“You see, technically, chemistry is the study of matter, but I prefer to see it as the study of change: Electrons change their energy levels. Molecules change their bonds. Elements combine and change into compounds. But that’s all of life, right? It’s the constant, it’s the cycle. It’s solution, dissolution. Just over and over and over. It is growth, then decay, then transformation. It is fascinating, really. ” — Walter White, Breaking Bad
Are the seas rising due to global warming?
The common narrative is that carbon dioxide traps heat that has been irradiated by the oceans, and this warms the oceans and melts the polar ice caps.
It takes a lot of energy to heat water. To heat 1 litre of water by 1˚C it would take 3300 litres of air that was 2˚C hotter, or 1 litre of air that was about 3300˚C hotter.
The ocean contains 1,500,000,000,000,000,000,000 litres of water. To heat it by 1˚C, 6,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 joules of energy are required.
In perspective, if we devoted all our coal, nuclear, gas, hydro, wind and solar power plants to just heating the ocean, it would take 32,000 years to heat the ocean by just this 1˚C.
If the ocean is being heated by ‘greenhouse warming’ of the atmosphere, how hot does the air have to get?
For every ton of water there is only a kilogram of air. Taking into account the relative heat capacities and absolute masses, we arrive at the figure of 4,000˚C.
And another problem is that air sits on top of water – how would hot air heat deep into the ocean? Even if the surface warmed, the warm water would just sit on top of the cold water.
So if the air doesn’t contain enough energy to heat the oceans or melt the ice caps, what does?
When the southern hemisphere is tilted towards the sun, we have more direct sunlight (longer, warmer days). When it is tilted away from the sun, we have less direct sunlight and less of it (shorter days). The direct result of this is that in summer it is hot and in winter it is cold. In winter the polar caps freeze over and in summer 60-70% of them melt (about ten million square kilometres). In summer the water is warmer and winter it is cooler (ask any surfer).
These changes are directly determined by the amount of sunlight that we get, and more importantly, the level and changes in solar activity. This is the reality of thermodynamics. We really don’t have that much to do with it.