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.

29 July 2014

ObamaCare's False Boast: It has significantly lowered the number of uninsured

It has become common to see supporters of ObamaCare, artfully and deceitfully called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, claim that it has decreased the numbers of the uninsured from the 17.4% of Americans in 2010 when it was signed into law to the present 13.4%.

Of course the main factor affecting the percentage with health insurance is affordability.  It happens that in 2012 real dollars, 2010 was the minimum in household income for the upper limit of the lowest, the next lowest, and the middle quintiles of household income due to the Great Socialist Recession.  Even the fourth and next to the highest quintile upper limit was almost as low in that year in its worst year of 2009.  So of course one of the ways households hard-pressed due to the loss of income due to the Great Socialist Recession got by was by dropping their health insurance, especially assuming everyone in the household was in good health.

It makes more sense to compare the percentage of uninsured under ObamaCare now to the number before the Great Socialist Recession had its great depressing effect on household income.  In 2008, only 14.4% of Americans were uninsured for medical care.  That year was the maximum income year for all four lowest quintiles before the Great Socialist Recession depressed earnings, with the exception of the second quintile whose upper limit income maximized in 2007, but at a figure only $100 greater than that of 2008.  So, the great success of ObamaCare is really a 1.0% drop in the percentage of uninsured, not the 3.0% claimed by some of its advocates.

The proponents of ObamaCare want us to assume that all of that 1% is due to poor Americans obtaining insurance coverage either through Medicaid or as a result of federal government subsidy for their medical insurance coverage.  The fact that studies have shown no health advantage in being covered by Medicaid is unacknowledged by ObamaCare supporters.  The fact that more than half of the government subsidies are based on an IRS ruling that clearly violates the ObamaCare law and has been judged such by the DC Federal Court of Appeals is also ignored.

Another factor is ignored as well.  Many American households are wealthy enough to have been self-insured.  Few people understand how many are so wealthy and few people recognize that their decision to be self-insured was often a rational one, especially if members of the household were of generally good health.  Since good health is a useful attribute in achieving high incomes and in accumulating wealth, it is likely that the wealthier Americans are also commonly the healthier Americans.  Yet, the tax penalties of ObamaCare will have forced many such wealthy households to stop being self-insured, which is registered as uninsured.  Many such households had to purchase ObamaCare mandated medical insurance.  The movement of these wealthy households to being insured, is a part of the mere 1% decrease in the number of Americans uninsured.

So, how many American households might reasonably have been uninsured before the onset of ObamaCare?  In 2012, the top 5% of household income earnings exceeded $191,156 a year.  With such an income, one can easily afford the doctor's bills a relatively healthy family might incur.  But there is more.  In 2012, the total net household wealth was $80.66 trillion.  This is an average of about $659,000 per household.  Of course the median household wealth was much lower at about $120,000, actually a 2011 figure.

I do not have the wealth distribution figures for 2012, but those for 2007 are available.  Assuming about the same percentages of wealth in the wealthiest 1% and then the next wealthiest 4%, the average wealth for these groups of households in 2012 is:

Wealthiest 1%, $22,790,000 per household.

Next Wealthiest 4%, $4,495,000 per household.

So, any of these wealthiest 5% of households might well have chosen to be uninsured prior to ObamaCare.  Now, they are most likely better off being insured.  So it is clear that there is great potential for all of the 1% decrease in the uninsured since 2008 being people from the wealthiest and highest income households.

This may not be case, but until there is a complete and validated breakdown of the health care insured by income and wealth, we should not assume that the 1% decrease in the uninsured is the result of poor and maybe middle income people rushing into ObamaCare.  In addition, with the assurance of health insurance under ObamaCare for those with severe health problems, some wealthy and high income people are undoubtedly also saving money by putting unhealthy family members under ObamaCare's lower age-pooled rates.

Given the very small decrease of 1% in the uninsured since 2008 and the claims that large numbers of people have been signed up on Medicaid, it is clear that many of the people who had insurance in 2008 do not have it now.  This suggests strongly that a larger fraction of the middle income groups do not have health insurance now than did in 2008.  This is an expected effect of the large increase in the cost of insurance premiums brought on by ObamaCare for those who qualify for little or no subsidy.  It is also an expected result given the decrease in full-time employment since then due to this never-ending Great Socialist Recession.

14 July 2014

Does Increased CO2 Cause a Decrease in Infra-Red Emission to Space?

Dr. Roy Spencer says:
"....if you add more and more CO2, the effective radiating altitude to space goes ever higher, which is colder, which means less IR radiation, which means a warming tendency for the lower atmosphere."
Let us evaluate this statement, which Dr. Spencer made in a post criticizing this post by Andre Loftus at American Thinker.   Dr. Spencer says that Andre Loftus erred in not considering pressure broadening and therefore increased absorption of the long-wave infra-red radiation emitted by the Earth's surface and this change of infra-red emission to space in the upper atmosphere.  I am only going to address the latter issue in this post.

Now if you have a simple idea that a given number of CO2 molecules are in thermal equilibrium with the atmosphere of the upper troposphere, which cools as the altitude increases, and the increased CO2 moves the source of the final infra-red emission into space to a higher altitude, then the rate of energy emission into space will decrease per molecule.  If the total rate of heat emission to space drops, then somewhere in the Earth system there will be warming.

But let us check out whether such a simple model makes sense.  Among the things we must consider are:

1)  If we increase the number of CO2 molecules, we have more emitters and more emitters might be able to emit as much or more energy into space even if each emitter is emitting less energy.

2)  While it is true that the troposphere cools with increased altitude, if the final emissions are from altitudes such as about 11 km, according to the U.S. Standard Atmosphere this is about the altitude at which the troposphere becomes the tropopause and the atmosphere is no longer cooling with increased altitude.  According to many accounts, most of the final CO2 IR emissions into space are from this altitude or higher already, so added CO2 may not provide much additional final radiation from the below 11 km altitude.

