Global warming creates 4 Hiroshimas of heat per second

Global warming is producing, every second, an amount of additional heat equal to four of the atomic bombs that went off at Hiroshima.


The folks at Skeptical Science has created a neat Web site, attempting to help people understand the gravity, the enormity, of the amount of climate change already taking place. Here’s their description:

Our climate is absorbing a lot of heat. When scientists add up all of the heat warming the oceans, land, and atmosphere and melting the ice, they find our climate is accumulating 4 Hiroshima atomic bombs worth of heat every second.

This warming is due to more heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The burning of fossil fuels means we are emitting billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. This is the main contributor to global warming.

Here’s a bit more about melting ice and global warming:


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Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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21 Responses to “Global warming creates 4 Hiroshimas of heat per second”

  1. klem says:

    Watch this video regarding the Hiroshima Metric. Its an app for dummies, no doubt about it.

    Its about 6 minutes long and pay particular attention to the last part at 4:25 or so.


  2. klem says:

    You’re clearly seeing the scientific failure of the Hiroshima Metric. Only a complete moron would actually have this app on their device.

  3. eggroll_jr says:

    One Hiroshima is 63TJ. The average oil burned globally per second is about 1,000 barrels or 6.1 TJ. Here the claim is 4 x 63TJ or 252TJ. So we’re getting the other 246TJ from coal and gas?

  4. BillFromDover says:

    Exactly. But it ain’t you.

  5. cold340t says:

    How many Fukushima’s does this equal? The radiation levels I mean?

  6. Dave of the Jungle says:

    It would appear that you missed the snark.

  7. perljammer says:

    Bill, I’m familiar with the Obamacare rollout; I just don’t understand what it has to do with this discussion. Maybe you can clarify that for me.

    My audience is made up of the readers of this blog. You apparently have a much lower opinion of these people than I do, if you think “incandescent” is too big a word for them to deal with.

    Anyway, if you’re all that uncomfortable with meters and Watts, how about this:

    Spread out evenly over the earth’s surface, 4 Hiroshima bombs/second = 0.5 BTU per quarter acre.

    But now I’m just pulling your chain ;-)

  8. Steve_CNJ says:

    For as far back as anyone can see, the 3000 bombs per second that you mention were exactly balanced by 3000 bombs radiating back to space, keeping the climate stable. The 4 (or 4.6) bombs per second being talked about here is the radiation imbalance. That’s additional energy being trapped as sensible and latent heat (water vapor). It would be misleading to say that the added energy can all be released as kinetic energy (wind), but the extra moisture in the atmosphere and the extra ocean heat content will strengthen storms and droughts. The “emotional image” of bombs also gives one a sense of how much the ice, ocean levels, humidity and air temperatures are directly impacted.

  9. BillFromDover says:

    What chemistry & physics classes?

    After all, No Child Left Behind scores don’t test in these disciplines.

  10. BillFromDover says:

    Keep in mind that when these things are dropped out of planes they fall at 32 feet per second per fucking second!

    How many of your average red necks do ya think know that, let alone what square meter is?

  11. BillFromDover says:

    I don’t think your average American has much trouble visualizing a square meter of area.

    I would posit that your average American hasn’t a clue as to what a meter is, let alone a square one. I believe you give us way, way too much credit.
    Now ask us about the great flood and we are all experts… yes?

    then consider that the average energy density from sunlight is
    equivalent to about 3000 Hiroshima bombs per second. Can you relate to

    I can, but the average American… I doubt it. Which brings up your analogy:
    Not to worry about global warming cus the sun is more powerful than a nuke? That is/was my point.

    As for the Obamacare reference, do you not have access to cable news, or Libraries of Congress?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Actually, it is difficult for our people to visualize. Why else do we have so much trouble with chemistry & physics classes?

  13. Anonymous says:

    I agree with you Bill. We are a scientifically illiterate nation – how many people are that familiar with the metric system and physical units at all?

  14. karmanot says:

    Yes, better to educate P, but translate into Americanese: 0.6 Watts/square meter= Three Big Macs, 2 biggie fries, 1 Chick filet bucket and a gigantor draft of Diet Coke.

  15. perljammer says:

    I guest that depends on what you mean by “relate”. I don’t think your average American has much trouble visualizing a square meter of area. Nor do I think it’s asking very much to visualize a light bulb that is 1/10 as powerful as a night light, and make a mental comparison to a standard incandescent floodlight.

    Relating to the heat output of a Hiroshima-class nuclear bomb? Sorry, that’s just a scare tactic. But if you prefer the Hiroshima bomb analogy, then consider that the average energy density from sunlight is equivalent to about 3000 Hiroshima bombs per second. Can you relate to that?

    Your “Obabacare” reference went ‘way over my head; pretty weird. As to the sun — no, I don’t think there’s anything we can do about the sun. What was your point?

  16. BillFromDover says:


    What do ya think the average idiot American can relate to:

    0.6 Watts/square meter or

    4 Hiroshima bombs per second?

    This is, of course, assuming that most of them can still read and have a modicum of history.

    Obviously, this can all be linked to the roll-out of Obabacare… yes?

    BTW, what can we do about the fuckin’ sun?

  17. mapleleafup says:

    I agree perljammer. New lows

  18. perljammer says:

    4 Hiroshima bombs per second — I wonder how much that is in Libraries of Congress?

    Here are the numbers in units a little less scary and more easily related to by human type beings.

    Spread out evenly over the earth’s surface, 4 Hiroshima bombs/second = 0.6 Watts/square meter.

    If you were wondering, the average energy density from sunlight is about 500 Watts/square meter.

    Note: Climate change is a very serious matter; too serious to engage in hyperbolic expressions like “Hiroshima bombs per second”, which is a blatant attempt to use of emotional images to engender unreasoning fear. Better to educate, I think.

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  20. Dave of the Jungle says:

    Well, at least it isn’t 4 hydrogen bombs per second.

  21. Dredd Blog says:

    Isn’t it 4.63 per second?

    (24hrs*60min*60sec = 86,400 seconds per day). James Hanson says 400,000 Hiroshima per day. (400,000 / 86,400 = 4.63).

    Just saying.

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