Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

02 August 2015

New York Further Damages Economy with a Minimum Wage of $15/hr.

A minimum wage mandate is a serious infringement upon the rights of individuals to earn a living, to enter into contracts with one another, and their freedom of association.  It is a fundamentally unethical use of force in which third parties impose their ignorance and values upon others.  It should be opposed with great vigor as a matter of principle.

Too often, Americans believe they are pragmatists with little need for the principles that actually make it easier and far more efficient for them to identify the values and means by which people secure their lives and happiness.  They actually forgo valid principles thinking they can identify the practical means to achieve their values without them.  They pursue this phantom path to their perdition as often as to their happiness.

New York state just mandated a rise in the minimum wage to $15/hour throughout the state for fast food workers working for companies operating in 30 or more locations.  The full requirement has to be met in 2021, with staged increases before that.  The general minimum wage increased from $8.75/hour on 31 December 2014 to $9.00/hour.  Such state-wide minimum wage laws can cause very different degrees of harm in communities with different income levels and different costs of living.

Let us examine how this lack of principled support for individual rights is going to cause further harm to the already sub-par New York state economy.  We will compare the median household incomes of many New York state cities to the national average of $53,046.  We will note the cost of living in those cities compared to the national average, given as 100%.  We will compute an effective median household income for these New York cities by dividing their median household income by their cost of living ratio with the national cost of living average.  We will then give the city effective median household income as a percentage of the national median household income.

Cost of Living % Compared to National Average
Median Household Income (National = $53,046)
Effective Median Household Income
% National Effective Median Household Income
Niagara Falls
New York City

Only Yorktown, home of many IBM operations, and Hauppauge on Long Island beat the national effective median household income!  Most of the cities in the state have effective median household incomes only 67 to 81% those of the nation as a whole!  The New York state economy is a very bad mess.  The people of New York are generally much worse off than the average American.

There are two closely related reasons for this.  One is that government policies have a very large impact on the cost of living.  Big Government policies drive up the cost of living, until and unless those policies drive so many businesses away that people abandon their housing or are desperate to sell it to move to a location with jobs.  Housing prices drop precipitously in such cases.  Nine of the above cities have a housing cost of living which is 66% of the national average or lower.  These are desolate cities and include Buffalo at 32%, Rochester at 35%, Niagara Falls at 34%, Jamestown at 38%,  Elmira at 39%, Syracuse at 45%, and Schenectady at 53%.

The other effect of Big Government is on businesses whose labor, regulatory, and tax costs are all driven up considerably.  Those businesses then fare worse in competition with other businesses nationally and internationally.  They expand more slowly than they would otherwise.  They have less money to invest in facilities, production equipment, employee training devoted to the company core purposes, R & D, quality control, and better pay and benefits for their employees generally.  They deliver lower returns to their investors and cause those investors to abandon them.  Highly skilled and hardworking employees move to states that pay them better and where they can find healthier companies to build their careers with.  There is an inevitable failure of the state economy to keep up with those of states with more limited governments.

The abysmally low effective median household incomes of most of New York state's cities above are a result of and a clear indicator of the very unwise economic policies of the state of New York.  This was once a wealthy state with comparatively higher median incomes.  There is still great wealth in New York, but it is in the hands of a relative few people, thanks to government policies.  The very big government of the state of New York has been mostly controlled by Democrats for a 100 years, and when it was not, it was in the hands of Progressive Elitist Republicans.  Despite the many claims of concern for economic equality, the divergence in income levels in New York state is actually unusually large compared to most other states, especially those with much more limited power governments.

The cost of the higher than average minimum wage payments has to be spread over some combination of higher prices, lower wages for other employees, lower returns to investors, less investment in facilities except those which allow a facility to operate with fewer employees, and fewer low skill employees.  In general, the choices which will be made to meet the minimum wage demand will have the net effect of providing less money to the communities of New York.  Most of the people in these communities are already suffering by the national standard of income.  How are most of those people supposed to be able to pay a few among them much higher wages?  Minimum wages have less impact on communities in which most people are well-off, so they can afford to pay more for services.

The New York state minimum wages are going to hurt most New Yorkers.  They will hurt many businesses and eliminate jobs for the initially least productive potential employees.  Young, under-educated people will be the ones most likely not to be offered jobs.  Some will become wards of the state.  Some will leave the state to find jobs.  The working population will become older and older.  This will be a further drain on businesses over time.

