Satellites cause Global Warming!

John Mashey points me to this site, which claims that microwaves from satellites are causing global warming!

Satellite antennas transmit UHF and higher microwaves frequencies all over the planet. Because orbiting Satellites are in the vacuum of space, the microwave transmissions are scattered through our atmosphere at an accelerated rate. The Earth is a rotating electromagnetic field containing a dielectric material called water. Sending oscillating microwaves from an antenna inside a vacuum through an electromagnetic field through a dielectric material, such as water, creates radio frequency heating (also called RF heating) at the molecular level. Since our atmosphere is made of water and the Earth is covered with water and ice, Microwaves absorb into our atmosphere, oceans, and ice caps. Here we will learn briefly about Global Warming, how satellites work, the principles behind the microwave oven, and how the satellites are causing Global RF Heating. During the last 15 years the earth has rapidly increased in temperature and a great portion of the polar ice caps have melted away. This fact has caused great alarm all over the world. Scientists have been puzzled about how the temperature is increasing. One global warming theory is the “Green house Gas” theory. These gases are emitted from fossil fuel burning vehicles and block longwave radiation from leaving the earth causing global warming. Because longwave radiation reflects from solid surfaces, the earths water could not be warming for this reason. The fish the polar bears eat are leaving due to rising water temperature. “Greenhouse gasses” DO NOT raise water temperature. It was not until SPUTNIK was launched and the “Space Race” began did Global Warming become an issue. Since “Sputnik” in 1957, there have been thousands of satellites launched into outer space. These Satellites orbit Earth in “Polar” and “Geo Stationary” orbits. Global Warming history completely coincides with the history of artificial satellites and the use of microwave frequencies from outer space.

I hope it’s obvious that satellites can’t be putting out enough to energy to have any effect, but in case it’s not, Mashey did a back-of-the-envelope calculation of the flux

According to UCS Active Satellite database, they know of 873 active satellites, for which those whose total power is known average ~3,200W (that’s W, not KW). The biggest was 18,000W.

To be generous, let us assume there are 1,000 satellites averaging 5,000W. That yields 5MW total, i.e., about 5 big (but not biggest) windmills.

Suppose they were all orbiting about 6500km from the center of the Earth (i.e., Very Low Earth Orbits :-)), and all the power was being radiated at the Earth (it isn’t).

The surface of a 6500km sphere is about 530M sq km (= 4πr²) which means the incoming energy would be 5MW/(530M km²), or ≈ 1W /km², or about a millionth of a Watt/m².

The IPCC AR4 (Figure SPM.2) gives Total net anthropogenic forcing as 1.6 W/m² [0.6 to 2.4].

So, I’m afraid James is only off by a factor of ≈million.

Actually, it’s worse than that, because the satellites generate their energy with solar cells which are much less than 100% efficient at turning solar energy into microwaves. So they reduce the solar flux by more than the amount that they increase the microwave flux and produce, on net, a tiny negative forcing (of the same order of magnitude to the positive forcing Mashey calculated above).


  1. #1 6EQUJ5
    June 16, 2008

    Microwave bands used in near-Earth and deep-space communications were selected for the transparency of the Earth’s atmosphere to them.

    You can verify this at least for S band in your kitchen microwave. While some liquids and solids will be heated quickly, the air itself will not.

  2. #2 NoAstronomer
    June 16, 2008

    Though the reduction in solar flux will only apply to those few satellites directly between the earth and the sun. The others are using sunlight that would not have hit the earth in the first place.

  3. #3 JThompson
    June 16, 2008

    At this point I have to wonder if there’s absolutely anything on the planet or in orbit around it that there isn’t a conspiracy theory or bizarre idea about.
    What’s really disturbing about stuff like this isn’t that one person was insane enough to think of it. It’s that lots of people will be ignorant enough to believe it.
    It is kinda fun to point out the alternate whackjob theories to these people just to watch their faces.
    “Satellites don’t cause global warming, “chemtrails” do! They control your thoughts, too!”
    Sorta like countering ‘evidence’ for goblins with “No, those are pixies.”

  4. #4 Harold Pierce Jr
    June 16, 2008

    What do you guys know about HAARP?

  5. #5 Brian D
    June 16, 2008

    JThompson: At this point I have to wonder if there’s absolutely anything on the planet or in orbit around it that there isn’t a conspiracy theory or bizarre idea about.

    And right on cue:

    Harold Pierce Jr: What do you guys know about HAARP?

    HAARP is another example of this very same type of claim, except with the added benefit of having government conspiracy theories attached to it *before* you look at climate.

  6. #6 Gray Gaffer
    June 16, 2008

    The HAARP nuttery is currently laying the blame for the earthquake in China on HAARP. Search HAARP on You-tube for current claims. Weather modification is another claim.

    HAARP feeds 3.6MW HF into an antenna farm of 180 antennae spread over 35 acres. For brief burst. Most of the time the antennae are in listen mode monitoring various aspects of what is going on in the ionosphere. The peak is about 1/5000 of what the sun hits the ionosphere with in the same interval. Somehow they think ‘billions’ of either W or MW are being radiated. Pointing them to a picture of a small town 5MW substation as a indication of what a HAARP antenna needs to handle (assuming they actually meant GW) by way of comparison has zero effect on their rant. They obviously have chosen to ignore Junior High math+science. Or the education system is far worse than I have imagined.

    btw, here is the HAARP home page:

    for those interested. First hit Googling ‘HAARP’.

