Global Warming? Impossible!
Jude Wanniski
August 11, 1999


Memo To: Dan Quayle
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Al Gore & Global Warming

In recent years, I've posted several memos to Vice President Albert Gore on this website regarding his fascination with global warming, and have faxed them to his office. He never responds to my arguments on why there is nothing to worry about and continues to run around frightening senior citizens and little children. So I assume he cannot grapple with my simple analysis. Thus I write to you, Dan, hoping you might run into him in some future debate, and will explain this analysis to him. I've asked Dr. Gordon Prather, a distinguished nuclear physicist, to explain why global warming is impossible under the conditions that concern Mr. Gore. You know of Dr. Prather as the man who successfully has debunked the Cox Commission report on Chinese espionage -- on the grounds that all the "secrets" the Chinese were alleged to have stolen were opened to the general public by the Clinton administration and the "openness policy" of former Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary. What you will find here is the argument that the only way the Earth can get warmer is if the sun gets warmer. He actually wrote this little missive a year ago, but sent it along now because Gore and the national press corps are heating up again. By the way, a similar argument was made in the August 5 Wall Street Journal, "Why So Hot? Don't Blame Man, Blame the Sun," by Sallie Baliunas, an astrophysicist. She is senior scientist at the George C. Marshall Institute and deputy director of Mount Wilson Observatory. The reason Al Gore thinks there is a problem is because he only consults climatologists, who are not taught physics. Plus, journalists no longer consult anyone, on the grounds that if the NYTimes says there is global warming, it must be true.

* * * * *

There are three ways "heat" energy can be transferred from one place on the Planet Earth to another: Conduction, Convection or Radiation.

But Radiative transfer is essentially the only way energy can reach the Earth or leave it.

Radiation ["black-body"] varies directly as the fourth power of the absolute temperature [Stefan-Boltzman Law]. If the absolute surface temperature of the earth were to double, the amount of radiation emitted by the Planet Earth into outer space would increase by a factor of 16. If the absolute surface temperature of the Earth were to increase by one degree, there would be a small increase in the amount of radiation emitted by the Planet Earth into outer space.

So what are the Gore Global Warming Acolytes really asserting? They assert that, although Mother Earth has a surface "temperature," the aggregate radiative transfer per unit time by the Earth to the rest of the universe is no longer directly related to that temperature. According to Gore, the Stefan-Boltzman Law has been repealed. According to the acolytes, Mankind has increased the temperature of the Earth's surface by causing the radiative transfer of energy from the atoms in the Earth to the rest of the universe to decrease! A Stupendous Achievement!

Somehow West Virginia coal miners, Texas oil men, public utility executives and automobile owners -- by creating vast clouds of "greenhouse gases" -- are supposed to have somehow trapped, as convective [atmospheric and ocean currents] heat, energy that would otherwise be radiated [a la Stefan-Boltzman] to the rest of the universe. It is important to note that Gore and his Acolytes are not claiming that Mankind is actually warming the planet. They merely are claiming that Mankind -- by producing greenhouse gases -- is affecting the radiative properties of the planet.

Of course, it is possible that the Earth is warming up, but that neither Mankind or anything else on Earth had anything to do with it. For example, it is certainly possible that the aggregate transfer of energy per unit time from the Sun to the Planet Earth is greater now than it was a century ago. There are such things as Solar Cycles. But if one accepts the Acolyte charge, and if one assumes that the radiative input Earth from the Sun has remained constant, then the truth or falsity of the Al Gore argument hinges on whether or not the annual aggregate radiation transfer from the Earth actually has been decreasing over the past century. There is no conceivable way that anyone -- Acolyte or Doubting Thomas -- could calculate the aggregate radiation transfer from Planet Earth. They just assume that it has been decreasing because their explanation of how mankind conceivably could have affected global temperatures [greenhouse effect] requires such a decrease.

It might be possible to infer it from measurements made in outer space. That would mean positioning a large number of sensors [sensitive to photons of all energies] in outer space between the Sun and the Earth to measure incoming radiation. And positioning an even larger number of sensors in outer space all around the Earth to measure outgoing radiation. After a hundred years or so, one might infer -- from the measurements -- the incoming and outgoing annual aggregates, and then from those inferred aggregates, one might be able to conclude that the Planet Earth ought to be "warming." Or perhaps, "cooling."

But if one merely puts -- as the Acolytes have done -- thermometers in Times Square and elsewhere and records the temperature, there, every minute of the day for the last 100 years -- and even if one observes that the annual average temperature recorded by those thermometers linearly increases -- then all one has established is that the average temperature recorded on those thermometers has linearly increased with time. In terms of radiative transfer of energy from the Earth, who knows what that means, if anything?

There may be no determinable relationship between the temperatures recorded by Avogadro's number of thermometers positioned on every square inch of the surface of the Earth [measuring either air temperature on land or water temperature at sea] and the aggregate annual outgoing radiation from the Planet.

Nevertheless, the Acolytes have declared that Mankind is creating greenhouse gases which are trapping energy in the atmosphere and in the oceans that would have otherwise been radiated into space. Taking that as God's [or Mother Nature's] Truth, they have created incredibly complicated mathematical models that -- using surface temperatures as inputs -- are supposed to predict "weather" in the short term and "climate" in the long term. That is, they claim to be able to predict where this "excess" convective heat goes and what it does when it gets there.

But if the aggregate annual outgoing radiative transfer from Earth is not found to be linearly decreasing [and even if it is], If greenhouse gases cannot be shown to result in a decrease in annual outgoing radiative transfer from Earth [and even if they can],
If Mankind cannot be shown to be primarily responsible for the increase in greenhouse gases, then Both the supposed "problem" and the proposed "solution" by the Acolytes are nonsense.

In the meantime, it needs to be brought home to the U.S. electorate exactly what Global Al and his Acolytes are up to. They allege that their fellow Americans are causing Mother Earth to get hot under the collar and they have announced their determination to put a stop to it -- not for the sake of their fellow Americans, but for the sake of the Transcendent Globe, Mother Earth.