Visualizing The Effects Of Carbon Pollution

The Valmont Power Plant provides Boulder, Colorado with its electricity. I made this photo essay to show the devastating effects of an invisible, odorless, harmless, essential trace gas.

Without the CO2, Boulder would look more like this:

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17 Responses to Visualizing The Effects Of Carbon Pollution

  1. Andy DC says:

    The grass is turning brown due to the extremely toxic nature of CO2!

  2. R. Shearer says:

    I’m not sure that Marshall Mesa ever looked better, and to think, there are coal seams burning in the area today (for about 150 years at least). One might find some of the historical information in the following to be of interest.

  3. Texas Sharp-shooter says:

    The horror… The horror.

  4. Jeff says:

    You mean like Nevada? ;)

  5. Kris Johanson says:

    No more coal burning at Valmont, apparently. Just burning natural gas now

  6. richard says:

    Alarmists say that global warming causes every problem imaginable .

    Often with the causes there is a simple remedy.

    In Yellowstone Park it was a simple matter of bringing back the wolf.

    Beautiful short story narrated by the barking mad journalist, George Monbiot. Whether he will understand that so called man made global warming is not the cause of species loss after narrating this film is another matter.

  7. Nicholas Schroeder, BSME, PE says:

    The genesis of RGHE theory is the incorrect notion that the atmosphere warms the surface (and that is NOT the ground). Explaining the mechanism behind this erroneous notion demands some truly contorted physics, thermo and heat transfer, i.e. energy out of nowhere, cold to hot w/o work, perpetual motion.

    Is space cold or hot? There are no molecules in space so our common definitions of hot/cold/heat/energy don’t apply.

    The temperatures of objects in space, e.g. the Earth, Moon, space station, Mars, Venus, etc. are determined by the radiation flowing past them. In the case of the Earth, the solar irradiance of 1,368 W/m^2 has a Stefan Boltzmann black body equilibrium temperature of 394 K, 121 C, 250 F. That’s hot. Sort of.

    But an object’s albedo reflects away some of that energy and reduces that temperature.

    The Earth’s albedo reflects away about 30% of the Sun’s 1,368 W/m^2 energy leaving 70% or 958 W/m^2 to “warm” the surface (1.5 m above ground) and at an S-B BB equilibrium temperature of 361 K, 33 C cooler (394-361) than the earth with no atmosphere or albedo.

    The Earth’s albedo/atmosphere doesn’t keep the Earth warm, it keeps the Earth cool.

    Bring science, I did.—We-don-t-need-no-stinkin-greenhouse-Warning-science-ahead-

    • Gail Combs says:

      Trenberth and his buddies live on a world that is a flat disk always facing a weak star.

      RACookPE1978 had a good comment on Trainbreath’s cartoon HERE and on the north pole/south pole albedo HERE

    • Mark Fife says:

      Assuming the calculations of incoming energy and reflected energy are essentially correct, which I admittedly can’t prove or disprove anyway, my question has always been how accurate could the calculated resulting temperature of the Earth be. What you just stated is, well, essentially the argument for the existence of the greenhouse effect except they say the Earth is 33° F warmer than it should be. How could you possibly calculate that to any degree of absolute accuracy?

      Beyond calculating the actual surface area involved, the mass of material involved, actual albedo, actual heat capacity of a given area, the various specific heats, and so forth you also have the transfer of energy to the atmosphere. There you have a pressure gradient to contend with. Not to mention wind. Then there is cloud cover. Plus the inherent release or sequestering of energy involved as water phases between liquid and gas. Or even directly from solid to gas.

      Yet, even if I accept the derived estimate of what the Earth’s temperature should be, how good is the measurement of what the Earth’s temperature actually is? Is it even close to being measured properly? By properly I mean in terms of the absolute amount of energy contained in every molecule contained in the thermal system. From the absolute theoretical edge of the atmosphere to the depth of conduction or penetration of radiation on sea and land. Every single molecule existing above absolute zero temperature has energy in it.

      It seems to me there is reasonable opportunity for error.

      And thus far I have never seen any such calculation that incorporates the added temperature due to gravity. There is plenty of energy in the system from that source. From heat vents at the bottom of the oceans to volcanoes and hot springs to the simple weight of atmosphere. PV=NRT is pretty much inescapable. If I am wrong about that please correct me.

      And of course I mean no insult in any way, shape, or form! This is just something I have very honestly wondered about.

      • Gail Combs says:

        First temperature is an absolutely ROTTEN measurement to use since it does not take into account the massive amount of energy stored in water vapor (the latent heat of vaporization.)
        Sleepalot did a quicky look at the effect of water vapor on temperature that I enlarge upon.
        Long comment HERE

        Chemical Engineer, John Kehr does a great job of explaining why Trenberth’s cartoon is so wrong. Word Unimpressed will not allow a direct link so go HERE

        Last a discussion at Tallbloke’s Talkshop with a pointer to Jo Nova. David Evans & Jo Nova: Analysing the 11 year lag in climate response to solar input
        (Albedo data is also discussed.)

        A look at all that data says there is no way in Hades the ClimAstrologists can make a decent estimate of what the Earth’s temperature should be. As Dr Brown @ Duke says, we do not even know what unknowns we don’t know are.

        • Mark Fife says:

          Very good. I have also considered that water is the key. Not my idea exactly, but something suggested by a comment in a post from somewhere a long while back. Being an avid reader of history, hearing of soldiers fighting in North Africa in WWII suffering in the desert due to heat in the day and cold at night, made me consider why that would be. I honestly don’t think intercepting IR and back radiating it has jack squat to do with it either. CO2 nor H2O do not act as a blanket, they do not trap heat as they do not block conduction or convection. Heat transfer direction and rate is a function of temperature difference. Convection rate is a function of transfer rate, pressure differential, and other lesser factors.