3)  While it is true that most re-emission events of adsorbed long-wave infra-red in the lower troposphere are prevented by collisions with nitrogen and oxygen molecules and with argon atoms, so that the CO2 molecule comes to be in equilibrium with the temperature of the local layer of air, this stops being true in the upper troposphere.  At sea level there are about 6.9 billion collisions/s, while at 11km altitude the number of collisions is only about 1.8 billion collisions/s.  At sea level fewer than 0.2 of the infra-red excited CO2 molecules re-emit infra-red radiation before a collision, but at 11 km more than 0.77 will re-emit any infra-red radiation they have absorbed from lower altitude molecules before they suffer a collision.  This total re-emission number increases with further altitude.  Consequently, only a small fraction of the final emitter CO2 molecules into space will be affected by either the cooler atmosphere around them or a static temperature atmosphere around them as more CO2 molecules are added.

4)  An increase in the number of CO2 molecules in the upper troposphere may result in a warming of the upper troposphere, causing the temperature at the final emission altitude to space to warm from the current profile and making each final emitter molecule in the upper troposphere a more efficient energy emitter.

So, we basically have four cases for a final emitter CO2 molecule:

1)  The molecule is in the upper troposphere where a decreasing temperature gradient exists and was in equilibrium with the immediately surrounding molecules.

2)  The final molecule was in the troposphere, but not in equilibrium with the immediately surrounding molecules.

3)  The molecule is in the tropopause where there is no temperature gradient, but it simply re-emits the radiation it received from a molecule in the top of the troposphere, so it changes nothing.

4) The final emitting molecule is in the tropopause and in equilibrium with the surrounding tropopause molecules.  Only the increase in the number of such cases relative to those of Case 3 will result in any decrease in the efficiency of energy transmission into space per molecule.  This decrease is not proportional since the energy that was transferred to collisions goes into increasing the static temperature of the tropopause.

Let us consider the case which best lends itself to Dr. Spencer's argument.  The final emitter CO2 molecule is in the upper troposphere and in equilibrium with its immediate surrounding layer of air.  This is actually not a very common case, because according to reports, the mean free path of CO2 emissions at the principle absorption wavelength of interest is between 25 and 48 m at sea level.  We will take the greater length of 48 m, since that is the better case for Dr. Spencer's argument.  The mean free path (mfp) is proportional to the atmospheric density assuming a well-mixed CO2 case.  That implies the mfp is 142 m at 10 km according to the relative densities at sea level and 10 km according to the US Standard Atmosphere.  This in turn makes it clear why most final CO2 emitters are in the tropopause and not in the upper troposphere.  Even with a chance of only about 0.2 or less of an absorbing molecule in the tropopause of coming into equilibrium with the surrounding molecules of the tropopause, most emission chains will have many chances to do so.  So most final emitters are already in equilibrium with the tropopause and are not going to change their energy emission efficiency to to an increase in numbers.

Now let us double the number of CO2 molecules in the atmosphere.  Let us assume that half of the present final emitters are at 10 km altitude and half are in the tropopause.  Then we will double the number of CO2 molecules and the mfp becomes half what it was, or about 71 m.  As a result, we will assume that all of the final emitters are now in the tropopause to minimize their temperature.  Let us compare the rates of energy emission into space for these two cases assuming an emissivity of 1 (since it does not matter for the comparison) and ignoring the fact that CO2 emits only a small fraction of the total black body spectrum:

Case 1:
P = (0.5) σ (T at 10 km)4 + (0.5) σ (T of tropopause)4
P = (0.5)(5.6697 x 10-8) [(223.25)4 + (216.65)4] = 132.87 W/m2

Case 2 with doubled CO2:
P = 2(5.6697 x 10-8) (216.65)4 = 249.82 W/m2

Of course these emission powers are proportionally exaggerated for simplicity, since water vapor still plays a final emission role and the emission is not black body emission.  Doubling CO2 results in a 1.88 times increase in the cooling rate of the Earth attributable to CO2 with the ballpark reasonable assumptions made.

The doubling of CO2 causes an increase in radiation into space and hence a cooling of the Earth system.  This is not to say that the surface temperature is proportionally cooled, but the complete system would be cooled.  It is difficult to see what set of assumptions on the altitude of final CO2 emitters would lead to a decrease of CO2 radiant cooling into space.  Even putting all of the present final emitters in the troposphere and keeping them there after doubling CO2 is not going to result in a reduction of infra-red emission by them into space.

The real effect of doubling CO2 is not as dramatically cooling as these calculations show because the upper troposphere and tropopause would surely warm up relative to their present temperature profile.

The quoted argument by Dr. Spencer does not hold up to examination.  There are many reasons, as I have argued frequently, to believe that carbon dioxide has a net cooling effect on surface temperatures and even on the heat of the Earth system as a whole.  In reality, its effect on surface temperatures is very small, for reasons I have discussed elsewhere.

13 July 2014

Evaluating the Mercury Emissions Danger from Coal-Fired Power Plants

The Environmental Protection Agency has recently put into effect a ruling called Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) that requires power plants to greatly decrease their mercury emissions.  This directive is aimed primarily at coal-fired power plants and is said to be authorized under the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments.  The EPA claims that electric power units are responsible for 50% of the mercury air pollution in the United States.  The EPA provides a U.S. map with power plant mercury air emission quantities as well, including a scary health claim. 


Let us put this map into a rational perspective by comparing it with the total measured mercury air pollution across the country.  In this way we can extract a good sense of the contribution of man-made power plant mercury air pollution compared to that of natural sources.  If we live in an environment in which natural sources of mercury produce far more mercury emissions than do electric power plants, then we may look at the cost to benefit evaluation very differently than the power-lusting EPA does. 

Now, I have actually done this in an earlier post on this blog using total mercury air deposition maps for the years 2009 and 2010.  That post is Coal-Fired Power Plants Produce Insignificant Mercury.  Clearly the EPA was either not interested enough to learn about the mercury pollution problem to read that post or it was so motivated by emotional political concerns that it knowingly ignored the facts of reality cogently explained in my previous post.  However, in the interests of educating American voters, I will try to influence thinking Americans on this topic once again and use the newer total mercury air pollution maps of 2012 and 2011 to do so.



