January 3rd, 2011 by Zachary Shahan
Perhaps because I have been a Physical Chemist for more years than I care to mention, I have the idea that Physical Chemists have something important to contribute to just about any discussion about physical phenomena. I hope that I can convince you that this is in fact true in the case of global climate change….
This is the intro to an excellent piece by, yes, a real scientist on the strong scientific case for global warming (well, one piece of it). Here’s more (emphasis added):
One reason I feel it important to be a spokesman for Physical Chemistry in this arena is because, for the most part, we P. Chemists feel it important to develop math based arguments that catch the essence of what is occurring. Of course we then leave the hard part of dealing with the ramifications to someone else. What I mean by this in the current discussion is that the problem of global warming can be broken down into two parts – the “forcing” part that deals with the difference between the energy input and output at the earth’s surface and the consequences of that forcing. The latter is the huge problem of the feedbacks and their consequences on the distribution of that energy over the globe.
The second part is the tough, ongoing job of the Climatological community while the first part is basically P. Chem. (even though it was in many cases done by folks in other disciplines). In this essay it is my purpose to discuss the easier, forcing part. When it comes to communication, the considerations in this realm have a distinct advantage in that the results follow directly from the solution of an elementary differential equation using specroscopic data that have been known since the 1960’s. I have benefited greatly from others in coming to an understanding of the P. Chem. of Global Warming (GW). I feel myself qualified, on the basis of what I have learned, to say, from the point of view of Physical Chemistry, i.e. rigorous science of the if A then B type, that global warming as the result of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is totally undeniable and that the extent of the forcing is beyond doubt close to what the climatologists are saying it is….
Read the full piece here: The Physical Chemistry of Carbon Dioxide Absorption
Photo Credit: Andreas Kristensson
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