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I was doing a project for my English class, and I came upon the article Energy conservation in the earth's crust and climate change. I can't view the full text of the article, but the abstract piqued my interest:

Do long hydrocarbons in the earth actually have a significant effect in insulating the surface? Also, has the lack of these hydrocarbons resulted in any significant warming of the Earth thus far?

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    $\begingroup$ One can view the full text of the article at tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10962247.2012.739501 . This is an open journal article. $\endgroup$ – David Hammen Feb 22 '18 at 7:41
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    $\begingroup$ This really deserves the answer "Technically true but you can't measure the difference." $\endgroup$ – Joshua Feb 23 '18 at 2:31
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    $\begingroup$ @Joshua - No, it doesn't, at least in context of the cited paper, which claims that "The reason for climate warming is not due to the expansion of greenhouse gases but to the wide exploitation of fossil energy, which destroyed the heat insulation of the earth's crust, making more heat from the interior of the earth be released to the atmosphere." Arrant nonsense is being overly nice. $\endgroup$ – David Hammen Feb 23 '18 at 5:26
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidHammen: Figures. I can't read the paper either. $\endgroup$ – Joshua Feb 23 '18 at 16:13
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    $\begingroup$ I was going to post an answer, but then I realized it was just arrant nonsense $\endgroup$ – Code Whisperer Feb 24 '18 at 12:20
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Quoting from John Russell's response to this article, "This is arrant nonsense!"

Russell concludes with

How did this paper get through the peer-review and editorial review processes? What technical standards were applied to determine the apparent merit of its contents so as to justify its inclusion in a reputable journal?

Just because something is published in a scientific journal does not mean it is fact. Publication is where science starts rather than ends. Sometimes, pure garbage manages to slip through peer review and get published, even in reputable journals. This is one of those times. Moreover, the publisher of the underlying journal, Taylor & Francis, has had issues with shoddy peer review.

The Earth's energy imbalance is 0.6±0.17 W/m2. The Earth's internal energy budget, the amount of energy that escapes from the interior of the Earth, is 0.087 W/m2, about half the uncertainty in the Earth's energy imbalance. (That largish uncertainty is because the imbalance is a difficult quantity to measure.) Even if all of that 0.087 W/m2 is due to humans removing the Earth's insulating layer of hydrocarbons (it isn't), it does not come close to accounting for the 0.6±0.17 W/m2 imbalance. The numbers don't add up.

Or as John Russell put it in his response to the referenced article, "This is arrant nonsense!"

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    $\begingroup$ Ye gods, the authors even responded to the response with a few more paragraphs of unintentional hilarity. “The interior structure of the earth is like a huge flaming sphere…”. Oh dear. I can perhaps understand that editors and reviewers for a waste management journal wouldn't have the expertise to recognize this as nonsense; what’s more baffling is that it wasn’t desk rejected for being out of scope. $\endgroup$ – Pont Feb 22 '18 at 8:16
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    $\begingroup$ Of course the inside of the earth has a giant flaming sphere, otherwise the dinosaurs on the inner surface would have to live in the dark. $\endgroup$ – Racheet Feb 22 '18 at 12:29
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    $\begingroup$ For a lay reader, it's important to check whether the journal that published a paper has any relationship to the topic of the paper. For example, I've seen a paper on solar cycles and climate in a water management journal and papers on climate physics in petroleum engineering journals. A wide mismatch tells you about both the quality of the paper and the quality of the journal that would publish it. $\endgroup$ – jeffronicus Feb 22 '18 at 16:45
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    $\begingroup$ Leading with and spending such a large portion of response (here and by John Russell) peppering colorful language like "arrant nonsense" and attacking the writing/style/process, rather than taking the higher road by stating clearly 'this paper's results don't hold merit", then instead placing the bulk upon refuting the assumptions and results in detail (concluding with the surprise at it passing review)... isn't a good light on scientists. I don't disagree with any opinions in this answer, but if we portray language rather than details as our style, we don't teach others how science is to work $\endgroup$ – JeopardyTempest Feb 23 '18 at 15:22
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    $\begingroup$ Not saying I don't understand, either. It certainly gets old in our fields, not only with wearisome flat Earth/chemtrail/such questions, but with most people thinking they're couch experts in our subjects. But the thing is, the general public is always interested by audacious and contrarian results. And so a lot of folks come to us in good faith seeking input as to their validity [as this asker seems to]. When we respond with harsh words rather than debating mainly merits, we suggest that's how we work, and perhaps even encourage conspiracy attitudes. It's wearisome, but we can do better :-) $\endgroup$ – JeopardyTempest Feb 23 '18 at 16:19
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What neither the authors nor the response by John Russell takes into account is that all underground oil and gas is stored inside tiny pores of rocks. An oil reservoir is not a big underground cave, it is a very fine-grained sponge made of stone filled with oil. In essentially all cases, there is more stone than oil (by volume).

