A Few Things Ill Considered

This is just one of dozens of responses to common climate change denial arguments, which can all be found at How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic.


The so called "Greenhouse Effect" which is the underpinning of the entire theory of anthropogenic global warming claims that greenhouse gases in the upper atmosphere absorb outgoing long wave radiation from the surface and reradiate it back, thereby warming the climate. But the upper atmosphere is colder than the lower atmosphere and the surface and the second law of thermodynamics clearly requires that heat flow from warmer areas of a system to colder ones, the opposite direction that greenhouse theory requires. The cooler atmosphere can not radiate energy to the warmer surface. The greenhouse effect is a myth because it violates the second law of thermodynamics!


No argument with the second law of thermodynamics here, that one seems to be on pretty solid ground! But the train of logic above has a subtle problem in its over statement of the constraints this law places on energy flow. Given a warmer and a cooler body exchanging energy either through convection or through radiation, the fact is, energy is constantly being exchanged in both directions. The second law of thermodynamics does not apply to individual photons, it applies to the net flow of energy in the entire system. How could it be otherwise?

When an excited molecule of CO2 releases a photon, it does not somehow "know" which way to send it. It can not aim it towards a cooler body. It is simply released in a random direction. In the case of CO2 in the atmosphere, having absorbed some of the energy radiating towards space from the surface of the earth, this random choice of direction means that, roughly speaking, half of that energy is sent back. An individual molecule is not influenced at all by the temperature of the earth’s surface, be it warmer or cooler.

Where the second law does apply is in the net flow of heat, and this happens because a warmer body will send out more energy overall than it is receiving from the cooler one. Lots of energy going back and foth, but on balance more is leaving the warmer body.

The IPCC has provided this nice graphic of what is going on. They have also used the analogies of a blanket and a garden greenhouse in their FAQ sections.

(click for a slightly larger image. Courtesy of the IPCC)

In the case of the simplified earth-atmosphere system, the Earth’s surface warms from the sun’s incoming shortwave radiation. As it is now a warm body floating in cold space, Earth radiates long wave energy back out at a rate that is dependent on its temperature. If that were the whole story, the earth would have balanced its incoming shortwave with its outgoing long wave radiation at an average surface temperature of roughly -18oC and it would be a rather inhospitable place. As it is, the content of greenhouse gases in its atmosphere absorb some of that outgoing long wave radiation and send it back down where we all live. The earth must balance this by warming enough so that it can radiate this additional energy back out again. The totality of this natural effect is around 33oC, bringing our average surface temperature to a comfortable +15oC.

So, it is not really like a blanket, which inhibits convection in both directions, or like an actual greenhouse, which lets in the sunlight and then also inhibits convection, but both are reasonable analogies as far as they go. The scientists in the IPCC know this, they are only using these analogies to help laypeople understand the very general principals. If you hear someone attacking climate science by attacking these analogies, they are attacking a strawman.

As we have added to the greenhouse efect, the planet’s surface must now warm until it reaches a new equillibrium temperature high enough to radiate out as much again as it is now receiving.

This is all very well established and long standing physics. No basic ignored mysteries, no violations of fundamental laws, just great explanations of naturally observed phenomena all over the solar system and beyond.

This is just one of dozens of responses to common climate change denial arguments, which can all be found at How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic.

“Greenhouse theory violates the laws of thermodynamics” is also posted on the Grist website, where additional comments can be found, though the author, Coby Beck, does not monitor or respond there.


  1. #1 Shane
    September 12, 2008

    Well the holes in the argument come from absorbtion of the the “long wave radiation”. That is .7 to 100 micro meters. Fine, but CO2 only has a few bands where it will absorb the radiation, 2.7 4.3 and 15 um. We know this from IR spectroscopy. Looking at the molecules as a point source, like you have done means that on average half the energy is radiated back to space. As you say you can’t decide which way it is going to emit. Secondly, the band widths that are absorbed are less than 4% of the black body radiation emitted back into space. So with a doubling of CO2, in increase of .0385% in the atmosphere times the 4% of black body radiation that is absorbed, would mean an increase at most of .00154%. So even based on your level of understanding of radiative capture you would see increase in temperature of that would take 20 C or 293.15 K to about 293.154 degrees K. Then you would have to divide that by half since only half the world is getting sun at one time so you would see a significant drop in black body radiation during the night time(It doesn’t go to zero). Not to mention the fact that as the temperature increased, the absorbtion would go down as the gases in our atmosphere expanded. Anyway, its a stupid theory that doesn’t hold water under scrutiny.

