A Birthday, a Report, and a Prize

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Willis Carrier, inventor of the modern air conditioner

Happy birthday to Willis Carrier!  He invented modern air conditioning and changed the world.  In his quest for a device to control humidity in the Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing & Publishing Company in Brooklyn, New York, he invented a device that changed migration patterns in the United States and elsewhere.  The Southeastern US wouldn't have nearly as many people as it does were it not for the air conditioner.  And then he gave us the psychrometric chart!

Another thing Mr. Carrier's invention did is to help fuel global warming — in two ways.  Air conditioners run on electricity.  The compressors in AC units take quite a bit of energy.  That has meant a lot more burning of coal, the backbone fuel of the US for over a century, and a lot more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. 

And then there are the refrigerants.  These materials have amazing properties that allow us to move great quanitities of heat through precisely engineered phase changes.  But they have a dark side, too.  The early ones (CFCs) were banned because of their destructive effect on the ozone layer.  The replacements (HCFCs and HFCs) are being phased out because of their high global warming potential (GWP).  They can be a thousand or more times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

The report

The result is a warmer climate.  The image below is from the Fourth National Climate Assessment, which just came out on Friday.  The map at the top shows where we are now, a couple of centuries into the Industrial Revolution.  The lower maps show projections for the mid and late 21st century. 

Temperature in the US - current and projected (from the US climate change report, Nov. 2018;  click to open)

And if you're wondering how much the temperature has risen, climate scientist Gavin Schmidt recently posted this graph online:

Annual global temperature, 1880-2018  (from Gavin Schmidt, @ClimateofGavin on Twitter;  click for more)

It looks like we're in for a rough ride with the climate this century.  And I know some of you have trouble with the whole concept of climate change because it's been so heavily politicized, but this is happening now.  We're not talking about some far-off time in the future.  Flooding, droughts, fires... How much more evidence do we need?

You can read the report online.  If nothing else, take a look at the overview.  It includes discussion of the change that's happening now, what's coming in the future, how it affects the US economy, and what we can do to minimize future negative climate impacts. 

And to my conservative friends who just can't bring themselves to take this seriously, the US military certainly sees the risks that come with a changing climate.

The prize

The billionaire Richard Branson understands the significance of climate change and the role of air conditioning in it.  With countries like India adopting air conditioning on a massive scale, this is a huge issue.  So he's putting his money where his mouth is and offering a 3 million dollar prize for a new air conditioner that:

  • Has 5 times less climate impact (including refrigerant) than their baseline unit
  • Is no more than twice the cost
  • Runs on less than 700 watts at full load

He has a few other criteria as well, which you can see on their website.

Air conditioning in November?

I don't normally write about air conditioning once we get into heating season here in most of the US, but this is an important exception.  Besides, if I still lived in Florida or Louisiana or Texas, air conditioning season wouldn't be over.  It's year-round on the Gulf coast.  And my friends down under are just now at the beginning of their air conditioning season.

And what better day to discuss this than on Willis Carrier's birthday!

 

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Comments

I wouldn't call Willis Carrier the "inventor of modern air conditioning", any more than I would call the Wright brothers the inventor of the airplane. Carrier had some important contributions to the technology and probably had even more impact as a business man who founded what eventually became the largest air conditioning equipment manufacturer in the world. But if he and the Wright brothers never existed, I think that we would still have air conditioners and airplanes today.

Allison
Bailes

Well, Roy, I do agree with you...to a point.  Just because someone else would have come up with it later doesn't mean Carrier shouldn't get credit.  We give Isaac Newton credit for inventing the calculus even though Leibniz did so at the same time and for figuring out the universal law of gravitation even though Robert Hooke may have beat him to it.  Almost everything people have done would have been achieved by someone else at some point.  Einstein's general relativity jumps out at me as a possible exception but given all the other weird physics that's been developed since then, including some that got a lot of hype and is now seen simply as pretty mathematics.  (Yeah, I'm talking about string theory.)

But back to Willis, would you say he created the psychrometric chart?

I believe that there were versions of a similar psych chart before Carrier, but he made some improvements for the current one, which is the basis for all modern psych charts. There are some minor differences between the current charts, and in my opinion, ASHRAE has the best charts available. However, since these charts are mainly used to "visualize" processes or to get quick approximate results, the differences really are negligible.

Carrier's main contribution (in my opinion) was coming up with better methods for calculating heating and cooling loads so that equipment could be sized and selected properly. It is sad that with all of today's advanced load calculation software programs, people still do not take the time to do proper load calculations. Before Carrier, we didn't have good tools. Now we are just lazy.

We all know it was the Egyptians who invented A/C when they filled windows with water soaked reeds which would provide some cooling for occupants as the dry desert breeze passed by.

;)

I think that it is very misleading to say that Carrier "invented" modern air conditioning. His first big accomplishment was to figure out how to use a chilled water coil to dehumidify air in a printing plant in order to maintain constant humidity levels. The got the chilled water directly from a well. He later figured out that he could spray the cold water into an air stream to directly cool and dehumidify it without a heat exchanger. He developed the psych chart to help design these processes. Carrier had practically nothing to do with the development of the vapor-compression cycle which was known before his time. He (and his partners) did have a lot to do with the development of the centrifugal compressor. Don't get me wrong--he was a giant in the industry, both technically and as a business man. (Did you see in the news yesterday that United Technologies is spinning off Carrier as a separate business?)

