Dynamics v. Steady States

When I was about 5 or 6 – or whatever age I was when our family lived in Gambia, West Africa – my mother once explained to me the theory of evolution, as being the idea that plants and animals all gradually changed into different plants and animals, And when she’d finished explaining it to me, she added that she didn’t believe a word of it.

My mother never did believe the theory of evolution. She never could believe that, as she put it, “frogs could turn into snakes”. For her the idea was simply patent nonsense. Such things never happened. No-one had ever seen a frog turn into a snake, had they? Of course not.

But I adopted the idea immediately. I suddenly saw all living things as distant relatives of each other. Not just us humans, but all the animals and plants as well. And that meant that our little marmalade cat was also a distant relative of mine, and that I should love him all the more for it. That day, when I fed the little cat, he probably got an extra helping of food from me. Instead of one single small fish, he probably got two. For I saw him in a completely new light.

And with that I discovered an interest in what I then called Prehistory, and read avidly about past eras populated by dinosaurs which had now all vanished. I learned the names of all the periods of prehistory from the Cambrian to the Cretaceous (I can still remember the names). And I discovered that there had been ice ages in the past, as well as much warmer periods.

I never lost interest in it all. Instead I continually added to what I already knew. At some point I learned that the last ice age had only ended about 10,000 years ago. We were now living in a relatively ice-free interglacial period. And the last one that the Earth had enjoyed had been 100,000 years earlier.

So I’ve always had an idea of the world and all the plants and animals living in it as something that was always changing. It never stayed the same for long. But I suspect that my mother saw the world and everything in it as something fixed and unchanging. And if she didn’t believe in evolution, she probably didn’t believe in ice ages. I can well imagine her saying, “Glaciers two miles high? What nonsense!”

And I think that most people are like my mother. They see the world around them as being essentially static and unchanging. The world has always been pretty much exactly how it is right now, and furthermore it always will be. Yes, there might be a cycle of seasons. but they’re just ripples on the surface of a placid, unchanging pond.

And in many ways the argument between climate alarmists and climate sceptics, that’s going on right now, is an argument between people who see the world as an ever-changing place, and people who see it as static and unchanging.

The climate alarmists have been shouting that mounting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere threatens to warm the entire atmosphere, and we humans must stop pumping it into the atmosphere with all our coal and gas and oil burning. And the sceptics have been saying that it’s not happening, and we’ve just had 20 years of no warming at all.

And I’m a climate sceptic. I’ve never been able to see how trace amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could have such a huge and catastrophic effect. Most sceptics will agree that carbon dioxide will warm the atmosphere, but only by a 3 or so degrees Celsius. And they say that’s a good thing. And more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is good for plant life, because plants need carbon dioxide to grow.

I’m still a climate sceptic in this respect. I still don’t believe that carbon dioxide can cause catastrophic global warming (much like I don’t believe that trace amounts of tobacco smoke are causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people every year).

But over the last few months I’ve gone back to something that has always been bothering me about the whole climate debate, which is: If we’re living right now in a warm interglacial period that’s only lasted about 10,000 years, and the last one 100,000 years ago didn’t last very much longer than that before the ice returned, shouldn’t we be much more worried about an impending new ice age than we should be worried about warming the atmosphere a few degrees? For doesn’t the historical record suggest that if the last few warm interglacial periods only lasted about 10,000 years, our current interglacial period isn’t likely to last very much longer? And in fact, if we should be more worried about the planet cooling down than warming up, mightn’t it even be a good idea to burn as much coal and oil and gas as we possibly can?

Why ice ages begin and end is something that’s a bit of a mystery. There are lots of theories. But nobody really seems to know. And furthermore, nobody seems much bothered about it. And certainly the climate alarmists with their carbon dioxide are not in the least bit bothered about it at all.

But over the past few months, I’ve been having my own ideas about how ice ages might begin and end. I won’t repeat my idea again: I set out the gist of it last month in A Theory Of Ice Ages. And it’s a very, very simple idea. And it’s started me thinking in completely new ways, down completely new tracks.

And I’ve now become something of a climate alarmist. And I think I understand why ice ages begin and end. And I think that in the next few thousand years the Earth is almost certain to enter a new ice age. It’s going to get very cold. So I’m not worried about global warming: I’m worried about global cooling. And right now I’m trying to put together a computer simulation model that shows how it could happen.

And that’s not easy to do. I started out using a little asteroid, but I have to scale the asteroid up to the size of the Earth, and furthermore add an atmosphere on top, and sunlight as well. And maybe lots of other things as well.