The Mercury Deposition Network measures the total deposition of mercury from the atmosphere each year at many stations across the USA.  These maps are found here. The mercury deposition distributions from the atmosphere across the USA for 2011 and 2012 are shown below. 




As in 2010 and 2009, the highest concentrations of mercury deposition from the atmosphere occur in the west, with particularly high rates in the Rocky Mountains, areas east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the Southwest, and areas of the Great Plains states.  The Southeast is much less bad and as one works up the East Coast through the Middle States into the Northeast, the amount of mercury deposition decreases.  This general story of the mercury deposition concentrations is supported by all of the mercury deposition maps for the years 2009 - 2012.

California varies from year to year, having been rather bad in 2012, but not bad in 2011 and 2010, and somewhere in between in 2009.  If electric generating plants produce half the mercury deposition in the US as the EPA claims, it sure is hard to imagine that the mercury output of electric power plants in California varied so much in those years to explain the major variations in mercury depositions there.  It turns out that U.S. fires cause about as much mercury to become airborne as do electric generating plants.  According to Willie Soon and Paul Driessen, U.S. fires produce an average of 44 tons of airborne mercury a year.  Now, we can make some sense of the California variability.  2012 was a much worse fire year in California than the other three years and 2009 was the second worst of the four years.

Now according to the EPA, electric power plants in 2005 produced 53 tons of airborne mercury.  This was down from 59 tons in 1990.  It we assume the same rate of decrease after 2005 as between 1990 and 2005, in 2012 the mercury output would be estimated to be about 50 tons.  This is barely more than the 44 tons due to wildfires in the U.S.  This has consequences.  If the EPA says that 50 tons of output is the source of half of the airborne mercury, then the wildfire contribution is 44%.  This leaves very little for other man-made sources and for any other natural cause.  This, I will demonstrate, is a crock!

To see why, let us look at the mercury deposition maps and compare them to the distribution of the electric power plants.  The bulk of the electric power plants are in the East!  The worst of the mercury deposition is well to the west of them.  Since prevailing winds are from the west to the east, there is no way those huge swathes of red in the West are due to the electric generating plants mostly in the East!  Even granted that there are more wildfires in the drier and more sparsely inhabited West than in the East, there is no way the 44% of the airborne mercury due to fires is the cause of those huge red areas.  The numbers and the distribution of mercury do not add up.  There are clearly natural sources of mercury that are much more important than the EPA's colorful and self-empowering story would allow.

To hammer another nail in this sadly incompetent or untruthful story, note that the EPA map of power plant emitters shows a very large concentration of such emitters in the Ohio Valley, stretching from Eastern Missouri; through southern Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio; Kentucky, West Virginia, eastern Ohio, and western Pennsylvania.  This cluster is such a large fraction of what the EPA says is 50% of the mercury airborne pollution, that if they were anywhere near right, there would be a bright red area where this cluster of power plants is and also to the east of them where the prevailing winds would carry their mercury output.  So what do we see?  We see some light red in Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana that seems to carry over from the redder areas west of them.  We see a lot of tan in Kentucky, Ohio, and western Pennsylvania.  But note the particularly dense cluster of mercury output from power plants according to the dubious source of the EPA in eastern Ohio, northern West Virginia, and Western Pennsylvania, and ask yourself why this is not the brightest of all red areas on the distribution maps.  And ask why eastern Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey are largely green, indicating a low deposition of mercury in those downwind areas.

Consider the case of Idaho.  There are no power plant emission sites in the EPA map of such sites in Idaho.  Washington and Oregon states to the west of it have almost no power plant emitters.  Nonetheless, Idaho is in large part red in the two distribution maps here, as it was in the two earlier years as well.  Why?  It is not because Idaho is overwhelmed with forest fires.  No, there are other important natural causes of mercury emissions which can produce much higher concentrations of airborne mercury depositions than can the densest cluster of power plants.

Overall, it is clear that the contribution electric power plants make to airborne mercury is actually trivial in comparison to natural sources of airborne mercury.  As I pointed out in my previous post on this subject, this is likely mostly due to the wind erosion of the many mercury deposits brought to the surface by the volcanoes, which have long been extinct, but once were plentiful in the southern Rockies and in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  It is very clear that electric power plants produce insignificant quantities of airborne mercury compared to the natural sources.

So if the EPA actually cared about Americans' health and if airborne mercury actually was a danger to us, then it should find the natural sources of mercury and clean up those sites.  Where a vein of cinnabar (mercury sulfide) is exposed, it would see to it that it was covered with a layer of concrete or in some other way kept from further erosion.  Of course, the west is already covered in the dust from such sources, but finding the richer sources of mercury would in time decrease the hazards.  Such an effort would have more effect than cleaning up the electric power plants in all likelihood, given the puny mercury output of the power plants.

In the meantime, people who choose to live in the West should at least be educated that they are exposing themselves to this mercury hazard.  Except, if it really is a hazard of great concern, then we should see significant health problems in the American West due to the high concentrations of airborne mercury there.  We should have no need to refer to far away island peoples with a heavy seafood intake to evaluate the medical problems caused by mercury.  This is what the EPA seems to do, though it will not make those studies public and some such studies are known to show no real problems.  There is general agreement though that most of human intake of mercury is due to eating seafood or fish from mercury-rich streams and rivers.  Eons of natural erosion of mercury deposits and volcanic outputs have loaded the oceans with about 200 ppm of mercury.

