Thursday, August 25, 2016

Bombshell: New study confirms 'solar activity has a direct impact on Earth's cloud cover' important to climate change

A new study confirms "solar variations affect the abundance of clouds in our atmosphere," a solar amplification mechanism which is the basis of Svensmark's theory of cosmo-climatology. 
The solar eruptions are known to shield Earth's atmosphere from cosmic rays. However the new study, published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, shows that the global cloud cover is simultaneously reduced, supporting the idea that cosmic rays are important for cloud formation. The eruptions cause a reduction in cloud fraction of about 2 percent corresponding to roughly a billion tonnes of liquid water disappearing from the atmosphere.

As Dr. Roy Spencer notes,

"The most obvious way for warming to be caused naturally is for small, natural fluctuations in the circulation patterns of the atmosphere and ocean to result in a 1% or 2% decrease in global cloud cover. Clouds are the Earth’s sunshade, and if cloud cover changes for any reason, you have global warming — or global cooling."
The IPCC models fail to consider multiple solar amplification mechanisms, including cosmic rays and numerous other amplification mechanisms, thereby ignoring that solar activity can explain the 0.7C global warming since the end of the Little Ice Age in 1850. Solar activity reached a grand maximum in the latter half of the 20th century, and accumulated solar energy (the 'sunspot integral') explains global temperature change since 1900 with greater than 97% statistical significance.  This new paper confirms that solar activity variation can account for a 2% variation in global cloud cover, sufficient to explain the warming of the 20th century and without any consideration of CO2 "radiative forcing."



Solar activity has a direct impact on Earth's cloud cover


Date:
August 25, 2016
Source:
Technical University of Denmark
Summary:
Solar variations affect the abundance of clouds in our atmosphere, a new study suggests. Large eruptions on the surface of the Sun can temporarily shield Earth from so-called cosmic rays which now appear to affect cloud formation.
A team of scientists from the National Space Institute at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU Space) and the Racah Institute of Physics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has linked large solar eruptions to changes in Earth's cloud cover in a study based on over 25 years of satellite observations.
The solar eruptions are known to shield Earth's atmosphere from cosmic rays. However the new study, published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, shows that the global cloud cover is simultaneously reduced, supporting the idea that cosmic rays are important for cloud formation. The eruptions cause a reduction in cloud fraction of about 2 percent corresponding to roughly a billion tonnes of liquid water disappearing from the atmosphere.
Since clouds are known to affect global temperatures on longer timescales, the present investigation represents an important step in the understanding of clouds and climate variability.
"Earth is under constant bombardment by particles from space called galactic cosmic rays. Violent eruptions at the Sun's surface can blow these cosmic rays away from Earth for about a week. Our study has shown that when the cosmic rays are reduced in this way there is a corresponding reduction in Earth's cloud cover. Since clouds are an important factor in controlling the temperature on Earth our results may have implications for climate change," explains lead author on the study Jacob Svensmark of DTU.
Very energetic particles
These particles generate electrically charged molecules -- ions -- in Earth's atmosphere. Ions have been shown in the laboratory to enhance the formation of aerosols, which can serve as seeds for the formation of the cloud drops that make up a cloud. Whether this actually happens in the atmosphere, or only in the laboratory is a topic that has been investigated and debated for years.
When the large solar eruptions blow away the galactic cosmic rays before they reach Earth they cause a reduction in atmospheric ions of up to about 20 to -30 percent over the course of a week. So if ions affect cloud formation it should be possible to observe a decrease in cloud cover during events when the Sun blows away cosmic rays, and this is precisely what is done in this study.
The so-called 'Forbush decreases' of the cosmic rays have previously been linked to week-long changes in Earth's cloud cover but the effect has been debated at length in the scientific literature. The new study concludes that "there is a real impact of Forbush decreases on cloud microphysics" and that the results support the suggestion that "ions play a significant role in the life-cycle of clouds."
Arriving at that conclusion was, however, a hard endeavor; Very few strong Forbush decreases occur and their effect on cloud formation is expected to be close to the limit of detection using global atmospheric observations measured by satellites and land based stations. Therefore it was of the greatest importance to select the strongest events for study since they had to have the most easily detected effect. Determining this strength required combining data from about 130 stations in combination with atmospheric modeling.
This new method resulted in a list of 26 events in the period of 1987-2007 ranked according to ionization. This ranked list was important for the detection of a signal, and may also shed some light on why previous studies have arrived at varied conclusions, since they have relied on events that were not necessarily ranked high on the list.
Possible long term effect
The effect from Forbush decreases on clouds is too brief to have any impact on long-term temperature changes.
However since clouds are affected by short term changes in galactic cosmic radiation, they may well also be affected by the slower change in Solar activity that happens on scales from tens to hundreds of years, and thus play a role in the radiation budget that determines the global temperature.
The Suns contribution to past and future climate change may thus be larger than merely the direct changes in radiation, concludes the scientists behind the new study.

