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.

30 August 2014

When an American Multinational Company Moves Its Headquarters Abroad It Is Patriotic

Unlike Obama, I do not measure patriotism in terms of the amount of taxes paid to and the amount of paperwork prepared for an over-weaning government that uses its revenues and its ever mounting debt to suppress our individual rights.  No, I look at the issue of American multinational companies moving their headquarters to other nations with lower internal taxes and which do not tax earnings in the U.S. as a very real act of patriotism. This is fully consistent with the American Principle of limited government whose only purpose is the protection of our equal, sovereign individual rights.  It is very patriotic to punish a malfeasant big government with a decrease in tax revenues.  The lower its revenues, the less mischief it can perform.  This includes a reduction in its anti-business agenda.

The federal tax rate on U.S. corporations is 35% and it applies that highest in the developed world rate to all profits made in the U.S. and to any profits a U.S. multinational corporation makes abroad.  So a U.S. multinational corporation pays the nation in which its profit is made the lower tax they levy on corporate taxes.  Then if the U.S. corporation decides to bring that profit back to the U.S. to invest it here in R&D, new facilities, new hires, or new manufacturing operations, the corporation has to pay the difference between the rate charged by the nation in which the profit was made and the higher U.S. tax rate of 35%.  This drastically reduces the amount of profits earned abroad which are brought back to the U.S.  This plays a big role in slowing down the growth of the U.S. economy, which means it slows down the growth in our standard of living.

U.S. multinational companies which do not bring back their profits from abroad also greatly reduce the burden of producing the tons of paperwork in the form of reports demanded by the IRS.  This is a very great reduction of expenses and consequently a boost to profits earned abroad relative to those earned in the uphill battle at home.

To be sure, U.S. corporations do not generally pay the full 35% tax rate on profits earned in the U.S.  There are many exemptions, tax credits, and deductions, though these come at the expense of the added paperwork to claim them.  Nonetheless, the average percentage paid on profits by American companies is about 30%, while their rivals headquartered in other countries pay an average of about 23% on their profits.  Consequently, American companies are paying about 30% more taxes on their profits than are foreign companies.  This is a very sizable competitive disadvantage.

The Burger King acquisition of Tim Horton's, a Canadian company, is a case given much attention in the news lately.  Moving the Burger King headquarters to Canada, a nation with more economic freedom than the sorry present U.S., reduces its corporate income tax rate to 15%!  Canada will only tax the profit made in Canada and will not tax Burger King on its profits made in the U.S. or in any of the other many nations it operates in around the world.  This will actually allow Burger King to bring the profits it has made in those many nations back to the U.S. for investment here, because the U.S. government can no longer tax these profits made by a Canadian company.

It is essential that every American multinational company put as much pressure on the far too voracious American government to reduce its taxes on productive work and to reduce its power to coerce people in violation of their rights to earn a living and to generally pursue their happiness.  A great and patriotic way to do this is to move their headquarters abroad.  If that has the eventual effect of forcing the far too big and nasty federal government to lower its tax rates and to decrease its incredible paperwork burden, it will do much to allow Americans a future with a decent increase in our standard of living coupled with a much improved environment of economic freedoms.

16 August 2014

Why I Refuse to Sign the United Nations Global Compact

As owner and president of a materials characterization and failure analysis laboratory, one of my customers has stated that I must sign the United Nations Global Compact if they are to continue doing business with us thanks to one of their biggest customers who is requiring this of them.  The summary of that U.N. Global Compact is very vague but is intended to lock companies into a very extensive plan that will greatly change our way of life and limit our freedoms.  It follows:

The Ten Principles  

The UN Global Compact's ten principles in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption enjoy universal consensus and are derived from:
The UN Global Compact asks companies to embrace, support and enact, within their sphere of influence, a set of core values in the areas of human rights, labour standards, the environment and anti-corruption:

Human Rights
  • Principle 1: Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and
  • Principle 2: make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.  
  • Principle 3: Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;
  • Principle 4: the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour;
  • Principle 5: the effective abolition of child labour; and
  • Principle 6: the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation. 
  • Principle 7: Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges;
  • Principle 8: undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility; and
  • Principle 9: encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.   
  • Principle 10: Businesses should work against corruption in all its forms, including extortion and bribery.
I am refusing to sign this compact because of its moral, civic, and scientific errors.  I expect to lose a customer, but one of the main reasons I founded my company was to be free of association with an organization as an employee whose moral behavior did not meet with my standards.  Generally, when I take on work from a client company now, I can do so without subjecting myself to its moral imperfections and I can more easily refuse to work with any company whose standards are known by me to be too low.  As a result, I sleep well and remain calm and happy.