So are there any studies that show that the high concentration areas for airborne mercury in the West are the cause of elevated mercury illness problems?  No, not that I can find.  Is there any evidence of higher rates of mercury induced illness in the areas around the cluster of power plants on the Ohio River, especially in southern and eastern Ohio, northern West Virginia, and western Pennsylvania?  There is a study by the West Virginia Dept. of Health and Human Resources entitled Exposure to Mercury in West Virginia by Barbara J. Smith that concludes:
Data are inadequate to determine if:
• mercury in West Virginia fish tissue is increasing or decreasing,
• West Virginian’s are exposed to more mercury than people in the United States,
• reducing mercury emissions in West Virginia will result in reductions in mercury residues in fish caught in West Virginia waters and
• adverse health effects are occurring in West Virginian’s due to mercury exposures from
eating fish.
It seems clear that epidemiologists and physicians have been unable to find any connection to date either between the comparatively high mercury deposition rates throughout much of the American West or in the vicinity of the major cluster of power plants in the Ohio Valley.  This has not inhibited the EPA in proclaiming itself a hero in stopping evil power plant operators from spewing mercury into the air.  No, even though power plant mercury is clearly of insignificant quantities relative to natural sources, the plant owners are expected to shut down or make very expensive installations of scrubbers to remove all traces of mercury from their emissions.

Shutdowns will result in the rot of large capital investments, the loss of jobs, and required replacement of plants with new plants which will direct more capital away from other business endeavors.  In some cases, electricity capacity shortages may result.  The installation of new scrubbers that can remove mercury will also redirect capital from other endeavors and it will increase the cost of electricity production.  In both cases, the added capital investment will require electricity cost increases for consumers.

If the mercury emissions of power plants were significant compared to natural sources and if some health consequences in areas of high mercury deposition could be demonstrated, then it would be rational to make a cost-benefit analysis of power plants that emit mercury.  One might conclude that the installation of mercury scrubbers was necessary or that coal had to be replaced by natural gas as the fuel.  However, given that neither of these rationally critical conditions can be shown to exist, it is a fool's errand to require the actions the EPA has mandated with the MATS ruling.

Given the false story the EPA is telling about airborne mercury depositions, it is clear that it is either incredibly incompetent in making rational scientific and economic assessments and/or that it is simply and only interested in increasing its own power.  There is good reason to believe that "and" and not "or" applies in that statement.  The story the EPA tells when it claims carbon dioxide is a pollutant which will cause catastrophic man-made global warming is just another such case in which its science and economics are extremely deficient.  Once again, in the carbon dioxide emissions case, it is also very clear that the EPA is only interested in gaining power.

It is also very clear that the EPA is fulfilling Obama's and the Progressive Elitists' vendetta against coal under both MATS and under its claim that CO2 is a pollutant.  Having a renegade administration that is trying to wipe out a major coal and energy industry is very harmful to our standard of living.  This is even worse given that they have reduced our production of oil and gas on federal lands and offshore as well.



04 July 2014

Why is American Independence Day Exceptionally Worthy of Celebration?

We are often told that we celebrate the 4th of July because American troops have fought to keep us free.  Or, it is simply claimed that the USA is the greatest country on Earth.  Some even say America is exceptional, but too often stumble over an explanation as to why that is so or was so.  Some say it is because America is a democracy.  None of these explanations is worthy of those Americans who have understood or who do now understand the real basis for American Exceptionalism.

American Exceptionalism is founded on the fact that the United States of America was to have a government that recognized that:
  • All individuals are equal before the law.
  • Each individual has the right to life, liberty, property, self-ownership, and the pursuit of happiness and these rights are broad.
  • Government is not the source of these individual rights.
  • Legitimate government exists to protect these individual rights.
  • Legitimate government has a very limited scope and no powers but such as are enumerated in the people's mandate for government, the Constitution. 
Together, these requirements and aims of government constitute the American Principle.

Today, only a minority of Americans believe in the American Principle.  Because of this, the United States of America has definitely lost much of its Exceptionalism.  The Index of Economic Freedom of the Heritage Foundation says the USA is the 12th freest nation, rather high in the group of mostly free nations, but falling once again compared to earlier rankings. The Simon Fraser Institute and Cato Institute do an evaluation of economic freedom around the world also.  Their 2013 report on the degree of freedom in 2011 places the USA in the number 17 position and falling from its earlier rankings.  So, yes the USA is the world's most powerful country.  It is a comparatively free country.  But it is not the world's freest country.

Frankly, the USA is not living up to the American Principle.  It is the American Principle that would make us the freest country in the world.  It is this principle that provides the basis for the great opportunities for personal happiness that we have often provided better than other countries in the past.  On Independence Day we should all be renewing our commitment to the American Principle and we should be paying respect to those Americans who were committed to it in the past and to those who are committed to it today.  We should all be eager to see America once again the premier country in the world with respect to our most important political value, our Liberty as individuals.

28 June 2014

Simple Explanation of Why Greenhouse Gases Do Not Warm the Earth's Surface

This is a simple explanation why an essential claim of greenhouse gas theory or the catastrophic man-made global warming hypothesis is very wrong.  That theory believes that back-radiation from the atmosphere to the surface is about the same as the total solar radiation incident upon the top of the Earth's atmosphere.  For a much longer exposition of many of the problems with this theory you might examine my earlier and much-updated post

AGW Theory: Back Radiation Insignificant for Surface Temperature

This post is comparatively very short and will only discuss a simple explanation of the cornerstone argument of huge back-radiation to the surface.  Indeed, I will show why that back-radiation is virtually zero.  Because it is nearly zero, the catastrophic man-made global warming hypothesis is shown to be nonsense.  There is no excuse for governments acting to force individuals and companies to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions.  Doing so is very expensive, causes energy reliability problems, and puts people out of work.  Causing these miseries in the name of a failed hypothesis is a very serious injustice to mankind.

Let us examine a current NASA depiction of the huge role the catastrophic AGW hypothesis gives to back-radiation:


Now notice that the emitted surface radiation is 117% of the top of the atmosphere average radiation from the sun and back-radiation is 100% of the top of the atmosphere incident solar radiation.  Notice also that only 48% of the total solar radiation was ever absorbed by the Earth's surface.  Of the 48% of the total solar incident energy absorbed by the surface, 25% is lost by evaporation of water and 5% by convection loss, leaving only 18% to be emitted by radiation.  Now the proponents of the large greenhouse warming effect claim that the 18% is just a net difference between a larger surface radiation emission rate and a large back-radiation rate.  In this case the difference of 117% - 100% = 17%, which is about 18%.  We are going to evaluate this claim.