The real irony is that civilization first developed better shelters and heating systems so that they could move north, then we developed air conditioning so that we could move back south. I remember back in the 1980's when some people tried to even move back into caves (earth-bermed homes).

The evaporation process for cooling and even freezing does go back to the times of the Pharaohs. Large slabs of granite that slid into and out of daily use rooms were slid out into the cold and dry desert night air to release heat absorbed into those slabs when they were slid inside of the rooms during the heat of the day. Also, straw was laid on top of shallow pools of water that absorbed and evaporated moisture over night causing the surface of the pools to drop below freezing and form a skim of ice. The ice would be collected before Sun up and stored in underground caves.
Still, we must give Willis Carrier credit for his putting together a lot of understood physics to create the mechanical process of cooling as we know it today. As for the psychometric chart; we love what we can do with it once we understand what we can do with it. Until that time; we fear it.

I've been reading quite a bit about these "projections". They have no basis in any reality. They are dystopian projections based on linear projections of more than worst case scenarios.
We've been down this path before. Similar projections were made several decades ago that turned out to be absolutely wrong; not even close to the reality of what actually occurred. By the thought process creating these projections, a 5 foot tall child who has grown 2 inches per year for five years running will be 9 foot 2 inches tall in twenty years.

Allison
Bailes

Well, I figured I'd see you in here with this article, Robin.  Just saying something isn't so because you don't agree with it doesn't prove anything, nor do straw man arguments.  All it does is display your ignorance of the matter.  If you have something specific to criticize about the report, let's hear it.

Not exactly Robin - simply because we know that giantism, according to https://www.barrowneuro.org/specialty/gigantism/, has only 100 reported cases in the United States. Climate projections, on the other hand have no such genetic controls. So, while I appreciate your skepticism your example is a poor one. If we could, in fact, count on a linear projection on being a worst case scenario, that would be great...unfortunately linear projections are not worst case scenarios. Exponential scenarios with compounding feedback loops are worst case scenarios. Hard to imagine, I know. Here's an example from your Chemistry 101 Professor: Water raises in temperature in a linear fashion from 33 degrees F to 111 degrees F and then BAM! Presto Chango...Water vapor! Linear argument vaporized. This is a chemical attribute attributable to all elements capable of phase change, which is to say all elements...

Allison, when you make sensationalizing strawman comments such as; "We're not talking about some far-off time in the future. Flooding, droughts, fires... How much more evidence do we need?" you should expect silly strawman comments in return. Even rational environmentalists don't want wildfires hyped as being due to climate change https://www.dailysignal.com/2018/11/21/climate-scientist-says-global-war...

The same applies to flooding and drought; all natural incidents that are no more prevalent today than they have been at times in the past. When we had a few hurricanes, those making noise about the world coming to an end predicted much worse and more hurricanes to come; it didn't happen. My criticism about the report was quite specific; it is purely speculation in the same vein that speculation has been done in the past, and proven by time to have been completely sci-fi fodder.

The HVAC industry has to fight issues created over speculation constantly due to government agencies and Progressive organizations keeping the masses in a constant state of confusion and fear over nature. To have one of our own feed the "man is in control of everything bad in nature, and it's mostly the HVAC industry at fault" does not help our industry. To reflect your own attitude; if there is something about that article that can be definitively defended without data manipulating speculation, let's hear it. No, Allison, I am not ignorant, I am realistic about the harm that gloom and doom predictions can do because there is quite a lot of historical evidence of it.

Allison
Bailes

Robin, you seem not to know what a straw man argument is so let me help you understand it.  Here's the definition from Wikipedia:

"A straw man is a common form of argument and is an informal fallacy based on giving the impression of refuting an opponent's argument, while actually refuting an argument that was not presented by that opponent."

You are welcome to dispute my claim about a link between climate change and floods, droughts, and fires.  Calling that claim a straw man is not a valid dispute because I didn't build a straw man.  When I point to a report on climate change and you make a silly analogy about linear extrapolation leading to 9 foot tall people, you've created a straw man.

And now in response to my saying you haven't offered any specific criticism, you answer, "My criticism about the report was quite specific; it is purely speculation in the same vein that speculation has been done in the past, and proven by time to have been completely sci-fi fodder." 

Hello?  I'm still looking for anything specific from you.  Have you read the report?  Since you also wrote that it has "no basis in any reality," I'm going to hazard a guess that you haven't even looked at it.  If you had, you'd know that it's filled with data from the past fifty years and more.  How is that "no basis in any reality"?

I'm sorry your mind is closed on this topic, Robin.  It's unfortunate that the issue has been politicized so heavily that people are willing to believe those with vested interests and partisans over scientists who have spent their careers gathering and analyzing data.  I don't imagine I'll ever change your mind on this.  The only reason I respond to you is because I want other readers to see the flaws in your arguments.

Allison
Bailes

You say flooding and drought are "no more prevalent today than they have been at times in the past."  Let's see what the data say.  From the report:  "Due to sea level rise, daily tidal flooding events capable of causing minor damage to infrastructure have already become 5 to 10 times more frequent since the 1960s in several U.S. coastal cities, and flooding rates are accelerating in over 25 Atlantic and Gulf Coast cities."  And they give references to the scientific data.  Check it out:  https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/chapter/2/#key-message-9.