Story Source:
The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Technical University of Denmark. The original item was written by Morten Garly Andersen. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:
  1. J. Svensmark, M. B. Enghoff, N. J. Shaviv, H. Svensmark. The response of clouds and aerosols to cosmic ray decreasesJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, 2016; DOI:10.1002/2016JA022689

Friday, July 29, 2016

Jupiter's Giant Red Spot is red hot & explained by the gravito-thermal greenhouse effect

A new paper published in Nature finds Jupiter's Great Red Spot is red hot at about 2,420°F or 1,330°C (i.e. almost hot enough to melt steel at 1425°C) and that this observation, 
"could solve the mystery of the unusually high temperatures observed throughout Jupiter's upper atmosphere, which can't be explained by solar heating alone. [nor by a radiative greenhouse effect]"
"Previous heat-distribution models suggested that Jupiter's atmosphere should be much cooler, largely because the planet is about fives times further from the sun than Earth is. So, having ruled out solar heating from above, the authors of the new research found evidence suggesting this atmospheric heating is largely driven by a combination of gravity waves and acoustic waves generated by turbulences in the atmosphere below the Great Red Spot.
"Giant planets like Jupiter are measured to be hundreds of degrees warmer than current temperature models predict. Before now, the extremely warm temperatures observed in Jupiter's atmosphere have been difficult to explain, due to the lack of a known heat source."
In other words, the very hot atmospheric temperatures on Jupiter cannot be due to an Arrhenius radiative greenhouse effect. The atmosphere of Jupiter is mostly comprised of the non-greenhouse gases hydrogen and helium, but does contain small amounts of the IR-active 'greenhouse' gas water vapor. However, the Maxwell/Clausius/Carnot gravito-thermal greenhouse effect perfectly explains the observed atmospheric temperature profile of Jupiter, making Jupiter the ninth planet in our solar system to follow the simple Poisson relationship of atmospheric mass/gravity/pressure to temperature. The Poisson relationship was demonstrated in another recent paper:

Referring to fig. 1 of the paper, we find at 0.1 bar pressure on Jupiter, the corresponding temperature is~112°K, and at 11 bars pressure corresponds to 400°K or 260°F:

Fig 1 from the paper. The dotted line is the atmospheric temperature vs. pressure curve on Jupiter. At 11 bars pressure, the temperature is 400°K or 127°C or 260°F.  
This satisfies the Poisson Relation (which in turn is derived from the Ideal Gas Law) previously demonstrated on 6 8 other celestial bodies in our solar system:


T/To = (P/Po)^0.286 ~= 400°K/112°K = (11 bar/0.1 bar)^.286

where
T = temperature at 11 bars pressure =  400°K
To= temperature at top of atmosphere = 112°K
P = 11 bars
Po= pressure at top of atmosphere = 0.1 bar

and once again demonstrates that the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW) theory is a myth, that atmospheric temperatures are controlled by mass/gravity/pressure and are independent of greenhouse gas concentrations on any of these 9 planets with atmospheres, including Earth. Adding additional CO2 plant food to the atmosphere will undoubtedly green the Earth, but Earth's climate sensitivity to CO2 is effectively zero. 

Related: How can Uranus have storms hot enough to melt steel? A runaway greenhouse effect?


