The 4hiroshimas app – propaganda of the worst kind

The kidz at Skeptical Science (SkS) have made fools of themselves again, creating an app that is not only morally wrong, but the clearest case of science propaganda disguised as climate information I’ve ever seen.

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First, one wonders what the people of Hiroshima think about the tragedy of war that befell their city being used as a unit of measure for propaganda today? Would they see that as demeaning and insulting to those who lost their lives? You can thank scientist turned activist Dr. James Hansen for making the ugly comparison.

UPDATE: commenter TamLin adds at the Guardian

TamLin 25 November 2013 4:24pm

I’d like to raise a couple of points. First, as an anti-alarmist, I am very glad to see the appearance of this widget, because I am reasonably sure the whole thing will be an own-goal for the CAGW movement that will hasten the end.

Secondly, as a resident alien in Japan for the past 30-odd years, I have a keen appreciation of the general Japanese sensibility about the atomic bombings. The issue of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings has developed what could be described as a “sacred or religious” aura” in this country that makes it totally off limits for purposes of comparison, allegory or humor. This app breaks that taboo in a way that most Japanese people would find deeply offensive just as most Jewish people find inappropriate references to the Holocaust offensive and many devout Muslims found The Satanic Verses and many devout Christians found Piss Christ offensive.

Certainly, one could argue that nobody has the right not be offended or that nobody need be offended by such things. But that’s not the point. The whole point is that many ordinary people do get offended, and often much more deeply offended than an outsider would imagine. Also, there are organizations and other vested interests that will make a point of being offended.

If its a question of winning hearts and minds, using Hiroshima in an app of this kind is like walking into a minefield PR disaster-wise, particularly when it comes to Japan. At the very least, it reveals to people a whiff of something decidedly unpleasant about the nature of the alarmist movement, something that people may not be clearly aware of but that is nonetheless palpable to many of us outside the movement.

Second, for people that don’t understand how much energy the Earth receives each day, “4 atomic bombs per second” sounds frightening, even terrifying. That’s exactly what they are counting on, and that’s why this is pure propaganda. But here’s the reality of the numbers and they aren’t frightening at all.

1 ton of TNT = 4.184e+9 joules (J) source

Hiroshima bomb = 15 kilotons of TNT = 6.28e+13 joules (ibid)

Hansen says increase in forcing is “400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs per day”, which comes to 2.51e+19 joules/day.

A watt is a joule per second, so that works out to a constant additional global forcing of 2.91e+14 watts.

Normally, we look at forcings in watts per square metre (W/m2). Total forcing (solar plus longwave) averaged around the globe 24/7 is about 500 watts per square metre.

To convert Hansen’s figures to a per-square-metre value, the global surface area is 5.11e+14 square metres … which means that Hansens dreaded 400,000 Hiroshima bombs per day works out to 0.6 watts per square metre … in other words, Hansen wants us to be very afraid because of a claimed imbalance of six tenths of a watt per square metre in a system where the downwelling radiation is half a kilowatt per square metre … we cannot even measure the radiation to that kind of accuracy. (calculation by Willis Eschenbach here)

So “4 atomic bombs per second” translates to about 1/100 th of the energy emitted by a 60 watt refrigerator lightbulb per square meter of the Earth’s surface. Scary, huh? Compare that to this calculation:

Hiroshima was ca. 63 TJ = 6E13J.

The earths circular area is 3 * (6E6m)^2 = 1E14m2.

The suns TSI is ca 1kW = 1E3 J/s, so the earth gets ca 1E17 J/s on the sunlit side, so the sun explodes about 1E17/6E13 = 1E3

1000 Hiroshima atomic bombs on this planet. EVERY SECOND. (h/t bvdeenen)

So the energy difference is 4/1000th of what the total energy received on earth is each second. Not so scary now is it?

UPDATE2: Barry Woods adds in comments that Cook decided privately on the SkS private forum to go for the “impressive” measure of 3 nuclear bombs per second. There is no question that Cook created the app for propaganda purposes.

Barry Woods says:

quote for you (from the SkS private forum, made visible by an admin screwup)

John Cook:

Comment, that’s a lot of energy! I asked various climate scientists for quotes on global warming and Scott Denning gave me this:

“Doubling CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere would add 4 watts to every square meter of the Earth’s surface. This is equivalent to running a child’s night light on every square meter permanently.”.

