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Why No Eclipse Denialists? The Same Science Predicts Global Heating


Why No Eclipse Denialists? The Same Science Predicts Global Heating

Juan Cole

Eminent physicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s tweet pointing out that there are no eclipse denialists the way there are dedicated climate change denialists went viral:

Odd. No one is in denial of America’s Aug 21 total solar eclipse. Like Climate Change, methods & tools of science predict it.

— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) August 10, 2017


I’m waiting for trump to say it never happened. It was just fake news put out by the media to distract the public from paying attention to all the ways he is making America great again.


As a scientist, it is nice to see such blind faith in the proclamations of scientists. However, blind faith in models is rather unwarranted. Scientists use a wide variety of models to help them understand how things work and not all models are equal. Some models are based on a few well understood principles such as the models that are used to predict solar eclipses. Before we had computers to do the calculations, these calculations were done by hand and the resulting predictions were still very accurate.

Scientists also use models to forecast the weather. These models are much more complex and doing the calculations by hand would take hundreds of humans for thousands of years to do the calculations by hand. These models rely heavily on the equations of fluid dynamics which are well understood as well as thermodynamics. However, the equations used in the models drop some of the less important terms in order to reduce the time required for the calculations. A forecast of tomorrow’s weather that takes three days would not be of much use. And, there are many other factors that are not included in the models which usually have only a minor affect on the outcome. Short-term weather forecasts have improved over the past 50 years but they still miss the mark quite frequently, more so as the models attempt to forecast more than a day or two.

The global climate models that relate CO2 (and other greenhouse gases) to the warming trend from 1979 to 2000 include many factors that are poorly understood and have had to simplify the equations for the better understood processes even more than for the weather forecast models.

According to IPCC Assessment Report 5 Working Group 1 report: “Nevertheless, the occurrence of the hiatus in GMST [global mean surface temperature] trend during the past 15 years raises the two related questions of what has caused it and whether climate models are able to reproduce it.” This is the part of the IPCC Assessment Report 5 that was written by the climate scientists and it acknowledges that the models do not account for the observed lack of global warming over the past 15 years and they don’t know why.

In summary, the science that predicts solar eclipses and the science that predicts global warming are FAR from the same science. There is a LOT of doubt of the dire consequences that Juan Cole lists, even by the climate scientists that wrote the report for the IPCC.


It has been conclusively proven that eclipses are the effect of human activity here on earth. That’s how we can predict them so accurately.


Newtonian mechanics is a deterministic system. This means that knowing the present position and momentum of the earth, the moon and the sun can allow us to predict with absolute certainty when and where an eclipse of the sun will be visible on the earth.

The weather is a chaotic (nonlinear) system governed by the butterfly effect: the flapping of the wings of a butterfly in the Amazon can cause a hurricane in the Atlantic. This means the weather is unpredictable more than a few weeks into the future.

The best example of this is Hurricane Rita. A few weeks after Hurricane Katrina destoyed New Orleans, Rita (a more powerful storm) entered the Gulf of Mexico. Just 5 days before Rita made landfall, all the sophisticated mathematical models of the National Weather Service predicted Rita would destroy Houston. Do you remember Houston being destroyed that summer?

The temperature of the earth is determined by the law of conservation of energy. This law of physics is deterministic, like Newtonian mechanics. So, the temperature of the earth is a function of energy in (solar radiation + geothermal heat; most people ignore this) - energy out (infrared radiation lost to outer space. Volcanic eruptions blast a lot of dust, desbris and gases into the atmosphere. This blocks solar radiation, meaning the earth will cool (assuming no change in the loss of infrared radiation). The year after Mt. Tambora erupted was called the year without a summer.

Greenhouse gases are opaque to infrared radiation and reduce heat lost from the surface of the earth. So, if solar radiation striking the earth does not change, increasing the greenhouse gas content of the atmosphere will cause the earth to warm.

But if this is the case, why haven’t humans caused the earth to warm before the Industrial Revolution because they produced carbon dioxide in breathing and in burning wood?

There is a natural carbon cycle (photosynthesis removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and respiration or burning wood adds it to the atmosphere). Since this natural cycle is a steady state, there was no net increase or decrease in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere before humans started digging up fossil fuels and burning them as a source of energy. The carbon in fossil fuels is sequestered in the earth and is not cycling. When humans burn fossil fuels this adds carbon dioxide to the atmosphere that should not be there. Ergo, we should see an increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere after the Industrial Revolution. Since that is exactly what we see, we can state unequivocally that the law of conservation of energy predicts the earth will warm when humans burn fossil fuels, but not bio-fuels (e.g., ethanol, bio-diesel, or wood). A forest fire simply adds carbon dioxide to the atmosphere that the living trees removed from the atmosphere. This is a zero-sum game, while burning fossil fuels is not a zero-sum game.


I was saying at work yesterday that Trump would probably call it a Chinese hoax.


I’ll take Neil DeGrasse’s words against BlowHards any day.