Daily Energy From “Negligible” Solar Irradiance Variation Turns Out To Be Far More Than 400,000 A-Bombs!

Remember how alarmists say that the variation in solar irradiance was too small to have any real impact on the earth’s climate, and thus gets neglected by the IPCC?

Reader GuarionexSandoval has written a comment which I’m elevating to a post, see below. It too shows that if the variation solar irradiance from the 11-year cycle is negligible, then so must the alleged 400,000 daily Hiroshima bombs of heat that alarmists insist are being added to the climate system.

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By GuarionexSandoval

I remember first reading about this in some moronic piece of agit-prop on Market Watch called New ‘War of Worlds’: Capitalism vs. Planet Earth Opinion: Global-warming rate today has impact of 400,000 daily A-bombs by Paul B. Ferrel.

400,000 daily A-bombs by Paul B. Ferrel

My reply:

Let’s crunch some numbers. The author claims that human effect on “global warming” is equivalent to 400,000 atomic bombs going off per day. We’ll assume he meant that all human activity results in a temperature rise per day the energy of which is equal to 400,000 atomic bombs. Since he didn’t specify what kind of atomic bomb, we’ll use Hiroshima since that’s usually the one used by those trying to score polemical points. The yield of the Hiroshima bomb was around 64.5 terajoules (TJ). So 400,000 of these would be about 25,800,000 TJ. The total amount of energy in TJ released by all nuclear explosions to date is around 2,135,000. So, he’s claiming that human effect on temperature each day is 12 times greater than all the nuclear weapons ever exploded. Gee, that sounds so horribly ominous.

But let’s compare that to the amount of energy on average that reaches the earth each day from the sun. The average influx is somewhere near 81,660 joules per square meter per minute. Given that the earth has a surface area of 510 trillion square meters, the energy is 41,646,600,000,000,000,000 J/minute or 41,646,600 TJ/minute or 59,971,104,000 TJ/day. But consider that over the 11 year sunspot cycle the energy output reaching the earth can vary by 0.1 percent (but other solar cycles can increase this up to 0.6 percent). So at maximum, it varies between 60,001,089,552 TJ/day to 60,151,017,312 TJ/day.

Just the variation of the 11-year sunspot cycle is responsible for a change in the daily solar energy influx equivalent to 930,249 atomic bombs per day. At the maximum the change would be equivalent to 5,581,494 atomic bombs per day. So, even if his claim were true, which it isn’t, the effect would be less than the natural variation from just the sunspot cycle alone without even considering other cycles such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation that cause a large fluctuation in average global temperature or the 200 year de Vries cycle that does the same or the progression from grand solar maxima to grand solar minima that does the same or regular changes in the earth’s orbit that do the same or changes in the solar magnetic field that controls cloud formation by changing cosmic ray flux that do the same or combinations of all these cycles that can really shift temperature radically in one or the other direction–like between the 100,000 year glacial periods and the approximately 10,000 year interglacial periods, such as our current interglacial, the end of which we are nearing.

Bombs are equal to only 37 seconds of sunlight

So against all this, let’s compare his deliberately scary sounding atomic bomb imagery to the actual daily energy that reaches the earth from the sun: 59,971,104,000 TJ/day. That is 2,324 times larger than 400,000 atomic bombs or, rather, those bombs are equal to about 0.043% of the sun’s daily energy influx or 37 seconds of sunlight.

