John Robson: If the elites are wrong about global warming, the damage will be enormous

Mario Hoppmann/AFP/Getty Images

If it turns out the science isn’t settled, and global warming is a bust, how much less will people trust ‘the experts’ and ‘the authorities’ on the next issue, and the one after that?

It’s impossible to ignore Donald Trump for any length of time. Even if he didn’t have his “finger on the button”, and whether you blame a “basket of deplorables” or “the elites” for his success, the obvious breakdown of trust between the public and those in authority is ominous. So we shouldn’t go about making it worse, right?

Clearly I am one of those who often uses “elites” in a pejorative sense, along with synonyms like “the chattering classes.” I have nothing against people earning respect through intelligence, wisdom, energy and above all character. But I resent those in authority treating leadership as a privilege rather than a responsibility. And I think we have been badly served, indeed badly let down, by those who should know better, in areas from fiscal policy to social policy to, yes, environmental policy.

NASA’s FAKE data vs. reality

Because I fear the ongoing dissolution of social cohesion I do not welcome rudeness in public discussion. But I do make a living trying to direct pointed remarks at the right people for the right reasons, including university administrators unwilling or afraid to uphold free speech and free inquiry.

Another thing that gives me the willies is the looming crisis in public-sector pensions. We just heard an update on it from Bill Tufts, author of Pension Ponzi, at the Economic Education Association conference in Calgary, and it is frightening not just for its fiscal implications but for the threatened tearing of the social fabric if those in power delay, deny and deceive instead of acting.

Then there’s this huge ruckus over “man-made climate change.” It has become orthodoxy in the smelliest sense, with dissent treated as heresy to be stamped out frantically, not coolly refuted or invited to dinner and reasoned with.


SANDY HUFFAKER/AFP/Getty Images Protesters chant during a rally against climate change in San Diego, California on February 21, 2017.

It is of course possible that the dissenters are wrong about the science. But it is not possible that they are wrong to express their doubts. Remember Galileo? When those in authority shout them down, hound them from their posts, and shame them, they don’t just betray science. They betray social trust.

Now some people may say debate is all fine and good. But these “deniers” are kooks, tin-foil-hatters, UFO enthusiasts, flat-earthers. Don’t you know, to quote Barack Obama’s May 16, 2013 tweet, “Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous”.

In fact this 97 per cent claim is part of the problem. In addition to the multitude of scientists who work in fields so remote from climate as to have no professional opinion, there are countless geologists, physicists, chemists and others who dissent over how much (a) climate is changing (b) man is responsible and (c) it is dangerous. I’m about to hear a lot of their voices at a Heartland Institute Conference in Washington. To say they do not exist is to be, how shall I put it, a “denier.”

If you want to see the studies advancing this claim of overwhelming scientific consensus refuted, visit the Friends of Science website and search “97 per cent.” But this number is used to intimidate, not illuminate. And science does not work that way.

It is far from harmless, especially when reputable opinion swings intolerantly behind bad science in service of bad policy. Governments in B.C., Ontario and elsewhere aim to reduce CO2 and equivalent emissions by nearly 80 per cent by 2050, with disastrous impact on Canada’s conventional energy industry and all of us who like to warm our homes, cook our food and get around. And to conceal the worldwide disaster in alternative energy programs merely compounds the offence.

Now consider this scenario. Within a decade the hair-raising theories advanced by the likes of Al Gore and shouted at us by too many politicians and journalists are exposed as not just wrong, but bunk. Suppose their predictions fizzle and it becomes clear that we have long known a great deal about the history of the Earth that is plainly incompatible with the alarmist thesis (as I will show in my new documentary “The Environment: A True Story” so please visit and support it).



After surviving wartime bombing and Soviet-era seizures, some power plants in central Europe are facing extinction because of flat prices, newer technologies and red tape in Berlin.