And my theory of ice ages is a picture of a world that is forever changing. It’s a dynamic model of the world rather than a static model. But pretty much all the climate scientists, alarmist or sceptic, use a static model. They write steady-state equations with all the heat flows balancing out. They always assume an unchanging world, or a hardly-changing world. They won’t be able to understand my idea, because my idea includes things heating up and cooling down at different rates, and I use a dynamic simulation model of ever-changing heat flows. My models never reach any steady state ever. Steady states are useful fictions, but they’re still fictions all the same. The real world isn’t like that. The real world is never in equiibrium. It’s always changing.

So the way I see it right now, our current climate alarmists and the climate ssceptics are both people who see the Earth and its atmosphere as something that exists in an equilibrium steady state. They just disagree about the effect of trace amounts of carbon dioxide. Other than that, they’re all in complete agreement with each other, because they all write the same equations. And in some ways all equations, which equate one thing to another, are equations of some sort of steady state.

In fact, the entire environmental movement, and all the Greens, are another bunch of equilibrium, steady-state thinkers. They see the world as an unchanging, static thing. They see it as a blue-green Gaia, a beautiful droplet of water suspended in the void. And they think we greedy, grasping humans have come along and started spoiling it with all our engines and factories and ships and boats and planes, all belching out carbon dioxide and soot. And they think we should Stop Doing It, and let Gaia go on being Gaia, just like she always was, and always will be, once us poisonous humans have been driven away.

And it’s very easy to see the world as something that’s static and unchanging. Because all our experience says it is. The stars in the sky at night never change. Or almost never change. And if they do change, they change with such regularity as to be effectively unchanging.

I could go on.

And on and on and on.

But now I must go back to figuring out how to bolt an atmosphere onto my simulation model.

About Frank Davis

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34 Responses to Dynamics v. Steady States

  1. Tony says:

    “Most sceptics will agree that carbon dioxide will warm the atmosphere, but only by a 3 or so degrees Celsius. “

    Just to nitpick a little, I believe most sceptics reckon on more like 1 degree Celsius of warming. They almost all agree that additional co2 has a strong effect if you start from 0% but not from the concentration of 0.04% that we have currently. Also that the warming relationship is logarithmic. Specifically that we can expect about 1 degree of warming for each doubling of co2. This figure (of 1 degree) is also known as the ‘climate sensitivity’ figure.

    Whether humans can manage to double the co2 level seems doubtful, let alone exceed that. But the more the better certainly.

  2. Radical Rodent says:

    To nit-pick even further, Tony, many sceptics have no faith in any “climate sensitivity”, whatsoever; many doubt that CO2 or any other “greenhouse gas” has much to do with it – there are many who actually doubt the “greenhouse effect”, as well. Most are like me, who prefer to relate to facts, and not some fancy ideas based on outrageous assumptions, with little or no evidence to support them. There is also the equally outrageous assumption that any further warming will lead to catastrophe; as what warming there has been since the little ice age has been generally beneficial, why should that suddenly switch to catastrophic?

    For those reasons, I think Mr Davis should be actively encouraged to pursue his train of thought – he could cause some major upsets in the so-called science of AGW.

    • Tony says:

      For those reasons, I think Mr Davis should be actively encouraged to pursue his train of thought – he could cause some major upsets in the so-called science of AGW.
      Yes, indeed.

    • Frank Davis says:

      he could cause some major upsets in the so-called science of AGW.

      Thank you both for your encouragement.

      But even if my theory holds water, I think it’s very unlikely that I will upset climate science. After all, I’m not an “expert”. And I don’t even claim to be an expert. All I’m doing is applying the approach I used to use in my university days, 40 years ago: I’ve built a dynamic heat flow model of a slice of the Earth, which shows how temperatures change with time, as layers of ice are added and subtracted. Instead of working with walls and roofs and floors, I’m working with layers of rock and ice.

      So I’ll get dismissed as a) not an a properly qualified expert, and b) some sort of crank. In fact, when I tried to interest clmate-sceptic physicist Lubos Motl, he didn’t even reply. And another commenter made made fun of me by stripping out the “f” from cfrankdavis. When I emailed climate sceptic Jo Nova, whose husband constructs climate models, I got no reply from either her or him. The only person who took an immediate interest was Tallbloke, who re-blogged my Theory of Ice Ages. But when I emailed him a few weeks later, I got no reply. So I think Tallbloke changed his mind (although that may not be the case).