I will explain my objections to each of the three categories: Human Rights, Labor, and Environment in this U.N. Global Compact.

Human Rights:

The problem here is that the The Universal Declaration of Human Rights does not understand what a human right is.  It correctly names many human rights, but it also claims that there is a body of human rights which require that services and goods must be delivered to every individual at the expense of the labor of others who may not be willing participants.  For instance, by right every child may demand that others throughout a nation may be forced to educate that child.  This is a form of slavery, though of a limited nature.  It is nonetheless a violation of the rights of individuals.  One of the very reasons that education is critically important is so that the citizen understands his rights and learns how to assert and protect them.  The process of becoming educated should not require trampling on the rights of others to life, liberty, and the pursuit of their own happiness.

Articles 1 - 13:  I agree with them.

Article 14:  I do not agree that asylum is a right, though I do agree that it is good practice for the USA to offer it.

Articles 15 - 21:  I agree with them.

Article 22:  This does not have a clear meaning, but I suspect it is a misunderstanding of rights, especially because rights pertain to an individual and arise from the nature of man, not from society and culture as implied here.  It seems likely this is interpreted by most to imply that some people have the right to demand goods and services or income from others to maintain their own "social security."

Article 23:

"(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment."  Well, no.  Employment is like happiness and one is not able to claim it from others by right, but only to be free to be self-employed or to work out a free trade of one's work for employment with an employer.  If one does not think the employment conditions are just or favorable, then one can leave the job.  One should be free to purchase unemployment insurance from a willing provider should there be one, but one is not free to impose the costs of unemployment on others by the use of force.

"(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection."  No again.  How can a person who works for himself be guaranteed clients without violating the rights of the clients?  A person who works for an employer may or may not add enough to the income of the employer for him to provide the worker with an income sufficient to ensure his and his family's existence worthy of human dignity.  So, ultimately, this provision requires others in the society to provide this worker with goods and services or income that will allow his and his family's survival with human dignity.  This can only be accomplished by violating the rights of others.  In particular, it violates a large number of the rights this very document pretends to protect.  Who even knows what that requirement for minimal human dignity is when phrased in such a context?  I think human dignity is achieved when one is capable of sustaining one's own life through one's own efforts to think rationally and to apply that thought to securing and flourishing life.  Others are not responsible for providing the human dignity that only one's own efforts can achieve.  One has a right to pursue human dignity, not to be provided it.

Article 24:  "Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay."  Yes, everyone has a right to seek rest and leisure, but no one else is obliged to provide him with the means to rest and to take his leisure.  Neither government nor society have any business limiting the right to contract or to earn a living by imposing limits on working hours or requiring an employer to provide pay for holidays.  If an individual wants these things, he is obliged to provide them to himself as a self-employed person or to work out a mutually and voluntarily agreed upon contract with an employer.

Article 25:

"(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control."  Like happiness, everyone has the right to pursue these objectives, but no one else is obliged to provide them.  No one would have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness if they are required to provide these values and services to everyone else who may need them, even if for reasons beyond their control.  This is just a way of saying you are free, unless someone else needs you to serve them.  Someone else is always needy and some of them for reasons which governments do not find it convenient to acknowledge to be due to their own lack of effort and foresight.  Those who have planned their lives poorly and make little effort to secure their own lives have no right to enslave those who are better off than themselves simply by virtue of their need.  Of course there are many good reasons why those who are well off may choose to act benevolently toward others in need, but they should not be responding to fulfilling the rights of others at the loss of their own rights.  The benefactor should be free to decide for himself who he will provide charity to and how he will do so.  He is also free to provide no charity to anyone.  Once again, this provision is contradictory to many earlier valid rights in this document.

"(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection."  This is a worthy viewpoint, but it confers no rights.  Once again, it implies obligations of service contradictory to real and valid rights if it had the status of a right.

Article 26:

" (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit."  Once again, everyone has the right to pursue an education, but no one else can be obliged to provide that education without depriving them of their rights.  Education is important and it is worthy of great consideration for charitable giving, but there is no right to have it.