It is not hard to figure out these effects.  Generally, economists recognize that labor pay increases with demand for labor.  Demand for labor increases when the added production of an employee more than covers all of the many costs associated with putting an employee to work.  Democrat Socialists who most often support minimum wage increases often know this, but they also know that most people would like to see low-paid workers paid more.  Some low-paid workers would like to be paid more.  Employers are in comparatively small numbers.  Vote maximization suggests that one count on the ignorance and the emotions of most voters on the effects of minimum wages.  They are popular.  But, wise leaders would steer away from them and would work hard to educate voters in the great harm they do.  Such leaders could do much to prevent cities in well-positioned states from falling far below the national effective median household income levels.  But, it is especially hard to find such wise leadership in the bowels of the Democrat Socialist Party.

I was surprised to find just how badly depressed the effective household income of most New Yorkers is.  One does not usually think of most New Yorkers and Mississippians as being in the same highly depressed income boat.  The choice of Democrats to rule one's state has dire consequences.

27 July 2015

Greenhouse Gases Warmed the Earth Somewhat, but Additions Now Cool the Earth

Let us examine the net effect of infra-red active (so-called greenhouse) gases on the Earth’s surface temperature under present conditions and then the effect of a perturbation of that condition.   First, the net effect of the greenhouse gases presently on the surface temperature is usually found as the presently measured surface temperature minus the temperature predicted by a simple black body radiation calculation.  The average power flux of energy from solar insolation at the top of the atmosphere on the Earth system is usually given as

S (1-A)/ 4,

where S is the total solar insolation or radiation at the top of the atmosphere, A is the albedo or the fraction of the solar radiation reflected without absorption by the Earth system, and the factor of 4 is the average reduction of solar flux due to the projection of a rotating sphere onto a disk in the daily cycle.  However, the Earth has a precession angle of ψ = 23.44° or 0.4094 radians relative to its rotational axis.  According to Sorokhtin, Chilingar, Khilyuk and Gorfunkel in Evolution of the Earth’s Global Climate, Energy Sources, Part A, (2007), 1-19 and Sorokhtin, Chilingar and Khilyuk, Global Warming and Global Cooling: Evolution of Climate on Earth, Elsevier, Amsterdam (2007), p.313, the correction factor for the precession effect, ø, replaces the factor 4 in the divisor above with 4ø, where ø is

[π/2 – ψ]/π/2 + (ψ/π/2) [1/(1+cos ψ)] = 0.8754 for the Earth

So 4ø = 3.5016 for the Earth.

However, to calculate surface temperature of the Earth without any infra-red active gases such as water vapor, carbon dioxide, or methane, one has to delete the losses of reflected solar insolation due to reflections from clouds.  If there is no water vapor, there are no clouds.  Let us examine the 2013 NASA Earth Energy Budget of Fig. 1 or a means to estimate the fraction of the solar insolation incident upon the surface, the only location where absorption occurs, which is reflected.  The albedo A of an Earth without infra-red active gases is 0.127 from this NASA Earth Energy Budget, rather than the 0.3 value for our present Earth with infra-red active gases.  The Earth’s surface temperature without infra-red active gases, TS, is then

TS = [S(1-A)/(3.5016)σ]0.25 = [1367 W/m2 (1 - 0.127)/ (3.5016)(5.6697 x 10-8 W/m2 K4)]0.25

TS = 278.4 K

So if the present average temperature of the Earth is taken to be 288.2 K, the net warming effect of all of the present infra-red active gases is 9.8 K.  This is a far cry from the 33 K warming effect which is often claimed as the result of the so-called greenhouse gas effect.  But it is true that without the so-called greenhouse gases, the Earth’s surface would be cooler than it is now because the surface itself would be in radiative equilibrium with space instead of a combination of the surface, a more heavily weighted altitude at the top of the troposphere, and a much lighter weighting of the stratosphere.  The movement of the altitude of the final emission to space of infra-red radiation upward gives slower energy transport mechanisms in the troposphere the primary task of cooling the surface and warming the lower troposphere.

Fig. 1.  The NASA Earth Energy Budget of 2013 is shown.  There is a great deal of nonsense in this energy budget, but the one thing we are taking from it is the fraction of solar radiation incident upon the surface which is reflected, which is 7% / (48% + 7%) = 0.127.