      The point here is that I’m coming at the whole thing from a new direction. I’ve been thinking about it all differently than the way they think. For they all only think about the atmosphere. They think the atmosphere is the only thing that matters. And this is true for both alarmists and sceptics. So I think both climate alarmists and sceptics will unite together in rejecting my idea. For what I’m proposing is something that is unthinkable for them. They’re all steady state thinkers, for a start (apart from the guys who write the climate simulation models that haven’t been doing a good job in predicting t)he climate). And also there’s a disciplinary boundary at the surface of the Earth: above it’s meteorology, and below it’s geology, and they’re separate disciplines, and probably hardly ever talk to each other any more than electrical engineers talk to heating engineers.

      So I think I’m going to have a very hard job getting any hearing from anyone in any of these disciplines. And, after all, they are the “experts”, aren’t they?

      However, non-experts have generally responded positively to my idea. Tallbloke’s commenters were very interested. And a number of my commenters responded positively as well (like you two). And fortunately my idea is so simple that almost anyone should be able to understand it. So if, as I expect, I get shunned by the experts, I think I should take the idea to ordinary people, and win agreement from them.

      But it still early days. I’m still constructing and testing my model.

      • Radical Rodent says:

        If a patents clerk can do it, you can, too, Mr Davis!

      • Radical Rodent says:

        Also… No-one should reject ideas until they fully investigate them; to do so is pure folly. I suspect that a significant part of the problem is that there are so many ideas circulating, and yours is just getting lost in the chaff. I have linked to your Theory of Ice Ages on Bishop Hill (http://bishophill.squarespace.com/) a couple of times, but had no reaction as yet; perhaps you should go on, and open a discussion on it. The responses should be interesting.

        p.s. I’ll put it on Jo Nova’s site, too, and we shall see the response.

        • Frank Davis says:

          I think that before I want to engage in any discussion I want to have a model of the Earth with an atmosphere and sunshine that demonstrates a cycle of alternating glacial periods and interglacial periods. My original post used a hot rocky asteroid with no atmosphere or sun.

          But as I just said, I don’t think there’s going to be any debate. These guys aren’t going to be interested: they’ve got a different model of the world that’s not at all like mine.

  3. Rose says:

    The Day the Earth Caught Fire

    “The Day the Earth Caught Fire is a British science fiction disaster film starring Edward Judd, Leo McKern and Janet Munro. It was directed by Val Guest and released in 1961, and is one of the classic apocalyptic films of its era.”

    The INCREDIBLE becomes Real!
    The IMPOSSIBLE becomes Fact!
    The UNBELIEVABLE becomes True!

    The Guardian 2014

    A doomed Earth of science fiction may well become a reality
    “Our climate altering activities are hurtling us towards the fictional future of a hot, melting world”

    “There’s a scene in the newly-restored science fiction classic The Day the Earth Caught Fire (premiered last week in the summer open air cinema at the British Museum) when The Daily Express’s fictional, bull-nosed science reporter, Bill Maguire, barks at a newsroom junior to fetch him information on the melting points of various substances. It’s to illustrate a spread in the paper which is investigating how massive nuclear tests have shifted the planet on its axis, causing chaotic weather and a heat wave to slowly marinate London.

    The screening launched the British Films Institute’s Sci-Fi season, whose light-hearted tone was set with kitsch alien facemasks given to the audience. A giant promotional selfie was taken before the film began.

    At the end, the friend I’d watched it with, who works for an official environmental body, went very quiet. “Do you know what I’ve been doing in the last few days?” she asked rhetorically. “Looking into the melting points of various substances in the event of worsening heat waves hitting London.” We both went quiet then.”

    So where exactly did the theory of Global Warming first start?

  4. Tony says:

    Off topic.
    The Austrian parliament on Thursday voted to drop plans to introduce a smoking ban in bars and restaurants.

    The move was led by the far-Right Freedom Party (FPÖ), which made it a condition for joining the coalition government of Sebastian Kurz last year.

    MPs voted to overturn the planned ban despite public protests and a petition which attracted more than 500,000 signatures.

    • beobrigitte says:

      Apologies, I had not seen your comment before I posted mine….

    • Mark Jarratt, Canberra, Australia says:

      I scanned that comment quickly, mistakenly concluding that some overdue balance and perspective was proposed in relaxing the tobacco consumption bans in Australian bars and restaurants. My bad, it was Austria not Australia.😈

  5. beobrigitte says:

    Dynamics v. Steady States
    The Guardian writers and anti-smokers are in tears:
    Matthias Strolz, the head of the opposition Neos party, said: “You are acting against science and without a conscience. You are making a deliberate decision today in favour of death.”
    And I read everywhere we’re having an old-people-pandemic NOW, which is set to become worse when the rest of the baby-boomers (peak late 50s – early 60s born) find themselves in work until the age of 67+. We’re all living longer….

