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 intelligent and rational individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

"Observe that the 'haves' are those who have freedom, and that it is freedom that the 'have-nots' have not." Ayn Rand

"The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not 'selflessness' or 'sacrifice', but integrity." Ayn Rand

For "a human being, the question 'to be or not to be,' is the question 'to think or not to think.'" Ayn Rand

17 September 2014

Obama Cannot Kill King Coal

Some time ago I wrote an article called King Coal Will Continue to Rule the World.  To follow up on that with aspects of the current situation let us note that:
  • Japanese demand for natural gas increased greatly following the Fukushima disaster.  This fueled an increase in natural gas prices throughout Asia and Europe.
  • With natural gas prices so high in Europe, where little fracking is taking place, natural gas is affordable for energy production for electricity only during peak demand periods.
  • What is affordable in Europe and elsewhere is American coal.  US coal exports increased from 50.1 billion tons six years ago to 129 billion tons.  This is an increase by a factor of 2.57 times!
  • If you buy into the garbage idea that man's CO2 emissions have a catastrophic impact by causing severe global warming, is it really better that US coal be burned around the rest of the world and not in the electric generating plants of the US?  Does it really make sense for us to increase our electricity costs by not using coal so the rest of the world can lower their costs by using American coal?
  • If you believe that coal-fired power plants produce very harmful emissions such as mercury and sulfur, is it better to have our coal burned in power plants most of which are not as well scrubbed as our power plants?  Of course, I have shown that mercury is not the problem our EPA has made it out to be here and here.

15 September 2014

Prof. Walter E. Williams on the State of American Blacks

Professor Walter E. Williams, George Mason University, asks these very challenging questions of those who believe in the politically correct viewpoint of the Progressive Elitist and of those who simply do not think about such issues:

"Is the reason the black family was far healthier in the late-1800s and 1900s  because back then there was far less racial discrimination and greater opportunities?  Or, did what experts call "legacy of slavery" wait several generations to victimize today's blacks?"

When I ask similar questions, I am very frequently called a racist, though I am merely making the inquiries any rational person with a minimal knowledge of history and a normal respect for the abilities of one's fellow man would.  Even Prof. Williams is presented with a problem on how to get readers to acquire sufficient knowledge that he can ask these questions without having them simply dismiss him and the remainder of his article.  He provides several paragraphs of relevant black history in America before he chances posing these questions.  Those of us with such viewpoints as Prof. Williams are very much aware of the ignorance of those who vehemently claim the state of American blacks is explained by the "legacy of slavery."

His article is one that very much needs to be read by most "educated Americans", who are most noteworthy for their university-programed ignorance.  Our universities almost never have the intellectual integrity and courage to ask the questions Prof. Williams asks in this article.  They are unwilling to demonstrate how absurd the politically correct viewpoint is in the light of history, whereas Prof. Williams is a man of admirable courage and integrity.
He also does his homework.  All you have to do is read and a wee bit of thinking.  Of course, you are also welcome to check up on his facts.

If he is wrong about his facts, I want to hear about it.  I would not bet that he is, given that the formidable Dr. Thomas Sowell has a very similar viewpoint.  And while this may mean nothing to the reader, so did the highly esteemed Virginia Baker of Norfolk, Virginia.

05 September 2014

The Significance of the NASA SABER Observation of a Massive Solar Storm for Catastrophic Man-Made Global Warming