Regarding drought, the report says:

"Although recent droughts and associated heat waves have reached record intensity in some regions of the United States, the Dust Bowl of the 1930s remains the benchmark drought and extreme heat event in the historical record, and though by some measures drought has decreased over much of the continental United States in association with long-term increases in precipitation (e.g., see McCabe et al. 2017113 ), there is as yet no detectable change in long-term U.S. drought statistics."

So yes, the data support your point on drought...for now.

I don't know where you got your information about people "making noise about the world coming to an end" because of hurricanes, but you might want to look for more scientific sources.  The truth about hurricanes is that there hasn't been any increase in the number of hurricanes but there have certainly been changes.  Warmer Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico water means storms can intensify more quickly, as has happened several times recently.  It also means rainfall from hurricanes has been greater.  Remember Harvey and Maria?  It's all in the report.

Allison,

Don't you find some of the projects as being over the top/unrealistic? I say this because of all the projections the one that gets the most press is the absolute worst case scenario (in terms of inputs) which is not only extremely unlikely to happen at let alone become catastrophic.

Example, See Figure 29.3 (Chapter 29 of the report). Everyone is talking about this one outlying scenario.

Allison, that's quite a graphic graphic posited by the inimitable Mr. Schmidt. Richard Branson's prize is laughable, though well intentioned. As of 2014 Americans spent approx. 22 billion a year on air conditioning. That's a ratio of .0000136 to one. The website for the competition has an investment and scaling committee, "The Investment and Scaling Committee will be made up of credible and influential individuals with expertise in angel investing, venture capital, technology incubation, demand aggregation, commercialization, and scaling."
If Richard Branson was serious he would at least remove a zero or two from the above ratio. In any event the idea that current AC efficiency is only 14% of it's theoretical maximum leaves some money on the table, so to speak. Branson's not a dummy, or an altruist.

I always get kick out of people talking about "theoretical maximum efficiencies". How is that defined? One way is to look at the Carnot COP between two constant temperature reservoirs: COPcarnot = TL/(TH - TL). Our main efficiency rating point for air conditioning equipment is 82 F (TH = 542 R) outdoors and 80 F (TL = 540 R) indoors. Plug that into the previous equation and you get that COPcarnot = 270, which when multiplied by 3.412 Btu/W-hr gives and EER of 921 Btu/W-hr. So I would claim that Branson's bunch are way overestimating the current efficiencies relative to the maximum. If you want to look at the 95 F outdoor condition and 75 F indoor condition (which is not a rating point), then EERcarnot = 91. This is in line with their logic. However, neither of these calculations take into account dehumidification, which also requires energy use in theory and practice. But putting all of that aside, someone (probably an "inventor", not a manufacturer) will come up with something and claim the prize. It will not get put into production for various technical, marketing, and economic reasons, but it will let Branson pat himself on the back and blame industry for being stupid and greedy. This reminds me of the mythical 100 mpg carburetor in the 70's during the oil crisis that was supposedly kept hidden by the oil companies.

My take on climate change - I, like tens of millions before me, migrated to Florida. I've been a student of dewpoint ever since, first as a way to quantify the miserable feeling, then to gain understanding of the roles of HVAC and building science.

The weather has changed, in a somewhat subtle way, since I moved south in 1995. We seem to have far fewer REALLY hot days, which I define, for the area anyway, as an afternoon high at or near 100 (dry bulb, of course).

Instead, we get more days in the low, sometimes low-mid 90s.

The other change has been a slight but significant increase in dewpoint. It used to run in a range of 71-73 all summer long. Now it runs 72-76. That subtle increase has unleashed or at least contributed to a boatload of moisture / humidity / mold / building science problems in our area.

It's good for business - there are literally 1000+ licensed HVAC contractors in the Jax metro area; understanding humidity, dewpoint, psychrometrics, etc and applying them to building science in the field is a way to differentiate our business.

Curt Kinder

Great post Allison! I really like how you brought these concepts together-so extremely important. Thanks for all that you do!

I was introduced to your blog today through a podcast I frequent. I appreciated what you gave us there. I am a 12hr a day hvac contractor in the southeast trying to better my family, community, and the world with the calling ive taken up. I believe you are seeking the same thing with you do. I would ask you to consider taking down this post. It is not scientific it is evangelistic. In the hvac world we are constantly fed three facts. Air conditioners use electricity. Air conditioners contain ozone destroying substances. The earth is gradually getting warmer. We are then asked to BELIEVE that the first two are causing the third. I suggest that if you want us to convert you preach more specific to how 1+2=3. Spend time explaining in laymans terms how this process actually happen. If you succeed at this you may actually save the world. Until then please keep preaching friction rate (or whatever it should be called)! Thanks for taking my comment

Allison
Bailes

Hello Bruce, welcome to the Energy Vanguard Blog!  I just finished listening to the interview Bryan Orr did with me for the HVAC School podcast, and I imagine that's the one you're referring to.  (For those who want to hear me discussing friction rate, duct design, and more, here's the link:  Friction Rate and Duct Design w/ Dr. Bailes.)  You're new here so I can overlook your saying that this post is "not scientific it is evangelistic."  Once you look around here a bit, you'll see that I do evangelize and proselytize and pontificate and preach from time to time.  If you don't like that, click away to another article on this site that won't get your hackles up.  (I've listed several for you at the bottom of this comment.)  Or just leave the site altogether.  I won't be offended, and I'm not trying to be offensive.