  2. #2 John Bailo
    September 13, 2008

    Given the Greenhouse Effect the value of outgoing solar radiation, 103w per sqr(m) should be decreasing over time. Have we ever put a sensor on the Moon to measure the Earth to see if it is “cooling” in proportion to the amount of retained infrared that never makes it to outer space?

  3. #3 Pangolin
    September 14, 2008

    It’s weird that the deniers don’t get that a small shift in a dynamic system at equilibrium can lead to a larger shift in the overall system. A very tiny amount of heating over a large area can result in things like methane emissions from soils and decarbonization of soils that lead to more CO2 releases that lead to more heating.

    Of course the extra CO2 in the atmosphere isn’t that small of a shift but rather the release of gigatons of carbon stored over millenia of geologic time in an eyeblink. Remineralizing that carbon is a massive task that we barely understand the beginnings of.

  4. #4 Brian D
    September 14, 2008

    John Balio:

    We tried (actually at L1, which is where you would want this instead of the moon), but it was basically mothballed by the Bush administration. The satellite (DSCOVR) sits, completed, in a box somewhere costing taxpayers a million dollars a year. It’s not the lack of launch options — other countries (the Ukraine, IIRC) have offered to launch it for free and been rejected.

    Ask yourself this: Given the existence of a multimillion-dollar probe that can, definitively, answer questions pertaining to the Earth’s energy balance (i.e. directly measuring the bottom line of all climate change arguments, from a physics perspective), what possible reason would there be for such opposition from the White House?

    (Hint: Uncertainty is the inactivist’s best friend. Go and read Doubt Is Their Product.)

  5. #5 Doug Mackie
    September 15, 2008

    and 1e6 has nuttin to do wiv it. honest.
    I don’t need no prize b/c I’m a scientist on the well paid IPCC band wagon.

    Anyhow, ya know good old Chris de Freitas (of Soon and Baliunas fame) had a press release along these lines a while back. (Issued under banner of the sceptic group for which he is a “scientific advisor” – I ain’t telling you who as they don’t need the hits).

    He took issue with a govt website for school children describing a experiment with a glass jar an a thermometer to demonstrate a greenhouse effect.

    He said: “The surface of the Earth is warmer than it would be in the absence of an atmosphere because it receives radiant energy from two sources the sun and the atmosphere. To claim or demonstrate that the atmosphere behaves as a greenhouse is grossly misleading.”

    I told him it was grossly misleading for him to imply that just b/c the atm does not work like an actual factual greenhouse then therefore GHG were not the responsible for retaining heat.

    Next day he took all his articles of the sceptic website. Coincidence?

    Not to say he has been silent since then. Far from it. A few weeks ago gave a seminar to the Dept of Statistics at my University about lies and deceit in an article he co-wrote earlier this year that appeared in a mass circulation magazine.

    de Freitas also said in the same press release that: “The website also informs are children that the greenhouse gases in our atmosphere as mainly carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, when in fact the main greenhouse gas responsible for controlling climate is water vapour.”

    and him a doktor and all. shame.
    nuff said.

  6. #6 izmir evden eve
    September 17, 2008


  7. #7 notes
    November 13, 2008

    The main site pushing this bunk seems to be http://nov55.com/ntyg.html

    Gary Novak says:

    CO2 Absorption Spectrum
    There is no Valid Mechanism for CO2 Creating Global Warming

    Proof one: Laboratory measurements show that carbon dioxide absorbs to extinction at its main peak in 10 meters under atmospheric conditions.* This means there is no radiation left at those frequencies after 10 meters.

  8. #8 notes
    November 13, 2008

    That “Proof one” stuff should have been inside the blockquote. Sorry.

  9. #9 Trevor
    January 26, 2009

    I note that no one has addressed Shane’s comment, other than “notes”, who can only say, “… carbon dioxide absorbs to extinction at its main peak …”. The key phrase there, notes, is “at its main peak”. Carbon dioxide absorbs Infrared Radiation (IR) only at two very narrow ranges of wavelength, one between 2.5 and 3 microns, and another between 4 and 5 microns. I don’t know how much of the total IR radiation is emitted in those ranges, but, even if it’s a uniform probability distribution, it couldn’t possibly be more than 10-15% of all IR. If it’s a (more likely) normal probability distribution, then the percent of all IR that falls in those two ranges would be more like 5%.

