10th January and its 10 degrees outside.

My thermometer says It’s not been below zero at all this winter here bottom left.  Down the allotment my leeks are growing their flowering shoots three months early and nobody else seems to have noticed what is going on.

And yet I’m now force fed climate drivel that is at best flakey and at worst flagrant hypocrisy.  So I’m going to write about the science; I dont expect anyone to read but it will do me good and help bring down my blood pressure.

So here is a bit about a man called Fourier.  He was, of course French and about 200 years ago he laid modern physics’ biggest foundation stone. And nobody has ever heard of him.

This bit is not about his day job though.  In his spare time he discovered global warming.

Half a century ago I had a wonderful time reading original science papers in their first edition from library shelves they had occupied since publication.  And I was even paid to do it.  I never thought it would happen again but it has. But now without the shelves.

Here is one,  It is volume 27 of Annales de Chemie.   And here on page 236 Monsieur Fourier begins a general remark that we are hotter than we should be.
He was thinking on a little experiment done by a Genevan meteorologist and mountaineer, Horace de Saussure, who took an earthenware pot, lined it with insulating unreflecting black cork and created isolated layers within it using horizontally sealed sheets of glass. In each cavity was a thermometer.

When he let the midday sun shine down into this stack of layers, the lower ones heated faster than the upper ones and all became hotter than the outside air.   And he noted that the heat energy was not the shiny stuff that came from the sun; it was different; it came from the warmed sides of the jar. The green house effect was born (but not yet christened).

It was not until almost 100 years later that a Swede, Svante Arrhenius, explained what was really going on.  He’s best known for explaining brilliantly the mathematics of dissolving things, for which he awarded himself the Nobel in 1903.

He it was who first realised that it was carbon dioxide (he called it carbonic acid), everywhere in the air, that absorbed the heat.  Not only that, he did the maths:

If the quantity of carbonic acid increases in geometric progression, the augmentation of the temperature will increase nearly in arithmetic progression.

Translating, this says that the carbon dioxide will increase steadily for quite a while without us noticing much but then it will suddenly take us by surprise.

My leeks are surprised.  But the people take no notice.

3 thoughts on “10th January and its 10 degrees outside.

  1. Alice Check

    Fourier Transform is well known to most engineers & physicists. It’s interesting that he discovered global warming.

  2. Mike

    If it was possible, I would attach a photo of daffodils flowering this year in the first week of January in Haarlem, Netherlands. No skating for the Dutch this year, I fear.


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