Imaginary Threats Everywhere

Velvet Glove Iron Fist:

The deadly coronavirus that has infected hundreds of people in China and has now spread to the USA is the biggest global public health threat we have seen for some years. Naturally, therefore, the World Health Organisation spent yesterday putting out a series of deranged tweets about vaping.

The World Health Organisation thinks that we have a much more serious tobacco epidemic. From the foreword of the FCTC:

The WHO FCTC was developed in response to the globalization of the tobacco epidemic.

Vaping, to their mind, is just a new variant and extension of the global tobacco epidemic, which is of course killing millions and millions of people. Coronavirus has hardly killed anybody yet. So the vaping epidemic is obviously far more important than the coronavirus epidemic.

These people are insane.

The “tobacco epidemic” is an imaginary threat. And CO2-driven global warming is another imaginary threat. We are beset with imaginary threats everywhere.

I’ve managed to get my new polyhedral world model to demonstrate glaciation cycles in the northern hemisphere.  The snow first covers 7 triangular regions (8 if Antarctica is included). Numbers show snow dept:

And then it all melts away, and there’s a brief warm interglacial period:

And there’s a nice cycle of long cold glacial periods, punctuated by brief warm interglacial periods.

The way the cycle works is that when deep snow settles on any region, the subglacial surface rocks gradually warm up,, and eventually melt the overlying snow. In this particular model there’s air mixing between regions, and 25% of the air in any triangular region is assumed to be at current global mean air temperature. The effect of this is to strongly entrain the different regions, so that they tend to all warm up and cool down at about the same time.

The graph below shows air temperatures and surface rock temperatures in the triangular “Europe” region. And it also shows the number of  glaciated regions:

Surface rock temperatures drop rapidly during interglacials, and rise slowly during glaciations. Air temperatures oscillate rapidly in the transitions to and from interglacials.

In this particular case, the glaciation cycle is only about 7,000 years long, and the interglacial only lasts about 1,000 years. This is about 13 times faster than what currently actually happens on planet Earth.

It’s not particularly meaningful, but it’s a nice little demonstration of a cycle driven by a process (subglacial surface rock warming) that climate scientists seem to be completely oblivious to. And this seems to be because they discount the Earth’s geothermal heat flow rate (about 70 milliWatts per square metre) as being too small to influence the Earth’s climate. From page 7 of Raymond Pierrehumbert’s Principles of Planetary Climate:

Once a solid crust forms, the flow of heat from the interior of the Earth to the surface is sharply curtailed, because the heat diffuses very slowly through solid rock. In this situation, supply of heat from the interior becomes insignificant in comparison with the energy received from the Sun, and the Earth has settled into a state where the climate is determined by much the same processes that determine today’s climate: a competition between the rate at which energy is received from the Sun and the rate at which energy is lost to space by radiation of infrared light. This is very likely to have been the case 4.4 billion years ago, if not earlier,

Pierrehumbert is perfectly correct: the geothermal heat flow is far too small to directly affect the atmospheric temperature. But when this tiny trickle of heat melts an overlying snow sheet, flipping the surface albedo from 0.8 to 0.3, it has a tremendous indirect effect on atmospheric temperatures.

But I’m not a climate scientist. I’m just someone who spent 7 years building dynamic heat flow models of buildings, many of them covered in thick layers of white insulation. Back then I was using expanded polystyrene, but I could equally have been using snow.

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