Now, let's take a look at your main statement:

"In the hvac world we are constantly fed three facts. Air conditioners use electricity. Air conditioners contain ozone destroying substances. The earth is gradually getting warmer."

First, yes air conditioners use electricity.  No doubt about it.  No one disputes that.

Second, your statement about ozone needs to be updated.  Since the Montreal Protocol was ratified in 1987, ozone-destroying refrigerants have been phased out.  We got rid of the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) first.  (When I was a teenager, I spent summers working with my grandfather, an HVAC contractor in Louisiana.  I watched him and my uncle hook up the gauges to many air conditioners and release Freon directly into the air.  That was SOP in the '70s.)  CFCs were replaced with hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), the main one being R-22.  Now the HCFCs are being phased out and replaced with HFCs, like R-410a. 

The CFCs were excellent at what they were designed for:  transferring heat through phase changes.  But yes, they did have a devastating effect on the ozone.  And the good news is that since they've been phased out, the ozone layer is healing.  When is the last time you saw anything in the news about the giant hole in the ozone layer that appears over the poles in the spring?  Yes, it still happens but since we've reduced the main ozone depleting substances, things are much better for the ozone layer.

Before we go on to your point number three, let that sink in.  Scientists identified an environmental problem.  A large group of stakeholders got together and developed a plan to fix it.  And now, lo and behold, it's working!

Now, your third point is that the planet is getting warmer.  Twenty years ago, climate change deniers disputed the warming.  They've mostly abandoned that line of attack because reasonable people cannot dispute the fact that the Earth is warming.  Look at the graph above from Dr. Gavin Schmidt.  Yes, the planet is warming.  A lot!

But it's not just warming.  The climate is changing in many, many ways.  Read the report from scientists in 13 different agencies in the US federal government.  It's got a lot of detail about how things have changed and how that change may extrapolate into the future in different scenarios.

And then you say:

"We are then asked to BELIEVE that the first two are causing the third."

I don't know who's been telling you this but you can certainly do some research on your own to see what the facts are.  You could, for example, check out the Fourth National Climate Assessment that just came out last week.  The overview might be a good place to start.  The truth is that there is a pretty good consensus among scientists that the changing climate is due to human activity.  And just as we discovered the ozone problem, implemented a solution, and now are seeing the ozone layer improve, the same can be true with climate change.

Or, if all this is just too much and you don't care to go any deeper, that's fine.  There's plenty more for you here.  Since you're an HVAC contractor in the Southeast, here are a few articles you might enjoy:

The Basic Principles of Duct Design, Part 1

Make Dew Point Your Friend for Humidity

Converting Heating and Cooling Loads to Air Flow - The Physics

What Happens to Air Flow in Ducts When Size Changes?

The Unintended Consequences of High-MERV Filters

In Praise of Those Who Do the Dirty Work

Heat Is a BTU-tiful Thing!

Allison
Bailes

Bruce, I thought of a couple more things I wanted to mention.  First, I didn't make the connection between ozone depleting substances and global warming.  When HCFCs replaced CFCs, they were great for the ozone but had an unfortunate side effect.  They were really bad for global warming.  R-22, for example, has a global warming potential of nearly 2,000.  That means it's nearly 2,000 times better at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.  That's why HCFCs are being phased out.

The other thing I wanted to mention is that the study of global warming and the effect of we humans on it goes back to the early 19th century.  The French mathematician and scientist Joseph Fourier kicked it off way back in 1827.  Here's an article I wrote about that:

The Science of Global Warming Is Older Than Quantum Mechanics

I understand that it's difficult to have your beliefs about the world challenged, especially if it seems an insult to your chosen career.  I simply ask that you open your mind a bit and consider alternative ideas.  And also, look at the facts.  Scientists have amassed a huge amount of data on this subject.  The report shows some of it.

Bruce. If you'd like hard data, the best, quick, visual data I can offer is the chart showing Arctic sea ice volume annually. Search google images "piomas arctic sea ice volume" Since satellite data was available 40 years ago this chart shows the sea ice volume annually, measured both in April and September. There is a very obvious downward trend.

Deniers reject this data. Claiming either that the data is flawed without saying why, or dismissive saying that ice comes and goes.

LOL! Bruce, please don't get put off by Allyson's brash attitude toward those of us motivated by rational and logical thought. It's good to see someone taking the heat off me :)
In a way, it is good that someone as respected in our industry as Allyson is to post such controversial drivel that continues to ooze from Progressive's whose goal is to keep us in a constant state of confusion and fear in order to con us out of billions of dollars through taxation and regulations. So, while I agree with your request, I must say it is better that we all know where one another stands on such subjects. Please consider standing your ground and keeping as open minded as possible. Allyson has made some good points on the subject I had not considered, even if he is a bit naive about how future predicting models are created to suite whatever the model maker wants the outcome to be. It is the same tactic used by Hollywood to create all of their future dystopian movies about how the world is going end up in gloom and doom if we don't "ACT NOW!.