    Now, I’ll take your word for it, notes, that WITHIN THOSE RANGES, CO2 absorbs 100% of IR radiation. But that leaves 85-95% of IR that IS NOT ABSORBED AT ALL by CO2. So, let’s focus on just that 5-15% of IR that IS absorbed by CO2. Even within the range of wavelengths at which CO2 absorbs IR, it has to COMPETE with Water Vapor for that IR. There is only so much IR being emitted in those ranges. What that means is that, as CO2 levels increase, the marginal aborption of IR per ton of CO2 decreases, and, at some point, additional CO2 will not increase IR absorption AT ALL. No one seems to know exactly what that point is. Some skeptics say that, at around 400 ppm CO2, we are very near that point now. Others say we have surpassed it. And a few say we surpassed it long before the beginning of the industrial revolution. Don’t ask me what the alarmists say, because they don’t talk about this. To hear the alarmists talk, you would think that CO2 absorbs ALL wavelengths of IR.

  10. #10 Crakar14
    January 26, 2009


    In regards to C02 saturation, I have searched through all AGW propaganda and have found nothing that discusses this very issue. Maybe Coby is aware of something that he can provide a link to?

    I suspect the models do not factor in this which is why they are so wrong. It would also point to why C02 continues to rise whilst temps are going down (regardless of what some say).

    Just out of interest according to the IPCC pre industrial levels of C02 was 280ppm and current levels are 385ppm, however market gardeners that use green houses use C02 levels in the order of ten times this amount to promote growth, they also found that if C02 levels fall to below 250ppm plant growth declines appreciably and 150ppm PLANT GROWTH WILL STOP. Based on this we know through scientific fact that the current levels are just above the threshold to sustain all forms of life on the planet.

    Yet at the same time based on IPCC guesswork C02 levels are high enough to destroy all life on the planet. Does this make sense to anyone?, of course not.

    Note: I can use the green house analogy because AGW proponents used it first.

    So no the AGW theory does not violate the law of thermodynamics, however the AGW theoretical results are grossly overstated.

  11. #11 coby
    January 26, 2009


    Read this article here, it should not have been hard for you to find. Of course climate scientists are very aware of these absorbtion issues, even if media outlets are not.

    When you say things like “based on IPCC guesswork C02 levels are high enough to destroy all life on the planet” it is pretty hard to take you seriously.

  12. #12 Crakar14
    January 26, 2009

    Thanks for the link, interesting reading, however i was after a link which explains how the IPCC achieved thier predictions, what if any experiments were carried out and what were the results etc as opposed to a GCM.

    I regards to your link i am not sure the author quite understands what he is talking about, maybe he is getting confused with the term “saturation”. When a C02 molecule becomes “saturated” it does not pull out of the race so another one can become “saturated”. C02 can only absorb so much IR once this point is reached the addition of extra C02 has very little effect.

    Sorry if i offended in the term quesswork maybe i over stated it for effect but after 8 years into a 100 year projection of C02 levels the IPCC have already got it wrong with no reduction in GHG’s as yet. Just another case of model predictions proven wrong i guess.

    So yes i still find it difficult to accept that below 250ppm plant growth is visably reduced but 385ppm threatens human life (Hansen and we only have 4 years etc).


  13. #13 Trevor
    January 29, 2009

    Hey, Coby, thanks for the link.