Jupiter's Great Red Spot is Also Red Hot, Study Shows

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Jupiter's Great Red Spot is apparently also red hot: The highest temperatures ever observed on the planet were recently detected in the region above the ginormous storm.  
The Great Red Spot (GRS) is a massive storm about twice the diameter of Earth that lies in lowest layer of Jupiter's atmosphere. About 497 miles (800 kilometers) above this humongous storm, astronomers measured temperatures reaching about 700 degrees Fahrenheit (about 370 degrees Celsius) higher than normal, James O'Donoghue, lead author of the new study and a research scientist with Boston University's (BU) Center for Space Physics, told Space.com. 
The new finding could solve the mystery of the unusually high temperatures observed throughout Jupiter's upper atmosphere, which can't be explained by solar heating alone.[Jupiter's Great Red Spot: Photos of the Solar System's Biggest Storm
Generally, atmospheric temperatures on Jupiter are around 1,700 degrees F (around 930 degrees C), with the exception of areas above the planet's poles, which are heated by auroras. Above the Great Red Spot, however, the atmosphere is about 2,420 degrees F (about 1,330 degrees C), O'Donoghue said. 



Observations show that Jupiter's upper atmosphere — above the Great Red Spot — is hundreds of degrees hotter than anywhere else on the planet.
Observations show that Jupiter's upper atmosphere — above the Great Red Spot — is hundreds of degrees hotter than anywhere else on the planet.

Previous heat-distribution models suggested that Jupiter's atmosphere should be much cooler, largely because the planet is about fives times further from the sun than Earth is. So, having ruled out solar heating from above, the authors of the new research found evidence suggesting this atmospheric heating is largely driven by a combination of gravity waves and acoustic waves generated by turbulences in the atmosphere below the Great Red Spot. The new study was published today (July 27) in the journal Nature. 
Atmospheric gravity waves — not to be mistaken for gravitational waves — occur when pockets of air collide with things like mountains. The resulting effect is similar to when a pebble is dropped into a lake, and ripples then form on the surface of the water.  
Acoustic waves, on the other hand, are sound waves, which means they develop from compressions and refractions in the air and travel upward into the atmosphere. There, they encounter regions of lower density and break, much like ocean waves breaking on the shore. When this happens, the acoustic waves release stored kinetic energy and cause molecules and atoms in the air to move around more, which then raises the temperature, O'Donoghue said.  
"Changes in density around the Great Red Spot will shoot waves in all directions," O'Donoghue added. "We believe that acoustic waves are the majority of the heating cause, because gravity waves tend to ship their energy across the planet, rather than vertically up like acoustic waves." 



This illustration shows how a combination of gravity and acoustic waves transfers heat above the Great Red Spot to Jupiter's upper atmosphere.
This illustration shows how a combination of gravity and acoustic waves transfers heat above the Great Red Spot to Jupiter's upper atmosphere.
Credit: Art by Karen Teramura, UH IfA, James O'Donoghue

The GRS is a massive storm that rotates counterclockwise, colliding with the natural flow of molecules in the atmosphere, which are moving opposite the storm. These types of collisions create turbulence that creates acoustic and gravity waves, O'Donoghue said. 
Using data from the SpeX instrument on the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) on Mauna Kea mountain in Hawaii, the researchers were able to measure the temperature of Jupiter's atmosphere, specifically around the GRS.  
"The Great Red Spot is the largest storm in the solar system — it is bigger than Earth itself — so it generates a lot of turbulence that impedes the flow of air in the atmosphere," O'Donoghue said. "It is kind of like when you stir a cup of coffee and you turn the spoon around and go the opposite way. Suddenly, there is a lot of sloshing [turbulence] going on that generates sound waves, or compressions of air, upwards for you to hear."  
The heat generated from the acoustic and gravity waves has a localized effect, which suggests there is a coupling between low and high altitudes, as energy is transferred from the lower atmosphere to the upper atmosphere. Previously, the connection between low and high altitudes was thought to be pretty much impossible because the distance is so vast, O'Donoghue explained.
"This new result from Jupiter provides the first evidence of upward coupling of energy that finds its way from the lower atmosphere to the upper atmosphere," Michael Mendillo, a professor of astronomy at BU, who was not involved with the study, told Space.com. "It's a very interesting observation — even on Earth, this mechanism is not well-studied or understood. If this happens on Jupiter, it is possible that it happens on all planets." 
Giant planets like Jupiter are measured to be hundreds of degrees warmer than current temperature models predict. Before now, the extremely warm temperatures observed in Jupiter's atmosphere have been difficult to explain, due to the lack of a known heat source, Tom Stallard, co-author of the new study and an associate professor of astronomy at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, told Space.com. 
"Sometimes, ironically, it is easier to see these features on a planet far away [from Earth]," said Stallar, who advised O'Donoghue throughout his research. In other words, "It's much more difficult to step back and see these broadscale effects … on Earth, so it's interesting to use Jupiter as a 'proxy' for what might be happening on other planets, and that includes Earth."
With the Juno spacecraft orbiting Jupiter, the researchers hope to get an up-close view of the Great Red Spot and isolate where the heat observed in the planet's upper atmosphere comes from. They also plan to study the fine details of smaller storms like Red Spot Jr., to see if there is heating above them as well. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Inconvenient Truth: Most scientists are lousy statisticians; AAAS says "'Misunderstanding and misuse of statistical significance impedes science"

