Misunderstandings in Physics
Written by Anthony Bright-Paul
Much of the debate about Global Warming stems from a lack of knowledge of basic Physics. The Sun does not send ‘heat’ through space, but radiation. This is a concept that is difficult to grasp for the average layman. Likewise Outer Space is a vacuum, which is by definition empty, and therefore has no temperature, although it is given a nominal Kelvin figure owing to what strays there.
Radiation has to encounter mass for heat to be produced. The Sun sends radiation across 90 – 95 million miles. This radiation passes through the 99% of our atmosphere, which is composed of Nitrogen and Oxygen (which are transparent to both incoming and outgoing infrared) and then strikes or encounters the substance or mass of the Earth and Oceans. The Oceans and the Earth (that is the soil, the rocks, the sands, the buildings, the lakes, rivers and seas) warm up and they warm the atmosphere from the bottom up. That is why we have Standard Atmosphere used by all Airline Pilots and the Adiabatic Lapse Rate used in Physics.
That means that the air is 2ºC. cooler for every 1,000 feet of altitude, which is also why there is snow on the tops of mountains. Were it otherwise the summits of Mt Blanc and Mt Everest would be amongst the hottest and not amongst the coldest places on Earth.
What about the Greenhouse gases? It is correct as the Warmists claim that they absorb infrared radiation and consequently warm up. Unlike Oxygen and Nitrogen, which are transparent to both incoming and outgoing infrared radiation, the Greenhouse Gases are opaque. Hence they impede or scatter both incoming and outgoing radiation. This cooling effect can easily be observed when a black cloud passes across the sun on a hot summer’s day – or a cool winter’s day for that matter. There is immediate cooling. When it is hot and sultry with plenty of moisture in the atmosphere the rate of cooling is slowed – that is all, nothing gets hotter.
When the radiation from the Sun hits the sand of the Sahara say, the sands may reach 70ºC. The sands in turn warm the air above to say 40ºC by Conduction, by touching. As everyone knows hot air or hot liquids always rise up. And so the hot air rises by Convection as on an ever-moving travellator to reach Outer Space.
Why is it colder at altitude? Why do they say that the air is thinner? Because, as the gases rise up they expand and the distance between the molecules grows ever larger and wider. What is between the molecules? Absolutely nothing, and as we all know you cannot heat nothing, you can only heat something that is mass or substance. This is enshrined in Avogrado’s Law. So that when one gets to the top level of the atmosphere, (TOA), the Thermosphere is almost a complete vacuum, almost empty, so although there are some molecules there that are very hot, it is also immensely cold or lacking in heat. This is referred to as heat content.
The weather is always changing, as the Earth is revolving on itself and hurtling round the Sun at over 66,000 miles per hour in an ellipse, and furthermore the whole Solar system itself is also moving as part of the Milky Way. In fact the weather and the temperature everywhere changes some 3,600 times in every hour. As the Weather changes so also does Climate change, since Climate is an average of weather. So, yes, there is Global warming on a daily and seasonal basis, and there is Climate Change caused by factors beyond the reach of man.
The Sun warms the Earth and the Earth warms the Atmosphere – I hope that that is now abundantly clear. The atmosphere does not warm the Earth – on the contrary the Atmosphere is a giant cooling system. However it is easy to have the illusion that the atmosphere warms us, and that illusion is partly fostered by winds. When the winds in the UK blow from the South West we are inclined to get mild and wet weather. If the winds blow from the Arctic Circle the air will feel cold. If the wind blows from the East in winter it can bring snow and in summer the same wind may be hot and dry. If however the wind blows from the South we may enjoy unseasonably warm air direct from the Sahara. Great columns of air are moved about by the wind. But the fact remains that the Atmosphere is a great escalator endlessly carrying away the heat from the surfaces of this Earth to Outer Space.
The winds also affect ocean currents, which are carried northwards and southwards from the Tropics. The state of Arctic Ice, which ebbs and flows, is affected by these warm currents. Contrary to popular belief the ice warms the atmosphere above. Or rather Sun warms the surface of the ice and that warms the air above. When ice floes melt it is nearly always the result of warm waters flowing up from the Tropics. So, yes, of course there are climate changes constantly occurring according to Great Nature.
There is no such entity as trapped heat. If heat were sealed in a sort of celestial thermos flask with 100% efficiency, that means the heat would not radiate. If however the heat radiated, then the heat would no longer be trapped and would only flow from hot to cold as per the 2nd law of thermodynamics. A hot object cannot heat an object of a higher temperature. If a molecule radiates that means it loses heat.
If the sun shines on a greenhouse the temperature inside rises, since the air is impeded by glass panes. Once the sun goes down the temperature inside the greenhouse falls. Whither has the heat disappeared? The same occurs with central heating. Once the heating is off the temperature declines. It is impossible to trap heat.