A Facebook friend sent his friends a link to an article by Nicholas Loris published in something called “The Daily Signal.”  The article’s headline shouted out: “Climate Data Deniers Are Trying to ‘Bork’ Trump’s EPA Transition Leader.”  The article begins:

President-elect Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency transition leader, Myron Ebell, is a huge threat to the green gravy train. Now, with billions of crony dollars at stake, the green slander machine is doing all it can to slime him.

Ebell and his followers cite various kinds of “climate data.”  Thus, to parallel “climate change deniers” we now have “climate data deniers.” I won’t discuss either “The Daily Signal” or Nicholas Loris other than to note that Loris is by training an economist.  Now, I have spent a lot of time as an antitrust attorney working with economists, and economics was my primary area of study in college.  I do not believe myself to have the credentials required to pontificate on this subject with the certainty displayed by Ebell and his supporters.

I responded to my friend’s post as follows:

I’m generally distrustful of statistics that are not coupled with the big picture and would not be surprised by any set of statistics purporting to support various positions and serving as a basis for hypotheses about how we got to where we are and where we might be heading. So we now have “climate data deniers” as well as “climate change deniers” – parallel and clever but nothing we haven’t heard already.  And as we all know, there is real science and junk science.

So, here’s my question, and it’s a question for you: “Can you explain to me the thermodynamics underlying changes in atmospheric temperatures measured over land and over bodies of water and changes in the temperature of large bodies of water and the relative amounts of energy that penetrate the earth’s atmosphere and escape from it?”

Here, I am not talking about the selective collection of various statistics about recorded temperatures over various land masses as measured in real time or as hypothesized based on various scientific models used to estimate temperatures before temperatures were recorded by human beings. What I am talking about are the thermodynamic forces in play each and every day.

I note that energy can change forms and can be stored as potential energy in various living things and materials. A tree absorbs sunlight and stores incoming energy. A tree burns and that energy is released. Oceans absorb energy and warm and they release energy and produce weather as they do so.

Weather, we must agree, is not the same as climate. But long term trends in weather patterns coupled with other observed physical phenomena serve as a basis for explanations given by scientists to support their views. An extraordinarily large number of thermodynamic activities are going on here.

Anyway, I cannot pretend to have the ability to sit in final judgment of “climate change deniers” and “climate data deniers.” We can cynically view them all as opportunistic propagandists or we can choose to believe the ones who deliver us the message we want to hear. So you may believe the “climate data deniers” are all feathering their nests to support their personal economic and political agendas and I may believe that the “climate data deniers” are doing the same thing.

How many people have the slightest clue about the thermodynamics underlying what has happened, is happening, and will happen on our planet?

Anyone for a giant meteor?


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