Allison, here is another nitpick from me on your latest comment. R22 was banned because it was an HCFC that still had some ozone depletion potential (contains chlorine). It was replaced by R410A which is a mixture of HFC's that do not contain chlorine. Now there is concern about HFC's having high global warming potential which is why they are being phased out. The current candidates are other HFC's with lower GWP's and some newer HFO compounds with even lower GWP's. These newer chemicals have lower GWP's primarily because of their shorter atmospheric lifetimes, which means they breakdown faster when they leak to the atmosphere, i.e., they are less stable. Unfortunately, this also means that they tend to be flammable and have material compatibility issues. So what is going to happen in the future if and when we use HFO's, which break down in the atmosphere, possibly into HF (hydrogen fluoride or hydrofluoric acid?), and then get washed out of the atmosphere? Where does it go? What does it do? Do you remember acid rain? I guess that my point is that the environmentalists only look at one problem at a time and don't look at possible future side effects.

Allison
Bailes

Thanks for correcting me on the real reason for phasing out HCFCs, Roy.  I think I knew that at one point.

You say, "environmentalists only look at one problem at a time and don't look at possible future side effects."  I'd say inventors, R&D folks in industry, and others who have been on the forefront of all the technological progress we've seen are in the same boat.  Do you think Kettering, Midgley, et al. considered side effects of CFCs?  I think as a whole, humans are pretty blind to what might happen in the future?

Allison, let me pick on your last statement first, that "humans are pretty blind to what might happen in the future". We have a consensus now that the world is going to end due to climate change if we don't do something now. This is all based on models predicting the future impact of atmospheric CO2 on climate, more specifically, on global warming. Perhaps we are blind to what might happen in the future, but apparently "most" of us don't think so.

So when we started phasing out refrigerants due to ozone depletion in the 90's, who was looking at possible effects (like global warming) due to the replacement refrigerants? I am not an atmospheric scientist, but I have brought up one possible side effect of the lower-GWP replacement refrigerants. But I haven't heard anything from the atmospheric scientists or environmentalists about these concerns. I don't claim to be that smart or clairvoyant, but back in the late 80's when we were looking for alternatives to the CFC's because of ozone depletion, there were many of us (including me) who said that we should just switch to "natural" refrigerants, like propane, and truly minimize any potential impact on the environment. We raised that issue again during the HCFC (R22) phaseout and now during the HFC phaseout. When I say "we", I mean some researchers in our industry, not the environmentalists or atmospheric scientists. I believe that these two groups actually look forward to solving one issue and creating another so that they will have a future cause. I will admit that having to implement new refrigerants every 10 years has kept me gainfully employed, but I would rather be doing other things.

Allison
Bailes

Good points, Roy.  There's a lot of truth in that old saying, "The main cause of problems is solutions."

Roy, I seem to be mostly in your camp of thought on this issue. I have always been opposed to dumping chemicals into the atmosphere just because it's akin to peeing in the pool. We still do not absolutely know for certain that refrigerants have been having the affect on the atmosphere that has been claimed, but we also don't know what affects these chemicals have at all. I am on the side of prevention over cure. As we obviously cannot find a cure for what chemicals make effective refrigerants that have no adverse affects on nature, I side with focusing more on containment of refrigerants rather than blindly creating new ones that we don't know what they may do or using known refrigerants that are more hazardous for general safety issues.
Being a proponent of capitalism, I also understand that the main drive for constantly using fear tactics to generate funding is one of the most effective, but what are the actual gains to all involved? Obviously, those receiving such funding are able to become quite wealthy in the environmentalism industry, but what have been the benefits to those of us being forced to provide that funding? Let's be realistic; the regulations have caused more refrigerants to be released into the atmosphere than they have prevented such leakage. With little to non-existent policing of the costly regulations put on the HVAC industry, technicians have simply been more defiant about abiding by them. Let's take the regulation that requires disposable cylinders having stop valves in them to prevent putting refrigerant back into them during a charge process. We used to adjust the charge up by installing refrigerant into a system and then backing off on the charge a little by putting a slight overcharge back into the containers when we went too far with the charge. This method made it the most time effective for charging a system. Now, if we add a little too much charge, we cannot put any of that charge back into the container and are "supposed" to drag out a recovery machine and tank to recover the overcharge. That is what the regulations require. That is not what happens in the real world. In the real world, the term diminimus release takes full advantage of our never having had what diminimus is actually defined as and the over charge gets purged off into the atmosphere. And those responsible really don't care as long as they can keep getting funding for making even more regulations that are not being adhered to in real life. There are so many regulations that have caused more of the problems they are designed to prevent because they are costly to abide by. Now, once again, regulations have succeeded only in causing more people to commit criminal activities all for the sake of justifying those using fear factors to be able to obtain more funding.
The bottom line is that the environmentalist industry has not succeeded in doing anything they claim to have set out to do about reducing the amount of refrigerants being released into the atmosphere.

Allison
Bailes

Robin, you have a bad habit of casually throwing out statements as absolute truth when they're not.  Here are some examples from this most recent comment of yours:

  • "We still do not absolutely know for certain that refrigerants have been having the affect on the atmosphere that has been claimed..."

Scientists established a clear link between CFCs and ozone depletion.  They measured concentrations and accumulation rates and figured out the chemistry.  Three of the scientists involved even got the Nobel Prize for their work.  (https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/chemistry/1995/press-release)  Getting rid of CFCs has helped the ozone layer recover.  But maybe you're relying on the word "absolutely" because scientific results always come with uncertainties.  An intentional misunderstanding of scientific uncertainty is one of the favorite tricks of climate change deniers.

  • "Being a proponent of capitalism, I also understand that the main drive for constantly using fear tactics to generate funding is one of the most effective..."

I don't think you understand what capitalism is all about.

