Fox Faux Physics Fail. “Global Warming is not happening, and Wind Turbines are Causing it”.

May 2, 2012

Since posting my recent fortuitously timed video on wind power, I’ve been hearing the latest nonsense meme making the rounds of the usual BS vectors. “Global Warming is a Hoax, and Wind turbines are Causing it”.

Washington Post:

The frenzy started after Liming Zhou, a scientist at the University of Albany, published a short studyin Nature Climate Change. Zhou’s team analyzed satellite data for a handful of large wind farms in west-central Texas. And he found that, between 2003 and 2011, the surface temperature in the immediate vicinity of Texas’ wind farms had heated up a fair bit, especially during the night hours, as the wind turbines pulled warmer air from the atmosphere down closer to the ground.

So, perfect fodder for the denial-o-sphere, big, bold, dumb, and wrong.


Conservative media outlets, including Fox NationRush Limbaugh and Jim Hoft, are distorting the research to claim that wind farms “cause global warming” and Fox News’ morning show concluded “wind ain’t working.”

The long term solution is for journalists to be required to have taken physics 101. Failing that, we can always read what the actual scientists who performed the study tell us – that the effect is basically a local phenomenon, due to the mixing of higher, warmer air  with lower, cooler air.

This warming effect is most likely caused by the turbulence in turbine wakes acting like fans to pull down warmer near surface air from higher altitudes at night. Typically nighttime has a stable atmosphere with a warm layer overlying a cool layer. Enhanced vertical mixing mixes warm air down and cold air up, leading to a warming near the surface at night. Daytime often has an unstable atmosphere with cool air lying over warmer air. Turbulent wakes mix cool air down and warm air up, producing a cooling near the surface during the day. However, daytime mixing is already very large due to solar heating. Hence, the turbine-enhanced turbulent mixing may play a smaller role during the daytime.

Overall, the warming effect reported in this study is local and is small compared to the strong background year-to-year land surface temperature changes. Very likely, the wind turbines do not create a net warming of the air and instead only redistribute the air’s heat near the surface (the turbine itself does not generate any heat), which is fundamentally different from the large-scale warming effect caused by increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases due to the burning of fossil fuels. 

In other words, wind turbines may act just like the big fans that some farmers use to keep frost from forming on grapes or oranges.

The study authors again:

We need to realize that the build-up of CO2 in the atmosphere due to the burning of fossil fuels will have global impacts, while the warming effect reported in this study is local and is small. Generating wind power creates no emissions, uses no water, and is likely green. Wind power is going to be a part of the solution to the climate change, air pollution and energy security problem. Understanding the impacts of wind farms is critical for developing efficient adaptation and management strategies to ensure long-term sustainability of wind power.

The Post went on to interview Mark Jacobson, subject of my yet again fortuitously-timed interview posted monday, of Dr. Jacobson speaking at last year’s AGU conference.

To get a sense for what scientists know about this topic, I called Mark Jacobson, an environmental engineer at Stanford who has done a fair bit of modeling work in this area. The key thing to note is that, for now, humanity doesn’t use anywhere near enough wind power to make a big difference to global wind patterns. Jacobson’s earlier research suggested that there’s somewhere around 72 terawatts of wind power that could feasibly be harnessed worldwide. At the end of 2011, the world’s wind power generation capacity was still just 0.2 terawatts. (Human beings use about 16 terawatts of energy, all told.)

Mark Twain’s maxim about truth and lies still holds – so bookmark this page. We’ll be hearing about this for the foreseeable future from physics impaired deniers and wind baggers.


23 Responses to “Fox Faux Physics Fail. “Global Warming is not happening, and Wind Turbines are Causing it”.”

  1. […] Fox Faux Physics Fail. “Global Warming is not happening, and Wind Turbines are Causing it”. « C… Recall the scandal that discredits The Heartland Institute? Well they claim they have proof that the documents that show they are nothing but purveyors of anti-science propaganda are false. Yeah right. Here’s their press release: […]

    • bobchewie Says:

      • DVD
      Vol 6 of Pagan Invasion Series

      Why are many scientists abandoning their belief in traditional evolution?

      The concept of evolution has dominated the thinking of the scientific community for nearly a century and a half, and is taught as “fact” in public schools and educational institutions in America. And yet today, many leading scientists are abandoning a belief in traditional evolution, admitting that no real evidence exists!

      what does this remind you of?