"(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace." Education should be devoted to the development of rational thinking skills and to an understanding of rights as a non-contradictory freedom of action and thought needed by every individual to sustain their life in security and to flourish in life.  The U.N. has shown that its concept of rights is contradictory.  While it is ultimately to be hoped that everyone will be able to at least live in peace with one another, this possibility is not independent of the actual beliefs prevalent in some nations or in some religious ideas.  It is certainly not independent of peoples respect for real human rights either.

Article 27:  I agree with this one.

Article 28:  "Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized." This is wrong for the above reasons.

Article 29:  "(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.  (2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society."  To the degree that a community of people actually do protect the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, one does have a duty to that community, but it is unwise to make that duty enforceable by law.  The exercise of duties should be voluntary, not forced.  The general welfare of a society is only achieved by the thorough and non-contradictory protection of individual rights.  This is only possible when rights are properly understood as endowing a freedom of action upon an individual and not an obligation of service to others.  The U.N. clearly does not understand this.

Article 30:  "Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein."  In the name of securing my own real rights as an individual, I must object to the false U.N. declaration that I can be compelled to provide goods and services to others in the name of false and contradictory rights.


Principle 3: Businesses should uphold the freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining  This statement is internally self-contradictory, at least in the context of how it is meant.  Every individual has a broad right to freedom of association.  This applies to business owners, managers, and non-management employees.  Employees have the right to organize to perform collective bargaining, but owners and managers cannot be obliged to give up their own freedom of association by being required to come to an agreement with such an employee bargaining unit.  They are equally free not to employ those individuals who engaged in the collective bargaining, which is contrary to the intent of the U.N. and to unjust laws in the USA.

Principle 4: the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour  I agree with this.

Principle 5: the effective abolition of child labour  I agree with this.

Principle 6: the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation  Some types of discrimination are necessary in hiring, such as discriminating in favor of intelligent and hard-working employees who allow a company to add enough income that it can thrive.  Because the U.N. proved such an unthinking instrument with respect to human rights, I cannot trust that its concept of proper and improper discrimination is correct.  I do not believe either racial or gender discrimination makes sense in a business.  There are however ideas that some individuals have which are highly corrosive to trust and confidence and they do justify discrimination.


  • Principle 7: Businesses should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges;
  • Principle 8: undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility; and
  • Principle 9: encourage the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.  
I would agree to these if
  • "precautionary approach" were "rational precautionary approach" and that rational precaution covered precautions against needlessly causing human beings misery, such as forcing them out of coal mining jobs, coal-fired power plant jobs, or to pay much higher electricity costs and to risk freezing in severe winters when wind and solar power would fail them.
  • "promote environmental responsibility" recognized that at some point one is doing enough
  • and if this were not taken to be an agenda determined by the U.N. rather than me.
My laboratory is constantly engaged in helping clients to use and process their materials to minimize environmental harm, while raising the standard of living of human beings.  I am confident that the private sector can manage this process very well and that it will continue to turn to my laboratory for materials characterizations critical to this progress.

Key U.N. Documents Cited on the Environment:
  • The Rio Declaration - a statement of 27 principles upon which nations agreed to base their actions in dealing with environmental and development issues. The Rio Declaration built on the previous Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment which was adopted in Stockholm in 1972. The Stockholm conference was the first global environmental meeting of governments, which stated that long-term economic progress needs to be linked with environmental protection.
  • Agenda 21 - a 40 chapter, action blueprint on specific issues relating to sustainable development that emerged from the Rio Summit. Agenda 21 explained that population, consumption and technology were the primary driving forces of environmental change and for the first time, at an international level, explicitly linked the need for development and poverty eradication with progress towards sustainable development
  • The 'Brundtland Report', 'Our Common Future' which was produced in 1987 by the World Commission on Environment and Development, also laid the foundations for the Environment Principles. This landmark document highlighted that people needed to change the way they lived and did business or face unacceptable levels of human suffering and environmental damage.
While the Rio Conference led to a great deal of discussion of restrictions on CO2 emissions, the statement of 27 principles in the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development do not mention any specific pollutant or threat to the environment.  This surprised me.  But knowing that the U.N. has a very different idea of what these threats are from my own still gives me great concern about signing on with the U.N.  Indeed, the vagueness is useful to get people to sign on to the agenda and to allow planners and other government bureaucrats maximum flexibility in implementing their ever-tightening limitations on human activities and property use in the name of the environment.

