Theory of global warming disputed

James Hansen of NASA has people worried about "runaway" warming. This happens when some warming results in "positive feedbacks" that exacerbate the warming in an never ending cycle. Hansen has always complained that the Bush administration has sought to censor his comments. Now a NASA scientist complains that he was censored by NASA!

New derivation of equations governing the greenhouse effect reveals "runaway warming" impossible
Miklós Zágoni isn’t just a physicist and environmental researcher.  He is also a global warming activist and Hungary’s most outspoken supporter of the Kyoto Protocol. Or was.

That was until he learned the details of a new theory of the greenhouse effect, one that not only gave far more accurate climate predictions here on Earth, but Mars too. The theory was developed by another Hungarian scientist, Ferenc Miskolczi, an atmospheric physicist with 30 years of experience and a former researcher with NASA’s Langley Research Center.

After studying it, Zágoni stopped calling global warming a crisis, and has instead focused on presenting the new theory to other climatologists…..

"Runaway greenhouse theories contradict energy balance equations," Miskolczi states.  Just as the theory of relativity sets an upper limit on velocity, his theory sets an upper limit on the greenhouse effect, a limit which prevents it from warming the Earth more than a certain amount.

How did modern researchers make such a mistake? They relied upon equations derived over 80 years ago, equations which left off one term from the final solution.

Miskolczi’s story reads like a book. Looking at a series of differential equations for the greenhouse effect, he noticed the solution — originally done in 1922 by Arthur Milne, but still used by climate researchers today — ignored boundary conditions by assuming an "infinitely thick" atmosphere. Similar assumptions are common when solving differential equations; they simplify the calculations and often result in a result that still very closely matches reality. But not always.

So Miskolczi re-derived the solution, this time using the proper boundary conditions for an atmosphere that is not infinite. His result included a new term, which acts as a negative feedback to counter the positive forcing. At low levels, the new term means a small difference … but as greenhouse gases rise, the negative feedback predominates, forcing values back down.

NASA refused to release the results.  Miskolczi believes their motivation is simple.  "Money", he tells DailyTech.  Research that contradicts the view of an impending crisis jeopardizes funding, not only for his own atmosphere-monitoring project, but all climate-change research.  Currently, funding for climate research tops $5 billion per year.

March 19,2008 addition. The peer reviewed publication of Miskoczi’s paper can be found here:


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4 Responses to Theory of global warming disputed

  1. Josh says:

    A never-ending cycle? Did I read that right? Did you? I don\’t recall ever seeing never-ending cycles mentioned. I have seen feedbacks and tipping points mentioned, but always with limits and unknowns. They\’ve always seemed relatively straightforward to me, and they\’ve never resembled the no-limits, never-ending runway thingy that\’s being objected to here. It makes it look rather like a strawman is being erected and attacked. So I did some searching and came across a few notes on this issue. I guess it\’s too soon to find anything detailed. So far all I can find is a few off-hand comments."Runaway Greenhouse is a strawman. I’m sure someone will take the paper
    to bits properly. The obvious problem for it is to explain the ice age
    cycle." -William ConnolleyAnd…"Yes, it can only warm a couple hundred more degrees if all the carbon
    in the carbonate rocks were to be released, which won’t happen for a
    billion years. But it doesn’t look like this guy actually understands
    what a “runaway greenhouse effect” is. He should look up the planetary
    astronomy data on the history of Venus, where it happened." – Barton Paul LevensonBoth are comment responses to another comment (off-topic) at Maybe we\’ll see something more substantial eventually, but for now they had the same impression I had when I read your post: You seem to be using words that you don\’t quite know the meaning of, as well as taking a good idea, stretching it past its breaking point and then claiming it was broken when you picked it up.As for censorship, IMO a government telling scientists which bits of science they\’re allowed to talk about (at all, ever) is worse than one organization saying "we think you\’re wrong and so WE won\’t publish your paper." There are plenty of journals who\’ll publish papers that are obviously incorrect (cough E&E cough), but there\’s only one government – and it doesn\’t have the authority to decide which science is accurate.In the meantime, if you want to read something that seems to me to be far closer to reality, go read try to stay away from the media. They don\’t know science, but they do know controversy – real and contrived.

  2. Josh says:

    Whoops. Typo. "never-ending runAway thingy"

  3. David says:
    James Hansen warns of the "dire consequences" of "runaway warming".
    A "never ending cycle" describes "runaway waming" without the apparent constraints of any negative feedbacks. Some sort of calamity is the impression left by Hansen. Maybe the media failed to report qualifications that Hansen may have made to his comments.
    The important point is that the physicist in the story explains that Hansen and others may well believe in "runaway warming" since they are relying on theory developed in 1922 by Arthur Milne. If the theory was incorrectly applied at the time then the whole "runawy" idea will turn out to be bogus. It\’s only a matter of time till other phsicists look at the question determine who is right or wrong. I doubt if Hansen or Schmidt are physicists so I don\’t expect they will have anything helpful to say on the topic.

  4. David says:

    Some great news! Hansen has a background in Physics and Schmidt in Mathematics. I\’m sure that any day now we will hear why the physicist in the story couldn\’t get his work published and then we will know exactly the mistake he made! Without an explanation it just looks like stonewalling and a reputable organiation like NASA would want to clear that up soon.

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