Sunday, January 22, 2017

Agnotology: The Surge - 19

Fig. 1 Ocean temperature &
thermal/density factors
In this series we have looked into the dynamic spread of ignorance by isolating and identifying some of the sources of that ignorance (Dr. Robert N. Proctor coined the word Agnotology, the scientific study of ignorance).

The growth of what we call "knowledge" is very much like the growth of what we call "ignorance" in one important aspect; for example, I have observed that one important aspect in the gathering of what we call knowledge is "faith" and "trust" (The Pillars of Knowledge: Faith and Trust?).

It is strange that knowledge and ignorance are engendered and spread by the same essence of "faith and trust."

If we have faith or trust in a source, we are more likely to call the ignorance coming from that source "knowledge."

That leads us to "a Recognition" (especially in our era of divided ideology, where one person's knowledge is another person's ignorance) to wit:
"We are often unaware of the scope and structure of our ignorance.
Fig. 2: Arctic Current
Ignorance is not just a blank space on a person’s mental map. It has contours and coherence, and for all I know rules of operation as well. So as a corollary to writing about what we know, maybe we should add getting familiar with our ignorance.
" - Thomas Pynchon, 1984

"There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.' ” ~ Isaac Asimov
Dr. Proctor, the author of the book Agnotology (linked-to up-thread), has some very astute comments to add to those introductory observations of Asimov and Pynchon:
"A whole field is devoted to reflection on the topic [of knowlege], with product tie-ins to professorships and weighty conferences. Epistemology is serious business, taught in academies the world over ... What is remarkable, though, is how little we know about ignorance. There is not even a well-known word for its study (though our hope is to change that ... no fancy conferences or polished websites. This is particularly remarkable, given (a) how much ignorance there is, (b) how many kinds there are, and (c) how consequential ignorance is in our lives."
(Agnotology, Chapter 1, PDF). In today's world, one of the most dangerous sources of ignorance is Oil-Qaeda, a private empire responsible for, among other things, global warming ignorance (Humble Oil-Qaeda).

Today, I want to focus on a subject set forth in one other sentence from the Agnotology book:
"Ignorance can be made or unmade, and science can be complicit in either process."
(ibid, Agnotology, p. 3). So, let's start with a case where science is complicit in spreading some ignorance, while it is also spreading some knowledge.

That subject is the ongoing incorrect teaching that thermal expansion is "the main cause" of sea level rise.

The IPCC is primarily the originating source for the thermal expansion ignorance, even as it spreads volumes of knowledge:
"As the ocean warms, the density decreases and thus even at constant mass the volume of the ocean increases. This thermal expansion (or steric sea level rise) occurs at all ocean temperatures and is one of the major contributors to sea level changes during the 20th and 21st centuries. Water at higher temperature or under greater pressure (i.e., at greater depth) expands more for a given heat input, so the global average expansion is affected by the distribution of heat within the ocean. Salinity changes within the ocean also have a significant impact on the local density and thus local sea level, but have little effect on global average sea level change."
(IPCC, emphasis added). This demonstrably false assertion is a slice of ignorance in an otherwise huge body of knowledge.

As Dr. Proctor pointed out above ("Ignorance can be made or unmade, and science can be complicit in either process"), sometimes ignorance unwittingly gets spread by scientists (On Thermal Expansion & Thermal Contraction, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9).

Fig. 3  Arctic currents
This brings us to Fig. 1 in this post which is being used today as an adjunct to the information about sea ice extent in two recent posts (Weekend Rebel Science Excursion - 58, Alarmists Unite !).

The graph at Fig. 1 depicts ocean water temperatures that were taken over a span of six decades (1956 - 2016) at all depths in zones 7516, 7517, 7602, 7603, 7605, 7701, 7705, 7706, 7707, 7710, 7711, 7712, 7713, 7714, 7715, 7716, 7801, 7802, 7803, 7804, 7805, 7806, 7807, 7808, 7809, 7810, 7811, 7812, 7813, 7814, 7815, and 7816, and then recorded in the World Oceans Database (WOD).

