Grauniad hangwringing

Subtitle: Rupert Neate is a tosser, since I don't seem to have done one of my "is a tosser" series recently.

Having assailed the nutters yesterday, I feel inclined to have a go at the handwringing going on at the Grauniad; I really do despair sometimes. As Timmy puts it "Fund to buy grain buys grain from grain wholesaler" (and lest you think I'm being to nice to Timmy, it looks like he stuffed up over the Greek debt).

There are any number of things wrong with that piece, but the headline "How £50m in UN food aid for starving went to buy wheat from Glencore" pretty well sums it up. Its a lie, of course: what actually happened was that the UN spent £50m buying grain; only a small fraction of that is profit. And why did the UN gratuitously spend this money? Because they were the cheapest supplier, of course.

But the whole tone of the piece is drivel. Take Glencore International, which buys up supplies from farmers and sells them on at a profit. What is this supposed to mean? Are we to take it that buying and selling grain is evil; Is it surprising? The statement is just a matter of the bleedin' obvious, but is presented as yet another item in the charge sheet against Glencore.

The UN seem to have somewhat left themselves open to this Guardianista nonsense, by having said "Our new motto is to help people feed themselves," Josette Sheeran, the executive director of the WFP, told China's state news agency. "When we can, we purchase our food from the very poor farmers who suffer because they are not connected to local markets." But you can see the problem, of course. Setting up an organisation capable of finding farmers so poor they don't even have access to local markets, and redistributing that grain, would be a huge task. And one that I'd rather entrust to someone like Glencore than the UN, ter be 'onest wiv yer guv.

More like this

holy whateveryouwant.
I just read out of curiosity the last link from Doug Cotton
MHD said "necessary" to study tropospheric behaviour at the time scales needed for climate studies.

I knew that people indulged in mathturbation, I didn't know some were physicturbating in public. This is gross.

Haven't you heard of Fair Trade? It is a scheme to ensure farmers get a fair price for their commodities. In a "Free Market" the wholesalers form themselves into monopolies and then they can pay as little as they like to the farmers. In the UK, milk and the supermarkets is a good case in point.

If the UN sets up a fund to break that monopoly then, if it is given to the monopolists, I feel that the Guardian has good reason to cry foul!

Cheers, Alastair.

[Yes, I've heard of FT, I buy the coffee, etc, when possible. However, this isn't a Fair Trade fund, nor a fund set up to break the monopoly. It is a fund to feed starving people who cannot afford the luxury of paying a bit extra to their ethical glow. AFAIK there is no evidence of monopoly abuse: certainly the Grauniad didn't try to present any -W]

You had me with ""How £50m in UN food aid for starving went to buy wheat from Glencore" pretty well sums it up.".

By blueshift (not verified) on 07 Feb 2012 #permalink

RTFR, it's a fund to feed starving people which has a policy of buying from poor farmers whenever possible. They broke that policy, most likely on price differential.


'In carrying out its mandate, WFP will concentrate on what it is best suited to do with the resources available as cost-effectively as possible.'

(WFP's Purchase For Progress pilot programme would seem to contradict that - and, according to its mid-term evaluation report, P4P has so far delivered 'rather muted' benefits to poor smallholders. But they're keeping calm and carrying on.)

who never thought he'd find himself defending Glencore

By Vinny Burgoo (not verified) on 08 Feb 2012 #permalink

"it's a fund to feed starving people which has a policy of buying from poor farmers whenever possible. They broke that policy, most likely on price differential."

You may just as well claim they would be breaking policy if they were to feed fewer starving people by cause of paying more to 'poor' farmers. Or as Vinny points out, they are doing the most to fulfill their mission.

Yes Stoat the Grauniad are a bunch of handwringing socialist hypocrite tossers who profit! from the starving and 'poor'.

[? I thought only nice middle class people bought the Graun -W]

Ya, they profit from writing about the starving and poor.
The Grauniad keeps their profits, and gives to the starving empty words which they cannot read.
Glencore gives them dinner.
Those who can, do, those who can't, handwring about the alleged greed of everyone else.

Thank goodness for Monbiot...