There are many effects that are caused by the infra-red active gases.  The first molecules of these gases added to the atmosphere were able to absorb energy that would otherwise have been radiated directly from the surface straight out into space.  That absorbed energy was then most often transferred to non-active infra-red molecules of nitrogen, oxygen, and argon gas which then mostly transported the energy upward by convection processes until the energy was deposited in the atmosphere where the molecular collision rate was lower and the mean free path for infra-red energy absorption was longer.  This absorption effect is large at first, but becomes rapidly smaller as the number of infra-red molecules becomes larger.  Other effects do not shrink as rapidly or at all as the number of infra-active molecules increases, however.  For instance, water vapor and CO2 also absorb incoming solar insolation in the atmosphere and that absorption is less saturated at the present concentrations of water vapor and CO2 in the atmosphere.  This is a surface cooling effect in that the radiation never arrives at the surface to warm it.  The differential effects of water vapor and CO2 compared to N2 and O2 on the heat transported by convection scale linearly with the increase in water vapor and CO2, so they do not diminish as their concentrations are increased.  Water vapor condensation in the atmosphere also increases linearly with the amount of water vapor.

So, it is not a foregone conclusion that adding CO2 to the present mix of gases in the Earth atmosphere will cause further warming, just because the additions of the first molecules did cause warming.  We do not immediately know whether the so-called greenhouse effect is increasing or decreasing with further additions of greenhouse gases.  This is a question I have been discussing for years on this blog and since I wrote a book chapter called Do IR-Absorbing Gases Warm or Cool the Earth’s Surface?, in Slaying the Sky Dragon -- Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory, Stairway Press, published in January 2011.  Of course, the presence of water on the Earth’s surface and water vapor in the atmosphere causes the Earth’s surface to be warmer than it would be without water, but unlike the common assumption, this does not tell us that further additions of the so-called greenhouse gases will cause further warming.  I have many times explained why the physics commonly and vaguely offered as the reason why such gases would continue to warm the Earth’s surface is wrong.

The recent paper by G.V. Chilingar, O.G. Sorokhtin, L.F. Khilyuk, and M. Liu entitled Do Increasing Contents of Methane and Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere Cause Global Warming?, Atmospheric and Climate Sciences, Vol.04 No.05 (2014), Article ID:51443 addresses this question.  They note that the adiabatic temperature distribution with pressure p, gas heat capacity at constant pressure of cP and heat capacity at constant volume of cV, is given by

Tγ p1-γ = constant, where γ = cP/cV, or

T = (constant) pα, with α = (γ – 1)/γ

They note that for atmospheres with a pressure greater than 0.2 atm,

Th = bα [S(1-A)/(4 ø σ)]0.25 (ph / p0)α,

Where Th is the temperature in K at altitude h, ph is the pressure at altitude h, σ is the Stefan-Boltzmann constant, and b is a constant.  For Earth, S = 1367 W/m2, the albedo A = 0.3, and 4 ø = 3.5016.  Taking the surface temperature TS = 288.2 K, one can calculate the value of bα to be 1.094.  For the Earth’s present atmosphere, α = 0.1905.

The adiabatic exponent α is known to be

α = R / µ (cP + cW + cR),

where R is the gas constant or 1.987 cal/K mole, µ is the air molecular weight, cW is the heat capacity per gram due to water vapor, cR is the additional specific heat capacity per gram due to infra-red radiation, and µ cP is the partial pressure weighted average of the cP per gram of each gas molecule given as

µ cP = [µN2 pN2 cP (N2) + µO2 pO2 cP (O2) + µCO2 pCO2 cP (CO2) + µAr pAr cP (Ar)]/p,

which is not the way this is expressed in the paper.  Note that µN2 cP (N2) is the heat capacity per mole of nitrogen gas and each atmospheric gas component should be handled similarly.  cW + cR is the effective heat capacity of the sum of the water condensation processes and the absorption by infra-red active gases of the incoming solar insolation in the atmosphere.  A decrease in the value of α will cause a temperature decrease at any given altitude in the troposphere and a temperature decrease at the surface.

The value of µ should also be adjusted for additions with a weighted average based on component gas partial pressures as I showed above, though the paper does not present the issue in this way.  Additions of carbon dioxide with a mass of 44 amu increase the overall air µ since N2 has a mass of 28 amu and O2 has a mass of 32 amu, with normal air being about 28.96 amu on average.  So additions of carbon dioxide will decrease α by increasing the average molecular mass.  On the other hand, additions of water vapor (18 amu) or methane (16 amu), both reduce the average air molecular weight, which acts to increase α.  To find the overall effect of a gas component in convection, however, one needs to examine the heat capacity of each gas in terms of its µ cP or its constant pressure heat capacity per mole.

