Readers of my blog may already know my position on athropogenic global warming. Thus far I have not questionned the fundamental tenets of the science - i.e. that CO2 increases cause higher temperatures and (more importantly) that human CO2 output has dramatically contributed to background levels.
The following chart shows CO2 increases starting to shoot up since around the mid 1800's (just after the emergence of the industrial revolution):-
This chart shows the increase from below the 0C mean occurring from around the mid 1920's. Bare in mind that our climate-system is not a linear-one, so the increases come in stepped-phases...albeit we can clearly see the upward trend:-
Climate scientists say that this 0.6C+ increase is a result of human-increases in CO2 (and that CO2 in turn has resulted in feedback mechanisms on water, cryosphere, biosphere, lithosphere,etc systems to further amplify the effect of CO2 on warming).
All this may well be true (albeit some skeptics may well still try to dispute it). However, there is one single problematic issue that I have lately found concerning a certain 'fact' about "runaway-greenhouse" warming promoted by climate scientists. It is problematic because it serves to undermine public confidence in the intellectual integrity of climate scientists. It is problematic when people find out that climate scientists have grossly exaggerated certain facts. When people find out that prominent climate scientists grossly exaggerate certain facts (repeatedly) - then how can they maintain confidence in other information/facts that climate scientists propagate?
Roger Bourke White Jr. is a former rocket scientist working on the Space Shuttle, as well as an MIT educated chemical engineer. He has produced a very interesting and intellectually sound article on the temperature of Venus, and has stated that:-
"It turns out that most of Venus' "extra" surface heat is due to the adiabatic compression caused by the high pressure, the next most is caused by extra solar radiation, and Greenhouse Effect is a distant third."
"Venus' atmosphere is hotter than Earth's, but it is also thicker and composed mostly of carbon dioxide rather than nitrogen (the pressure of nitrogen in both atmospheres is close to the same). Being mostly carbon dioxide has little direct effect on the temperature, but being thick has a lot of effect."
Roger gives a video presentation about Venus here:-
This is in stark contrast from the claims of the people at RealClimate. Quoting one article;-
"Venus offers scientists the chance to see how the same basic physics used to study Earth’s climate operates under a very different set of circumstances. In one sense, Venus is rather similar to Earth: it has nearly the same mass as Earth, and while its orbit is somewhat closer to the Sun, that effect is more than made up for by the sunlight reflected from Venus’ thick cloud cover. Because of the cloud cover, the surface temperature of Venus would be a chilly -42C if were not for the greenhouse effect of its atmosphere. In reality, the surface of Venus, at 740K (467C) is even hotter than the surface of Mercury, which is a (relatively!) pleasant 440K. Per unit of surface area, the atmosphere of Venus has as much mass as about 100 Earth atmospheres, and it is almost pure CO2. This accounts for its very strong greenhouse effect."
In another piece we have the claim:-
"The fact that we can put together the same bits of physics we use to understand global warming on Earth in order to understand the interplay of the carbon dioxide greenhouse with sulfuric acid clouds on Venus is a testament to the fundamental power of climate science,"
"Most of the greenhouse effect comes from the carbon dioxide, however, which by itself is sufficient to raise the surface temperature most of the way toward its observed value of around 470C."
Notice how adiabatic compression of the atmosphere is not mentioned at all?
To add to the counter-argument against the climate scientists at RealClimate - I want to point to a section from a book by Dr. Donald Scott:-
"To explain the unexpectedly high surface temperature of Venus, Carl Sagan, S.I. Rasool, and C. de Bergh proposed what is now called the "runaway greenhouse" effect. Certain gases, primarily water vapour but also carbon dioxide and a few others, transmit sunlight and absorb infrared (heat) energy. Glass has this same property, and scientists once thought it was the cause of heat retention in greenhouses: Supposedly the glass let sunlight in, the plants and soil absorbed it and reradiated it as infrared energy, and the glass prevented the infrared from radiating back into space. By analogy, "greenhouse gases" could trap heat near a planet's surface. Presumably a sufficient density of such gases could trap more heat than was radiated away, and the surface would get increasingly hotter.
But if sunlight entrapment in a mixture of gases can indeed cause the temperature to rise to 800 or 900 degrees F, then it should be possible to build an actual greenhouse here on earth, fill it with a gaseous mixture identical to Venus's atmosphere, and sit back and watch the temperature rise. This would be a marvelously non-polluting energy source. This experiment was never undertaken."