"Guardian columnist George Monbiot believes all journalists should sign up to a âmandatory register of interestsâ â and revealed the paper pays him £62,007 a year for his weekly column."

Here is a simple proof in 10 easy steps why the Greenhouse Effect is a physical impossibility.

(1) The IPCC claim that radiation from a cooler atmosphere slows the rate of cooling of the (warmer) surface, thus leading to a greenhouse effect.

[You're misleading to say "IPCC". Actually, all climatology textbooks and basic theory say this, as well as simple idealised thought experiments. But yes, the IPCC says it too -W]

(2) The "rate of cooling" is a 24 hour worldwide mean, so wherever the Sun is warming the surface (any sunny morning) the rate of warming would have to be increased by whatever process is slowing the rate of cooling.

[This is an odd way to put it. The radiation is instantaneous, of course, in that it applies at any given time. You can certainly average the effects over whatever time period you find convenient, though -W]

(3) Thus extra thermal energy must be added to the surface by such radiation in order to increase the warming rate in the morning and slow the mean rate of cooling calculated from both day and night rates.

[Yes, downwelling IR from above transfers energy. Probably wrong to say "surface", but people often think of it that way -W]

(4) Now the Second Law of Thermodynamics relates to heat transfer which is not the same as energy transfer. Radiated energy can be two-way, but heat transfer between two points is always one way and it is invalid to split such heat transfer into two opposite components and try to apply the Second Law to each. Physics doesn't work that way.

[This is your crucial error; this step is simply wrong. See

I'm afraid you need to work through a few simple equations. They aren't hard; don't be afraid. Here we go:

* We imagine a simplified planetary model where the incoming solar, S, is distributed over the surface of a perfectly conducting sphere, so the average is S/4.
* This surface has a temperature, T, and hence radiates at R=eT^4 (we assume the emissivity is 1; e is the Stephan-Boltzman constant. For simplicity, the albedo is 0 in the short-wave (SW) too, so all solar is absorbed).
* In the absence of an "atmosphere" R=S/4 and we get an equilibrium temperature T_0 = (S/(4e))^0.25
* Above the surface is a single uniform layer of atmosphere with temperature A. It is transparent to incoming solar SW, but opaque to the surface thermal radiation (LW).
* The radiation balance of this level is thus given by R=2eA^4 (the layer emits both up and down, hence the radiation it absorbs, R, is loss by radiation up to space and down to the surface). Heat transfer by conduction to the atmosphere is neglected.
* Now we can write the surface energy balance: S/4 + eA^4 = R (incoming solar plus downwelling LW from the "atmoshpere" equals outgoing thermal LW). [Note, BTW, that this is the key point: the surface is warmed by both solar and downwelling LW. Once you realise that, it is clear that the GHE warms the surface (because the term eA^4 is strictly positive); the maths merely gives you an exact expression for it.]

So now we have two equations:

1. R = 2eA^4
2. S/4 + eA^4 = R

That reduces easily to:

* S/4 +eA^4 = 2eA^4, ie S/4 = eA^4, ie A = (S/(4e))^0.25

And hence

* R = 2(S/4)

and so

* T = (2S/(4e))^0.25

Comparing T with T_0 (the temperature in the absence of an atmosphere) we see that T is larger than T_0 by a factor of 2^0.25.

Note that the "atmosphere" layer doesn't have to be an atmosphere - it can be a sheet of glass, if you like.

That provides you with actual real maths rather than just words. So much simpler and more definite, no?

Everything from this point on in your explanation becomes pointless, due to your error above -W]

(5) Hence, the surface cannot warm faster in the mornings due to such an imaginary heat transfer, because that would be clearly breaking the Second Law no matter what. Nor can it slow the rate of cooling because of (4). And in general you would expect the same process to happen whether the surface is warming or cooling.

(6) So, those photons from the cooler atmosphere are not being converted to thermal energy in the warmer surface, as Prof Claes Johnson proved in Computational Blackbody Radiation.

(7) Hence the effect of the photons being either reflected or scattered is that there is no impact on the surface at all.