The facilities at risk used to make money buying cheap power at night to pump water up mountains, then releasing it downhill to turn generators during the day, when prices were higher. While they were cash cows before the era of wind and solar, market conditions are now so bad for pumped-hydro plants that Sweden’s Vattenfall AB and Norway’s Statkraft AS say they might close plants in Germany, while Alpiq Holding AG wants to unload some units in Switzerland.

Vattenfall’s Goldisthall hydro power plant. – Photographer: Stefan Thomas/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Photos

It’s yet another example of how Chancellor Angela Merkel’s unprecedented Energiewende has gone awry. Designed to start within seconds, pumped storage is ideal for smoothing fluctuations in power supplies exacerbated by the expansion of intermittent renewables. While solar and wind get 20 billion euros ($21 billion) in subsidies per year from Berlin, the pumped-hydro plants get nothing but more regulation and rising bills for grid access.

“I’d be pretty perplexed if all these plants would shut down,” Andreas Gandolfo, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said by phone from London. “You created a reservoir, dug the mountain, you laid the concrete. Why replace a technology that is already there?”

Share of Germany’s power generation

The jump in solar generation has eroded the traditional premium for daytime peak over nightly rates to just 25 percent. It was more than four times that in 2008. Even income from providing near-instant power to the grid at times of high demand has dwindled, dropping as much as 95 percent over the past six years.

On top of that, operators of hydro storage plants more than 20 years old must pay for using the grid when drawing electricity for pumping because they count as consumers by the regulator. This eats up almost all their profit, according to the German Association of Energy and Water Industries, or BDEW.


And lastly, the lenght of fraud in the climateindustry

Heat Flow Cold to Hot when both Conduction & Radiation Occurring?

PSI recently had a paper submitted where the author claimed that there are solutions to thermodynamics with heat flowing from cold to hot, as long as heat was flowing from hot to cold via a different mechanism at the same time.  Paper is here; author’s name has been removed.

Here we will present the review, just because it’s great reading for math and physics Übermenschen.


For specific criticism and some reasons why your paper was not accepted.

PL:  “The First Law of Thermodynamics, conservation of energy for the radiator says: Rate of energy out/in by conduction at T to/from surroundings at Ts = rate of energy in/out by radiation from/to surroundings minus/plus the rate of energy accumulation/depletion within the radiating body.”

Firstly, that is one of the most convoluted, unreadable statements I’ve ever come across.  I’d ask for a re-write edit based on this sentence alone.  Thankfully you then wrote it as an equation:

“PL: Rate Out = Rate In – Rate of Accumulation

Qo(t) = Qi(t) – m Cp dT(t)/dt”

Since you’re using Q then these terms should mean heat, although you don’t call them heat in your text, and so again it needs editing and a re-submission based on that alone.  However, then something gets much worse.  The right-most term is indeed called heat and one will typically find it as dQ/dt = m Cp dT/dt or more simply dQ = m Cp dT.  But…this *is* the rate of heat energy in for an object, and it *is* the rate of heat energy out for an object, depending on the sign of dT, and, this *is* the rate of accumulation for an object.  Your equation is literally stating:

Rate of Accumulation = Rate of Accumulation – Rate of Accumulation


m Cp dT(t)/dt = m Cp dT(t)/dt – m Cp dT(t)/dt

which is senseless.

However, given that convoluted preliminary sentence, it seems that in this equation you’re actually trying to separate conduction from radiation, but that isn’t clear at all from the terms in the equation written since they simply denote heat out and in.  Your Qo(t) is actually the heat from conduction, and Qi(t) is the heat from radiation, given your convoluted intro sentence.  But given the way that you have inverted in writing in that convoluted sentence almost every single term in its relationship to what should be positive and negative, because you go from in/out to out/in several times, it becomes exceedingly difficult to track what you’re actually doing especially when you factor in that the individual terms drop any notational reference to the conduction and radiation that they’re supposed to correspond to.  It’s a hair away from being totally unreadable…strictly it is actually unreadable, and totally inconsistent.  And I’ll also note that that first equation which you start from has no reference stated for it from source material.

