Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Denier weirdness: The weight of the atmosphere is pressure cooking Ferd Berple at WUWT

Sou | 6:09 AM Go to the first of 15 comments. Add a comment

For you to ponder - seen at WUWT, in the comments to an article in which Anthony Watts was downplaying the current extreme drought in California. (Arguing it was worse 700 years ago so why worry?).

ferd berple says (quoting someone or other):
August 18, 2014 at 12:02 pm
the effect of increasing the concentration of the two main GHGs, water vapor and carbon dioxide, from about 303 to 304 molecules per 10,000 molecules of dry air would not be measurable.
due to partial pressure law, increasing CO2 by 1 molecule will tend to reduce H2O by 2.4 molecules, all else remaining equal. Otherwise the increased CO2 would increase the mass of the atmosphere, increasing the surface pressure, making it harder to evaporate water, until such time as the same weight of water failed to evaporate, bringing the weight of the atmosphere back into equilibrium.
Since the molecular weight of CO2 is 44, and the molecular weight of H2O is 18, it takes (44/18) = 2.44 molecules of H2O to equal the weight of 1 CO2 molecule. What is interesting is that this would yield a negative H2O feedback of 2.4, which almost exactly balances the 3 time positive water feedback assumed by climate science. Since the H2O will tend to come out of the atmosphere more rapidly than temps will rise, it could well be that partial pressure law causes a net negative feedback.
Which would explain why the models are running hot. They fail to allow for partial pressure law to reduce H2O in their calculations, as CO2 increases.

Usually deniers talk about CO2 being so small it can't have any effect. Ferd takes a different tack. He's run this argument before, that CO2 pressure is so great that it presses on the sky's walls and floor and ceiling and stops water evaporating :) (Shades of our friend, Mack!)


  1. Shades of Mack indeed: its all the pseudo scientific crap posted by numpties on denier sites that encourages the Macks of this world to spout their nonsense.

  2. I just read berple's comment. Why does he think he understands anything at all?

    My head hurts. I gotta go lie down.

  3. Inventing new laws of physics entirely from brute force wishful thinking. Seems to be one of the pastimes of deniers. I look forward to the physics textbooks new entry, Berples Law.

    Back to reality, there is already a physical law, Boyle's Law, which decribes what is actually happening when fossil fuel is burnt in the atmosphere.

    First off, the oxygen atoms that are in the carbon dioxide released from combustion are already from the atmosphere, so that part does not increase the weight of the atmosphere, but DOES reduce the concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere. (This has actually been observed and is one of the key evidence that the increase in CO2 is anthropogenic)

    The carbon component of CO2 on the other hand DOES increase the weight of the atmosphere and DOES increase atmospheric pressure. It's just that it would be so miniscule, I doub't that it could be even measured. I mean, could you measure the extra atmospheric pressure caused by an annual 10 billion tons of extra carbon when the atmosphere weighs about 5,000 trillion tons. The daily noise alone would overwhelm the signal.

    This is just typical of the complete and utter nonsense that spews forth from deniers brains. It's quite sad really, that in this information age, some people will willfully ignore science and instead come up with the most fanciful and physics defying rubbish.

    1. Even if the pressure increase were measurable, it wouldn't increase the temperature.

    2. Actually it would increase the temperature slightly, through adiabatic compression.

    3. I'm fuzzy on whether that would actually happen. Normally you think of compressing a closed volume, which isn't what's going on here -- but I'm not up on the physics of an atmosphere to understand the details.

      Regardless, even if it did warm up through compression, it would cool back down through radiation right quick.

    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    5. For a well-mixed gas we can take the closed volume as the entire atmosphere. That is, if we apply a uniform pressure everywhere the gas has no place to escape -- it is "confined" to Earth.

      The increase in temperature could be diagnosed to first order following a generalized version of Poisson's equation:

      T2 = T1 (P2/P1)^k

      where (T1, P1) are the original surface temperature and pressure, and T2 is is the temperature after pressure has been changed to P2. k is the ratio of the gas constant to the specific heat at constant pressure. In the case at hand there would be an effect due to change in the (specific) gas constant, since it depends on mean molecular weight. I think the gas constant effect would be small, though I haven't worked it out.

      This would be a good homework problem. :-)

      [reposted to fix typos]

    6. The problem with Ferd's Billiards Hypothesis is that the partial pressure law relates pressures of 'individual' gases in gaseous mixtures to the molar fractions of the gases in the mixture i.e. it doesn't say that each molecule of gas A entering a gas mixture 'knocks out' another molecule or molecules of gas B.
      Ferd should ask an anaethetist about what happens to the partial pressures of N2(g), O2(g) and CO2(g) when we breathe in dry air and it ends up in our alveoli as moist air. He'll be told that the partial pressures of the N2(g), O2(g) and CO2(g) all drop as the H2O(v) enters the inhaled air while the total pressure remains essentially the same. If CO2(g) reduces the amount of H2O(v) in air as claimed by Ferd, and the level of CO2(g) in exhaled air increases, why don't our lungs partially or totally fill with H2O(l) over the course of our lives? As a corollary, the drop in the partial pressure of O2(g) in inhaled air impacts or reduces the diffusion of O2(g) across the alveolar surfaces into the bloodstream, 'all else remaining equal' (ht to Ferd Burple for rider). On humid days when the partial pressure of the O2(g) in air is already lowered before inhalation, those with poor heart and/or lung function are adversely affected.
      As Dave has pointed out, the change in weight of the atmosphere as a result of the addition of anthropogenic CO2(g) is "miniscule". Given that the total mass of the atmosphere is 5.14 x 10exp18 kg, the total mass of CO2(g) in the atmosphere is 3.16 x 10exp15 kg and the surface area of the earth is 5.10 x 10exp14 m2, atmospheric pressure at sea level is around 101 kPa of which the partial pressure of the total CO2(g) is about 0.061 kPa (scrap paper calculation). Since the partial pressure of H2O(v) in air saturated with water vapour at sea level and at a temperature of 20degC is 2.3 kPa or nearly 40 times the partial pressure of CO2(g), I can't see how CO2(g) will reduce the amount of H2O(v) in the atmosphere (Besides which, there's an awful lot of empty space in a gas or gas mixture).

  4. I recall someone, perhaps Sou, previously labelled Ferd Berple a performance artist or prankster. He does his over-the-top shtick on purpose and gives enough hints that it is all a joke.

    Another denier guy out there is Gary Novak, who has this recent article in Russia's Pravda ("the Truth" haha)

    At his website Novak states that 1/2*mv^2 law for kinetic energy is wrong.

    Punking performance art, Australia's Larrikins, the merry pranksters -- one has to be able to identify it whenever it arises.

    1. My bet is on Ferd being a Poe. His comments are just too beautifully ridiculous.

    2. Yes, it seems that those who will survive this catastrophic global warming will be the ones with the strongest ear-drums

    3. And yes, Mack, it seems that those who will best survive the necromancy posted by those calling themselves 'skeptics' and in contact with the science zombies will be the ones with either the strongest stomachs or the poorest eyesight.

  5. C'mon folks: data is just a few keystrokes away to assess probability that "Ferd Berple" is a POE.
    Google: ferd berple (and ferdberple)
    Sample a few and see what you think.
    Almost be definition, it is hard to say whether a single instance is a POE.

    1. What John said. The entity known as Ferd Berple has been posting on climate related fora for years. Just another garden variety AGW denier. Most definitely a proud member of the 8% dismissives.


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