Graham Turk ’17 is so confident (PAW, Jan. 9) about his authoritarian statements it makes one think his convictions must come from his educational and media exposures AND that the authenticity of his actual undergraduate education at Princeton is suspect.
I challenge Mr. Turk to determine for himself the authenticity of the actual process by which the “percent of scientists” number was extracted and embellished upward to 97% of all scientists. Yes, that number is challenged and the topic is still an active debate.
Go back to the '90s (how old was Mr. Turk?) when an overall value of average Watts per square meter (W/m2) per degree Celsius was proclaimed for global temperature rise. Individual forcing functions (a very proper term) of W/m2 were estimated for a set of known possible parameters. Anything that was unknown was left unknown, and the difference between the proclaimed overall value and the sum of estimates was attributed to CO2 increases. This was the best that could be done, since direct modeling was poor, but a further official prediction of plus 1.0C per plus 100 ppm of CO2 set off the “calamitology” scare in the media. There was apparently a host of scientists, not part of the inner group of selected scientists, who knew that the linearity claim was nonsense. (While working full time elsewhere — not in climatology — I used a simple Occam’s Razor approach to show that the dependence was logarithmic, not linear.) The logarithmic dependence was indeed recognized by the official scientists but the official projections of temperature rise per doubling of CO2 were still ominous, with a huge fan spread of possible calamities. Surprisingly (?), the fan of predictions did not even accurately project backward into the years with lower atmospheric CO2. This failure of authenticity has NOT been acknowledged. And the constantly revised fan projections are still excessive.
Let’s move further through the letter. CO2 is certainly a boon, not a pollutant; there would be no plant life (and no animal life) without CO2. And If CO2 were not an infrared absorber the Earth would be about 7 degrees Celsius colder, but now, correctly or not, we complain. The genuine pollutants are the carbon particulates. If CO2 is a pollutant, then oxygen could also be said to be a pollutant because it causes fires and is used in all explosives. The oceans have been rising by one foot a century for centuries, and so it is senseless to set alarms about that.
Present Earth temperatures are increasing by about 0.01C per year (1.0C per century). Increased CO2 directly accounts for about 25% of the so-called “greenhouse gases” blanket, H2O atmospheric absorption is less than 25%, “other” absorber molecules account for less than 10%, and convection from the Tropics corresponds to about 50%. Without the convection (which is NOT a greenhouse gas), the temperatures in the temperate zones would be about 7C colder; we would truly be complaining. I wonder if that was mentioned in class. We should recognize a good thing when we have it and not just be making calamity-cum-belief proclamations. And we may be reducing future increases because of coincidental declines within the composite mix of solar and Earth cycles, and, eventually, have a reversal of temperature increases because of a return to another Ice Age.
The last paragraph in the letter reads “we can reverse global warming if we act” quickly but, if a reversal implies, as it must, a removal of CO2 from the atmosphere, then that is, likely, more classroom misinformation. Reducing CO2 to its C and O2 constituents requires a large amount of energy, more energy than the heat energy released when burning C. As long as ANY of the energy used to serve human needs employs the burning of carbon, then any energy expended to reduce CO2 – whether from alternative fuels or C burning — will INCREASE the level of CO2 in the atmosphere. It’s a false hope to reduce any CO2 in the atmosphere until all energy needs can be provided by alternative fuel. And, if at any time we have the capability to convert all human carbon-based energy to alternative energies, then the (conservative) cost of just the storage batteries alone (for today’s power requirements) will exceed 4000 trillion dollars.
Finally, I believe Mr. Turk should offer an apology to Professor Happer.
(As for the writer's own mixed bag of direct qualifications for this subject, he wrote an award-winning student paper on a circuit model for photovoltaic cells 62 years ago, was a nuclear expert in the military, has always been a power/work/energy expert, took a Princeton course from Professor Eugene Wigner, “Grand canonical ensembles of quantum mechanical ensembles,“ and was a department head within a prodigious solid-state laboratory of AT&T Bell Telephone Laboratories. He is an IEEE Fellow and the (non-political) author of a recent book, “Global Warming Temperatures and Projections – As Related to CO2 and H2O Absorptions, H2O Evaporation, and Post-Condensation Convection.”)