Open Letter to Senator James Inhofe from Solving Tornadoes

To Senator James Inhofe

Dear Senator,

H.L. Mencken said, “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple…and wrong.”

The purpose of this letter is to convince you to sanction a very simple and inexpensive experiment. The experiment will show something that is counter intuitive to you and to everybody: there is no such thing as cold steam.

All meteorologists believe in cold steam and, frankly, so does just about everybody else, including yourself most likely. For most of us this belief is inconsequential but for meteorologists this belief renders them feckless in their efforts to understand and mitigate large, destructive tornadoes. I am contacting you (and only you) because I believe you are the one person who can both understand this issue and do something about it.

More precisely, all meteorologists believe in one or both of two notions: 1) that moist air is lighter than dry air and is, therefore, more buoyant, causing it to convect up through dry air, like a hot air balloon, to power storms and tornadoes and/or 2) that as moist air rises it goes through a phase change as it condenses, producing latent heat and, somehow, this latent heat provides the power of storms.

The more one looks at the details of these notions the more these details, seemingly, evaporate. The first of these two notions is known as convection or buoyant convection.  It is based on the known fact that the molecular weight of H2O, 18, is lighter than that of dry air, 29.  Consequently (and in congruence with ideal gas laws, most notably Avogadro’s law) parcels of air that contain cold steam would be lighter. However, due to the fact that H2O only makes up about 2% of such parcels of clear, humid air, the difference in calculated weight between a parcel of dry vs clear, humid air is much less dramatic, between 0.6% to 1%. As you can imagine, this fact is not something that meteorologists emphasize to the public.

For the second of these two notions, latent heat, the substantive aspect of their argument is even more obscure.  Beyond the description provided above, how latent heat supposedly powers uplift is never explained. Moreover, try as you might, you will not find a meteorologist that can explain how or if latent heat has ever been detected in our atmosphere.

Not having access to laboratory equipment, there are aspects to the proposed experiment that make it difficult for an individual like myself.  But these difficulties are not the reason I would not attempt this experiment myself. The reason I would not attempt this experiment myself is because even if I did nobody would care or even notice, most notably yourself. It is for this reason I want to convince you to sanction somebody you trust to do this experiment.

Like yourself, I have been a long time critic of the global warming hypothesis. For me it started on an internet discussion forum (alt.gobal-warming) in 2006.  I asked what I thought was a straightforward question regarding how CO2 Forcing was measured/calculated. In response a link was posted to a webpage on the IPCC website.  The information on the webpage that was so obscure it was almost indecipherable. Eventually I realized that it indicated that CO2 Forcing was not measured/calculated at all. CO2 Forcing was (and still is) nothing but an arbitrarily chosen variable that gets plugged into a GCM (General Circulation Model). I revealed this on the discussion group and made a fuss about it that drew considerable attention from the other participants. I never did get any resolution of the matter from the person that posted the link but apparently my effort did not go unnoticed because a few days later the webpage in question disappeared from the IPCC website.

I consider the concept of cold steam in meteorology to be equivalent of CO2 Forcing in climatology.  Both of them have only anecdotal support. In this respect, however, there is one difference. The fact that CO2 Forcing has never been tested and probably never will be tested is because it will never be concisely defined by the people that maintain its scientific validity.  In contrast, cold steam’s denotation does not depend on cooperation from meteorologists and it is in no need of being more concisely defined than it already is. Moreover, the actual testing does not necessarily have to involve meteorologists whatsoever.

All I’m asking for is fair consideration of my hypothesis on tornadogenesis and tornado mitigation.  I now realize that this will never happen as long as the belief in cold steam persists. The public won’t stop believing in cold steam as long as the assigned experts, meteorologists, refuse to acknowledge the issue and meteorologists aren’t going to do anything to upset the status quo.

Senator, you are the only person that has both the technical expertise to understand the issue and the power to do something about it.

Kindest Regards,

Jim McGinn
Solving Tornadoes

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