A important article published in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) journal Science (June 2, 2016) addresses a very long-standing problem pervasive in virtually all areas of science: statistical and scientific reasoning are often not aligned, and the "misunderstanding and misuse of statistical significance [by scientists] impedes science," according to the AAAS.

The fact is that most scientists have a rudimentary understanding of statistics, typically obtained from a few undergraduate courses in statistics taken en route to a scientific career, yet statistics underpins the critical determination of "statistical significance" of scientific data and the validity of scientific conclusions. Most scientists do not consult statisticians to validate and confirm their statistical conclusions, which inenviably leads to false assumptions and conclusions based upon such simplistic analyses. My own field of science suffers from over-reliance on p-values, arbitrarily considering data with a p-value of < 0.05 to be "statistically significant" or "true," vs. data with a p-value of > 0.05 to be "insignificant" or "false," and thus likely un-publishable. A 'skilled' scientist knows well how to play the game of torturing the data, throwing out outliers, adding assumptions, etc. to lower the p-value to a publishable and "true" "statistically significant" 0.05 or less.

A prominent example is Michael Mann's infamous "hockey stick" global temperature reconstruction, arguably the most widely debunked piece of research in the history of science, debunked by both the Republican statistical experts (Wegman et al) and Democrat statistical experts (North et al). Both Congressional statistical expert evaluations of Mann's hockey stick, in addition to numerous gross statistical errors, faulted Mann for not consulting any statisticians prior to publication of his paper.

Sadly, the article admits that arbitrary assumptions of "statistically significant p-values," which vary widely between different scientific fields, are widely misused and misunderstood by scientists and are "out of alignment" with current statistical reasoning, concluding, "let us hope that the next century will see much progress in the inferential methods of science as in it's substance."



Related: Is much of climate science useless?
https://judithcurry.com/2016/07/06/is-much-of-current-climate-research-useless/

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

New paper demonstrates the gravito-thermal greenhouse effect on Jupiter is due to pressure, not greenhouse gases

A paper published in Science June 3, 2016, Peering through Jupiter's clouds with Radio Spectral Imaging, demonstrates the gravito-thermal greenhouse effect on Jupiter and that atmospheric temperatures are a function of pressure, independent of greenhouse gas concentrations. Jupiter is a gaseous planet with an atmosphere comprised almost entirely of the non-greenhouse gases hydrogen and helium, yet is capable of generating 67% more radiation than it receives from the Sun, and has estimated temperatures at the Jovian core of more than 20,000°C, more than three times as hot as the surface of the Sun. Jupiter, however, only receives 3.6% as much solar radiation per meter squared as the Earth. The only possible explanation for this "temperature enhancement" or "greenhouse effect" is atmospheric mass/pressure/gravity (the gravito-thermal greenhouse effect of Maxwell/Poisson/Clausius et al), and which is entirely independent of greenhouse gas concentrations. 

Prior work has confirmed the gravito-thermal greenhouse effect on 6 8 planets including Earth, and why this falsifies the theory of catastrophic man-made global warming. On the basis of this new paper, we find the gravito-thermal greenhouse effect also holds for Jupiter and that the pressure vs. temperature curve satisfies the Poisson Relation of the gravito-thermal greenhouse effect.