Unfortunately, the paper incorrectly equates specific heat with heat capacity in the discussion.  Specific heats are given in relation to that of water.  While they misuse the term, the results are handled correctly.

Because the infra-red active gases have internal modes of vibration which are excited and hence carry energy in addition to the translational kinetic energy of these molecules, they have larger heat capacities per mole than do the non-infra-red active gases such as N2 and O2.  For instance, at atmospheric pressure N2 has a heat capacity at constant pressure of 6.96 cal/K mol, while H2O vapor has a heat capacity of 8.02 cal/K mol, CO2 has a heat capacity of 8.87 cal/K mol, and methane, CH4, has a heat capacity of 8.44 cal/K mol.  The constant pressure heat capacities per mole of water vapor, carbon dioxide, and methane are all greater than those of nitrogen gas, so they reduce the value of α by increasing the convective heat capacity in the denominator of α.  A reduced α means a reduced temperature.  The paper confuses this issue in the discussion because it gives the heat capacities for each molecule as the heat capacity per gram, which is lower for CO2 than it is for N2 and O2 due to its substantially greater molecular weight.  They state the right conclusion, but the reasoning is hard to follow.

More water vapor increases both cW and cR, while an increase in carbon dioxide or methane increases cR.  So α and the temperature are still further reduced by the increased net heat capacity.
The effective temperature of radiative equilibrium with space, Te, is not defined in the paper, but is this:

Te = [S(1-A)/(3.5016)σ]0.25 = [1367 W/m2 (1 - 0.3)/ (3.5016)(5.6697 x 10-8 W/m2 K4)]0.25

Te = 263.5 K

In addition, the heat in the atmosphere per gram, Q is given as

 Q = cR Te
But we also have 

Q = (cP + cW) (TS – Te)


CR = (cP + cW) (TS – Te)/ Te
Note that Equation 5 in the paper is in error, though 5’, which is derived from equation 5, is correct.  Using the fact that α = R / µ (cP + cW + cR), we find that 

cR = (R/µα) (TS – Te)/ TS

CW = (R/µα) (Te/TS) - cP

Calculating these values for Earth with α = 0.1905, µ = 29, the dry air heat capacity cP = 0.2394 cal/g K, TS = 288 K, Te = 263.5 K, one finds that 

cR = 0.306 cal/g K

cW = 0.0897 cal/g K

The heat energy transport by convection, water condensation, and radiation of infra-red active gases is proportional to the cP, cW, and cR values.  Convection is responsible for 66.56% of the heat transfer, water condensation for 24.94%, and radiation by infra-red active gases accounts for 8.51% of the energy transport in the troposphere.

The paper uses this methodology to show an excellent match with the surface temperatures and the lower atmosphere temperature gradients for both Earth and Venus.  It points out that an all methane Earth atmosphere would have almost exactly the same surface temperature, while an all CO2 Earth atmosphere would have a surface temperature of about 281K, instead of 288K.  These are under the assumption that the total weight of the atmosphere is preserved in the comparisons.

So, as I have often said, the net warming of the Earth’s surface by infra-red gases is much less than it is claimed to be.  It is about 9.8 K, not about 33 K.  Also, as I have said by other empirical approaches, the effect of adding water vapor to the atmosphere is now a cooling effect, though water vapor is responsible for most of the prior warming due to its role in preventing a direct radiative equilibrium between the surface and space for most of the heat at the surface.  I have also said that adding CO2 has a very small effect on the surface temperature, which is borne out by this paper where CO2 is only responsible for a small portion of the small cR effect and a very small increase of cP.  I have long said that it was not clear that adding CO2 would not decrease the temperature a wee bit.  It now appears clear that just as adding water vapor now decreases the surface temperature, so too does adding either CO2 or methane gas.  This paper I have just discussed shows why additions of the infra-red active (greenhouse) gases now have a net cooling effect upon our troposphere and upon surface temperatures.

There is a warming of the surface by infra-red active gases, the so-called greenhouse gases, but that effect was maximized at lower concentrations of those gases than we now have.  Increases in those gases now cause small decreases in surface and general tropospheric temperatures.  This is because the mean free length for infra-red absorption by these gases is now too short for them to move the upper troposphere radiative equilibrium altitude to higher altitudes in the dense troposphere.  With that space radiation shell at the top of the troposphere relatively stabilized, the increased role of the gases in transporting heat energy upward from the surface means they are stronger coolants than they are “greenhouse” heaters.