CLIMATE, ENERGY & SURVIVAL

by
C. (Kees) le Pair7



Climate is unattractive for a physicist. It is a vague, undefined concept1, not quantifiable. If any, it has only local and time dependent characteristics, e.g. different for Inuit and Iraqis or me and my grandparents. It is influenced by many processes that mutually interact. We call it a complex system. That already prohibits a rigorous understanding and description2. Moreover the constituting processes are not all sufficiently understood. And many data are not sufficiently accurate. Several of them need long time series, which we don't have.
The big data series pose another problem. They are cumbersome (computer capacity) or even impossible to use in formulas of known physical processes. Such processes are often only well known 'quasi statically', which they are not on Earth. In climate science, data are often averaged. And the average is used in computations. This is erroneous, except in rare occasions.

A striking example of this uncertainty in climate is temperature, one of the most quoted of many climate characteristics. The Sun radiates energy to the Earth. All matter radiates energy dependent on its temperature. To keep a stable temperature on Earth, the energy-in must be equal to the energy-out. We know the incoming energy from the Sun and since the Earth's temperature remains roughly stable, the outflow must be about the same. This is nowadays neatly verified by satellite measurements.
If one assumes that the Earth radiates everywhere and all the time at the same temperature, physics tells us: that a stable uniform temperature would be 255 K (18 °C). But we know, this cannot be true. The poles and mountain tops are cold, the Sahara is hot. The air at a height of 15 km is usually about 223 K (-50 °C)... The Earth's core is even about 5000 K (5300 °C).
If the radiating Earth would only radiate at any time the local and time dependent incoming solar energy, its average temperature would be 145 K (-128 °C)3. The 110 K (110 °C) difference between these two extreme results, derived from the same radiative processes and data, is only due to the difference in averaging (uniform or sun-on-spot dependent). It shows clearly that the way the Earth distributes and redistributes the received solar energy is of major importance.
The stability of the Earth's redistribution of the incoming energy, before radiating it off to the universe, is in my view not receiving sufficient attention in climate studies. If cared about at all, it is usually confined to energy transport in the atmosphere, which has a small energy capacity compared to the oceans and changes in land use.

Another radiative phenomenon suffers from a similar lack of attention. The Earth is not an opaque black sphere. The oceans are turbid (diathermal, or semi transparent). It absorbs radiative energy below the surface. This must be exported through other processes than by reradiation, involving temperature gradients. This is vey important as the public interest in climate is not really much about Earth, but rather about a tiny shell of the Earth in which we live. The oceans are a major part of it energetically and they are turbid. So, in which temperature along those gradients are we interested and how does this change4?

With all this uncertainty it is "mission impossible" to derive climate understanding from first principles Not now and perhaps never. Why? Because it is like Richard Feynman said: "If there is something very slightly wrong in our definition of the theories, then the full mathematical rigor may convert these errors into ridiculous conclusions." For the climate case,I would add to "...our defintion of the theories": or in our data.
Let me illustrate this with a recent example of complexity theory:
The forces, masses and velocities of the planets are sufficiently known to compute their future orbital movement. If we do this for Mercurius, we might predict it after some (long) period to be at a certain spot somewhere on its present orbit.
If however we do the same computation in which only its initial position is shifted a few centimeters, say a thumb's length , we predict her to be travelling through the center of the Sun at that time! Who knows with such precision Mercurius's present position? Or the precision of all parameters in the processes relevant for climate? Thus For the same reason we cannot compute climate characteristics from solid first principles, with other than exact data and rigid theories of sub-processes to start with.

This does not imply we can have no climate knowledge at all. But it shows that, some one, or an IPCC, foretelling what the climate is going to become if we change one contributing parameter like atmospheric CO2, ought to be seriously interrogated about data accuracy, sub-process knowledge and predictability of the many other influences. Ultimately in complexity, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The ultimate test for any theory about the behaviour of a complex system is a comparison with measurements on the system as a whole in real life, over a relevant long period. Not a check on the calculations of the theorist5. In this respect climate science does not have a glorious past. The difference between theoretical values and measurements has been striking. Sea surface rise, shore lines, hurricane strength, hurricane frequency, hot spot in the tropical atmosphere, over all temperatures - whatever they mean - Arctic sea ice cover, Antarctic temperature records, glacier lengths, draughts, floods. precipitation, sea life, Great Barrier Reef and more have all falsified the validity of the proposed theories (called climate models).

All of this would be of minor, academic interest, if the conclusions of invalid theories had not been adopted by the public at large and its rulers. It is not the competence of a physicist to explain, why so much unfounded nonsense became such a wide spread disease. So I restrict myself to observable facts.
A falsified theory about CO2 ruling the climate, lead to an untimely transition of our energy supply. (A second argument for a rapid energy transition is depletion of natural resources such as oil, coal and gas. This argument is equally invalid as that of the relevance of human added CO2 and climate change. This I shall not elaborate about here.)

The badly timed energy transition is not due to the Russians, but to our own errors. Whatever, it will cause energy shortages. And because energy is needed for all products, including food, housing and transport, it will bring us poverty, famine and death for many millions. This cannot be medicated by money, printed or other forms of money creation. Energy is a much more solid entity than banknotes or a number in a spreadsheet of a central bank. Newly created money may help some of us to acquire the last remaining food, but only because the not so lucky get correspondingly less to eat.

So please remember at least two truths of this sermon:

1. There is no climate emergency shown in observations, only in falsified theories.
2. The CO2-hunt and reliance on unsuitable replacements like solar cells and wind turbines will kill many of us.

Nieuwegein, The Netherlands
2022 04 08.

Notes

  1. Climate to some is temperature, to others precipitation, floods, draughts, or wind, or day and night differences, or seasonal differences, sea ice extent, sea level and several more. Climate as such is immeasurable.
  2. For instance: The position and motion of two attracting masses can be exactly calculated, from initial data. We know the fundamentals. However for three or more such masses this cannot be done analytically, only numerically with some uncertainty in the outcome, depending on the period. The same is true for other complex phenomena. The uncertainty increases rapidly with more contributing sub-processes and is aggravated when these are themselves not precisely known.
  3. Climate... temperature uniformity. 0 K(-270 °C) where there is no Sun shine and more than 373 K (> 100 °C) where the Sun is at zenith and averaged over: surface and time: 145 K (-128 °C).
  4. It was only during the last few decennia that some attention was payed to the oceanic processes of el Ninjo and al Ninja and their influence on temperature. The excellent Argo program with floating and diving buoys has till now delivered us data only during a few years and the results have not been digested sufficiently yet by climate science.
  5. Checks on the model calculations are manifold. They all show different outcomes. So much about the accuracy of those computations and models.
  6. Nowadays there is much attention for errors made in the past, like slavery, colonialism etc. These are even 'en vogue'. But opposition to errors made today is usually met with resistance. or even betrayal accusation, or other non factual arguments. This is strange, because contemporary errors are easier to repair than those in the past.
  7. Dr. C. le Pair, R.O.N.L., ex-CEO of FOM & STW, The Netherlands' Research Organisations for Physics & Technology; former long time Member of the National Energy Council and chief ICT advisor to the European Union. Email: clepair@casema.nl .

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