Consider the surface of the Earth for a moment.  The density of atoms per cubic meter in the surface is about 1 gram per cubic centimeter for the water that covers about 71% of the Earth's surface and even greater for land materials or if considering the salts in the oceans.  Expressed as a density per cubic meter of water, this is 1000 kg per cubic meter.   A cubic meter of water has 3.34 x 1028 water molecules.  Infra-red emission and absorption in a surface occurs in the outer 2 micrometers of the surface.  Consequently, there are about 6.7 x 1022 water molecules emitting infra-red at most from the surface.  When infra-red radiation is incident upon the surface, these are the same water molecules that would be able to absorb that radiation.

The density of the atmosphere near the surface at sea level is 1.225 kg per cubic meter in the U.S. Standard Atmosphere at a temperature of 288.15K.  Adding water vapor very slightly decreases that density.  The number of molecules per cubic meter at sea level in the U.S. Standard Atmosphere is 2.55 x 1025/m3.  The important infra-red active gas near the surface is water vapor and its density per cubic meter is commonly between 10 g/kg to 14 g/kg of air as shown in Fig. 1. below.  At a specific humidity of 12 g/kg, the number of water molecules/m3 of air is about 4.9 x 1023.  Therefore, there are more water molecules in the first cubic meter of air above 1 m2 of water surface emitters by a factor of 7.3.  This should mean that radiation that can be absorbed by water vapor will be absorbed in the first meter of air above the surface at a humidity near the Earth average humidity.  There is a report that the average mean free length for water vapor absorption in the atmosphere is as long as 8 m.  If it actually is that long, then the result I get below on the amount of back-radiation can be multiplied by a factor of 8.  That number will still be most unimpressive.


Fig. 1. The average specific humidity of air is shown as a function of latitude.  The specific humidity is the weight of water in grams in one kilogram of air.

In comparison, at 400 ppm of carbon dioxide, there are 1.0 x 1022 molecules of CO2 /m3.  There are 49 water vapor molecules for every carbon dioxide molecule at a specific humidity of 12 g/kg.  In addition, the emissivity of CO2 molecules is less than 40% that of water vapor molecules.  Since many of the carbon dioxide molecule absorption peaks are largely or mostly already absorbed by overlapping water vapor absorption lines, the effect of CO2  near the surface is very minimal compared to that of water vapor.  This is less true at altitudes above 4 km where the concentration of water vapor drops greatly and the carbon dioxide remains in proportion to nitrogen and oxygen, but such altitudes have nothing to do with the back-radiation to the surface issue.

Returning to the back-radiation caused by water vapor, we find that the temperature difference over the 1 meter absorption range according to the U.S. Standard Atmosphere is only about 0.0065 K/m.  For humid air, the temperature gradient is even less.  So if the water surface and the water vapor in the first meter of air above the surface are treated as gray bodies, we have a power transfer from the surface to the water vapor in the atmosphere of PW

PW = σ (εs Ts4 – εa Ta4) , 

for the surface s and the atmosphere water vapor a and if we take the emissivities to be a high value of 0.95 often used by the catastrophic man-made global warming promoters, this is equal to 0.033 W/m2.

This is actually an over-estimate because we have ignored the fact that some of the heat energy in the surface is used to evaporate water and some is lost to the air by means of air molecule collisions with the surface.  Much of the solar radiation absorbed by the surface is actually transferred out of the surface by evaporation and by conduction.  Of the 48% of solar radiation absorbed by the surface according to the above NASA schematic, a total of 30% is removed from the Earth's surface by evaporation and convection/conduction.  This leaves only about 18% to be radiated away from the surface.  So if the Earth's surface was an interface directly with vacuum, the 48% of solar radiation absorbed would be radiated in its entirety.  But other processes, evaporation and conduction, remove most of this energy, leaving a fraction of only 18%/48% = 0.375 of the total energy flux to be removed by radiation.

But water vapor does not absorb infra-red across the entire surface emission spectrum.  It actually absorbs only about 65% of it.  At least 28% of the surface emission is into the atmospheric window where no atmospheric gases absorb the infra-red radiation.  See the transmission spectrum of the Earth's infra-red surface emissions taken by Nimbus IV in 1970 near Guam below:



This points out one of many flaws in the NASA depiction of the Earth Energy Budget above.  Taking the two atmospheric windows at higher wave numbers than the peak of the Earth emission spectrum, the infra-red radiated into them is about 28%.  28% of the 117% surface infra-red emission claimed by NASA is 33%, not the 12% quantity their schematic assigns to the atmospheric window radiation lost directly into space from the surface.  The direct loss to space of surface emission with the NASA depicted 117% surface emission should be 2.75 times what NASA puts in its Earth Energy Budget schematic diagram at the start of this article.  This inconsistency suggests that the surface emission radiation is actually much less than the 117% claimed.  If that emission is much less, then the back-radiation would also have to be much less.

So the actual water vapor absorbed infra-red radiation is only about 

PW =  (0.375) (0.65) (0.033 W/m2) = 0.0080 W/m2.

But because of the 6.9 x 109 collisions/s in air near sea level, most of this energy is transferred to non-radiating nitrogen, oxygen, and argon.  Only about 20% is re-radiated and half of that is radiated toward space.  Consequently, the total back-radiation which can be absorbed by the surface, PB, is about

PB = (0.2) (.5) (0.0080 W/m2) = 0.00080 W/m2

Thus, the absorbed back-radiation has an upper limit of about 0.00023% of the average solar insolation at the top of the atmosphere (342 W/m2)!  For all intents and purposes, the absorbed back-radiation is zero.  This value should be multiplied by the mean free path for absorption by water vapor, which may be as large as 8 m on average.