  • "Obviously, those receiving such funding are able to become quite wealthy in the environmentalism industry..."

You can't seriously believe this?!  Name one person who's gotten rich as an environmentalist.  Not a rich person who is an environmentalist but one who got rich by being an environmentalist.  They don't exist.

  • "Let's be realistic; the regulations have caused more refrigerants to be released into the atmosphere than they have prevented such leakage."

Again, there's no evidence for this whatsoever.  The truth is the opposite.  Do you think the concentrations of these substances haven't been the subject of intense monitoring over the past four decades?  Let's be reailistic, Robin.  I have no doubt that some techs are indeed releasing refrigerant into the air.  But you know what?  The current refrigerants don't destroy ozone the way Freon 11 and 12 did in the old days and I doubt the quantities released are anywhere near what they used to be.  I worked with my grandfather, an HVAC contractor, and I can't tell you how many times I saw him and my uncle hook up gauges and release all the refrigerant in a system directly into the air.  That was how everyone did it back in the '70s when I worked with him.

  • "And those responsible really don't care as long as they can keep getting funding for making even more regulations that are not being adhered to in real life."

You've been reading too many conspiracy theories if you think research grants are really the prime motivation for scientists.  I spent years in research environments and know a lot of people who still do that work.  These people dedicate their lives to the pursuit of understanding the world.  I find it repugnant for you or anyone else to say they're doing it for the money.  It also defies logic because they could make far more money by working in the private sector. 

The other thing wrong with this statement of yours is that scientists may help to inform the policy making side, but they're not the ones who make and implement regulations.

The bottom line is that once again you have come here and thrown out a lot of stuff that's not true, statements that demonstrate not only a misunderstanding of science but an intentional twisting of the truth.  And you've provided no evidence for any of it because you don't have it.  Yes, I'm sure you could post some links to conspiracy theories from right-wing websites.  You might be able to find an out-of-context quote from one or two actual scientists.  You might even find something from a reputable source showing that something I've said is wrong.  But instead you've just spouted off, making stuff up or repeating things you read or heard.

Yes, I understand the difficulties that human impact on the planet has caused the HVAC industry.  It's a whole lot easier if you don't have to capture used refrigerant, don't keep changing refrigerants, and don't have to continually understand the new equipment that goes with new refrigerants.  I understand how it's easy for people who deal with that to want to blame someone and wish to go back to "the old days."  And I can see how it might be easy for people who spend their whole days in the field or running a business to be swayed by people with an agenda telling you that all your troubles are because of the greedy scientists and environmentalists.

But going against science is a tricky path for those in the HVAC world.  It might work for Luddites but the HVAC industry depends on science and engineering.  If you don't look at the actual science, how would you know if you're being misled? 

I'm not saying that anyone who doesn't agree with me is an idiot.  I'm happy to be shown that I'm wrong when that's the case, and RoyC has done that more than once.  All I ask is that if you come here to dispute something, please have your facts ready.

I am also a climate change skeptic. Here are my thoughts:

Our global large scale use of fossil fuels along with deforestation has clearly raised the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere over the past 100 years from about 280 to 400 ppm. Is this significant? I don't know.

During this time, is the Earth warming due to this increase in CO2 and other new greenhouse gases such as our current refrigerants? I don't know. I have seen the temperature data, but keep in mind that these data are generated from annual averages of temperatures around the globe. So you have flocal temperatures that can vary by over 100 F throughout the year, and geographical temperature variations of over 100 F at any given point in time. From that data, scientists make claims about "measured" global warming over past decades and even centuries. Keep in mind that their measurement methods (ground stations, satellite thermography, ice core samples, etc.) are also changing during these time periods. So I do have some skepticism about the "noise" around these measurements which is rarely discussed with the general public.

As for climate modeling, that appears to be a very complex field. I have done a lot of air conditioning system modeling in the past, and we still have issues with accuracy on this much simpler problem that we can test in the lab. Note that the most significant greenhouse gas is water, not CO2, and think about how complex it is to model atmospheric water content around the world over time. I have no doubt that the atmospheric scientists are doing the best that they can, but I have been in the research business long enough to know that if you want to keep working on your current problem, you had better show that it has significant consequences for additional funding. Nearly every research report in very field ends with suggestions for future research. I am not accusing anyone of cheating or lying. This is just human nature, and scientists are human.

Unfortunately, we cannot verify these models in the lab, so we have to wait for the real-time experiment that is currently in progress to be completed, perhaps with disastrous results. I have always been a proponent of energy efficiency, and will continue to do so for economic reasons. Unfortunately, we might have started this problem in the U.S., assuming that there is one, but we cannot solve it here. The rest of the world is and will continue to generate more greenhouse gases regardless of what we do in the U.S. and Europe. That does not mean that we should quit trying, but we should not do stupid things in the short term just to look "green".

So I am a climate change skeptic, not a denier. It bothers me greatly that so many people refuse to allow debate on this topic, or ridicule those that do.

Talk about being a denier of something! Al Gore left the Vice Presidency worth 1.7 million dollars when he entered the environmentalist industry. Al is now worth 100 million dollars. No, the environmental drones who are so naive to believe the environmental industry is not a major money making scam are not getting wealthy, but the leaders of environmental organizations are and so are politicians who receive funding from those organizations for passing more environmental regulations. The environmental industry is now costing in the trillions of dollars worldwide, and many in that industry are getting very wealthy from taxes imposed on the working class of the world.