  7. #7 Gray Gaffer
    June 16, 2008

    typo: my envelope calculations show 1/500 vs insolation. Still small.

  8. #8 bigTom
    June 16, 2008

    It’s good to know that if the sun were to turn off (don’t talk about stellar evolution, this is fairy land here), that we need only add a few more satellites to keep the earth from freezing.

  9. #9 Ken
    June 16, 2008

    This one is good for a laugh – it’s probably not going to be taken seriously except by those for whom AGW doesn’t exist, can’t happen, happenning but it doesn’t matter, is caused by changes in the Solar cycle, is a socialist conspiracy etc. I find this more of a real concern, coming as it does from a site that has pretentions of being open minded and serious about truth. The “open mindedness” is, I suppose, demonstrated by having the “balance” of a second article that puts the case for AGW. A critique of both of these articles by people with in depth knowledge of the subject would be welcome.

  10. #10 Dano
    June 16, 2008

    Was this gosh-let’s-find-anything-to-get-all-nutter-about site launched on April 1?



  11. #11 z
    June 16, 2008

    **ANYTHING** but CO2. **ANYTHING**!

  12. #12 bi -- IJI
    June 16, 2008

    Ken, there’s a critique of the first article in comments on RealClimate (though I can’t remember where it is; you’ll need to search).

    Me, my main beef is that the graph captioned

    > Figure 4. The Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES-SPM-5) A2 projection from Figure 1 […]

    is made up, but Patrick Frank gives the impression that it came from the SRES SPM.

  13. #13 Eli Rabett
    June 16, 2008

    Eli sees your microwave from satellites warm the Earth and raises you with one Joel Kauffman who combines AIDS denial with climate change denialism from the bottom up

    Either Warmers or Skeptics may accept that primordial ionizing radiation from within warms the Earth.

    with a strong whiff of LaRouchianism and two, not one journal which give JPANDS the odor of respectability.

    It’s a big and ugly net out there.

  14. #14 Barton Paul Levenson
    June 17, 2008

    Eli quotes some crackpot:

    Either Warmers or Skeptics may accept that primordial ionizing radiation from within warms the Earth.

    Well, there is radioactive decay which is technically “ionizing radiation” going on in the Earth, and it does generate a big fraction of the geothermal flux. But the magnitude of the geothermal flux averages about 0.087 watts per square meter (Lodders and Fegley 1998), whereas the amount of sunlight absorbed by the climate system is 237 watts per square meter. Divide A by B to see why no scientist worries about geothermal heating of the climate system.

  15. #15 Marion Delgado
    June 17, 2008

    The modern definition of skeptic has basically degenerated to a combination of Randite crap and shallow scientism. It’s a word that flags avoidable content for me.

  16. #16 John Mashey
    June 17, 2008

    re: #13

    Well, Eli’s entry probably beats mine overall, although I will say that Kauffmann collects many of the usual bad arguments in one paper, in some sense a useful service, but not as far as I can tell inventing a truly new bad argument.

    Hence, my entry should be in a category of “uniquely new bad arguments.”

    However, I must admit, in a head-to-head comparison, anyone who quotes (Hitler, 1933) in a climate paper is difficult to beat [NOT Godwin’s, a factual reference to his paper.]

  17. #17 z
    June 17, 2008

    satellites shmatellites. if you look at the data, global warming is tightly correlated with the increasing incidence of home microwave ovens. the mechanism seems obvious.

  18. #18 WotWot
    June 18, 2008

    satellites shmatellites. if you look at the data, global warming is tightly correlated with the increasing incidence of home microwave ovens. the mechanism seems obvious.

    Nah, it’s the rize of rok music concertz wot dun it. All them elektramignutic wavaradiants from those ginormous speeker stax.


    You decide.

  19. #19 Marion Delgado
    August 7, 2008

    Harold Pierce Jr.:

    I know a great deal about HAARP (and HIPAS and EISCAT).

    I’ve been to the HAARP site as early as people were allowed to be, read its EIS, been debriefed by the scientists and the military liaison there, talked to some of the people raising concerns (Nick Begich and some associates), researched the work of people like Bernard Eastlund and Patrick Flanagan and the history of the HAAR project itself.

    I also looked over HIPAS and its EIS, and I wrote one long article on HAARP for the daily paper in Fairbanks and did two radio news reports in Alaska on it. Since I studied physics as an undergraduate, when I was briefed by the HAARP scientists I wasn’t in the dark about how the active antennas, the cookers, worked (they’re, of course, the only issue about HAARP that’s interesting) in relation to the ionosphere.

    When US Sen. Ted Stevens (yes, that one) was promoting HAARP he said things like “we can use supercomputers to get energy from the aurora!” So it’s not just health or environuts that take Eastlund seriously.

    It had military tie-ins probably just in case, but also because that’s how a lot of things get built in Alaska, which only became very American in WW II when the Japanese invaded parts of it, and still has an enormous relative military presence.

    At any rate, yes, Deltoid has HAARP knowledge covered.

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