I just proceeded down the true path of analysis dictated by the use of Occam's Razor.  Let us assume that NASA is right that 117% of the solar incident radiation at the top of the atmosphere actually is emitted from the surface due to some unknown extra input energy that lifts the 48% of the solar absorbed energy flux at the surface by 117% + 25% + 5% - 48% = 99% so that one can have 117% radiation, 25% evaporation, and 5% conduction cooling mechanisms at work.  Is it possible for that 99% warming source to be back-radiation?

The 117% radiation is greater than the 18% upon which I performed the Occam's Razor version of the calculation.  In fact, the back-radiation per meter of mean free path is then 117% / 18% = 6.5 times greater than the value I calculated.  So, if we assume that the average water vapor mean free path is 8m, we get 8 (6.5) (0.00023%) = 0.012%, which does not look at all like the 100% claimed by NASA.


Because back-radiation to the surface is insignificant compared to the claims made by the proponents of catastrophic man-made global warming, the mechanism upon which that theory stands is wrong.  Indeed, adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere will actually cause more incoming solar radiation to be absorbed by the atmosphere before it reaches the surface.  This results in a cooling of the surface.  In addition, more CO2 in the atmosphere near the surface will also cause the temperature gradient in the atmosphere to become slightly smaller, just as infra-red absorbing water vapor makes it smaller.  This is because radiation transport effects operate at the speed of light, which is faster than evaporation/condensation transport or conduction/convection transport of energy.  Since all remove energy from the surface, they are all cooling effects.  As a result, adding CO2 to the atmosphere actually causes a very slight cooling of the surface, contrary to the claims of a substantial warming effect.

The primary sources of CO2 in the atmosphere are warming oceans, decaying plant life, and heat vents and volcanic emissions.  Since CO2 in the atmosphere creates a slight cooling of the surface, it acts as a negative feedback to the warming oceans that cause it to increase and it slightly cools the decaying plants to slow down the further generation of CO2 from that source.  Of course volcanic and heat vent sources of CO2 are also providing heating, so carbon dioxide as an surface coolant acts to stabilize the Earth's temperature much as water vapor does.  It has negative feedback effects.  It is no more subject to the sort of tipping point catastrophes that global warming alarmists put out than is water vapor, though its effects are much, much weaker.

This article was last updated on 29 July 2014.

15 June 2014

Revised State Real GDP Changes in 2013

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the percentage change of real GDP in 2013 was:


Now recall that real GDP is under-corrected for inflation due to the government insistence in leaving such volatile, but clearly more rapidly increasing cost, items such as food and energy are not included in the cost of living index.  Then also recall that one should really be looking at real per capita GDP since that tells us whether our standard of living is actually increasing.  If the GDP increases by less than the rate of growth of the population, then our standard of living actually falls.  The average US population growth rate was 0.9% from 2001 to 2010, so real GDP increases of 0.9% provides a stagnant standard of living.

New York state which is running ads nationally claiming to be the second best job creator state in the nation clearly underperformed in 2013 with a state GDP that grew by a mere 0.7%.  The state of Maryland, whose Governor O'Malley believes himself ready to run for the presidency, had a 0.0% growth rate.  Yes, preventing the growth of one's own state's GDP now qualifies a politician well for the Democrat Party nomination for the presidency!

Most of the high growth states in the US are in the center of the nation.  The Dakotas, the Rocky Mountain states, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia are the heroic states for those who wish to earn a living.

09 June 2014

Maintaining Climate Change Alarmism: Replacing Cool Weather Station Data with Warm Station Data

Steven Goddard at Real Science has lately had a series of posts on the effects of a very large reduction of temperature data reported from many weather stations since 1990.  The effect of the data loss and its replacement with massaged data, turns out to be a considerable artificial warming effect.  His most recent post is here.

The following plot by Steven Goddard of the older and generally complete temperature data in the USHCN temperature record kept by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) until 1990 shows the separated data from the stations still reporting complete data and compares that to the temperature data, then complete, of the stations which are missing much of their temperature data since 1990:


Clearly the stations reporting complete data since 1990 are the stations that were warmer prior to 1990 than those which have been reporting incomplete data since 1990.  The temperature differences between the two data sets prior to 1990 are very substantial.

In an earlier post, Goddard presented the percentage of the NOAA USHCN temperature data for which there was no raw data in the record by year:


Note the increase in the missing raw temperature data since 1990, which became a particularly rapid increase in lost raw temperatures after 1994.  The rate of loss of raw data is really remarkable in the recent years of stagnant temperature reports, indicating that there is a greater and greater need by the alarmists to hide the cooling that must really be going on of late.

Steven Goddard then presents the data as reported since 1990 from these same two sets of stations on the basis of the raw data that actually was reported in the raw data record.


So it becomes very clear that NOAA is preferentially losing the raw temperature data since 1990 from the cooler stations.  The final massaged data that they report to everyone replaces the missing cooler temperatures with temperatures interpolated geographically from the warmer data from the stations with complete raw temperature data records.  That is, NOAA is not just losing cooler raw temperatures, but it is adding in warmer temperatures as though that comes from the cooler stations!

It is clear that many of the NOAA warm stations are warm because of urban and suburban locations, airport locations, and massive heat absorbing or even heat-emitting objects at the immediate site.  The Urban Heat Island Effect has corrupted much of the NOAA weather station network data.  Far from correcting the data from overly warm sites downward, NOAA is correcting the cooler and usually better station data upward.  See Anthony Watts' recent evaluation of the USHCN weather stations.

Over and over, I am asked scornfully by believers in the catastrophic man-made global warming hypothesis if I believe that the government and many climate alarmist scientists are lying to us.  There are many temperature records that have clearly been adjusted with great bias of heart to exaggerate or manufacture a warming trend to support this hypothesis.  I have discussed this in many prior posts.  This very interesting sleuthing by Steven Goddard into the NOAA USHCN temperature data and what NOAA has villainously and corruptly done to the temperature record makes it very clear that our government and its scientists are very determinedly lying to us.  Apparently, the lust for power is overwhelming for many government scientists and for many scientists funded by the power lusting government.