Somehow, 3 nuclear bombs per second sounds a lot more impressive than a child’s night light! – John Cook

[Wood] Scott Denning sounds like a scientist to me (whilst also being concerned about climate, scientist) – John Cook (or was it Hansen first), not so much, more like ‘misinformation’..

Third, the imagery connection (note the app has a mushroom cloud) is absolutely wrong. Dr. Richard Tol writes in comments at the Guardian

Godwin’s Law now extends to apps.

Metaphors create an image. Few people would associate “Hiroshima” with energy. A more common association is death and devastation. The atom bomb instantly killed 70,000-80,000 people. The image created by this app is that climate change kills 300,000 people per second. That is patently wrong.

This abuse of one of the most atrocious events in human history insults those who perished there and then and their loved ones who survived.

Fourth, others who are in the thick of climate science see the same imagery problem, here is a Twitter exchange from John Cook, the developer of the app and Dr. Doug McNeall from the Met Office on the issue (h/t to Barry Woods):

Dr Doug McNeall (Met Office) had some interesting comments about this – via twitter (my bold)

John Cook ‏@skepticscience

New website about our planet global warming at 4 Hiroshima bombs worth of heat per second http://4hiroshimas.com/ pic.twitter.com/7ZUkThicem

Doug McNeall ‏@dougmcneall

@skepticscience Hi John, as I said before, I think this is a silly way to describe warming: meaningless, and a bit shrill.

Doug McNeall ‏@dougmcneall

@AGrinsted thing is, @skepticscience knows that this is a poor comparison – it’s been pointed out before.

Doug McNeall ‏@dougmcneall

@AGrinsted @skepticscience > because climate change is nothing like atom bombs.

Doug McNeall ‏@dougmcneall

@AGrinsted @skepticscience But, actually, the comparison makes the information available to the public *poorer*, >

Doug McNeall ‏@dougmcneall

@AGrinsted @skepticscience So, , what do we have – a nice soundbite that gets picked up by msmand touted around a bit.

I think in the next tweet, Dr Doug McNeall, echoes Prof Richard Tol’s concerns earlier….

Doug McNeall ‏@dougmcneall

@AGrinsted My problem is that the association of death and destruction is also easy to grasp.

Doug McNeall ‏@dougmcneall

@AGrinsted @skepticscience Doing it in a way that holds deep and terrible cultural resonances with millions of people is not great.

That last comment “Doing it in a way that holds deep and terrible cultural resonances with millions of people is not great.” capsulizes the lack of empathy that Mr. Cook and the SkS seem to have when they are pushing the propaganda envelope to advance their cause of climate alarmism.

Such lack of common sense in “anything for the cause” has been demonstrated before, and it failed miserably. Remember the 10:10 video exploding children?

Fifth, why would anyone trust the messaging about World War II and atomic bombs when the proprietor and participants of “Skeptical Science” play Nazi dress up behind closed doors? Yes, this really happened as I document here.

The image below is of John Cook, the proprietor of “Skeptical Science”. It comes from their “inside members only” forum. Somebody went to great trouble to photoshop the image from the original photo of Himmler to put Cook’s face and the SkS emblems in the uniform.

1_herrcook

Like with using the deaths at Hiroshima to score propaganda points, did Cook ever think that an app with a red 10:10 style mushroom cloud button might be at odds with his closet Nazi cosplay?

This kind of science propaganda is what Donna Laframboise described as “delinquent teenager” antics.

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Keitho

Sad to say, but the 4 Hiroshima metaphor already has traction in the legacy media. Makes you wonder why.

Ed, 'Mr' Jones

The Loser is always the last one to realize that he (or she) is just that – A LOSER. Let’s keep the SKS kidz around . . . for entertainment.

Nothing to add to the above, except Peter Gleick’s remark that blowing up children MAY be worse than taking them on a surprise trip to Toys’R’Us …
I used to think that climate change lowers the IQ, but it also leads to moral corruption.

Tim Walker

It is sad.

quote for you (from the SkS private forum, made visible by an admin screwup)
John Cook:
Comment, that’s a lot of energy! I asked various climate scientists for quotes on global warming and Scott Denning gave me this:
“Doubling CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere would add 4 watts to every square meter of the Earth’s surface.
This is equivalent to running a child’s night light on every square meter permanently.”.
Somehow, 3 nuclear bombs per second sounds a lot more impressive than a child’s night light! – John Cook
Scott Denning sounds like a scientist to me (whilst also being concerned about climate, scientist) – John Cook (or was it Hansen first), not so much, more like ‘misinformation’..