Recent observations of the effects of a massive solar storm on the Earth’s atmosphere made by NASA using the SABER instrument on the TIMED satellite have very important implications for the two main classes of hypotheses backing the idea of catastrophic man-made global warming.  During this solar storm, gigantic quantities of energy were dumped into the Earth’s upper atmosphere by highly energetic particles.  The SABER instrument measures the infrared emissions from the Earth’s upper atmosphere.  The NASA measurements of those infrared emissions during the solar storm showed that 95% of the energy dumped into the upper atmosphere was quickly re-emitted into space.  There was no significant warming of the Earth’s surface.
The significance with respect to the various man-made global warming hypotheses of this observation has often not been well-explained by critics of catastrophic AGW.  The fact that the energy arrives in the atmosphere as energetic particles has often been glossed over in such commentaries, yet this is very important.  The energy of the solar storm is not of the same nature as the mix of UV, visible light, and near and mid infrared radiation which provides the Earth with heat energy on a daily basis.  Though this important difference exists, the results of the solar storm energy measurements by NASA are still crucially significant for one of the principal global warming hypotheses and somewhat significant for the other main AGW hypothesis.
There are two standard hypotheses for the global warming mechanism that CO2 is supposed to provide at a catastrophic level:
1)  A large back-radiation effect near the Earth surface caused by water vapor and CO2, which warms the surface.  This warming effect is supposed to be so large that it provided about a 33C temperature increase at the surface decades ago and this is now increasing due to added CO2.
2)  A delay or decrease in radiation lost to space from the upper troposphere or stratosphere caused by increased CO2 and NO.
As I have discussed many times on my blog, most recently in Simple Explanation of Why Greenhouse Gases Do Not Warm the Earth’s Surface, back-radiation at the Earth’s surface is insignificant because the mean free path for the infrared radiation absorptions of water vapor and carbon dioxide are very short and the corresponding temperature differences between the surface and the lower few meters of the atmosphere are therefore very small.  The smaller than claimed infrared radiation from the surface is very quickly absorbed and distributed to nitrogen, oxygen, and argon in the air due to the very high collision rate in the lower atmosphere.  These primary air molecules do not radiate this energy and it is then mostly transported by convection upward or toward the poles.  Water vapor and CO2 actually slightly increase the rate of energy transport upward following the downward temperature and density gradients.  The generation of water vapor at the surface is a powerful cooling effect, though at night this may be reversed by condensation.  Water and CO2 absorb incoming solar radiation and prevent it reaching the surface, which is a cooling effect.  At night, fog and clouds slow down cooling by scattering and absorbing infra-red radiation.  Yet, averaged over the daily cycle, the net effect of all the greenhouse gases on the surface temperature is small compared to the claimed 33C effect.  Much the greatest of that smaller effect is due to water vapor and not to carbon dioxide.  Thus Hypothesis 1 fails to make physical sense.  As more and more proponents of catastrophic AGW have realized this failure, they have turned to the second hypothesis as the justification for AGW.
Hypothesis 2 also fails.  See: Does Increased CO2 Cause a Decrease in Infrared Emission to Space?  Once again the lack of a significant temperature gradient in the upper troposphere for radiation purposes and no temperature gradient in the tropopause is one significant  problem for this hypothesis.   It is hard to change the temperature much of the CO2 emitters.  Another problem is that more and slightly warmer infrared emitters causes any warming in the upper atmosphere to be reduced because more emitters are sending individually increased radiation into space.  For the same reasons that Hypothesis 1 fails, it is also not possible for the warming CO2 absorbers to transmit energy back to the Earth's surface by radiation, so any effect of warming remains in the upper atmosphere.  The major significance of the NASA SABER measurements on how effectively CO2 and NO eliminated the energy of the solar storm is that this is confirmation of my argument that Hypothesis 2 fails.  A local warming high in the atmosphere does not result in a warming of the surface of the Earth.  Indeed, the infrared gases are highly effective in cooling the atmosphere, especially in the upper atmosphere where the mean free path for infrared absorption by CO2 and NO is longer than near sea level.
As I initially pointed out in Slaying the Sky Dragon, the back-radiation effects claimed for infrared active gases were so small that the role of such gases in absorbing solar radiation before it could arrive at the surface of the Earth was a very significant cooling effect of these wrongly designated greenhouse gases.  A warming of the atmosphere thousands of meters above the surface is not an equivalent warming of the surface where we live.  Very little such atmospheric energy is transported to the surface.  This remains true as I have more thoroughly explained more recently here:  Infrared-Absorbing Gases and the Earth’s Surface Temperature: A Relatively Simple Baseline Evaluation of the Physics.

The fact that I have pointed to my own explanations for the failures in the physics of Hypothesis 1 and Hypothesis 2 is not a claim that I am the only scientist who has understood the bad physics of these crucial catastrophic man-made global warming arguments.  Fortunately, more and more scientists have come to understand the physics either wholly or in good part.  More and more scientists have come to understand that the two hypotheses used to explain catastrophic AGW are either wrong or at least dubious.

02 September 2014

Atlas Shrugged Day Commemorates Human Creativity and Productivity

This is an update of a 2 Sep 2010 post:

On September 2, 1946, Ayn Rand began writing Atlas Shrugged and she finished her great novel in time for publication in 1957.  Throughout the novel, September 2 is the date of a number of events:

  • In the opening scene of the novel, a bum asking Eddie Willers for a handout, asks "Who is John Galt?"  This and the way it was asked bother Eddie.  As he walks through NYC he is also bothered by the gigantic calendar hanging from a public tower and announcing the date as September 2.    
  • On that date, Hank Rearden and Dagny Taggart decide to take a vacation together.  On that vacation they discover an abandoned motor that should have revolutionized the use of energy in the world.
  •  Francisco D'Anconia makes his speech on money on September 2.  He proclaims money to be the tool of free trade and the result of noble effort, not the root of evil.  Those who call money evil choose to replace its use with the force of the gun.
  • D'Anconia Copper is nationalized on 2 September, but the date on the calendar is replaced by "Brother, you asked for it!"
So, on this day of 2 September 2014, let us give thanks to Ayn Rand for her incredibly dedicated effort in writing this path-breaking novel we are finding so important in our lives 57 years after its publication date and 68 years after she started it on 2 September 1946.  This should be a day celebrated much as Thanksgiving Day is celebrated, but without any religious overtones, as a day to respect the creativity and productivity of all the heroic men and women that Ayn Rand's heroic novel commemorates.

At the top of our list of most respected heroes and heroines, we should recognize Ayn Rand herself.  Her great achievement is still a vital inspiration for many an intelligent, hardworking, and creative human being.  Those she has so inspired are among the best among us.