Referring to fig. 1 of the paper, we find at 0.1 bar pressure on Jupiter, the corresponding temperature is~112°K, and at 11 bars pressure corresponds to 400°K or 260°F:


Fig 1 from the paper. The dotted line is the atmospheric temperature vs. pressure curve on Jupiter. At 11 bars pressure, the temperature is 400°K or 127°C or 260°F.  
This satisfies the Poisson Relation (which in turn is derived from the Ideal Gas Law) previously demonstrated on 6 8 other celestial bodies in our solar system:


T/To = (P/Po)^0.286 ~= 400°K/112°K = (11 bar/0.1 bar)^.286

and once again demonstrates that the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW) theory is a myth, that atmospheric temperatures are controlled by mass/gravity/pressure and are independent of greenhouse gas concentrations on any of these 9 planets with atmospheres, including Earth. Adding additional CO2 plant food to the atmosphere will undoubtedly green the Earth, but Earth's climate sensitivity to CO2 is effectively zero. 



Fig. 7. 
a)   Dry adiabatic response of the air/surface temperature ratio to pressure changes in the free atmosphere according to Poisson’s formula. The reference pressure is arbitrarily assumed to be po=100 kPa;b) The SB radiation law expressed as a response of a blackbody temperature ratio to variation in photon pressure (see text for details).



image
image
Figure 6. Temperature/potential temperature ratio as a function of atmospheric pressure according to the Poisson formula based on the Gas Law (Po = 100 kPa.). Note the striking similarity in shape with the curve in Fig. 5.

NASA Jupiter Fact Sheet


Jupiter

Jupiter/Earth Comparison


Bulk parameters

                                   Jupiter      Earth   Ratio (Jupiter/Earth)
Mass (1024 kg)                      1,898.19    5.9724      317.83 
Volume (1010 km3)                 143,128     108.321      1321.33
Radius (1 bar level) (km)
    Equatorial                     71,492       6,378.1      11.209    
    Polar                          66,854       6,356.8      10.517
Volumetric mean radius (km)        69,911       6,371.0      10.973
Ellipticity                         0.06487     0.00335      19.36 
Mean density (kg/m3)                1,326       5,514         0.240 
Gravity (eq., 1 bar) (m/s2)        24.79        9.80          2.530 
Acceleration (eq., 1 bar) (m/s2)   23.12        9.78          2.364 
Escape velocity (km/s)             59.5        11.19          5.32
GM (x 106 km3/s2)                 126.687       0.39860     317.83 
Bond albedo                         0.343       0.306         1.12
Visual geometric albedo             0.52        0.367         1.42  
Visual magnitude V(1,0)            -9.40       -3.86           -
Solar irradiance (W/m2)            50.26     1361.0           0.037
Black-body temperature (K)        109.9       254.0           0.433
Moment of inertia (I/MR2)           0.254       0.3308        0.768 
J2 (x 10-6)                        14,736    1082.63         13.611    
Number of natural satellites       67           1
Planetary ring system             Yes          No

Orbital parameters

                                   Jupiter      Earth   Ratio (Jupiter/Earth)
Semimajor axis (106 km)             778.57      149.60        5.204   
Sidereal orbit period (days)      4,332.589     365.256      11.862   
Tropical orbit period (days)      4,330.595     365.242      11.857
Perihelion (106 km)                 740.52      147.09        5.034      
Aphelion (106 km)                   816.62      152.10        5.369
Synodic period (days)               398.88        -             -
Mean orbital velocity (km/s)         13.06       29.78        0.439    
Max. orbital velocity (km/s)         13.72       30.29        0.453        
Min. orbital velocity (km/s)         12.44       29.29        0.425       
Orbit inclination (deg)               1.304       0.000         -
Orbit eccentricity                    0.0489      0.0167      2.928
Sidereal rotation period (hours)      9.9250*    23.9345      0.415  
Length of day (hrs)                   9.9259     24.0000      0.414
Obliquity to orbit (deg)              3.13       23.44        0.134 
Inclination of equator (deg)          3.13       23.44        0.134                                               
* System III (1965.0) coordinates