    No, I REALLY mean THANK YOU. You see, before this discussion, I was assuming that ALL of the IR in the absorption bands of CO2 was staying in the atmosphere. So, if Shane is right about those bands covering 4% of all IR, then that meant 4% of the IR was held in the atmosphere by CO2. But I wasn’t considering that half of the IR re-emitted by CO2 was going UP instead of down, and some of that would eventually reach space. So, now I know that the upper limit of how much warming CO2 can cause is actually somewhat less than would be caused by the 4%. How much less depends on the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    Using the link you provided, and a simplified model (5 discreet levels) of the atmosphere, I have worked out how all this bouncing around between layers works, and the results under different scenarios. At the (for lack of a better word) “saturation point” of CO2 (the point where it absorbs 100% of all IR at surface pressure), about 76.8% of the IR (within the CO2 absorbtion bands) ends up back on the surface, causing warming, while about 23.2% floats off into space. If you double the CO2 concentration, 89.3% comes back to the surface, and 10.7% goes into space. If you double it again, 93.0% comes back to the surface and 7.0% goes into space. If you double it once more (up to 8 times the original level of CO2), you get 94.1% coming back to the surface and 5.9% going into space. And it turns out, at least at the level of precision I was using, this is the maximum amount of IR going back to the surface (and minimum amount of IR going into space). I even tried using a factor of 1 million times the saturation point (to achieve this, the “saturation point” would have to be 1 ppm, and the entire atmosphere would have to be CO2), and I still can’t get more than 94.1% of IR coming back to Earth.

    (At this point, I’ll concede the limitation of my model, being discreet. If I had the math skills to apply differential equations to this model, and allow for an infinite number of layers, I could probably get a more precise estimate of how much IR goes where. But I think it’s safe to say that 95% would be an upper limit on how much radiation came back to Earth, regardless of how the model was constructed.)

    But keep in mind, that’s 95% of the 4% of IR that can actually be absorbed by CO2. So, what it boils down to is, Even at 100% concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, CO2 will NEVER completely block more 3.8% of IR from reaching space.

    (Oh, yeah, all of the above is also assuming that Water Vapor doesn’t absorb some part of the IR in CO2’s absorption range, which we know it does. I suspect that, once this is accounted for, the maximum IR absorbtion by CO2 is actually around 2%, possibly less, depending on the dsitribution of IR across the spectrum – if it’s a normal probability distribution, with higher levels in the center and very small levels at the tails, then it’s quite a bit less than 2%, because the 2.5-3-micron wavelengths of IR, which CO2 has to compete with water vapor for, are closer to the center of the range.)

    But, more important is how this compares to the amount of IR being blocked at the “saturation point”, which is about 3.1% of all IR. So, starting at the saturation point, no matter how many times you double CO2, you’re never going to get more than 0.7% more IR absorption.

    Of course, the key question here is, What is that saturation point? Are we exactly at that point now? If so, we can reasonably expect no more than 0.7% more IR absorption by CO2, and we’d have to increase atmospheric levels of CO2 by a factor of 8 to get there. Or perhaps we reached that saturation point sometime in the last 150 years, and are well above it now. If that is the case, then we can expect something less than that 0.7% increase. What if the saturation point was something like 200 ppm? That would mean we were already above that point before the Industrial Revolution. Today’s CO2 levels are about double the saturation point, which means the atmospheric CO2 is already blocking about 3.6% of all IR from reaching space, and the absolute most that can be blocked by CO2, 3.8%, is just 0.2% more than is already being blocked.

    So, does someone have the answer to that question? What is the saturation point of Carbon Dioxide with respect to IR, in PPM? At surface pressure, at what level of concentration does CO2 “absorb to extinction at its main peak”?

    Of course, the other key question is, what does that mean for temperatures? If the CO2 in the atmosphere is blocking 0.7% or 0.2% more IR than it is blocking now, how much will temperatures go up?

    I don’t have the answers to these questions, but perhaps Coby can step in and save the day.

  14. #14 coby
    January 29, 2009

    Hi Trevor,

    I commend you for taking time to try to understand what is going on! I don’t have much time myself so I will just make one quick point and also ask you to reflect on two questions that reveal you have gone very wrong somewhere.

    The point: incoming insolation is over 1300W/m^2 so .1% of that is a significant 1.3W/m^2 forcing.

    The questions:
    1. How hot is the surface of Venus and why?
    2. What eventually happens to the surface temperature of the earth if anything less than 100% of reradiated energy escapes?

    Thanks for your contribution!

  15. #15 Trevor
    February 2, 2009


    I won’t pretend I understand what 1.3 W/m^2 means in terms of raising temperatures. I have no idea how “significant” that is. But you’re talking about INCOMING insolation. I thought the discussion here was specifically about infrared radiation absorbed and re-emitted back to the surface by carbon dioxide.

    However, it heartens me to see an AGW alarmist finally admitting that even SMALL changes in insolation can have “significant” warming effects. Heretofore, alarmists have discounted the sun as the source of global warming because changes in solar output are too small to make any difference. But here you are, admitting that just a 0.1% increase in insolation creates a “significant” forcing.