(8) It is also clear that there is no significant transfer by diffusion or conduction from the atmosphere to the surface because the surface absorbs more solar insolation than the lower atmosphere, and we observe that the atmosphere is generally cooler and even cools faster at night than the surface.

(9) So it really does not matter even if extra thermal energy is trapped higher up in the atmosphere because it does not affect what we call climate, and any such energy cannot make its way back to the surface, except possibly an insignificant additional amount in precipitation.

(10) Hence there is no valid physical way in which backradiation or absorption by carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will cause a significant atmospheric greenhouse effect.

If I haven't convinced you, read this paper Falsification of the Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within the Frame of Physics

Gerlich and Tscheuschner. Oh dear.

The fact that we have lots of measurements of downwelling long-wave radiation wouldn't persuade you, would it? No, I thought not.

Did you ever wonder why dry climates get so cold at night?

By The Bishop of … (not verified) on 12 Feb 2012 #permalink

But William, Your Eminence, what you're both missing is that that downwelling radiation doesn't actually warm anything. It's just informational. Those photons are gathering in Internet cafes around the planet, writing intellectually dense blog comments...

[Aieeee, my brain has started hurting :-). I need to keep a link to âBlah blah blahâ vs Equations handy -W]

By Martin Vermeer (not verified) on 12 Feb 2012 #permalink

The argument (and Martin has said it best) depends on deceptively and incorrectly manipulating the definition of heat. As far as energy goes there is heat and everything else. Everything else can be converted to work with unit efficiency, heat conversion to work is limited by the second law.

It's a Krammie.

Your "surface temperature" calculation is way out because the surface loses over half its energy to the atmosphere by diffusion, conduction, evaporation and chemical processes, so this leaves less than half to be radiated, whereas you assumed it was all radiated.

[Yes, this is a toy model. It isn't the real world, it is a simplified model designed for teaching and discussion. Such things are commonplace in physics. You can get closer to the real world by thinking of the thing called surface in the model as being about 500 hPa up in the atmosphere, rather than the actual planetary surface.

But the toy model can be instructive - it demonstrates, for those who don't believe in "back radiation", just how it can work.

Now you understand what the model is supposed to be, do you have any objections to the physics presented there, and do you disagree with the conclusions? There is, after all, little point going on to more complex models until we agree on the simple ones.

Please don't answer "but the model doesn't represent the Earth exactly". We've already agree that -W]

You think my item 4 is incorrect, but it is proven correct in Claes Johnson's published Computational Blackbody Radiation and you cannot show me any paper proving the contrary.

[Sorry, that isn't a logical argument. You need to stop ducking the equations by using vague words. Please answer my question above -W]

Only radiation from hot to cold has any effect because it contains frequencies (in the upper extremes of its spectrum) which are above those that can resonate with the target when the target is cooler. The energy in radiation with these frequencies is thus retained and must be converted to thermal energy.

[More vague words. Physics is done with equations, not words. If you can't translate your words into equations then your words are nothing but blah blah blah -W]

Radiation from a cooler source always contains frequencies which can resonate with a warmer target and thus be scattered without any energy left behind to be converted to thermal energy.

Radiation from a warmer source has additional higher frequencies than those which resonate in the cooler body. So the extra energy in the radiation having these higher frequencies must be converted to thermal energy.

This is easily seen from the first plot here

As you can envisage from this plot, as the temperatures approach each other the amount of overlap increases and so the rate of heat transfer decreases until it ceases when the temperatures match.

I know that you may get similar results making calculations with two-way radiation, but situations can be hypothesised which would lead to invalid results.

Consider my funnel experiment concentrating radiation from, say, a large but cooler surface of 5 sq.m onto a smaller but slightly warmer surface of 0.5 sq.m. Even when temperatures become equal you would then have 10 times as much radiation in one direction, or a net of 9 times â all without warming because, if it did warm, the Second Law would be broken..

[All just words. Try writing down in equations what you think the energy balance of each surface would be -W]

Thus only the passage of radiation from hot to cold is relevant and it fully explains all that happens in regard to heat flow and temperature changes. More importantly, it explains how and why the Second Law is valid for radiation.