Jovian Atmosphere

Surface Pressure: >>1000 bars  
Temperature at 1 bar: 165 K (-108 C)
Temperature at 0.1 bar: 112 K (-161 C)
Density at 1 bar: 0.16 kg/m3
Wind speeds
   Up to 150 m/s<30 40="" degrees="" latitude="" m="" s="" to="" up="">
Scale height: 27 km
Mean molecular weight: 2.22 
Atmospheric composition (by volume, uncertainty in parentheses)
    Major:       Molecular hydrogen (H2) - 89.8% (2.0%); Helium (He) - 10.2% (2.0%)
    Minor (ppm): Methane (CH4) - 3000 (1000); Ammonia (NH3) - 260 (40);
                 Hydrogen Deuteride (HD) - 28 (10); Ethane (C2H6) - 5.8 (1.5);
                 Water (H2O) - 4 (varies with pressure)
    Aerosols:    Ammonia ice, water ice, ammonia hydrosulfide

Sunday, June 5, 2016

How the West got healthy and prosperous

How can it be that – after countless millennia of malnutrition, disease,  wretched poverty and early death – so many mostly western nations became healthy and prosperous in just 200 years? Matt Ridley says “ideas started having sex.” Deidre McCloskey opines that equality of social dignity and before the law emboldened people to invest, invent and take risks. Both are absolutely true.

However, as I discuss in this week’s article, a number of other essential factors also played key roles: foremost among them the scientific method and abundant, reliable, affordable energy, primarily from fossil fuels. The results were astounding – so much so that today the big question is, How have so many governments succeeded in preventing prosperity from happening?

Thank you for posting my informative and entertaining article, quoting from it, and forwarding it to your friends and colleagues.

Best regards,
Paul      
                                   
How the West got healthy and prosperous

Vital ingredients included the scientific method and fossil fuels – truths we forget at our peril

By Paul Driessen

Several years ago, physician, statistician, sword swallower and vibrant lecturer Hans Rosling produced a fascinating 4-minute video that presented 120,000 data points and showcased how mostly western nations became healthy and prosperous in just 200 years – after countless millennia of malnutrition, disease,  wretched poverty and early death.

More recently, professor of history and economics Deidre McCloskey provided some clues as to why and how this happened. In a Wall Street Journal article outlining “how the West (and the rest) got rich,” she notes that it wasn’t just Karl Marx’s “exploited workers” or Adam Smith’s “virtuously saved capital, nor was it only Hernando DeSoto and Douglas North’s essential property rights and other legal institutions.

Perhaps the most vital ingredient was that over those two centuries “ideas started having sex,” as author Matt Ridley described the process in The Rational Optimist. It enabled innovators to make discoveries and devise technological wonders, often through coincidental Connections that historian James Burke found among seemingly unrelated earlier inventions, to bring us television, computers and other marvels.

Why did ideas suddenly start having sex? McCloskey asks. One reason was the printing press, which enabled more people to read and share ideas. However, she cites two other principal developments: liberty and equality. Liberated people are ingenious, she observes – free to pursue happiness, and ideas; free to try and fail, and try again; free to pursue their own self-interests, and thereby better mankind.

Equality of social dignity and before the law emboldened people to invest, invent and take risks. Once accidents of parentage, titles, inherited wealth or formal education no longer controlled destinies or opportunities, the innate inspiration, perspiration and perseverance of a Franklin, Bell, Edison, Wright, Kettering, Steinmetz, Ford, Benz, Borlaug and countless others could be unleashed.

“Supposedly inferior races and classes and ethnicities proved not to be so,” McCloskey says. “Ordinary men and women didn’t need to be directed from above and, when honored and left alone, became immensely creative.” That’s an important message in the splendid British television series Downton Abbey, as well: when societal restrictions are relaxed, many can rise to new callings and heights.

Many other factors played key roles in this incredible progress. Two are especially important.
The scientific method begins with an hypothesis about how some component of the natural world works, and a calculation or forecast of what would happen if the concept is correct. Scientists then subject the hypothesis and prediction to experiment. If confirmed by data and observations, we have a new theory or law of nature; if not, the hypothesis is wrong.

This process brought wondrous advances – often through long, laborious tinkering and testing, and often amid heated, acrimonious debate about which hypothesis was correct (the miasma or germ theory of disease), which system was better (direct or alternating current), and countless other investigations.

