Let’s start with Newton’s LAWS of Motion and Gravitation. Huh? I know, I’m taking you down another path, but I’ll get to the point eventually. Let’s talk about his 2nd LAW of motion which states that F=MA (force = mass times acceleration). Let’s say that I don’t believe this. There is simply not enough evidence of this LAW. It can’t be true. “What is your alternate theory?” You might ask. It’s not F=MA, that’s for sure. I pushed real hard against my car and it didn’t move an inch. I also have a brother who skydives. He tells me that he stops accelerating after a few seconds. You might reply with explanations of ‘vector sum of forces’, ‘coefficients of static friction’ and ‘wind resistance’. I could keep going, but the point is that I DON’T have a theory. I am simply denying the only theory present. I had a college Physics professor who had a term for this. He would say “It’s so bad, it’s not even wrong.” You see science needs a testable theory to progress. If I said that F=mv/t (Force=mass times velocity divided by a fixed time in an hour) that would be a new and testable theory. Something that COULD be wrong. A cursory look will note 2 things 1 – I actually got the units right and 2 – It shows near infinite acceleration and no account for momentum. So this is REAL bad, but it’s not so bad that it’s not even wrong. It is wrong, but I’m no longer a denier.
And that’s the point. I have heard a lot of obfuscating when it comes to global warming (subject of a future post), a lot of information parcels, but no one actually recites an alternate theory to me (I’ll add one in this post to help the deniers out). I hope no one will melt if I use the word denier, but I don’t know of anything else to call it. Do I need to find something softer? “Theory comprehension limitation”;“Science obfuscator”;”Alternate fact believer”? I’m open to other labels if it makes you feel better.
Ok, sticking to Newton’s LAWS just a little longer. LAW sounds pretty damn powerful, doesn’t it? How can that be wrong? Einstein just had theories. Theories are something any of us can pull out of our a$$; they’re not real at all. Here’s the thing: If Newton came up with his ideas today, they would be called theories, not laws. It turns out that Newton’s laws failed at high speeds and large masses. Einstein’s theory of special relativity improved our understanding of motion. The theory of general relativity improved our understanding of gravity. These accounted for high speeds and large masses and time dilation associated with them. So does this mean that Newton was totally wrong, should be dismissed and disregarded, another fake theory? Of course not. His LAWS are still used today and are sufficient to land a man on the moon and bring him back. They are not sufficient, however, to build and run a gps system. For that you need to incorporate general relativity. And it’s a little worse than all that. It turns out that Einstein’s theories don’t work in all circumstances either. The fail with the very small. We have another theory for that (Quantum theory) but nothing that can handle the very small and the very large. Huh? Black holes. So the whole thing should be dismissed, right? Not at all. They are all good theories and workable, just not complete.
And that brings us back to global warming or AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming).
First a little reminder on chemistry: Here is the chemical formula for automobile combustion. If you are wondering, yes H2O (water) is also a greenhouse gas, but not the subject of this post.
As I had mentioned before human-induced global warming or AGW is an accepted theory similar to those described above. They are treated as a fact of life until and unless new theories come along to improve or displace it. So it’s settled science, right? Well of course not. Science is rarely settled. We’re still working on Gravity over 300 years after Newton. So, yes, science is in agreement that humans are responsible for an overall increase in global temperature. What happens on earth after that fact is hardly settled.
So I will repeat myself here a little. Earth reflects radiation back into space at wavelengths based on the temperature of the planet. That happens to be in the infrared spectrum. CO2 (as well as other greenhouse gases) absorb within a few frequencies in the infrared spectrum. When a CO2 molecule absorbs a photon in the correct wavelength it converts that to increased temperature then re-radiates in all directions including back to earth. Easy to understand but with everything seemingly simple, it isn’t. It is a lot more complex than that. CO2 is already absorbing all of the radiation in its absorption spectrum. This would appear to limit the effect of adding more CO2 (I told you, I would offer an alternate theory, I didn’t tell you it would have been proven wrong). It is about a balance in what it will absorb vs. what is radiated. This article explains it fairly well, but there are many more out there that are much more ‘sciencey’. Another Real Climate post might get you excited after it tells you how wrong most arguments are, but moves along to explain this phenomena fairly well and I would encourage a read. To sum it up at the upper layers of our atmosphere there is a place where radiation can get past the CO2. By adding CO2, it pushes that area ever upward.
But we really can’t trust these scientists can we? Alight, we will go to a more reliable source for our experimentation. We will entrust the Mythbusters with our testing.
Finally, to answer a criticism of Skip’s. He told me that I was taking people to task for disagreeing with me. I have done no such thing, nor would I. However, I will consistently take someone to task for giving misleading and incomplete information or for bad science. How bad? So bad, it’s not even wrong.