Now, let’s put this into the context of what’s actually been happening to global temperatures over the past 10,000 years. Over the past 9,000 years there has been a downward trend; over the past 3000 years, a steeply downward trend. From the Minoan Warm Period to the tiny little blip of warmth between about 1860 to 1998 (3 roughly equal periods of roughly equal increases of temp), the trend has been to ever colder warm periods and to ever colder intervening cold periods. The last cold period, referred to as the Little Ice Age, was the coldest the planet has been since the last worldwide glaciation. We are still warming up from the LIA and have far to go to reach the warmth of the Medieval Warm Period, farther still to reach that of the Roman Warm Period (according to Greenland ice core temperatures) and very far to reach the warmth of the Minoan Warm Period. The 20th century was also special in that there was a grand solar maximum that exceeded anything for millennia. We’re now on the down slope toward a grand solar minimum. By the end of the 1990s we reached the end of the positive phase of the Pacifical Decadal Oscillation and are headed in the negative or colder direction. We also reached the peak of the 200 year de Vries cycle and are headed back down. None of these predicts higher temperatures. He should hope that anthropogenic CO2 has the effect climate alarmists claim for it.

CO2 near 500 million year low

As far as his professed fear and trembling over CO2 being higher than any time in “recorded history,” first, it’s not true. There were times in the 19th century that atmospheric CO2 was measured at over 400 ppm. And, second, “recorded history” is a cute way to avoid looking at all the other ways that atmospheric CO2 concentrations are measured for times before “recorded history.” Again, he either lacks perspective or is deliberately failing to provide it. In the geological time frame, the current amount of atmospheric CO2 is near an all time low, vying with the Carboniferous and Permian Periods for the lowest atmospheric CO2 in over 500 million years. Its decline over the past 150 million years has been almost linear and completely unconnected with any sort of human activity, as was its abrupt increase at the end of the Permian period from about where it is now, just barely enough to sustain life, to over 2500 ppm.

Against this, the author’s piece can be seen to be one of two things: 1. Ignorant and uncritical re-posting of hysterical claims that make Orson Well’s War of the World hoax look like a Hello Kitty cartoon. 2. Deliberate deception in the service of a political agenda.

Given that his bullet points were either inaccurate, irrelevant, or completely untrue, I’d be tempted to say number 1.

But given his absurd allusion to 400,000 atomic bombs per day, I’m sort of leaning toward number 2.

And especially so when I consider Al Gore’s statement that he. Al, believes “…it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are, and how hopeful it is that we are going to solve this crisis.”

H.L. Mencken described these types well:

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed–and hence clamorous to be led to safety–by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

“The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false face for the urge to rule it.”

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5 responses to “Daily Energy From “Negligible” Solar Irradiance Variation Turns Out To Be Far More Than 400,000 A-Bombs!”

  1. BobW in NC

    I have been following CAGW since first encountering a lead to WUWT on Drudge in 2007. Then to Icecap, Real Science, and No Tricks Zone. I am grateful beyond telling for the truth presented in these websites and other places. From all the presentations, comments, and discussions there, I have learned more about the lies, yes—lies—promulgated to support CAGW than I ever thought possible.

    On the bright side, I have learned more what constitutes good science and the scientific method than I had picked up in my 6 years in graduate school and 30 years behind the bench.

    So, thank you to all who have contributed to my education.

    1. GuarionexSandoval

      I retooled the calculations for the post by Wight at Skeptical Science and tried to tone down the “politics” since they claimed they weren’t interested in politics, ha ha:

      Let’s crunch some numbers. The author claims that human effect on global temperature increase is equivalent to 1,036,800 atomic bombs going off per day, up from the 400,000 atomic bombs going off each day cited by Paul B. Farrel in his Market Watch column in late 2013. We’ll assume that both meant that all human activity results in a temperature rise per day the energy of which is equal to between 400,000 and 1,036,800 Hiroshima atomic bombs. The yield of the Hiroshima bomb was around 64.5 terajoules (TJ). So 400,000 of these would be about 25,800,000 TJ and 2.592 times more for the Wight figure would be 66,873,600 TJ. The total amount of energy in TJ released by all nuclear explosions to date is around 2,135,000. So, he’s claiming that human effect on temperature each day is 31.3 times greater than all the nuclear weapons ever exploded. It sounds so horribly ominous.