    As for your questions:

    1. The surface of Venus is so very hot because it is CLOSER TO THE SUN than we are, and therefore receives far more insolation. Yes, the atmosphere is 96.5% CO2, but that would not make much difference, IF the surface was receiving the same amount of sunlight that Earth’s does. The CO2 in the atmosphere still won’t absorb any more than 4% of all infrared radiation emitted by the surface. But 4% of all infrared radiation emitted by Venus’s surface is a heck of a lot more than 4% of all infrared radiation emitted by Earth’s surface.

    Other factors that may contribute to the Venus’s warmth, but that we don’t fully understand include 1) the fact that Venus has an extremely long day (longer in fact, than a Venusian year, when measured sidereally); 2) the fact that Venus rotates in the opposite direction as the Earth (and all other planets in this solar system; 3) the fact that Venus has a huge double atmospheric vortex at its south pole (the Earth has only one at each pole, of presumably smaller size than Venus’s, since the Wikipedia article referred to Venus’s vortices as “huge”, and the vortices on Earth are known to have a huge effect on climate); and 4) the fact that Venus has a very small axial tilt (just 3 degrees, compared to Earth’s 23 degrees).

    2. The surface warms. And thank God, because if it didn’t, the climate on Earth would be far too cold for human life. It’s called the Greenhouse effect. I hope you’re not trying to imply that “if anything less than 100% of reradiated energy escapes…”, then we will have a RUNAWAY greenhouse effect, as apparently happened on Venus. Because if that were true, then we would have had a runaway greenhouse effect, right here on Earth, billions of years ago. Because it is now true, it was true 200 years ago, it was true 20,000 years ago, and it has been true for almost the entire history of the planet, that “less than 100% of reradiated energy escapes”.


  16. #16 Brian D
    February 2, 2009

    Trevor, if insolation were the primary cause of higher temperatures on Venus, please explain why Mercury (closer to the sun and possessing a lower albedo) is several hundred degrees cooler than Venus.

  17. #17 coby
    February 2, 2009


    Brian has identified your misunderstandings WRT Venus and green house effects. The surface of Venus can melt lead because of its 95+% CO2 atmosphere.

    You missed the point of my second rhetorical question as well. If anything less than 100% of the IR escapes the surface of the earth does not stay warm, it warms without end. This is not possible of course, which is how I am trying to show you that your attempts to quantify the effects of CO2 and prove they are saturated are wrong.

    All IR must escape eventually and what increasd CO2 does is elevate the height in the atmosphere of the temperature required for this escape. This is an oversimplification but may be a useful way to understand. So the surface has to warm more and more the more CO2 in the air until a radiative balance can be reestablished. Your numbers are just wrong, having come from incorrect first principals.

    You comments about the study of insolation and its effect on changing climate sow you are completely unfamiliar with the research that has been done, and also you have never looked at the IPCC report.

    Try to remember that whatever the political debate is about, at its heart global warming is a scientific issue.

    BTW, here is an interesting post on what is going on on Venus and why that can not happen on earth (why make that case if the scientists are “alarmists” just trying to scare people?)

  18. #18 Crakar14
    February 2, 2009

    Sorry Coby but i could not resist,

    Brian the fact that Mercury has very little atmosphere and therefore very little green house, is the major cause of Mercury’s massive temperature swings between night and day.

    It is not reasonable to compare Venus and Mercury this way, yes Venus has 97% C02 and very little of anything else, also the atmospheric pressure of Venus is something like 100 times that of Earth which influences the way C02 behaves on Venus, Venus recieves something like 3000W/m2 from the Sun, so once again you cannot compare Venus to Earth (from a greenhouse perspective).

    The area Trevor is alluding to is the basis of the AGW theory and is worthy of further discussion.

    This from an earlier post “Thanks for the link, interesting reading, however i was after a link which explains how the IPCC achieved thier predictions, what if any experiments were carried out and what were the results etc as opposed to a GCM.”

    I have not seen this data from the IPCC has anyone else? If so please post a link.