    I’d be happy to live in “Europe’s Ashtray” for real quality traded for fictional quantity. Unfortunately the anti-smoking industry will not tolerate the Austrian Government’s decision.
    However short lived this victory is, it is the FIRST one. It can be done.

    • Smoking Lamp says:

      Well, it looks like the antismoking “steady state” just got more dynamic! This is good news as it breaks the trend. Of course the prohibitionists and social engineers are upset; but they lie once again about the science behind their totalitarian dreams.

      Check out: Austrian lawmakers vote to abandon smoking ban in the name of ‘freedom of choice’,” https://www.thelocal.at/20180322/austrian-lawmakers-vote-to-scrap-smoking-ban for another perspective.

    • Joe L. says:

      Matthias Strolz, the head of the opposition Neos party, said: “You are acting against science and without a conscience. You are making a deliberate decision today in favour of death.”

      No, Mr. Stroltz, you have that backward. It is you, members of the anti-smoking lobby, who have been acting against science and without a conscience. Decades of research have produced ZERO studies which could identify a statistically significant link between secondhand smoke and so-called “smoking-related diseases.”

      This is a significant victory over the seemingly omnipotent Antismokers! Hopefully this gets enough media coverage to help build momentum. I’m sure they will be working overtime to prevent that, and to denigrate the Freedom Party as a bunch of “far-right” bigots.

      • Decades of research have produced ZERO studies which could identify a statistically significant link between secondhand smoke and so-called “smoking-related diseases.”

        Erm, make that: Decades of research have produced ZERO studies which could identify a statistically significant link between smoking and so-called “smoking-related diseases.”

        • Joe L. says:

          Technically, the British Doctors’ Study claimed to suggest a statistically significant link between primary smoking and “smoking-related diseases.”

          However, the method (a prospective cohort study comprised of a series of questionnaires completed over the course of decades which could not possibly account for numerous confounding variables) is highly suspect; the lack of a random sample (subjects were all male, all British and all doctors) is highly unscientific; and the motives of Doll and Hill themselves are questionable.

          Couple this with the fact that the study has never been replicated, and any true scientist would tell you the study desperately needs to be revisited and scrutinized.

          Yet, until that day comes, the study’s claim of a statistically significant link is unfortunately regarded as the “gold standard” for epidemiological studies.

          On the other hand, not a single study has ever suggested a statistically significant link between secondhand smoke and “smoking-related diseases.”

          Therefore, to ban smoking because of the risks posted to non-smokers is unarguably “acting against science and without a conscience.”

        • garyk30 says:

          “Technically, the British Doctors’ Study claimed to suggest a statistically significant link between primary smoking and “smoking-related diseases.”

          That study should be trumpeted far and wide.
          It shows that smoking does not kill; because, smokers and never-smokers have the same probability of dying from a smoking related disease. They are both just as likely to die from one of the diseases said to be ‘caused’ by smoking.

          Smokers do have a higher rate of incidence of deaths from those diseases:
          Smokers = 30.21 per 1,000 people per year
          Never-smokers = 16.2 per 1,000 people per year.

          But, when you look at the % of total deaths:
          Smokers = 30.21 deaths out of a total of 35.4 deaths per 1,000 people = 85%
          Never-smokers = 16.2 deaths out of a total of 19.4 deaths per 1,000 people = 84%

          Smokers are only 1.02 times more likely to die from a smoking related disease and that is not statistically significant.

          Just because 16.2 is bigger than 30,2 does not mean that 16.2/19,4 is much bigger than 30.2/35.4.
          Both are about equal %’s.

        • I stand corrected, Joe. I’m aware they claim a X 23 relative risk for active smoking and a paltry X 0.18 RR for passive smoking. The point should have been that epidemiological studies in and by themselves are not scientifically relevant.

        • “and a paltry X 0.18 RR”

          Should read: and a paltry X 1.18 RR…

        • Joe L. says:

          The point should have been that epidemiological studies in and by themselves are not scientifically relevant.

          I couldn’t agree more.

    • Roobeedoo2 says:

      Matthias Strolz, the head of the opposition Neos party, said: “You are acting against science and without a conscience. You are making a deliberate decision today in favour of death.”

      Austrians rejecting Nazi science? I don’t think that’s disheartening at all!

      • Rose says:

        No indeed, it’s long overdue.

        But it does makes you wonder why it was imported here.