At this point, without going any further, your paper is being sent back for major revisions asking you to use proper English sentence structure, and proper & consistent mathematical and physics notation.  If the author didn’t know what that meant, and the paper then came back with the same English and mathematical grammatical syntax convolution, then the paper would immediately be recommended for outright rejection.  The author would need to go find somewhere else to publish.

Going further, for the sake here, not that I would have if this was a paper I was reviewing (it would have been sent back by now), you state:

“PL: Qo(t) = Qi(t) – m Cp dT(t)/dt

At steady state, T is constant, dT/dt = 0, out/in = in/out and Qo = Qi.  Let Qc be rate by conduction and Qr rate by radiation. Qo is Qc if Qc > 0. Qi is Qr if Qr > 0.  Qc = Qr”

If dT/dt = 0, this means that there is no heat flow, and so all Q’s should be equal to zero.  dT/dt = 0 defines all Q’s equal to zero.  Instead you are saying that the conductive heat input must be equal to the radiative heat loss, or in other words, that heat is entering and leaving at the same time.  There is some sort of underlying ambiguity which has been set up here but for now we will go with it given that heat is said to be leaving and entering at the same time via different mechanisms but at equal rates.

However, since you’ve stated that dT(t)/dt = 0, then since the object is in thermal equilibrium, Kirchhoff’s Law will be in effect; all of your subsequent discussion and where you arrive at heat flowing from cold to hot depends upon Kirchhoff’s Law not being in effect, but you started the analysis with the very conditions under which Kirchhoff’s Law is defined to be in effect…i.e. when dT(t) = 0, i.e. in thermal equilibrium.  So there’s a logical error here.  You’ve set up the conditions under which Kirchhoff’s Law is *defined* to be in effect, i.e. dT(t)/dt = 0, thermal equilibrium, but then you go on to dispense with it.

Your equation and text itself is inconsistent because your preliminary convoluted sentence is referring to the Q’s as those from convection and radiation, but then you write the equation as Q’s in and out.  So now I must correct this and sort it out:

m*Cp*dT refers to an object, and so any Q’s relating to this must also refer to same object, so that if dT is positive, then dQ is positive, i.e. if the object has risen in temperature then it has taken in heat – positive temperature change = positive heat input.  So getting rid of the heat in and out notation which makes no sense, and using heat from conduction and heat from radiation notation, then

dQc + dQr = m Cp dT

So now if dT = 0, then dQc = – dQr.  The heat input from conduction equals the heat output from radiation, or vice-versa.  And this must be a general result applicable to all situations.  If we very carefully read your text, it eventually becomes somewhat clear that you state the same thing.

So if we now look at your later equation (4) or just insert terms to dQc = -dQr…

dQc = k(Ts – T) –> that makes sense because the object is the reference; if there is positive heat +dQc into the object from conduction then we expect Ts to be greater than T, and k is always positive.

dQr = sigma * (α εs Ts4 – αs ε T4) –> that makes sense (in this writing) because if absorptivities and emissivities are unity, then positive heat dQr into the object from radiation is because Ts is greater than T.

So putting it together, and this is the same equation (4) as found in your text:

k(Ts – T) = -sigma * (α εs Ts4 – αs ε T4)

and given that your dQc = – dQr is a general result for the thermal equilibrium you’ve defined it thus applies to all situations of such, and so we can then look at an ideal case where absorptivities and emissivities are all unity:

k(Ts – T) = -sigma*(Ts4 – T4)

Thus, if Ts was less than T, then the left hand side would be a negative number, -x say.

-x = -sigma*(Ts4 – T4)


+x = +sigma*(Ts4 – T4)

The only way that the right hand side can be a positive number is if Ts is greater than T…however, this is in contradiction to the defined requirement that Ts was less than T.