  19. #19 coby
    February 2, 2009

    Yes Venus recieves more insolation (I didn’t check your number, you have no source cited but I don’t dispute it). It also has such a high albedo due to the complete cloud cover that the surface receives less short wave radiation than the earth’s surface (see link in previous comment). Shortwave radiation is the overwhelming majority of energy that comes from the sun. The reason the surface of venus is hundreds of degrees warmer than earth, despite receiving less sunlight (again at the surface) is due to its overpowering greenhouse effect.

    Trevor’s issue is certainly interesting, but he is extrapolating his own ignorance of it onto climate science as a whole. If you are an amateur, especially one who has not read any scientific literature on a subject, and you get results vastly different from the trained, working experts in the field, chances are pretty good it is your problem, not the rest of the world’s.

  20. #20 Trevor
    February 3, 2009

    Okay, you want to get ugly? Fine.

    Venus is warmer than Mercury because Mercury has virtually no atmosphere at all, and therefore no greenhouse effect. Duh! Brian D’s comment is incredibly ignorant. And so is Coby for agreeing with him. The fact that Coby could read a comment like that from Brian D, and not blast it out of the water for the inanity that it is proves that Coby is just as ignorant as Brian D.

    To clarify my answer to Coby’s first question (I wouldn’t have thought it needed clarification, but apparently I’m dealing with a bunch of ignorant people here): Carbon dioxide can NEVER prevent more than 4% of the infrared radiation emitted by the surface from escaping the atmosphere, because CO2 only absorbs IR in a very limited range of wavelengths that, together, comprise only 4% of all IR emitted by the surface. This is true on Venus as well as Earth. However, 4% of Venus’s IR emissions is a hell of a lot more than 4% of Earth’s IR emissions, because Venus’s surface receives much more solar radiation than Earth’s. And therefore, Venus’s surface is much warmer than Earth’s. Meanwhile, Venus’s surface is also much warmer than Mercury’s because Mercury does not have a greenhouse effect at all. (However, it’s worth noting that Mercury, with no greenhouse effect at all, is, on average, still much warmer than Earth.)

    And to respond to Coby’s response to Crakar:

    Venus’s albedo is 60%; Earth’s is 30%. So, even if insolation was measured in the upper atmosphere, Venus’s 3000 W/m^2 results in a net 1200 W/m^s at the surface, while Earth’s 1366 W/m^2 results in just 956 W/m^2 at the surface. But insolation is not measured in the upper atmosphere, but at the SURFACE. That means that the 3000 and 1366 W/m^2 are already taking albedo into account. So, Venus’s surface receives over twice as much insolation as Earth’s. Now, I understand that Venus’s surface is DIMMER than Earth’s, but that only means that it receives less VISIBLE light from the sun. And I don’t know where you got your figures, Coby, but my source says that only about half of all solar radiation is in the visible, short-wave part of the spectrum. So the additional insolation on Venus is clearly coming from other parts of the spectrum. Venus has a very weak magnetic field compared to Earth’s, and we know that Earth’s magnetic field partially shields it from solar radiation. Venus clearly doesn’t have as much of this shielding as Earth.

    But while we’re talking about Venus, the very article you referenced, Coby, clearly states that Venus’s runaway greenhouse effect was caused by WATER VAPOR, not carbon dioxide. The same article says this is not a possibility on Earth. But, more importantly, unless you believe that little green men were driving big green SUVs around Venus’s surface 4-5 billion years ago, global warming on Venus clearly was not caused by anthropogenic (or should I say say xenogenic?) emissions of CO2 due to the burning of fossil fuels.

    As for your second question, I was initially confused by your parsing of words here. Yes, every individual ray of IR will, EVENTUALLY, escape Earth’s atmosphere (although, since we’re parsing words here, even that is not TECHNICALLY true – see footnote). But that’s not the issue. The issue is what percentage of the IR emitted by the surface is, at any given time, bouncing around in the atmosphere, where it can eventually return to the surface and cause warming. In that sense – the sense I was referring to, and the only sense that matters – carbon dioxide can “trap” no more than 4% of all IR emitted by the surface. But it does trap some IR, and in the sense I’m using the word, that portion that is trapped is prevented from “escaping” the atmosphere. And of course, on top of that, there is all the IR that is “trapped” by water vapor and the minor greenhouse gasses. None of this IR “escapes” the atmosphere, in the sense that I’m using the word (again, the only sense that matters in this discussion). And yet, we do not have a runaway greenhouse effect, which, by your logic, we WOULD, if as little as 0.000001% of all IR was prevented from escaping the atmosphere. But then, you’re using the word “escape” in a different sense, one that is irrelevant to the discussion.

