Commuting to work: car, train or bus?

By Andy May

The United States Department of Transportation tells us in their online report “Public Transportation’s Role in responding to Climate Change” that we should use public transportation to reduce our greenhouse emissions. This claim is also made in Time’sGlobal Warming Survival Guide.” Even the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommended public transportation, in 2017, as “one of the best ways to reduce greenhouse emissions.” Public transportation does reduce congestion during peak traffic hours, but data from the National Transit Database suggests that cars are cheaper and use less fuel per passenger-mile traveled, so this claim is suspicious. Let’s examine it.
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Does global climate change require a global solution?

Opinion by Andy May

Al Gore wrote in the Huffington Post (August 28, 2014) that the need for “bold action” to curtail “old dirty sources of energy … is obvious and urgent.” The proper scientific response to an assertion like that is why? How can I test this idea? Science is not a belief, it is a method of testing ideas. We use an idea to make predictions and then we gather data to see if the predictions are correct. If the predictions are accurate, the idea survives. If any of the predictions fail, the idea is disproven, and it must be modified or simply rejected. Continue reading

The PBS Newshour Whale Oil Myth

By Andy May


While researching fossil fuel history recently, I discovered a PBS article entitled “The Whale Oil Myth.” You can see the full article here. It is based on another blog post on the environmental history web site here. The authors are not identified, but the original ideas are from Dr. Bill Kovarik from the School of Communication at Radford University and the late Dr. Lester Lave, an economist at Carnegie Mellon University. Continue reading

Oxygen-18 Stability in Foraminifera fossils, implications in paleoclimatology

By Andy May

18O is a rare isotope of oxygen. The ratio of 18O to the normal 16O in foraminifera fossils (“forams”) can be used to estimate paleo-ocean temperatures. Higher values mean lower temperatures. A recent article on (here) led me to Bernard, et al., 2017, which has experimental data that suggest 18O concentrations can be altered in fossils by solid-state diffusion after fossilization. This can corrupt the measurement and the resulting calculated temperature. According to Bernard and colleagues, the 18O concentration alteration is visually imperceptible, so one cannot tell the fossil has been altered by visual inspection. If their results are valid, how will this impact our view of climate history? Continue reading

Coral Reefs, Temperature and Ocean pH

By Andy May

Georgiou, et al. 2015 have reported that coral reefs in the Australian Great Barrier Reef, near Heron Island, are insensitive to ocean pH changes. Continue reading

Review and Summary of three Important Atmospheric Physics Papers

By Andy May


In 2014, Dr. Michael Connolly and Dr. Ronan Connolly posted three important, non-peer reviewed papers on atmospheric physics on their web site. These papers can be accessed online here. The papers are difficult to understand as they cover several fields of study and are very long. But, they present new data and a novel interpretation of energy flow in the atmosphere that should be seriously considered in the climate change debate.

By studying weather balloon data around the world Connolly and Connolly show that the temperature profile of the atmosphere to the stratosphere can be completely explained using the gas laws, humidity and phase changes. The atmospheric temperature profile does not appear to be influenced, to any measurable extent, by infrared active gases like carbon dioxide. Continue reading

Thermodynamics and the greenhouse effect

There is an exciting new post on here, that discusses a new paper on thermodynamics and the greenhouse effect.  In addition to Gerlich and Tscheuschner and the new paper Hertzberg, et al. (2017), the recent paper Kramm and Dlugi (2011) is interesting.

Yes, indeed, all objects radiate energy if their temperature is above absolute zero.  No question about it.  But, if you place an object that is radiating at 101 degrees C next to an object radiating at 100 degrees C, they will both soon be radiating at 101 degrees C, not 201 degrees C.  A cooler object cannot warm a warmer object, it does not happen, sorry.  The second law of thermodynamics does apply. Continue reading