Thus, there is a fundamental, general error, lurking somewhere in your creation here, and so it is no wonder that you could find heat flowing from cold to hot…once the initiating error is set up, subsequent errors can only follow.  And we have now proven that there is a general error embedded somewhere in your creation.  In other words it is mathematically impossible for dQc = – dQr.  This isn’t a possible expression in physics or the mathematics.  Certainly it can lead to heat flowing from cold to hot…because that is impossible…an impossibility can come from an impossible expression.

The impossibility must arise when we say that

dQc + dQr = m Cp dT

can have a condition where dT(t) = 0 without both dQc and dQr being zero.  In other words, the only condition where dT(t) = 0 is if both dQc & dQr equal zero.  If dQc and dQr were not zero, then it is not possible for dT(t) = 0.  dQc = – dQr only when they both equal zero.  Why would that be?

Is there a non (Ts – T) = 0 solution for

k(Ts – T) = -sigma*(Ts4 – T4)?


(Ts – T) = -(sigma/k) * (Ts4 – T4)

(sigma/k) is always positive and is just a scaling factor so let’s just remove it so that we have focus on the variable terms:

(Ts – T) = – (Ts4 – T4)

Well, again, this is actually just the same thing as above: if (Ts – T) > 0, and since all T > 0, then (Ts4 – T4) > 0, and so the negative sign is impossible.  The error is indeed in saying that

dQc + dQr = m Cp dT

can have a condition where dT(t) = 0 without both dQc and dQr being zero.  It’s mathematically impossible.  Probably related to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.

As I said at the beginning, there was something strange about saying that the heat loss from conduction must equal the heat input from radiation under thermal equilibrium as a general condition.  It’s much more sensible to say that, at thermal equilibrium, both of the heat exchanges from conduction and radiation must each be zero. Notwithstanding that thermal equilibrium was defined in the setup, but then the defined condition of thermal equilibrium, i.e. Kirchhoff’s Law, was dispensed with.

If we look at the full general equation:

k(Ts – T) + sigma(α εs Ts4 – αs ε T4) = m Cp dT

and given that we have proven that there are no mathematical solutions for dT = 0 without both terms on the left hand side also being zero, then that condition can only arise when both terms of the left hand side always have the same sign.  That is, either temperature is increasing and both terms contribute positively, or temperature is decreasing and both terms are negative. They both approach zero from the same side of positive or negative as dT approaches zero.  Why?

If k(Ts – T) was positive, then that means that heat was flowing from the warmer surrounding Ts to the cooler object T.  However, if the other term was negative due to the effects of absorptivity and emissivity, then that would mean that, for that radiative mechanism, heat was flowing from cold to hot.  That is a violation of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics because the mathematical law of entropy increase does not allow two objects to spontaneously diverge in temperature by any mechanism, since that would mean that there existed a mechanism to spontaneously and passively decrease entropy.  The objects diverge in temperature and entropy decreases if heat flows from cold to hot because that would mean that the cold object loses thermal energy thus decreases in temperature, while the hot object gains that said energy and thus rises in temperature; this is a decrease in entropy.

I’ve said it elsewhere, but to repeat: the Laws of Thermodynamics are actually laws of mathematics, i.e. ontological mathematics or the mathematics of existence.  Such mathematics is a self-consistent and complete system of logic.  If you create an error of mathematics, then you will find the same error popping up other places.  That’s what happened here.  The logic of the physics was violated by setting up thermal equilibrium and then dispensing with the conditions of thermal equilibrium, i.e. Kirchhoff’s Law.  It was then found that the equations under those conditions lead to self-contradiction.  It was then found that such a contradiction arises due to a violation of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.  It’s all in the math, and in this case the math of the 2nd Law.

The reason why papers are simply sent back without further perusal when there are early indications that there are problems with the paper, is because it takes so much time to figure out where people eventually really go wrong.  And it is never of any use asking the author to agree with you.