      • daryan12 Says:

        I’m a scientist, and I believe in evolution, so do all the scientists I know! Evolution is taught as “facts” because it is a fact, backed up by peer reviewed research going back centuries, and books full of scientfic evidence.

        Creationists major problem is that they don’t understand how science works. If you’re curious, submit the Bible to peer review and see what happens (hint, they’ll throw everything out aside from “in the begining….”)

        “Many scientists” (in the language of Fox News) probably means 3 or 4 out of many tens of millions worldwide, most of whom were doing a job unrelated to biology….

        • bobchewie Says:

          yes i know.its bloody mad, these christian conservatives are getting crazier by the second, i just found a few more..
          “SCIENCE ID EVIL..THE PROOF” (??)

          • bobchewie Says:

   laptop…SCIENCE IS EVIL…PROOF ..its bizarre

          • daryan12 Says:

            I shall assume you’ve come across conservapedia? A website set up to counter “liberal bias” in wikipedia…that being what the rest of us call “facts”.

          • bobchewie Says:

            yes a while ago…it was an item on british vs american versions of spelling..they wanted a campaign to ‘stamp out’ the british spelling because it was wrong or unpatriotic or know europe=communism all that crap

  2. Martin Lack Says:

    Thanks Peter. I had not yet heard of this study. Are James Delingpole, Christopher Booker (Daily/Sunday Torygraph) and Melanie Phillips (Daily Fail) all on holiday at the moment?

    Even for someone like me… unfortunately all-too-familiar with reality inversion from people like the above; and Rupert Murdoch who claimed, in his testimony to the Leveson Inquiry, that his Wall Street Urinal publication was universally recognised for the quality of its reporting… the level of willful misrepresentation of fact evidenced in this post is astonishing.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      Daily Mail has it.

      • bobchewie Says:

        oh shame, just when i thought the daily wail was going all liberal on us..

      • bobchewie Says:

        i looked at wattsupwitthat…saw this
        “There is a lovely cartoon over at Roger Pielke Jr’s which, delightful though it is, helps perpetuate the myth that Global Warming is somehow an issue for climate skeptics. It isn’t. The issue is Catastrophic Anthropogenic, and specifically that singularly caused by CO2, Global Warming and the alarmist hype surrounding the lack of science and the punitive energy policies that have been pursued in response to a non problem”

        like saying that giant meteor heading this way is just a pebble..

        • greenman3610 Says:

          Watts made his whole reputation, such as it is, by claiming that global temp rise was made up by evil scientists.

          • bobchewie Says:

            ah thank you…i cant watch the clip atm as TMobile wont let me..i am banned from watching video from 4-pm-12pm in fact i cant even download anything i paid for..its this FUP bloody thing..a system designed to extort more money from you..internet rationing…

      • bobchewie Says:

        @greenman whats this ‘lack of evidence’ deniers are on they wear dark glasses?

    • bobchewie Says:

      so lets see now..holocaust was a hoax
      evolution was a hoax (cooked up by satan no less)
      and gw is a hoax

      but…the bodies in the those camps were rubber dummies
      an invisible man in the sky made the earth and everything
      and we have nothing to worry about weather wise-keep on consuming more and more…er right.
      glad thats sorted

  3. bobchewie Says:

    any damn excuse to blame it on the ‘other guy’…thats Faux Snooze for ya…hey wait! arent they pro business?? they want to put turbine companies out of business? hmm sounds like comyoonism to me..

  4. Nick Carter Says:

    Ahhh, but remember the video I sent you from the Onion! If we keep installing wind turbines, we run the risk of either increasing Earth’s rotation, or we could knock its position out of orbit altogether!

  5. mrsircharles Says:

    The UK Telegraph had a similar headline: “Wind farms can cause climate change, finds new study“. At least they mention in the article that this is a local impact. William M. Connolley wrote an article at about that Torygraph masterpiece => Supreme irony: wind farms can cause atmospheric warming, finds a new study?

    Here the original study in Nature. The Torygraph’s lurid headline, “wind farms can cause climate change” is of course misleading. Wind farms don’t cause climate change due to global warming. Science Daily has a good article about that study: Night-Warming Effect Found Over Large Wind Farms in Texas.

  6. An amazing lack of trolls on this one… have you worn them out Peter?

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