    As for your final comment, “If you are an amateur, especially one who has not read any scientific literature on a subject, and you get results vastly different from the trained, working experts in the field, chances are pretty good it is your problem, not the rest of the world’s.”:

    So, the “chances are pretty good” that Svante Arrhenius, T. C. Chamberlin, and Guy Callendar were WRONG, when they insisted, a century ago, that Carbon Dioxide could cause global warming, despite the fact that virtually every meteorologist and climatologist disagreed with them. These guys were all “amateurs” in the respect that, though they were scientists, they most certainly were not climatologists. And all of the “experts” in the field, the REAL climatologists, said they were full of crap. These are the guys that the alarmists hold up as the pioneers of global warming research. Yet by the standards they are applying to global warming skeptics, no one should have ever listened to these amateurs.

    Oh, and your “trained, working experts” wouldn’t be working at all if there weren’t hundreds of billions of dollars of government funding being thrown at researching this “problem”. And if it were ever established that anthropogenic global warming is wrong, that money would dry up very quickly. So tell me, Coby, with a straight face, that your “trained, working experts” don’t have a vested interest in promoting fears of anthropogenic global warming.


    Footnote: Since we’re parsing words and getting technical about IR “escaping” the atmosphere; the only IR that ever truly “escapes” the atmosphere is the IR that goes clean through the entire atmosphere without ever encountering a molecule of greenhouse gas that could absorb it. Any IR ray that does encounter such a GG molecule will be immediately absorbed, and its energy will be transferred to the molecule itself. This IR ray effectively CEASES TO EXIST at this point, WITHOUT EVER HAVING “ESCAPED” THE ATMOSPHERE. Now, the GG molecule will, of course, emit ANOTHER IR ray, in a random direction, and THAT IR ray MIGHT escape the atmosphere. But that new IR ray is not the SAME IR ray as the one that was absorbed. The original IR ray, the one that was absorbed, is simply GONE. It did not escape, any more than a prisoner who, in attempting to escape, is shot and killed before he gets over the fence.

  21. #21 Trevor
    February 10, 2009

    Posted by: Brian D | February 2, 2009 2:00 PM:

    “Trevor, if insolation were the primary cause of higher temperatures on Venus, please explain why Mercury (closer to the sun and possessing a lower albedo) is several hundred degrees cooler than Venus.”

    Well, duh! Mercury is cooler than Venus because mercury has very little atmosphere, and no significant greenhouse effect at all. Your post displays your incredible ignorance of atmospheric science. It is the COMBINATION of insolation and greenhouse effect that makes Venus so much hotter than both Earth (greenhouse effect, but not as much insolation) and Mercury (a lot of insolation, but no greenhouse effect).

    However, if you think that insolation ISN’T the primary cause of planetary warmth, then please explain why Mercury, WITH NO GREENHOUSE EFFECT AT ALL, is still, on average, warmer than Earth.


  22. #22 Trevor
    February 10, 2009

    One more thing, Coby.

    As the article you referenced regarding “what’s going on on Venus” explains, Venus’s runaway greenhouse effect was caused by water vapor, not carbon dioxide. It MIGHT be said that, at the present time, carbon dioxide is MAINTAINING a very high temperature on Venus’s surface. But carbon dioxide most certainly is not CAUSING warming on Venus. There’s no warming going on there right now, is there? The warming that DID occur, billions of years ago, was due to water vapor. The only thing the carbon dioxide is doing is maintaining the temperatures established long ago by the water-vapor-initiated runaway greenhouse effect.

    Now, again, I’m no expert on atmospheric science, (though clearly more knowledgeable than Brian D; and I’m beginning to think you’re just as ignorant as Brian D, since you endorsed his comment about the reason Mars is cooler than Venus). But it seems to me that it is much, much easier to MAINTAIN a certain temperature level than it is to initiate a CHANGE from one temperature level to another. Think about the heating system in your home. It takes a whole lot more energy to WARM your house from 10 degrees C to 20 degrees C than it does to KEEP your house at 20 degrees C once that temperature has been reached.