You simply cannot refute this example â equal temperatures and yet net radiation in one direction. Why no further warming?

It is little wonder that Claes Johnson was able to prove this computationally.

You may find the Radiation page on my website helps explain it - - and there's a link there to Johnson's paper.

[Disclosure: my sites are self funded and carry no sponsor advertisements nor request donations.]

[Yes, this is a toy model. It isn't the real world, it is a simplified model designed for teaching and discussion. Such things are commonplace in physics. You can get closer to the real world by thinking of the thing called surface in the model as being about 500 hPa up in the atmosphere, rather than the actual planetary surface.

Well don't mess me around with 'toy models' in a discussion at this level, saying one thing and meaning another. I think like a physicist in very precise terms.

You still miss my point. I agree the calculated temperature would be about 11Km up in the atmosphere, so the natural lapse rate is quite enough to establish a warmer surface without needing any carbon dioxide.

[You've evaded my question. The question is, given the physics presented in the model, whether the equations are correct, and the conclusion - that in the absence of convection, in the absence of a lapse rate - whether the surface becomes warmer, by the calculated amount, because of the radiative properties of the atmosphere.

If you're not prepared to engage with the equations, you aren't doing physics, you're off with the english-student types on the Arts campus -W]

But my point was that you (and the IPCC) should only have inserted a value of less than half for the radiation because the rest of the energy exits by other means, even at 11Km up in the atmosphere where it is still mostly rising by convection. Now try putting such a lower radiation figure into SBL and you get a vastly different result.

[Until you're prepared to analyse the simple model, you can't really try to discuss the more complex models, because you have no hope of understanding what they are doing. Your "inserted a value" is meaningless - the models don't do that. The GCMs contain a fairly full radiative physics, and a fairly full atmospheric dynamics. They already do all the things you're asking for -W]

But even if you are considering the full Earth+atmosphere system as from space (not TOA)then you should at least use zero (0) radiation for 12 nocturnal hours and maximum radiation for the other 12 hours each day, and again you get a much lower result than just -18 deg.C. Better still, use integration over 24 hours and take into account the rate of conduction into and out of the surface.

[Again: yes, we can get rid of the diurnal averaging, but it makes the model more complex, and you gain no real understanding thereby. You need to understand the simple model first -W]

So it's all garbage because the integration was not done and the conduction rate within the outer surface was disregarded. (This is why they couldn't explain Moon temperatures accurately - they forgot the conduction process into the surface.)

[What are you talking about? Who can't explain Moon temperatures? The certainly can -W]

It's all very well for you to say it's up somewhere in the atmosphere, but the IPCC applied the radiation figure to the surface, when in fact much of it only starts in the atmosphere.

[You have no idea what the IPCC did; you don't know how the GCMs work. As I've explained above, you're wrong about this -W]

I really don't care for arguing about the amount of downwelling radiation from the atmosphere because it can have no effect, as you should have realised I have explained many times.

[Words words words. You have no equations, you have no physics. Please read and understand the equations I've given you and point out the flaws, if you find any -W]

Claes Johnson (a Professor of Applied Mathematics) has provided comprehensive computational theory, and I have explained his conclusion (using his explanation and my clarification thereof) in terms of what happens physically in the molecules involved. Both my explanation and his proof (and his explanation also) should all be taken together to form this most cogent hypothesis.

["a Professor of Applied Mathematics" - tedious false argument from authority. If you're prepared to accept argument from authority, then the authority if std climate science, as described by the IPCC, and that says you're wrong.

I doubt your prof has anything interesting to say. But if you wish to present a link to a concise version of his theory (such as I've provided for you, for the GHE) please do -W]

Did you ever wonder why dry climates get so cold at night?

I don't believe there is any empirical evidence at the same location (and following identical days and all other things being equal) that nights with low relative humidity are statistically colder than nights with high relative humidity. That would be interesting information if you can find any evidence.

Obviously wetter climates would be closer to oceans in many situations and the oceans provide a stabilising effect on climate as is seen in Singapore for example. Drier climates could include inland deserts.