(From page 20 of Don Scott's plasma cosmology book "The Electric Sky - A Challenge To The Myths Of Modern Astronomy")
Physicist Wallace Thornhill also remarks that
"carbon dioxide is insufficient to create a greenhouse effect that will raise the surface temperature of Venus to that of molten lead. This argument cannot be used to suggest an impending climate crisis on Earth."
So what if the pressure of the atmosphere was the same of planet Earth? Would we still be seeing such high temperatures being brought "most of the way" to 470C as a result of the parts per million concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere? This seems highly questionnable. It seems that the atmospheric pressure would have to be tremendously increased overall for such heating to take place - and that says little about the innate properties of CO2. An experiment using a variety of traditionally non-greenhouse gases in different combinations under pressure and combined with the scaled-down equivalent of solar heating should put the "runaway greenhouse" theory to a real test.
In the case of the climate history of the Earth - we have interesting assertions from climate scientists (with clear liaison with NASA) claiming that the thermonuclear model of the sun explains cooler temperatures millions of years ago when CO2 levels were much higher than today:-
"Another important factor is the sun. During the Ordovician, it would have been several percent dimmer according to established nuclear models of main sequence stars. Surprisingly, this raises the CO2 threshold for glaciation to a staggering 3000 ppmv or so."
But is the thermonuclear theory actually credible?
Referring back to the issue of Venus; I would like to point readers to the following extract from an article by Michael Goodspeed on the controversial writer Immanuel Velikovsky. It is important to note that the plasma cosmologists at sites like Thunderbolts.info and Holoscience.com (particularly Dave Talbott and Wallace Thornhill) criticise a considerable amount of Velikovsky's claims, but they do credit him for some of his other predictions:-
"For many years after publication of Worlds in Collision, Velikovsky was persona non grata on college campuses. He was denied the opportunity to publish articles in scientific journals. When he attempted to respond to critical articles in such journals, they rejected these responses. The attitude of established science was typified by the reactions of astronomers. Michigan astronomer Dean McLaughlin exclaimed, "Lies -- yes lies." In response to a correspondent, astronomer Harold Urey, wrote: "My advice to you is to shut the book and never look at it again in your lifetime."
For Velikovsky, this was the beginning of a personal "dark age". But remarkably, his friendship with Albert Einstein was unaffected, and Einstein met with him often, maintaining an extended correspondence as well, encouraging Velikovksy to look past the misbehavior of the scientific elite. In discussion with Einstein, Velikovsky predicted that Jupiter would be found to emit radio noises, and he urged Einstein to use his influence to have Jupiter surveyed for radio emission, though Einstein himself disputed Velikovsky's reasoning. But in April 1955 radio noises were discovered from Jupiter, much to the surprise of scientists who had thought Jupiter was too cold and inactive to emit radio waves. That discovery led Einstein to agree to assist in developing other tests of Velikovsky's thesis. But the world's most prominent scientist died only a few weeks later.
Velikovsky expected other discoveries through space exploration. He claimed that the planet Venus would be found to be extremely hot, since in his reconstruction, the planet was "candescent" in historical times. His thesis also implied the likelihood of a massive Venusian atmosphere, residue of its former "cometary" tail. And he claimed that the Earth would be found to have a magnetosphere reaching at least to the moon, because he was convinced that in historical times the Earth exchanged electrical charge with other planetary bodies.
Arrival of the space age was a critical juncture for Velikovsky, as data returned from the Moon, from Mars, and from Venus begin to recast our views of these celestial bodies. In 1959, Dr. Van Allen discovered that the Earth has a magnetosphere. In the early sixties, scientists realized, much to their surprise, that the planet Venus has a surface temperature as high as 900 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to melt lead."
In 1940, the German-American astronomer Rupert Wildt claimed that a greenhouse effect on Venus could produce a surface temperature of up to 400 Kelvin which is 27C hotter than the boiling point of water (Source: Encyclopedia of the solar system - Lucy-Ann Adams McFadden, Paul Robert Weissman, Torrence V. Johnson - 2007).
