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Venus And Stephen Hawking’s Scientific Illiteracy

Luboš Motl, The Reference Frame

Just a few decades ago, a scientist who would say something like Stephen Hawking would mock himself so much that he would completely lose all credibility and become a joke everyone laughs at. But these days, saying nonsense like that is apparently normal.


Five days ago, Stephen Hawking – or someone who has hacked his computerized speech generator – has told us that Donald Trump is a supervillain who will transform the Earth to another Venus with temperatures at 250 °C and sulfuric acid rains.

Wow. Now, every intelligent 10-year-old kid must know why this possibility is non-existent, why the statement is nonsense. Some scientists including Roy Spencer have pointed out how absurd these Hawking’s statements were from a scientific viewpoint.

But lots of the scientists who have paid lip service to the lies about the so-called global warming or climate change in the past have remained silent and confirmed that their scientific dishonesty has no limits. I despise all the climate alarmists who know that statements like that are absurd but who hide this fact because a lie like that could be helpful for their profits or political causes. You know, what these jerks and the people who tolerate these jerks’ existence haven’t quite appreciated is that it is only lies that may be helpful for them.

Now, there are exceptions. Zeke Hausfather, a US Berkeley climatologist, has been an alarmist but he has pointed out that he realizes that Hawking’s statement is just junk:

However, I disagree with Hausfather’s assertion that this statement by Hawking’s is outside Hawking’s field of expertise. It is some rather basic physics combined with the basic knowledge of the outer space that should be known to 10-year-old boys who attend physics lectures at the elementary school. It isn’t or shouldn’t be outside Stephen Hawking’s expertise because Hawking is a physicist and one who has studied the outer space. I think it’s right to say that Stephen Hawking has shown a rudimentary ignorance about his field, physics.

A reader has asked me “why Venus is special”. But Venus isn’t special in any general sense. Or if we said that Venus is special, almost every planet would be special. A more sensible assertion is that every planet is completely different. It has a completely different chemistry than others. It has a completely different temperature than others, mostly due to the completely different distance from the Sun.

I really think that it’s a shame that kids and even adults don’t reliably know these basic things. […]

But the connection between Venus and Donald Trump is yet another level of Hawking’s stunning stupidity. Donald Trump may be the U.S. president but he’s not a dictator controlling life on Earth, not even life in the U.S. The Americans are increasing or decreasing their consumption of fossil fuels in various ways – some people grow the economy, others are unhinged green lunatics, and so on – in ways that don’t depend on the identity of a guy in the White House much.

What one U.S. president may do is to change the U.S. emissions by 5% in one direction or another during his 8-year tenure. But the U.S. is just about 1/5 of the world so this would amount to the change of the world emissions by 1% during these 8 years. During these 8 years, 4 ppm per year times 8 = 32 ppm is being emitted by the mankind to the atmosphere. 1% of that, as I just explained, which Trump may affect is just 0.32 ppm. The greenhouse effect from 120 ppm that we’ve added since the industrial revolution could have been 0.7 °C of warming. But 0.32 ppm is 375 times less than 120 ppm so you expect 375 times less warming than 0.7 °C from that, about 0.002 °C.

A U.S. president like Donald Trump has the capacity to change the temperature of the Earth by 0.002 °C in one way or another, not by hundreds of degrees that would be needed to make Earth more similar to Venus. Can you see the difference between 0.002 °C and 200 °C? It is the same five damn orders of magnitude that I have mentioned as the ratio of CO2 in the atmospheres. Is Stephen Hawking or the hacker of his computer unable to distinguish the numbers 200 and 0.002?

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see also: BBC News 2001: Scientists criticise Hawking ‘hype’