07 June 2014

Our Mind-Closing Universities and Conformity

A short post by William Murchison entitled When Higher Ed Shuts the Door on Taxpayer's Right to Know discusses the increasing trend to secrecy on the part of university boards and presidential selection committees.  Murchison says:
The Columbia Journalism Review scores the “increasingly closed-door culture” of university boards, such as Kent State University’s, which not only conducted a secret presidential search recently but “admitted to shredding documents to cover their tracks.”  How about the boards of Wayne State University and the University of Michigan, which not only kept their searches secret but suppressed the names of the finalists until both were hired. Then they told the world!
One can see that given the state of commitment to Progressive Elitism and to political correctness on college campuses that it must be very nearly impossible to conduct the managerial affairs of a public college in the open.  If the board and selection committees maintain political correctness and promote Progressive Elitism as they are expected to by student activists and most faculty members, many taxpayers will be appalled to see what is going on.  If the board and other college controlling committees do not do as expected by student activists and faculty, they are also in very hot water.  Nay, boiling water surrounded by drooling cannibals on most campuses.  Given the culture of the college campus today, such public institutions of Progressive Elitist indoctrination are in a dilemma in all but the most socialistic of states.

Private universities generally only need to satisfy their alumni, students, and faculty, despite raking in huge sums of research grants from the taxpayers.  This is a less tough nut to crack, especially in the Ivy League and equivalent schools, where the alumni have long been very successfully indoctrinated in the Progressive Elitist viewpoint.  These Ivy League schools are very assured that virtually all of their graduates are fully committed to Progressive Elitism, partly because they select for that in their admissions and partly because the on-campus commitment to this indoctrination has long been so thorough.

So how did I escape becoming a Progressive Elitist at Brown University?  By never tiring of pitched debates with up to a dozen Progressive Elitists at a time.  By never being intimated, because I was able to shake the very foundations of their belief, at least for a few hours.  After which they would return as though the discussion never occurred, but with no better ideas than those ideas that had failed so miserably but hours earlier.  Progressive Elitism is definitely a religion for almost all such persons and they refuse to allow that religion to be evaluated and assessed by reason.  But being fully committed to reason, I at least was not susceptible to their religious conformity.

Just as most people in many communities become captured by their desire to belong to a particular dominant religion, whether Christian, Hindi, Islam, or Buddhism, so too do most people in a community dominated by the Progressive Elitist religion just have to be Progressive Elitists so they will belong.  So while people are complex and highly differentiated individuals, most still have a great desire to conform so they will be accepted into a community of people.  If this means denying reality, including their own natures, well then reality will generally be denied.  The human suffering that results knows few bounds, which is why our culture has become more and more cheerless and more and more nihilistic.

Only a community committed to reality, reason, productivity, and individuality can achieve man's greatest needs of security, freely given and valued friendships, real cooperation in mutual endeavors and relationships, the freedom to pursue our highly differentiated values generally according to our individual natures, and hence the freedom to pursue our own happiness.  Such a community is rich in its choices and possibilities.

Unfortunately, those people with already low self-esteem are fearful of that very richness of choices and possibilities.  The less free a society becomes, the larger the number of people with such low self-esteem and the more fearful the society becomes of individuality, choices, and possibilities.  Universities, far from opening young people's eyes to the joy of pursuing life in such a rich, reality-driven society, have long been indoctrinating them to choose a conforming, low-choice, hierarchically managed society that denies them their very individuality.

20 May 2014

Is New York State Really a Great Job Creator?

New York state government is spending its taxpayer's money advertising 10 areas near state universities into which a new company or an out-of-state company can move and pay no taxes for 10 years, provided the government likes your business and is given significant controls over your business.  Mostly New York's Democrat Socialist Party controlled government likes certain high technology companies, such as biotechnology companies.

They do not like the vast majority of businesses, at least not enough to give them any tax breaks.  Indeed, most businesses have to be taxed heavily so that the few anointed companies can be lured into the high tax trap of New York and so such advertising can be carried out in Maryland and Oklahoma and many another state.  Even more expensive is the huge welfare state apparatus of New York state.  The only way to fund that redistribution of income is to tax both businesses and better paid persons heavily.

Among the claims in the ad, New York state government claims it has created 400,000 jobs.  They neglect to say over what time period and whether these are net jobs or these are all new jobs with any lost jobs ignored.  The high tax and heavily regulated state of New York is undoubtedly very good at killing jobs, so it is perilous to ignore the jobs destroyed.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the non-farm seasonally adjusted establishment job tally of private sector jobs increased in New York state from March 2013 to March 2014 by 103,500.  So maybe the 400,000 jobs were net jobs since the depth of the never-ending Great Socialist Recession.  They were not recently created net jobs.  I have ignored any added government jobs since such jobs would only create greater burdens for any private sector company moving to New York.

New York claimed that the 400,000 jobs were the second largest number of jobs created in any state in the US.  In 2010, New York state was the third most populous state, so just to stay even on jobs, it would likely have to produce at least the third most jobs.  Actually, New York state has a population growth estimated from 1 April 2010 to 1 July 2013 of 1.4%, which lags the population growth of 2.4% of the nation as a whole.  What is more, a larger fraction of its population is over 65 years old and a smaller fraction is under 18 years old.  There seems to be no rush of people into New York state owing to good jobs, despite the huge sums of bailout money that the federal government has dumped into New York City and its financial institutions.  That bailout in the form of quantitative easing continues to this day.

Let us examine the growth in the number of non-farm private sector jobs relative to the other states:


There were 26 states in which a higher percentage private sector job increase occurred compared to the 1.45% increase in New York.  This is not such a remarkable achievement by New York as it is represented to be in its ubiquitous ad.  The New New York is not so very different.  It is North Dakota that is the jobs creation giant, albeit in percentage terms only.  Six states have had private sector job growth rates more than twice that of New York state.  In fact, we can see that in this recent period, the claim that New York created the second most jobs in number is clearly wrong.  The population of the state of Texas is greater than that of New York and its job increase of 2.99% clearly means it added many more jobs than did New York.  The population of Florida is about the same as that of New York, so its job increase of 3.49% also means more jobs were created in Florida than in New York.  So, in this time period, at least two states added more jobs than New York did.