      But let’s compare that to the amount of energy on average that reaches the earth each day from the sun. The average influx is somewhere near 81,660 joules per square meter per minute. Given that the earth has a surface area of 510 trillion square meters, the energy is 41,646,600,000,000,000,000 J/minute or 41,646,600 TJ/minute or 59,971,104,000 TJ/day. But consider that over the 11 year sunspot cycle the maximum energy output reaching the earth can vary by 0.1 percent (but other solar cycles can increase this up to 0.6 percent). So at maximum, it varies between 60,031,075,104 TJ/day to 60,330,930,624 TJ/day.

      Just the variation at the top end of the daily solar energy influx of the 11 year sunspot cycle, depending on a weak versus strong solar maximum, is responsible for an amount of energy between 929,785 and 5,578,707 atomic bombs per day. So, even if the author’s claim were true, the effect, on average, would be less than the natural variation from just the sunspot cycle alone without even considering other cycles such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the North Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation that cause large fluctuations in average global temperature or the 200 year de Vries cycle that does the same or the progression from grand solar maxima to grand solar minima that does the same or regular changes in the earth’s orbit that do the same or changes in the solar magnetic field that controls cloud formation by changing cosmic ray flux that do the same or combinations of all these cycles that can really shift temperature radically in one or the other direction–like between the 100,000 year glacial periods and the approximately 10,000 year interglacial periods, such as our current interglacial, the end of which we are nearing.

      So against all this, let’s compare the deliberately scary atomic bomb imagery to the actual daily energy that reaches the earth from the sun: 59,971,104,000 TJ/day. That is 897 times larger than 1,036,800 atomic bombs or, rather, those bombs are equal to about 0.1% of the sun’s daily energy influx or 96 seconds of sunlight.

      Based on what is actually known about the cycles controlling global temperatures and the changes in atmospheric CO2 concentration revealed by a variety of proxies throughout earth’s history, any human contribution over the approximately 110,000 year glacial/interglacial cycle is next to nothing, swamped by natural variation, if it could actually be measured at all, instead of just theoretically calculated:

      “If we are producing A amount of CO2 per B days and AB could result in C% of forcing, ignoring all other factors (such as the logarithmic relationship between increased CO2 and effects on atmospheric temperature, all the solar and orbital cycles, solar output, changes in solar magnetic field, changes in cosmic radiation influx, and everything else not yet known), then the resulting possible increase in global temperature could be D degrees above the average global temperature (ignoring all the other factors such as average temperature per day–which has a greater temperature fluctuation than almost any time except between summer and winter in the temperate zones or between glacial and interglacial periods–decade, century, millennium, interglacial, glacial, interglacial/glacial–and which one of each of these?), meaning a total amount in energy equal to, let’s see what would seem scariest, number of beats of a billion butterfly wings, seconds of sunlight, or atomic bombs? Hmmm. And then we look around and say, ‘Hey, wait, were did all that energy go? We calculated it, therefore, it must exist somewhere. Obviously not in the atmosphere or the ground; and certainly not radiated into space because what would be the point of our argument, so…hey, okay, it’s in the ocean depths and sooner or later, like Godzilla, will emerge and destroy us all.'”

  2. Edward.

    The reality, is a difference of scale. The Alarmists just don’t get it – of the vastness and incredible elemental forces of the universe which are at work on mother earth – what man does, is neither here nor there, we haven’t been here long and by the looks of it, we’re not staying around for long either – the Socialists-greens will see to that.

    1. Mindert Eiting

      The Socialists-greens cannot change the fine tuning of the universe.

  3. Wm Erhart

    I think GuarionexSandoval may have overstated his case, where he wrote: “The average influx is somewhere near 81,660 joules per square meter per minute. Given that the earth has a surface area of 510 trillion square meters,…”

    But a planet intercepts a circle of sunlight equal to the planet’s cross-sectional area. That’s one fourth the planet’s surface area.

    This is a fine post, very persuasive and well worth fixing.