accurate than more alkali, Stickman rejects the term as
alarmism designed to mislead.)
The ocean appears to be part of the system that regulates
the temperature on earth. Nothing Stickman has seen so far
leads to the conclusion that ocean warming is a bad thing.
The ocean becoming less basic may be hard on some
marine life. Coral reefs are often said to be of major concern
due to their composition The pH affects their ability to make
and maintain shells. Some also feel the temperature will
harm the reefs if it increases. Some recent studies indicate
there are corals that survive in warmer water.
It's interesting to note that coral reefs have tremendous value
as tourist attractions, meaning their decline would cost local
economies. However, the climate change believers say that
the travel modes of tourists are contributing to the death of
the corals. Dilemma—it's much easier to convince people
to save the planet if there's an economic advantage. However,
if the economic advantage contributes to the decline of that
which you want to save.....
Stickman would note that corals declining may simply be
Darwinian. The corals are unable to adapt to a changing world.
Economically, one might fear the end of the corals, but the world
will continue on just as it always has. Will this make the planet
better or worse? Only a psychic or a time machine can tell.
Back to class material!
The paleoclimate was interesting. The earth historically has had periods of
warm and cold. As noted with the Young Sun Paradox, Earth was not frozen
at first. Later, we had snowball earth and the again melting. That was on a
millennial basis, not a century or two.
While not mentioned in class, there are reported periods of rapid climate change,
some did occur. The Younger Dryas is one such event. There are multiple
theories on causes of this change. Stickman believes this indicates that the
“abrupt” changes we are told are occurring now are not unprecedented and may
be due to natural causes.
Much of the paleo data comes from proxies. How well do these
proxies work? It seems they may work about as well as climate
models. When compared against each other, there can be widely
varying results. The infamous hockey stick came from proxy data.
Marcott made a similar graph by attaching instrumental records
to proxy data.
Years ago, when Stickman was a wee lad, proxies gave us some
idea of the climate past. They were at best rough estimations of
the past. Stickman is unconvinced that use of proxies in
temperature reconstructions is either desirable nor valid.
Proxies told of running water, CO2 in ice cores, creatures that are
long since extinct, etc. These were not used as a thermometer in
calculations from an arbitrary mean in increments on .1 degrees.
Stickman did find one study in the Alps on proxy accuracy, which
was ongoing. Other than that, no attempts seem to be made to look
at current instrumental records versus proxies. We have many
tree rings available and sediments, etc. It would be an easy thing
An alarming realization occurred at this point. If we really
only have rough approximations at this point, how accurate
can predictions be? One idea seems to be if we put a bunch
of said approximations together and average them, we will
get something close to accurate. Stickman finds no
justification for that theory however.
At one point, global warming advocates flattened the MWP and
the LIA, making the “stick” much flatter than in the science of
the past. Before global warming theory became an issue, the MWP
and the LIA were believed to be worldwide and very real. Plus,
the MWP was said to be warmer than now. The reverse seems
to be what is taught now—that current warming is higher than
Which brings us to another interesting idea. Proxies of many
kinds are used, but most often, newspaper clippings, personal
journals and similar documents are reject by those advocating
the human induced global warming theory.
Stickman wondered why that would be. Humans recording their
experiences seems a reasonable proxy. Then Stickman realized,
climate change alarmism has lead to widespread exaggeration
and a “the means justifies the ends” mentality. It seems
reasonable from that mentality to think that newspapers from
the past might behave the same way and be as exaggerated as
now. Time magazine posted the “Ice Age” cover in the 70's,
there were reports of melting arctic ice in the early 1900s, etc.
One might also note that many articles disagree with AGW and
CAGW, so it often is stated that such sources are “not valid”.
In the case of the media past, it seems all is presumed tainted
as it is today.
Stickman is tired now. He will return later with more
learning about climate.