          The big thing about water is it’s specific heat. It is, roughly speaking, 4 times greater than air in either liquid or gaseous form. 5 times greater than dry soil.

          Ever go fishing early in the morning before the sun comes up? Here is an interesting thing. Often when you are heading out into that pre dawn chill when you get over the water the air warms up because the water is warm. It is usually warmer than the air, but normally the difference isn’t so pronounced as to make a noticeable impact except during those times when you have warm days and cool nights. But after the sun comes up and the day goes on the air becomes warmer than the water. If your lake is big enough and the day still enough you can notice a difference in temperature early on in the morning between being on shore and out in the lake.

          Water acts to cool because it takes much more energy to raise its temperature than air. But it also acts to warm because it retains that energy longer.

          I have wondered if the reason for that is due to, among other things, the difference in specific heat. Because rate of heat transfer is dependent upon temperature differential and not energy differential.

          I have considered something I call the lava lamp experiment. Imagine a glass tube will a black metal cap on each end. One end has a small electric bulb to heat it. The glass itself enclosed in an insulation to prevent heat loss through the glass. I would assume at some point the caps on each end would reach an equilibrium temperature where the energy coming in is balanced by the energy coming out – about the same temperature. Now, if the tube were filled with water or air or CO2 enriched air what would happen? I assume regardless of the medium the contents of the tube would eventually reach the same temperature as the caps, the only difference being water would take about 4 times the amount of time to get there. The air mixtures would be very close. I would also guess that equilibrium temperature would be the same regardless of what was in the tube.

          What you would not find would be an increase in end cap temperature due to back radiation from increased CO2 content.

          • Gail Combs says:

            Yes, water seems to be the key.

            From RACookPE1978

            “….Our oceans are heated at depth by intermittent diurnal pulses of of SW radiation peaking at over 1000 w/m2. Because of the slow speed of non-radiative energy transport back to the surface, this has a cumulative effect on temperature that cannot be calculated by SB equations….”

            Willis Eschenbach’s Thunderstorm Thermostat Hypothesis
            Several years ago, when the east coast was hotter, I looked at the number of thunderstorms per week in summer, moving from Florida to North Carolina. The number dropped off from close to every day in Florida, to sporadic when you got north of Fayetteville NC. Fayetteville seemed to be the northern most limit of the routine weekly thunderstorms. At the time we in NC were seeing temperatures in the 90F to 100F range almost every day.

            The oceans as a calorimeter by Dr. Nir J. Shaviv This is his blog post about his 2008 paper.

            Thunderstorms move heat from the surface to the Stratosphere very fast. A Pilot forced to parachute through a thunderstorm found that out the hard way.

          • cdquarles says:

            Not quite. The thermodynamic temperature is the geometric mean of the internal kinetic energy of a defined sample of matter and *only* its kinetic energy. In other words, the temperature is a proxy and a statistical statement about one part of a sample of matter’s internal energy. This follows from the kinetic theory of [collections of] matter. This theory was developed from many observations by many people over many years.

            Light is not heat. Light can be converted to heat and heat can be converted to light. What the internal kinetic energy’s state happens to be will not necessarily be what some think it will be. Heat is a function of kinetic energy. The faster something is moving the ‘hotter’ it is. While there will be bi-directional movement involved in the transfer, the net will be hot to cold until the kinetic energies match (equilibrium).

          • Mark Fife says:

            Interesting. Many years ago my Father took a trip in a corporate jet, his one and only time doing so. He may have had other opportunities but maybe this one cured him of the desire. This was in the early to mid 70’s. He was working for Snapper, the same company that produced the Forrest Gump lawn mower in the movie. They were flying from Atlanta to Florida. The pilot flew through a thunder cloud from the sunny side to the dark side (use your Darth Vader voice if you wish). What happened, as he told me, was when they hit the bright side the jet jumped up a considerable distance. However, when they passed through to the dark side the jet fell and anyone not strapped down wound up on the ceiling for a few. I honestly don’t remember but I believe he said the vertical movement was a few hundred feet. It was violent and shocking to say the least.

            It happened so fast he said he was really only afraid when it was over, and he had never been so glad to plant his feet on the ground in his entire life including a couple voyages over the Atlantic in a liberty ship. That is saying something.

            I think back then the idea of a vertical wind shear as a danger to flight was not widely known.

            Anyway, the point of this story is to piggy back on Gail a bit (sorry!) and to point out the atmosphere is not static. There are tremendous expressions of energy related to temperature changes. enough energy to slam a L-1011 Tristar down. Enough energy to bounce a corporate jet around like a toy. How in God’s name would anyone presume to calculate how much energy is involved?

            Yes, such computations are good for exploring and theorizing. No, there are not good as a basis for public policy.

          • Gail Combs says:

            “….The thermodynamic temperature is the geometric mean of the internal kinetic energy of a defined sample of matter and *only* its kinetic energy. In other words, the temperature is a proxy and a statistical statement about one part of a sample of matter’s internal energy…..”

            Yes, ONE PART of the energy. It says nothing about the energy stored/released in a phase change.

            Water, 4 % of the atmosphere , is found in all three phases in the atmosphere.

            The heat of fusion for water at 0 °C is approximately 334 joules (79.7 calories) per gram, and the heat of vaporization at 100 °C is about 2,230 joules (533 calories) per gram.


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