MIke (UK)

The Drama Greens really are in the gutter with this stunt.

Jquip

“Godwin’s Law now extends to apps.” — quoted in OP
Nah, Godwin’s law would be if they used Jews as their standard candle.

They are going for pure alarmism. That the energy is only a fraction of a percent of what the earth receives (and needs) is beside the point. But it can backfire in more ways than they envision. next you will have the lunatics demonstrating against sun light itself (since it delivers all the energy and is responsible for thousands of hiroshimas per second).

Eric H.

“SkS where temperatures are at an all time high and ethics are at an all time low”

ronald

Ye but do not forget that the head is hiding in the ocean and thats danger’s!!!!!! Al that head accumulating and then one day it will erupt like a volcano of heat.
The rely sad thing is that those so call t scientist come away whit it whit out any harm.
I always touch t that warm water rises and cold water sinks. But now day I wonder if someone learned me wrong things. Yes warm water hide in the deep oceans, how could I be so stupid not to see that? Or are agwers rely to stupid to see that they are fool d whit???

ossqss

Absolutely shameful.
May the gods of liability find the way to their door!

JimS

Perhaps some anti-warmist could create an app of their own. I am thinking of an app that shows the percentage of C02 in the atmosphere. For instance, it would start at a date as the first line, eg:
PERCENTAGE OF ATMOSPHERIC CO2
AD 1800 = .0003
AD 2013 = .0004
There would only be those two lines on it for some time. It would be an app that could be passed down for generations, and the big milestone would be for it to add just one more line, every two or three generations, maybe…

just by living and breathing Al Gore has produced 56Million watts.

@Steven Mosher – Gore has sired 56 million little Anthonys? 😉

Craig

It’s even less scary when you consider that their models predict the number should be a billion (50%) higher.

Bruce Cobb

Wow, so much heat, and almost nothing to show for it. Must be well-hidden.

Tom J

I think James Hansen desperately needs to go to another salon to get a proper toupee. I mean, that thing on the top of his head is way out of proportion to his head, and for its massive size you’d at least think it would properly disguise his male pattern baldness. But no, it doesn’t. And then there’s the issue of its color. If he’s going to try and disguise his age with a toupee you’d think he’d get something that would wash that gray away. But no, it’s all white. All they would’ve had to do is backlight it to make it dark and take that gray away for a more youthful look for that Knight in Shining Armor. But they didn’t, and don’t tell me Hansen and his ilk don’t know how to backlight things to make ’em look dark.
To be brutally honest, that’s just one of the stupidest looking head pieces I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen some pretty crappy ones.

Dr Warren Pearce- Nottingham university – Making Science Public
“What is bizarre is to think that people will not imagine mushroom clouds and suffering when offered this analogy.”
http://discussion.theguardian.com/comment-permalink/29197667
three months ago, Dr Pearce took a critical look at the Hiroshima bomb framing,
http://blogs.nottingham.ac.uk/makingsciencepublic/2013/08/14/more-heat-than-light-climate-catastrophe-and-the-hiroshima-bomb/
John Cook & Dana Nuccitelli turned up in the comments of Warren’s article, where some discussion was had. looks like they did not take the criticisms on board.

GunnyGene

These wackos always relate their catastrophic prognostications to massive human death rates. It seems self evident to me that if their predictions were valid – especially concerning nukes, that the population would not have nearly tripled since I was born. (1944) .

Jason Calley

Four atomic bombs a second… I wonder how many that would be in cute cuddly kittens?

Jason Calley

Oh, and they never give their error bars do they? My best guess on error bars for that would “four atomic bombs a second, plus or minus fifty.”

Nik

I’m waiting for the Gift tags, Christmas cards and wrapping paper.

Henry Bowman

James Hansen is a featured speaker at this year’s annual Fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union. I find the invitation to this nutcase to be especially offensive. I invite any other AGU members to express their displeasure to AGU for including him in the program as a featured speaker.