Those are zones in the area where water flows north from the Pacific / Bering Sea through the Bering Straits, then once it reaches the Chukchi Sea area, it flows east through the Beaufort Sea and Arctic Ocean, then further east towards Greenland, where it then flows towards and through the Fram Strait, and/or south toward the Labrador Sea (Fig. 2, Fig. 3).

Anyway, Fig. 1 shows that the ocean temperatures in the subject area, following the circa 1970 spike to 8.6 C, tend to stay within a narrow temperature range below 4 deg C.

The "thermal expansion is the main factor in sea level rise" believing folks would say that sea level rose circa 1970 because the ocean temperature at the depths from 200-400m increased to 8.60453 C, the depths from 400-600m increased to 8.46916 C, the depths from 600-800m increased to 8.11504 C, and the depths from 800-1000m increased to 7.38596 C because "molecules are moving apart" (Beckwith).

What about when the temperature went back down to less than 4 deg. C ... did those molecules "move closer together," and the sea level fell?

Concerning all of the other temperatures ("This thermal expansion (or steric sea level rise) occurs at all ocean temperatures" - IPCC quote above), in all cases when the temperature went up did sea level go up, and then come down as the temperature dropped?

The scientific answer is that it depends on the temperature at the time of the addition of heat, because at some temperatures water will condense, shrink, lose volume, when heat is added.

That is, if fresh water is below 4 deg. C (39.2 deg F) when you add heat to it there will be contraction (shrinkage, molecules moving closer together, loss of volume, or however you want to say it, that water at that temperature will NOT expand).

Once it reaches exactly 4 deg. C, if you make it either colder or warmer by adding or removing heat, it will expand (it can not get any denser once it is at max. density, it can only expand if the temperature changes).

The same thing is true for salty water, except that the max. density temperature is lower, depending on the amount of salinity (i.e. degree of saltiness).

This dynamic is in constant flux, constant change, temperature and density going up and down all the time (expansion and contraction going on all the time).

The ignorance has been to assume that the growth of an ocean is like the politician explaining the growth of an economy ... it is always growing.

Both are myth.

To avoid spreading ignorance or myth, scientists need to deal with it scientifically.

This means first, that the IPCC falsehood ("This thermal expansion (or steric sea level rise) occurs at all ocean temperatures") must be rejected, and secondly it means that the datasets must be examined professionally, and finally it means that the laws of thermodynamics must be acknowledged:
"In physics, the second law of thermodynamics says that heat flows naturally from an object at a higher temperature to an object at a lower temperature, and heat doesn’t flow in the opposite direction [cold to warm] of its own accord."
(Dummies, emphasis added). Thus, since about 90 some odd percent of the warmth from the Sun that enters our world makes its way into the oceans, entering at the surface, it should tend to flow from there downward into "the vast colderness."

The ocean is a vast heat sink which can absorb vast quantities of heat from the Sun and atmosphere.

As Fig. 1 shows, that heat is going to generally tend to flow downwards in accord with the second law of thermodynamics (the from-hot-to-cold direction).

Whether that heat flow causes expansion or contraction depends on the temperature of the water at the time the heat flows from the warmer water into that cooler water.

The next post in this series is here, the previous post in this series is here.

Myth Busters:

1 comment:

  1. Before Tom posts another Beckwith video, I noticed that Beckwith bought "the rain did it" paper which Dredd Blog disagrees with. link

    Hey, Beckwith, don't you know that "thermal contraction did it" because the molecules got cuddley with each other when the ocean discovered the second law of thermodynamics and flowed down into colder water as the law requires.

    The oceans were threatened by Mother Nature that if those fat-by-thermal-ingestion waters did not toe the line, MaMa was gone chafe their-larger-than-life buns.

    Even the Australian molecules !