Agenda 21 is a huge document that arose from the 1992 Rio Conference.  It is also largely an effort to use government planning, often at the local level, to restrict land use and to force people to live in more dense communities with much more land further outside of towns left fallow or agricultural.  As such, Agenda 21 limits property rights, economic development, drives up housing costs, and encourages government subsidies for lower income persons as a bribe to get them to move into more crowded developments.  There is no good reason for governments to so limit individual choices and to inhibit the free use of land and capital resources.

While not much discussed explicitly in the summary portions of Agenda 21 or the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, it is clear the U.N. is eager to lump its failed hypothesis of catastrophic man-made global warming into its precautionary protection scheme and its claims for the nature of sustainable development.  I have written many posts on the bad physics behind the claims that CO2 emissions will cause warming at a catastrophic level or even a significant level.  I have written many posts on the wrongful manipulation of the temperature record to make the temperature appear to rise at a more significant rate than it has.  I have also written about how the actual predictions of the U.N. endorsed climate models have failed, most especially in predicting a continued rise in temperature over the last 17 years which has not occurred.

See for example my articles going back through 2013 on the fallacies of CAGW as pushed by the U.N., the U.S. government, and many other governments:

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

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

AGW Theory: Back Radiation Insignificant for Surface Temperature

Mann v. Steyn to Determine if Opinion Contrary to Government Science is Permitted

Governmental Exaggeration of the Increase in Global Temperature 

The Anti-Science IPCC Global Warming Report 5

Claims of Long Life for Man's CO2 Emissions in Atmosphere are False 

The Unsettled Science of Global Warming Revealed by the Climate Models

NASA Alters Iceland Temperature Record to Produce Warming

NOAA Surface Temperature Changes Show Little Correlation to CO2 Changes Since 1880

Earth Surface Cooled from 1982 to 2006 According to Satellite Data

United Nations Does Not Take Global Warming Seriously

What if the Atmosphere had no Greenhouse Gases?

The Stefan-Boltzmann Law at a Non-Vacuum Interface: Misuse by Global Warming Alarmists

A Hypothetical Earth Atmosphere of Carbon Dioxide and Comments on Vertical Mixing

The Earth Surface Temperature without Greenhouse Gases: The Shade Effect of Infra-Red Active Gases

An Unsettling Removal of Atmospheric CO2 by Plankton

Do All Atmospheric Gases Absorb and Emit Electromagnetic Radiation?

Is the Earth Still Warming?

The Ocean Acidification Myth

CO2 Increases Lag Temperature Since 1982

The Unsettled Earth Energy Budget

The Most Essential Physics of the Earth's Temperature

Infrared-Absorbing Gases and the Earth's Surface Temperature 

Blackbody Radiation and the Consensus Greenhouse Gas Theory

13 August 2014

Big Government and Race Relations

I made the following comment in a response to an article that talked about race relations under the Obama administration:
Good race relations are based on mutual respect and ultimately, respect has to be earned.  It is not earned by those long dependent on government or by those who use the force of government to take what they want from others.  A consequence of this is that Big Government, which does make some dependent and does take values by force from many, is itself a major force creating disrespect.  Having done so, that disrespect tends to become racial disrespect if there are differences by race in the likelihood of being dependent or in that of being robbed or forced to contribute services by government.
There are many, many reasons for opposing Big Government.  The most fundamental one is that Big Government is necessarily a violator of our sovereign individual rights.  As such, Big Government shows its disrespect for every individual.  That heavy disrespect is propagated throughout a society governed by such a Big Government.  This makes it very unlikely that the people of that society will not often treat others with disrespect.  This is terribly corrosive to the good-will and the sense of benevolence with which we should be able to treat our fellow man in a free society.  The subsequent loss of good-will and respect degrades the quality of life in how we trade with others and how we live with others as neighbors.  And for the reasons I outlined in my quote above, it is very corrosive of racial relations.

It is no surprise then that racial relations have not been well-served by Obama's unrelenting commitment to Big Government.  The cancerous growth of long term unemployment benefit, food stamp, Social Security disability, Medicaid, subsidized ObamaCare, and many other programs for dependents upon the government, has created many more dependent persons, who have lost the respect of many more productive and self-reliant individuals.  The cost of these programs has placed increased burdens on those productive people and at least some of them have naturally become angry at those dependents who receive the benefits of their hard work.  It is very hard for productive people to respect unproductive people when those unproductive people show so little respect for productive people by using government as their agent to take what they want by the use of force.

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.