The SkS propaganda is based upon Levitus 2012 which found the world’s oceans warmed only 0.09C over the past 55 years.
Due to the 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics, the most that a 0.09C warmer ocean could additionally warm the atmosphere and Earth surface is a maximum of 0.09C additional. Since that is, of course, nothing of concern, SkS converts that to scary sounding Joules and Hiroshima bombs.
Due to the huge heat capacity of the oceans and the fact that longwave IR from greenhouse gases cannot penetrate the oceans, increased CO2 is not and cannot heat the oceans:
see Douglass & Knox paper:
http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com/2010/09/paper-global-cooling-began-in-2003.html
http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com/2012/10/seven-recent-papers-that-disprove-man.html
Longwave infrared from CO2 cannot heat the oceans, even RealClimate admits this:
http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com/2012/09/realclimate-admits-doubling-co2-could.html
Why the ‘one Hiroshima bomb every four seconds’ claim is another AGW lie
http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com/2013/08/why-one-hiroshima-bomb-every-four.html

“Doing it in a way that holds deep and terrible cultural resonances with millions of people…” is exactly why Cook did it – he and the rest of the kidz want people to think of death and destruction when they think of climate change. They want/need people to be horrified and to link it with the most destructive thing that Man has brought about.
I would fully expect Cook and the Gang to NOT understand the criticisms at all. They’ll be nodding their heads and saying, “Yes, that’s right exactly!” and delighting in it all.
These guys are dysfunctional.

rabbit

It seems that the more evidence there is that extreme climate projections are, at a minimum, overstated, the more the rhetoric ramps up.
Presposterous and desperate.

Mike Bromley the Kurd

Every last bit of SkS’ agenda is a repugnant stinkpile. Bleccch.

Yet another Mike from the Carson Valley where we deal with cold a lot and heat

Maybe it hides in the ice cores too!

CRS, DrPH

You can thank scientist turned activist Dr. James Hansen for making the ugly comparison.

Interesting fellow….he uses nuclear explosions to terrorize the populace, and then confuses everyone by embracing an all-out rush to implement outdated BWR nuclear power plant construction in order to “save the planet.”
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/04/02/james-hansen-pushes-nuclear-power-as-saving-more-lives-than-it-has-harmed-with-new-study/
I’m sure the Greens are thoroughly confused by this lunatic….I’m am, if nobody else is!

Frank

Due to the asymmetry of land distribution on the planet, the mean global temperature warms about 4 degC during summer in the Northern Hemisphere. (These seasonal changes can’t be seen in the usual plots of temperature anomalies.) So seasonal global warming (a form of natural variation) amounts to about 10 billion Hiroshimas.

Henry Galt

Our climate has accumulated …. heap big heaty heat hotnessity
It’s a wonder nobody noticed.

Tagerbaek

Most curious indeed, all those A-bombs going off and no-one ever noticing it, yet it makes perfect sense once one realizes that they’re all detonated in the deep of the oceans, where they heat them up and cause earthquakes and tsunamis to boot. Or something.

KNR

SS is little more and a tribute site for the AGW prophets such as Mann. And like any ‘crazed fan site’ it can see no wrong in its idols and will do ‘anything ‘ to big them up.
Cook and Co’s greatest fear is then go back to being the nobodies they were before ‘the cause ‘ give them a ticket to the big time . Sadly , for them , that is inevitable for they are nothing without ‘the cause ‘ so when it falls they are toast .

John Cook:
This is equivalent to 4 Hiroshima bombs worth of heat per second.
“When I mention this in public talks, I see eyes as wide as saucers. Few people are aware of how much heat our climate system is absorbing. To actively communicate our planet’s energy imbalance, Skeptical Science is releasing the Skeptical Science Heat Widget.”
http://www.skepticalscience.com/4-Hiroshima-bombs-per-second-widget-raise-awareness-global-warming.html

Brian R

It’s even better! The app says “Our climate is accumulated”. So it would be better to calculate the temperature increase for the entire atmospheric volume. One could use the “effective volume” of about4.2 billion cubic kilometers. This measurement is what the volume would be if the entire atmosphere had the same sea level temperature and pressure. Or you could use the 100km altitude for the beginning of space. In which case the atmospheric volume would be closer to 51 billion cubic kilometers.
Another option would be to calculate the total energy contained within the atmosphere. Then show how small the 2 billion bomb nonsense is in comparison.
I don’t have time to do this myself as I’m at work.

rabbit

Does anyone know mankind’s greenhouse gas production measured in equivalent termite farts? It would, I assure you, be staggering.