This means that since oil is a much better insulator than rock, basically all of the thermal energy conducted from bottom to top of an oil reservoir is going through the stone in the first place (when the reservoir is full). Thus the total thermal conductivity of the reservoir does not really change when hydrocarbons are produced, it's still mainly the stone conducting heat.

That's just one more thing wrong with this arrant nonsense.

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    $\begingroup$ If the pores weren't full of oil, what would they be full of? Air (admittedly at 20C) has thermal conductivity an order of magnitude lower than crude oil, water 5x higher than oil (enough to make a difference to rock TC). Intersting USGS report including rock TCs. $\endgroup$ – Chris H Feb 22 '18 at 9:47
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    $\begingroup$ oil is a much better insulator than rock Do you have some numbers? Convective and/or conductive. $\endgroup$ – Peter Mortensen Feb 22 '18 at 18:10
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    $\begingroup$ Convection transfers heat much more effectively than conduction. If it wasn't possible to for oil to flow, and thus convect, within reservoirs, it couldn't be extracted by simple pumping, or indeed, just by the pressure of the overlying rock - the "gusher" of early exploration days. (Note the current practice of "fracking" to allow oil to be pumped from reservoirs that don't allow flow.) $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Feb 22 '18 at 19:39
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, convection transfers much better than conduction. But in most cases, the Rayleigh number is too low for natural convection to occur. (There are exceptions, e.g. thick sandstone reservoirs.) $\endgroup$ – semi-extrinsic Feb 23 '18 at 10:11
  • $\begingroup$ @jamesqf's point works well for water in rock, from some of what I was reading yesterday (a much greater increase in TC of porous rock when wet than woudl be expected from the TC of water alone). Oil is of course much more viscous $\endgroup$ – Chris H Feb 23 '18 at 10:41
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I honestly wish I could come up with a better answer for this question but the original article is so horrible I'm not sure where to even begin responding to it. For starters, it's published in a medical journal and if the abstract is anything to go by, the paper is constantly comparing the earth to the body. Quote:

Just like the function of the thermal isolation of subcutaneous fatty tissue under the dermis of human skin, it keeps the internal heat within the organism so it won't be transferred to the skin's surface and be lost maintaining body temperature at low temperatures

This may be true in humans, I'm not sure, but oil, coal and gas reserves make up a tiny portion of the earth's crust so this analogy fails on every level. Using their logic you could argue that valleys contribute to global warming as well since they cut into the crust and I'm sure we'd all agree that is arrant nonsense!

To paraphrase the article linked above by @david, the authors try and argue that it's the act of drilling holes and making cracks in the earths crust that is the main force of climate change.

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    $\begingroup$ It's not published in a medical journal, but in the Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association. I'm not sure if that increases or decreases the ludicrousness of the extended physiological analogies, but it certainly doesn't make them any closer to being correct. $\endgroup$ – Pont Feb 22 '18 at 13:06
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    $\begingroup$ @Pont, ah, my mistake I probably shouldn't have answered this late at night when I wasn't thinking straight. I think it makes my point stronger in a way though since it shows that the authors weren't even considering their target audience when they wrote it. $\endgroup$ – Braeden Orchard Feb 22 '18 at 23:18
  • $\begingroup$ The holes themsleves are an even smaller proportion of the crust $\endgroup$ – Chris H Feb 23 '18 at 10:42
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    $\begingroup$ Also.. coal is NOT a hydrocarbon. It can be modeled (primitively) as graphite, which is relatively conductive. So even if the rest of the paper was correct, this mistake would reverse the conclusion..the earth should be cooling due to coal removal! $\endgroup$ – Andrew Jon Dodds Feb 27 '18 at 11:27

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