Abundant, reliable, affordable energy – the vast majority of it fossil fuels – made all this and much more possible. It carried us from human and animal muscle, wood, dung and water wheels, to densely packed energy that could reliably power factories, laboratories, schools, hospitals, homes and offices. 

Those fuels also run equipment that removes harmful pollutants from our air and water, and they ended our unsustainable reliance on whale oil, saving those magnificent mammals from extinction.
Today, coal, oil and natural gas still provide 80% of America’s and the world’s energy, for transportation, communication, refrigeration, heat, lights, manufacturing, entertainment and every other component of modern life. Together, the scientific method and industrial-grade energy enable our Ultimate Resource – the human mind – to create more new ideas, institutions and technologies that make life for poor people in wealthier countries better, healthier, fuller and longer than even royalty enjoyed a mere century ago.

Medical research discovered why people died from wounds; the true causes of malaria, smallpox, cholera and other diseases; antibiotics, vaccinations, insecticides and pharmaceuticals to combat disease and improve our overall well-being; anesthesia and surgical techniques that permit life-saving operations and organ transplants; sanitation (toilets, soap, trash removal) and water purification; and countless other advances that raised the average American’s life expectancy from 46 in 1900 to 76 today for men and 81 for women.

Internal combustion engines replaced horses for plows and transportation, and rid city streets of manure, urine and carcasses, while creating new problems that later generations toiled to address. Today we can travel the world in hours and ship produce, clothing and other products to the globe’s farthest corners.

Mechanized agriculture – coupled with modern fertilizers, hybrid and GMO seeds, drip irrigation and other advances – produce bumper crops that feed billions, using less land, water and insecticides.
Houses and other buildings are built better and stronger, to keep out the cold and heat and disease-carrying insects, better survive hurricanes and earthquakes, and connect their inhabitants with entertainment and information centers from all over the planet, and beyond.

Modern mining techniques and technologies find, extract and process the incredible variety of metals and other raw materials required to make the mechanized equipment and factories required to produce the energy we need and grow or make everything we eat, wear or use.

If energy is the Master Resource that makes all of this possible, electricity is the king of modern energy. Imagine your life without electricity – generated by coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, wind or solar facilities, or batteries. Imagine life before electricity, or before the internet and cell phones put the fullness of human knowledge and entertainment instantly in the palm of your hand.

At least one more factor helped to unleash this sudden surge of invention, progress, health and prosperity. A relatively new legal entity, the corporation, organized, harnessed and directed people, money and other resources toward common purposes. A growing private sector – free enterprises and entrepreneurs – put corporate and other ideas, labor and investors’ money on the line, assisted by evolving financial and investment systems and practices, while legal and government institutions provided the ethical and regulatory frameworks within which these entities are expected to operate. 
Numerous “invisible hands” worked together across continents and oceans, often without even knowing their counterparts exist, to bring us products as simple as a pencil or as complex as a cell phone.

So we are left with a profound question. Amid all this health, prosperity and longevity for so many – why do so many still struggle on the edge of survival? Why do two billion still have minimal electricity and another 1.3 people still have none at all? Why do two billion still exist on $3 per day? Why do a half-million still die every year from malaria? five million more from respiratory and intestinal diseases?

The formula for health and prosperity is no secret. It is readily available on your cell phone. Indeed, says Leon Louw, the real “economic miracle” today is not found in South Korea, Singapore or Botswana – but in North Korea, Venezuela and most of Africa.

What should fascinate us is the miracle of poverty – the way inept, corrupt, greedy, centrally planned, hyper-regulated governments have prevented prosperity from happening. What should outrage us is that callous UN bodies, NGOs and activists have imposed their eco-imperialist agendas, and prevented countries from acquiring the property rights and technologies that made so many nations healthy and rich.

What should concern us is that many forces are conspiring to roll back the free enterprise, free speech, scientific method, and reliable, affordable energy that make modern living standards possible. 

Having them now does not guarantee them tomorrow. Failure to safeguard these essential foundations could take us on the path to joining the ranks of the “miracles of poverty” and FRCs: Formerly Rich Countries.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death.