        War of words
        17 July 1999
        From Richard Doll, University of Oxford

        “Robert Proctor is correct in thinking that few people know much about the public health measures of Hitler’s physicians (Opinion, 19 June, p 4, but he is wrong to imply that scientists have been ignorant of the medical research of the period. Opinions may differ about its quality and the conclusions that could be drawn from it, but it is just plain wrong to say that “Richard Doll . . . knew nothing of the Schairer and Schöniger article until he [Proctor] sent him a copy in 1997″. I published its findings in an article on the causes of lung cancer in Advances in Cancer Research, vol 3, p 9 in 1955 and have invariably referred to it in appropriate circumstances ever since.”

        Commentary: Schairer and Schöniger’s forgotten tobacco epidemiology and the Nazi quest for racial purity
        Proctor 2001

        “Schairer and Schöniger’s case-control epidemiological study was financed by Karl Astel’s Institute for Tobacco Hazards Research (or ‘Institute for the Struggle Against Tobacco Hazards’, as it was also known), established in 1941 at Jena University by a 100 000 Reichsmarks grant from Hitler’s Reich Chancellery. We do not know who first suggested the study, though it could well have been Prof. Dr. med. Astel himself, who ruled over much of this intellectual territory with the iron hand expected from a Nazi Führer.”

  6. The disturbing fact is that the expression “tobacco sceptic”, contrary to “climate sceptic”, has yet to achieve household name status. As anti-anti-smoking ‘contrariants’ (if not activists or crusaders), we should well be aware that climate alarmism and anti-smoking hysteria are essentially related; yet it seems that, as far as the MSM is concerned, they each play on different levels, considering the latter is virtually non-existent in each and every one of their coverages (i.e. mendacious reports) of both of the relevant subjects.

    • Joe L. says:

      As I mentioned here a while back, “flat-earthers” have made headlines over the past year. Sure, the media usually paints them as buffoons because they are skeptical of “settled science,” but they’re actually getting mentioned in the media. You never hear about “tobacco-harm skeptics.”

      Therefore it is actually (very slightly) more socially acceptable these days to be a “flat-earther” than a “tobacco-harm skeptic.” This is a very disturbing sign of how brainwashed the masses are and how taboo the subject of tobacco has become.

  7. waltc says:

    Onward with your climate theory. The nit I’d pick is with the notion (your mother’s worldview aside) that most self-appointed Thinkers believe in an eternal static status quo. In any case, the Progressive elites and their followers seem to believe that Time means Progress, that chronology is a mark of morality and wisdom, that Now (and its notions) are always both better and truer than Then’s, that Later is always Better, that history represents stages of progress towards the ultimate Perfectibility of Man.

    Meanwhile, OT: San Francisco has joined Berekely and West Hollywood as a fur-free city–


    • Joe L. says:

      I would argue that the Progressive elites are attempting to force “Progress” in an attempt to create a new steady state (e.g., a “tobacco-free world”). Their vision of a Progressive Utopia is itself a static state, which, as phyiscs and history have proven, simply doesn’t exist.

      This is right in line with Frank’s view; they can only think in terms of static models. However, the universe is dynamic, and will forever be in flux. Their efforts are a complete waste of time and energy (and tax dollars).

    • Frank Davis says:

      Onward with your climate theory.

      Thanks, Walt. Such encouragement helps.

  8. Rhys says:

    I have to love that video inserted mid-article that shows you how to make a faux-fur purse. Crazy? Who’s crazy?

  9. Rose says:

    In interesting study from the other week.

    Oral precancerous lesions in non-smokers more likely to progress to cancer, study finds
    March 7, 2018

    Precancerous lesions in the mouths of non-smokers are more likely to progress to cancer than those in smokers, new research from the University of British Columbia has found.

    Although tobacco use is still one of the strongest risk factors associated with mouth cancers, UBC dentistry PhD candidate Leigha Rock found that oral precancerous lesions in non-smokers are more than twice as likely to progress to cancer. Furthermore, lesions in non-smokers progressed to cancer faster than smoking-associated lesions. The study was published this week in Oral Oncology.”

    “As smoking rates decline, we are seeing an increase in the proportion of these types of lesions in non-smokers,” said Rock.

    Among the scientists’ findings were that lesions on the floor of the mouth in non-smokers were 38 times more likely to progress to cancer than in smokers.”

    “The study’s results stress the importance of taking oral lesions seriously, especially when they occur in non-smokers: “If you see a lesion in a smoker, be worried. If you see a lesion in a non-smoker, be very worried. Don’t assume it can’t be cancer because they’re a non-smoker; our research indicates non-smokers may be at higher risk.”

    But why? It would fit in with all the studies on the preventative effects of topically applied niacin but that would also apply to coffee. Tobacco itself was used from earliest times for healing wounds.

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