The Coming Global Superstorm, 18 years later, Part 2

If you read Part 1 of this post, then you know that the book “The Coming Global Superstorm” (CGS) by Art Bell and Whitley Strieber was never taken very seriously, either at the time of its publication, nor since.  However, a feature film was made based on the book, The Day After Tomorrow.  Then why discuss the book now?  Especially since Art Bell was known mostly for his radio talk show which featured mostly paranormal topics, and Whitley Strieber was known as a writer of horror fiction.

I always wondered what prompted Art Bell to write the book, which on the surface seemed like an attempt to make a serious contribution to the topic of global warming.  As I write this (May, 2018), Art Bell has passed away just last month.  See his obituary where one commentator is quoted as saying that the theory proposed in CGS is “impossible”, namely that an ice age cannot occur over night.

However, the theory should not be so quickly dismissed.  I argue this not because I think that the theory is necessarily true, but rather because I believe that we should keep an open mind about the causes and ramifications of climate change, and other important trends of our times.  As I mentioned in Part 1, CGS alludes to some important physics, namely the concept of the heat engine, which is due to the French scientist Carnot.  The Carnot engine forms the basis of all heat engine theory, and is the foundation of the physicists’ definition of entropy, and which all students of physics are required to study.

Another fact worth remembering is that when the troposphere (near the surface of the earth) warms, the stratosphere cools by five times as much.  This may seem counter-intuitive, but remember that the heat capacity of the upper atmosphere is less than that of the lower atmosphere.  And it is this temperature difference that drives the more powerful storms that are predicted.

Maybe the message of CGS is not that an ice age can happen in one day,.  Rather, one significant ramification of global warming might be the occurrence of a greater number of more powerful storms than had been recorded previously.

And that’s what climate change advocates looked for and predicted in the years after the publication of CGS.  But what actually has occurred?  This article  (Dec 16,, 2013) on the subject is worth a careful read.  I will summarize:

A common database of hurricane characteristics has been created, capturing hurricanes from over a 28-year period.  In order to be able to compare hurricane data that has been captured with different levels of technology over that timeframe, the resolution of satellite imagery has been reduced in some cases, so that apples can be compared to apples.  Then the data are analyzed.  And it is found that there is a slight increase in storm strength over the 28-year period.  However, and this is important, the results are not statistically significant at the p=0.1 level.  Indeed, in some parts of the world, the storms seem to be getting stronger, whereas in other parts of the world, the storms are getting weaker.  So the changes in storm strength amount to “noise”.  The author, being an advocate for climate change’s effect on storm strength increase, suggests that when later data from years after 2010 are added to the database, then we will be closer to discovering the “truth”.

If commentators can find a more recent article that addresses this issue fairly, then I would appreciate being informed about it.

I am currently agnostic as to whether global warming is occurring, and to the causes if it is.  Instead, I am an advocate for keeping an open mind, and for not necessarily jumping on a bandwagon until more evidence is in.  I am particularly disturbed by individuals who seek to shut down discussion of the causes of climate change, or who dogmatically argue purely for the fossil fuel cause.  For example, I have read books on how causes outside of planet earth can significantly affect the climate of the earth, and I will discuss some of these in future blog posts.

Those who argue that climate science is “settled” science are simply not considering science in the proper historical context.  For example, more than 100 years after Einstein’s publication of the General Theory of Relativity, scientists are still debating its particulars and ramifications.  Recent experiments are still being used to “confirm” GR.  In fact, in the study of quantum gravity, researchers refer to GRs (note the plural), i.e., general theories of relativity, since there are many that can be inferred from Einstein’s own theory.   Some have argued that, until a valid quantum theory of gravitation is developed, we cannot finally accept the truth of Einstein’s theory as the final macroscopic theory of gravitation.  So if the General Theory of Relativity is not “settled” science, then I think it is hardly appropriate to settle the issue of climate change.  The jury is still out.

So, thank you to Art Bell for his book.  It was a fascinating read and impacted my life, even if it is not entirely true, especially 18 years after its publication.  RIP, Art Bell.