Joe, the terms "Climate Change" and "Global Warming" "deniers" are terms that have been manufactured to make it sound like rational and logical thinking people who have the ability to see with their own eyes that none of the claims about what global warming and climate change were supposed to do to us over the past 40 years simply has not happened; not even close, are denying something that has been shown to be true. If fact, the terms "global warming" and "Climate change" are silly terms to create fear in folks about what has been occurring in nature long before mankind ever existed on planet Earth. Of course there is global warming. Global warming has been occurring steadily, with a few hundreds of years set back periods, since the beginning of the end of the last Ice Age some 11,700 years ago and has not actually ended. Global warming is a natural fact; period. Is mankind affecting change in global warming? Maybe, maybe not. It does not really change anything because the temperature of the Earth changes. Global temperatures have been much warmer than they are today, and all life on Earth does much better during those warmer global periods. So global warming is no big deal other than it will do more good than not.
The Climate Change hype is even sillier. Of course there is climate change. Climate has been changing worldwide since the Earth first formed and will continue to change. It is our perception of what climate change is that causes us fear and confusion. At the heart of all of the fear and confusion are environmentalists.
How about this one; if mankind is indigenous to planet Earth, everything we do is natural. In fact, even if mankind is not indigenous to planet Earth, we are still part of the nature of the Universe. Does anyone believe some river otter is whining about how river otters affect a lake being held back by an abandoned beaver dam? How about the beavers who turned a forest with a creek running through it into the lake in the first place? We need to stop thinking we can control nature and focus more on living with nature. That does include not polluting the air, water and ground. That means we should be focused on containment of products we use rather than constantly creating new products. The ancestry of those who blindly follow environmental model makers predicting dire futures are those who feared nuclear energy. Even earlier ancestors of them feared electricity and before that; fire.
I suppose the biggest concern of followers is who we choose to follow to shepherd us into the future. Following shepherd's who demand we give them masses amounts of money and allow them to rule over us, controlling every aspect of our lives with not one prediction of theirs having come to fruition, is naive insanity down a negative path. I choose to try my best to follow whatever entity it is that designed the nature of the Universe and provided us with natural laws of physics. Our use of science is to understand nature, not control it.

Allison
Bailes

Nice try, Robin, but once again you're regrettably uninformed.  Gore started with a family farm and royalties from a zinc mine (1).  After leaving public office in the year 2000, he founded an investment firm that's done very well (2).  In 2013, he made $70 million when he sold a media company he started in 2004 (3).  And then there's all the money he's made as a member of Apple's board of directors (4).

Oh, and if you want to talk about all the money he's made from his films and books, it might interest you to learn that all the profits from those were donated to the Climate Reality Project.

Again, you might want to look for better information sources, Robin.

Sources

  1. http://business.financialpost.com/news/how-al-gore-amassed-a-200-million...
  2. http://www.barrons.com/articles/al-gore-is-winning-at-investing-1488493210
  3. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/al-gores-current-tv-sold-407573
  4. https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2003/03/19Former-Vice-President-Al-Gore-J...
Allison
Bailes

JoeD,

Thanks for jumping in with some very good arguments from a skeptic's point of view.  If I read your comment correctly, your problems with the climate change debate are:

  1. The data showing a rise global average temperatures are not accurate enough for us to know with high confidence that global temperatures really are rising.
  2. Climate modeling is complex and inaccurate.
  3. Scientists are subject to the flaws and biases of human nature and may be finding results that support the direction they want to keep going in.

All good points.  We could go deeper into each one and discuss scientific uncertainty, measurement techniques, data analysis, modeling assumptions, peer review, scientific deadends, and more.  For me, this all comes down to whom you choose to believe. 

I don't have the time or the background knowledge to digest all of the climate data, analysis, and conclusions that climate scientists have published.  My guess is that you don't either.  Those of us who aren't doing a deep dive into the data, thus, have to base our opinions about this topic on summaries written by others.  The closer the authors of those summaries are to the actual scientific work, the more accurate those summaries are. The contrapositive is also true:  The further you get from the source, the less accurate the summary. 

The basic question then comes down to whether or not we should believe close-to-the-source summaries.  You lay out some good reasons to question the results.  And you're right about the last one:  Human nature does influence the behavior of scientists.  Take string theory.  I used to go to a lot of physics seminars and went to several on that topic.  I wasn't a theorist and didn't understand all the math, but some aspects of string theory seemed unscientific to me.  One of the basic tenets of science is that the ideas are able to be confirmed or not by experiment and it seems I recall some parts of string theory weren't testable.  But string theory caught on and the bandwagon effect gave it momentum.

Is that what's happening with climate change?  Maybe.  Time will tell.  The science of climate change started at least as early as 1827 when Joseph Fourier calculated that the Earth should be significantly colder than it is but the atmosphere traps heat to keep it warmer.  A lot of work on the subject has been done in the intervening 191 years.  Here's why I believe they're on the right track:

  • Yes, there may be uncertainty in temperature measurements, but there's so much more evidence that the Earth is warming.  Glaciers are melting.  Sea ice is getting thinner.  Sea levels are rising.  Permafrost is melting, putting a lof buildings in arctic regions at risk as well as creating other problems.
  • Carbon dioxide concentrations have increased significantly in the past couple of centuries, primarily as a result of burning fossil fuels.
  • The role of CO2 in trapping heat in the Earth's atmosphere seems clear.
  • Yes, modeling climate change has enormous complexity, but so does modeling hurricanes and other weather events.  Meteorologists don't get it all right, but their track record is pretty good.