The New York state government is running an ad which is very misleading.  There may be some convoluted manner in which it is not a literal lie, but it is surely a serious attempt to mislead the People.

The employment increases in the table above allow us to make a few interesting comments about some other states and the possible presidential prospects for their governors.  Note that Gov. Rick Perry's state of Texas is still tearing up the racetrack in creating jobs with a 2.99% increase between March 2013 and March 2014.  On the other hand, Gov. Chris Christy of New Jersey heads a state government where the private sector job increase is essentially zero at 0.07%, the next to the worst record of any state.  Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin has a state with a 1.24% increase, a 32nd ranking counting DC, but at least greater than the population growth in that time.  Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana has a state that is not doing great in the business of job creation either at 1.08% increase and a rank of 35.  On the Democrat Socialist Party side, Gov. Martin O'Malley of Maryland earns his moniker of O'Folley with 40 straight tax increases, a job increase of only 0.52%, and a ranking of 45.  Maryland's population since April 2010 is estimated to have grown by 0.90% a year, so Maryland is not keeping up with the population growth with its meager 0.52% increase in jobs.  I marvel at the ability of some governors to seek higher office when they have not demonstrated that their states can create private sector jobs.

The People should be paying attention to this.  I will acknowledge that some of these states were basket cases and it will take several good governors to allow private industry to turn the states around.  Their state governments have bollixed up the state economies for a very long time in many cases.  The damage done can take a long time to correct and the healing process can take time.  Yet, when good government policies are established, some great results often occur quickly.  The engine of growth is in the private sector, but governments have to stop stuffing the gas tank with sand and sugar.

03 May 2014

The Obama Jobs "Recovery"

Let us update the extent of the Obama jobs "recovery."  The most important datum informing us of the health of the economy to provide Americans a means to earn a living is the employment to population ratio.  When many people work, the economy is more likely to hum along fine and operate to raise our standard of living.  When fewer people work, there are more demands for high government extractions of wealth from the productive private sector, the standard of living stagnates or worse, and the people become more dependent upon the Big Government parasite.  So here is the non-seasonally adjusted data on the employment to population percentage according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:


The fraction of the American non-institutionalized population over 16 which is employed has risen somewhat through April 2014 from a downward drop in the latter half of 2013.  However, this all-critical employment to population ratio is still well below the already very low ratio when he first took the oath of office of the presidency in January 2009.  More critically for Americans, the usual pattern of a recovery from recession within a couple of years to return to a similar employment to population ratio as that prior to the recession is in no way evident.  It is far more accurate to call this employment stagnation in the depths of a never-ending depression than to call this a recovery.

Yet many are shouting harrahs because the so-called unemployment rate dropped in April, even as 800,000 people left the workforce.  Many Americans are in the depth of despair at finding a decent job.  The reports are that most of the jobs that were created in April were relatively low-paying and unskilled jobs.  This is hardly surprising to me given the assertively anti-private sector policies of the Obama Oligarchy Gang of his dictatorial, individual rights trampling, Constitution ignoring, anti-energy, anti-business, micromanaging, lawless, and self-ownership denying regime.  In such a chaotic environment, the private sector does not invest in new business ventures and does not hire.  Obama's claims that money spent by government, which it removes from the private sector, is an investment has been tested many times throughout history.  That experiment always fails to back the statist theory and has failed once again under the Obama Regime.

This remains the never-ending Great Socialist Recession.  Although, given its duration and the degree of human misery it has caused, it is becoming more and more nearly correct to upgrade this condition to the Great Socialist Depression of the 21st Century.  The low employment, the huge transfer of wealth from the private to the government sector, the lawlessness of the government, and the rate of implementation of new socialist programs is very akin to the Great Depression of the 20th Century.  This is what you get when you put government in the hands of the Progressive Elitists.  For all their pretense to know better than most Americans how their lives should by micro-managed by this Progressive Elitist clique, they always manage to mess our society up royally.

We Americans do much better when we insist on controlling our own lives and living them in accordance with our self-chosen values.  Our standard of living is highly dependent upon our rejection of the Progressive Elitist claim that we did not make that.  It is each of us as an individual who must make our own lives and must honor and protect the right of every other individual to do the same.  We must fight off the usurpation of power over our lives by a power-lusting Progressive Elitist cabal.  That cabal refuses to recognize our highly individualistic natures, rich in complexity and highly differentiated.  It refuses to recognize our self-ownership as ObamaCare especially makes clear.  It refuses to recognize our ability to use reason to improve our own lives while exercising our individual rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of our own happiness.  As the Declaration of Independence asserts the protection of such broad individual rights as the sole legitimate justification for a highly limited government and thereby defines the American Principle, the Progressive Elitist movement is profoundly anti-American.

07 April 2014

Good Ted Cruz Comment on ObamaCare

From Senator Ted Cruz of Texas:


This is a take-off on the original broken window fallacy explanation given by the economist Frederic Bastiat (1801 - 1850).  Bastiat explained that wealth is destroyed and our standard of living is lowered whenever government promotes destruction in order to provide jobs in reconstruction.  This is a lesson high tax and government spending people such as the Keynesians generally have not learned.  High taxes and government spending are destructive of the wealth that would otherwise reside in the private sector and are almost universally never more than a partial replacement.  In fact, much of the money spent by government has only negative effects on wealth and the standard of living, because the money is only used to hurt the vast majority of the people.  While a few programs may replace 50% of what was destroyed, one must never forget the 50% that remains lost.

Of course the same explanation applies to natural disasters, which was a lesson unlearned by the many who claimed that at least Hurricane Sandy provided some jobs.  A job can easily be provided by destroying net wealth and by lowering the standard of living.  Indeed, we could all easily return to being farmers or hunter-gathers and be most assuredly busy all of the time with the effort to survive.