Jimbo

New widget counts global warming happening at 4 Hiroshima atomic bombs per second

I wonder what it was during the Holocene Climate Optimum? Minoan Warm Period? No wonder we are so hot, it’s all coming out now.

Tony Banton

This is certainly no worse than WUWT arguing the toss over Typhoon Haiyan being the biggest on record while they were still searching for thousands of bodies.

John

All the warming has been sequestered as hot air by the alarmists.

Gary

0.6 watts per square meter is equivalent to what, a single Christmas tree mini light bulb?

Leonard Weinstein

Steven Mosher says:
November 25, 2013 at 11:00 am
“just by living and breathing Al Gore has produced 56Million watts.”
I think you mean Watt-hours.

Jimbo

Interesting comment from the Big Oil paid Dana Nuccitelli at the Guardian in reply to Barry Woods.

“I just pointed out an actual climate scientists opinion, vs Cook /Nuccitelli (not climate scientists) opinion.”

John Cook is a social scientist. Given that this is a communications issue, frankly he has more expertise than climate scientists on this subject.

lurker, passing through laughing

Since SkS is also part of the Lewandowsky propaganda effort, it is not surprising that its leadership is committed to using any straw in its grab to scare people into agreeing with their alarmist obsession. For me it has been entertaining to see them devolve from committed beleiver with at least a veneer of seriousness into a parody of thoughtless extremism. They are now willing to deceive, distract and misrepresent as they feel justified by their CO2 obsession. Far from being skeptical about anything, they are now firmly in the “Keepers Of Odd Knowledge” (KOOK) category of communications.

Leonard Weinstein

Tony Banton says:
November 25, 2013 at 12:49 pm
“This is certainly no worse than WUWT arguing the toss over Typhoon Haiyan being the biggest on record while they were still searching for thousands of bodies.”
No Tony, the claim that Haiyan was the biggest on record was basically an effort to claim that Typhoons are getting worse due to AGW. The facts do not support this. The commentors mostly prefaced their points with a statement of sympathy and many even donated money to help. Equating this to the other is worse than stupid.

lurker, passing through laughing

@ Tony Banton,
Keep stretching, there, big guy. You could be on the verge of developing a new pilates move: The AGW reach for equivalency. Where the stretcher seeks to break the bounds of rational thought to sustain a false equivalence.

The Engineer

I think this app will come back and bite the alarmists right in their self-rightous butts.
It doesn’t take much intelligence to get to: “Hej somebody just exploded 2 billion atomic bombs on our planet………….AND I DIDN’T FEEL A THING !!!”

@The Engineer – I was thinking the same thing. remember MAD? And how we and the old Soviet Union were going to destroy the world? Yet combined we only had a few thousand Hiroshimas. Enough for a few seconds according to this analogy.

Mike McMillan

The SkS folks ought to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial museum.
http://www.pcf.city.hiroshima.jp/virtual/index_e.html
Of course, they might come away thinking it was a rather one-sided presentation.

Jimbo

Tony Banton says:
November 25, 2013 at 12:49 pm
This is certainly no worse than WUWT arguing the toss over Typhoon Haiyan being the biggest on record while they were still searching for thousands of bodies.

It will be interesting to see how many died due to the terrible typhoon and compare it to Hiroshima. It would then be interesting to see your comment about how it’s no worse. PS our host’s wife’s partial side of the family are from the Philippines. Read before you leap.

Jimbo

Tony Banton says:
November 25, 2013 at 12:49 pm
This is certainly no worse than WUWT arguing the toss over Typhoon Haiyan being the biggest on record while they were still searching for thousands of bodies.

Here is what you must have missed. Do some work next time before making ‘smart’ Alec comments.

A. Watts.
Full disclosure: My wife’s maternal side of family is from the Philippines, and we have learned that one of her relatives there has lost a home in the storm. We have no word on the others there at this time.
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/11/10/an-ethical-challenge-for-greg-laden-put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is/

and further down we have someone else.

Eyvind Dk says:
November 11, 2013 at 12:54 am
Thanks Tony for your kind words and donation. Greg Laden is a fool.
Still though, I believe the numbers of casualties will exceed the 10.000.
My wife have a lot of relatives in the God forsaken town of Guiuan, that is STILL isolated 4 full days after the typhoon made landfall at exact Guiuan.
Pictures are coming out but no relief is getting in 🙁