So I choose to believe the close-to-the-source summaries that climate change is real, it's caused by humans, and it's a threat. 

You go on believing the hype about Gore, Allison. The facts are that Gore was worth 1.7 million before getting into the environmental business and is now worth 100 million, which much of it is from large investments being able to be made from the money he scammed from his completely debunked claims about climate change and global warming. You are the proverbial horse that can be led to water that you refuse to drink. Where do you believe the trillions of dollars that have been extorted from governments around the world through taxation have gone that have been allocated to the environmental industry? The money goes to creating more lies about current climate issues such as regional droughts, floods and temperature swings, to political leaders who support regulations that support the environmental organizations who have provided their campaign moneys. Then there are people like Al Gore and Michael Moore whose lifestyles prove what environmental hypocrites they are who keep getting richer as tax provided moneys flow their way to produce propaganda films geared to entice more well meaning liberals to support more efforts for man to play God with nature.
So tell us, Allison; where has the now over a trillion dollars allocated to the environmentalist industry gone if not only to promote more falsified models to continue to keep naive people in a constant state of confusion and fear about nature and to in the pockets of those at the top of the environmentalist industries food chain?
It did not elude me that in another of your religiously hyped threads about mankind being the culprit for nature's negatives, you ignored my question about ground level ozone being claimed by the EPA to be smog and that ozone simply cannot do many of the things claimed by the EPA since ozone is so volatile it has a half life of only 45 minutes at 70 degrees Fahrenheit and therefore can only even exist when continually being created, mostly by sunlight interacting with VOC's, whether produced by mankind or by nature. Let's look at how many blatant lies and deceits have been spewed out, regurgitated by other organizations for financial gain and ignored by defenders of mankind's alleged ability to control nature on a global level, when those lies are shown to be completely bogus. Just how many times do you need to be lied to before you start thinking for yourself? Or; is this just another situation where one should simply follow the money to find out why?

Robin, I reject the idea that what we (mankind) does is "natural" and thus can't hurt the planet. We have had a bad history of locally polluting our water and air with very serious short-term effects, and we passed laws to reduce or eliminate this pollution with great success. For the most part, this has been good for everyone and I hear no one complaining about it, with the exception of some cases where we may have gone overboard with these regulations. So our history shows that we can damage the environment and we can fix it. But we must be reasonable. "Climate Change" is a difficult topic because it is harder to see the direct impact, and if there is one, it will be very difficult to solve due to the time scales involved.

Allison, I agree that "climate change" is real. It has been happening for the past zillions of years so I am sure that it will be for the foreseeable future. Is it man-made? I don't know. Is it a threat? I don't know.

I can remember the first presentation that I saw on "global warming" (before they changed the name to "climate change") at ASHRAE. The presenter showed the famous graph of temperature and CO2 cyclical fluctuations over the past zillion years as was obtained from ice core samples in the arctic, if I remember correctly. What I immediately noticed from this graph was that the CO2 fluctuations lagged the temperature fluctuations, which is an indicator that temperature changes have a direct impact on CO2 levels, not visa-versa. This is what resulted in my initial skepticism that CO2 changes CAUSE temperature changes as predicted by the current models. I am sure that there is a relationship, but it is not clear to me as to the actual interaction. There are clearly some "negative feedback" mechanisms in our atmosphere that have kept our planet from going completely unstable and either turning into a global ice ball or steam bath. Since the current atmospheric scientists seem to be using these models to predict through extrapolation that we will spin out of control (warming?) if we don't do something now, I continue to have my skepticism. During this ASHRAE presentation, I was sitting next to an old friend, Victor Goldschmidt, who made the same observation on the cause/effect relationship that I saw. He has since spent a lot of time looking closer at the data as it has developed and is now an ASHRAE Distinguished Lecturer and gives talks on this topic that I find to be quite interesting, especially since I have always respected his other work that he has presented at ASHRAE. For any of you that are involved with a Local ASHRAE Chapter, I recommend that you invite him to speak at your chapter via the ASHRAE Distinguished Lecturer program.

Allison
Bailes

Robin, you're embarrassing yourself.  Apparently your mind is so locked down that you have no capacity for understanding when it comes to this topic.  So you don't even believe business publications like Barron's and the Financial Post because they disagree with your dogma? 

Nobody wants to read your rants here, Robin.  Either learn how to say something useful, as JoeD did above, or stick to topics you can converse on intelligently.  That may sound harsh but you're so predictable and dogmatic and wrong on the topic of climate change, it would be better for you to see what you can do to repair your reputation here.

Robin, you said, "The facts are that Gore was worth 1.7 million before getting into the environmental business and is now worth 100 million..."

Allison provided information on where Al Gore earned his money. How he donated money earned from his environmental work. You call this information "hype" but provide no other information to dispute it. The horse you see not drinking is looking at you from a mirror.

Joe, I was being snarky with the man being part of nature comment. I agree with you that it is irresponsible to pollute when polluting can be avoided, and when we do pollute, we need to take responsibility for cleaning up our mess that affects all of nature. Ironically, when we are irresponsible, we do the most harm to ourselves. Nature heals from our destructiveness a lot better than we do.

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