When later measurements showed surface temperatures at 740K (467C), this was regarded as a surprise to most scientists who then developed the "enhanced" and "runaway" greenhouse effects in order to try and save the theory. But the high temperature (more than hot enough to melt lead) was not a surprise to Velikovsky who predicted a very thick atmosphere which he claimed would be hotter than anybody expected. This atmosphere is of notable contrast to the planet Mercury which is closer to the sun, but has a thinner atmosphere with a considerably lower mean temperature (only 440K). Interestingly, if one subtracted the effect of extra solar radiation on Venus (using methods used by Roger Bourke White Jr.) - the mean temperature of Mercury (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercury_(planet) would be not too far from the expected mean temperature of Venus if one followed the "green-house effect" predictions of Rupert Wildt. The "green-house effect", whether it is in a standard or theoretical "enhanced" or "runaway" manifestation can not explain the high temperature all over Venus. Importantly, it could possibly be that Venus has been very slowly cooling from its formerly "candescent" history as a blazing cometary body traversing a different orbit than it does today. It's slow cooling could be because of the thick high-pressure atmosphere (releasing heat very very slowly) that was predicted by Velikovsky (rather than heating being neccessarily from adiabatic compression as implied by Roger Bourke White Jr).
Interestingly, an article in the New Scientist in 1997 detailed the discovery of a "magnetotail" of Venus that stretched more than 600 times as far as anyone had expected or realized. Rens Van der Sluijs elaborates further in this 2009 article:-
This only further helps to solidify the predictions of Velikovsky with regard to the cometary history of Venus. A cometary tail which was apparently seen as a huge and dazzling hair-like display in the sky and witnessed by many cultures worldwide. A fascinating short video summary of the cultural mythological interpretations of Venus' behaviour, can be viewed here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Clq-GiqvL9o)
Another interesting discovery on the equatorial region of Venus has been patterns of surface scarring which have puzzled some mainstream scientists:-
The filamentary structure of the scarring can be seen as well as interesting connected ring-structures.
Electric Universe theory offers a potential explanation (http://www.thunderbolts.info/tpod/2007/arch07 /070626venusscarring.htm). Mainstream theory claims that vulcanism can most likely explain many surface patterns on Venus - although some of these explanations have even assumed that the channels would have to defy gravity and hence must have been altered by changes in terrain height over time. However, this claim has also been challenged by Electric Universe theory (http://www.thunderbolts.info/tpod/2005/arch05/050203venusriver.htm). And even more convincing evidence of interplanetary electrical discharge machining has been presented in this fascinating two-part documentary show-case by Dave Talbott in the case of the planet Mars (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_T6__JDeyw). It is important to remember that it was Velikovsky who popularised the idea of inter-planetary electrical discharge, and he mentioned Venus as being part of this electrodynamic framework (and particularly with its historical manifestation of a bright cometary tail...effectively a form of plasma discharge).
When it comes to people like Velikovsky, it is easy to throw the baby out with the bath water - just because he made a considerable amount of erroneous claims. People should be given credit for where they have made accurate claims and predictions. It is also important to note that the likes of Carl Sagan (who attacked Velikovsky along with the majority of the scientific community) have failed to make such predictions, and instead he and a few others promoted a "runaway greenhouse effect" that ignores things such as adiabatic heating of the atmosphere (which does not depend on the specific thermal capacity of CO2) or even internal heat produced by electrical plasma discharge. Additionally, such a "runaway greenhouse effect" has never been tested in a laboratory and perhaps it may not even be reproducable. Neither have the features of the sun been reproduced in a laboratory via internal nuclear fusion; yet over a century ago we have had scientists such as Kristian Birkeland produce solar features with his "terella" experiments. For more on plasma and electric cosmology, I invite readers to see my article "Challenging the groupthink of mainstream cosmology".
I think such a cosmology has implications for climate-science as well as other earth sciences. There is a lot that we need to learn, and we should always leave our assumptions under constant re-evaluation and scrutiny. I also want to state that there are a lot of internet websites that are full of spin when it comes to the issue of global warming/climate change (whether they are for the theory, or against the theory). In my experience (from researching in the 9/11 truth movement) - we have enough outspoken talking-heads who claim to represent skepticism but in fact end up exaggerating or mixing truth with blatant sensationalism, lies and spin. We live in a world of grey and obfuscation on BOTH sides of the argument. The waters seem to be muddied almost everywhere. Be careful out there, but try to be brave too.