    In fact, I believe my own home’s heating system is very analagous to Venus’s greenhouse effect. I have a two-stage heat pump. As long as I’m just maintaing a given temperature (set by the thermostat), the “normal” heat pump action, with only-slightly-warmer-than-current-temperature air, is sufficient for that purpose. However, if I set my thermostat to two or more degrees (F – my thermostat isn’t metric) warmer than the current temperature, the “supplemental heat”, or “second stage heating”, will kick in. This supplemental heat blows out HOT air, warming the home quickly, until the temperature reaches that set by the thermostat. At that point, the “normal” heat pump action takes over.

    In this analogy, the “normal” (or first-stage) heat pump action is the carbon dioxide greenhouse effect on Venus, while the “supplemental” (or second-stage) heat is the much-more-powerful original, runaway, water-vapor-initiated greenhouse effect.

    Of course, I admit that this “greenhouse effect maintenance” probably does not FULLY explain the difference between Earth’s and Venus’s surface temperatures. I doubt that Carbon Dioxide could even MAINTAIN temperatures that warm, here on Earth, even if they ever got that high to begin with. Why? BECAUSE EARTH DOESN’T RECEIVE NEARLY AS MUCH SOLAR ENERGY AS VENUS.


  23. #23 Crakar14
    February 10, 2009


    It is very difficult to debate this point using the approach you have chosen, for every science paper you produce to validate your position Coby and Brian could produce one to validate theirs. This to me would suggest the science is not in on this particular issue.

    Instead i would suggest you look at a way of measuring the effects of increased C02 in the atmosphere, for example the IPCC consensus states (in simple terms) increased C02 will be seen as a heat increase or warming about 10K’s up above the tropics commonly known as the “hot spot”. Therefore if the atmosphere is warming more than the surface then C02 is affecting the climate. If no “hot spot” can be found then C02 has no effect and AGW theory is dead in the water.

    Currently there are two independant sources for measuring the warming or lack thereof, they are radiosonde weather balloon and satellite. I suggest you take a look at this data you might find it of interest.



  24. #24 Trevor
    February 11, 2009


    Thanks for the advice. Though I have not DIRECTLY looked at this data you recommend (can you provide a link?), I have seen articles pointing out that both the weather balloon and satellite records of atmospheric temperatures confirm that the atmosphere is actually warming MORE SLOWLY than the surface. As you point out, this is a direct contradiction to AGW theory, which states that the atmopshere should warm more rapidly than the surface.

    I can’t seem to find this skeptic argument against AGW listed among the arguments that Coby refutes on this site. However, I have seen other alarmists confront this argument by claiming that, after certain “adjustments” were made to the satellite data, it does indeed show slightly more warming in the atmosphere than at the surface. What I find very interesting is that the organization responsible for these “adjustments” is NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, whose director is none other than James Hanson, Al Gore’s “scientific advisor”.


  25. #25 Trevor
    February 11, 2009


    Though it appears we are on the same side here, I have to take issue with one of your statements:

    “It is very difficult to debate this point using the approach you have chosen”

    I beg to differ. It appears to me that the approach I have chosen has been quite effective. There hasn’t been a single post from Coby, Brian, or any other AGW alarmist since I picked apart their arguments in my Feb 3 post. I particularly enjoyed hoisting Coby on his own petard regarding his parsing of the phrase “escape the atmosphere”. But what it all comes down to is that CO2 cannot possibly block any more than 4% of IR from escaping the atmosphere (I give credit to you for that 4% figure, but I’d like to know where you got it from, in case I need to use it somewhere else). Coby’s just trying to confuse us with this “elevate the height in the atmosphere of the temperature required for this escape” nonsense. It still doesn’t change the IR absorbtion wavelength bands of carbon dioxide. And if all of the IR in those bands is already being blocked, by either CO2 or water vapor, then CO2 cannot possibly cause any further warming, at ANY altitude.

    I wonder where Coby has gone. Surely he has seen my post. Does he not have an answer for it? I mean, if nothing else, he could just pop in and call me “ignorant” again; say I don’t understand the science and that the rest of the world disagrees with me. But like Arrhenius, Chamberlin, and Callendar, I’m not going to just go away because the entire climatology community disagrees with me. What I would really like to know is, where the hell were all these proponents of the “scientific concensus” when the concensus was that mankind could not affect the climate, and guys like Arrhenius, Chamberlin, and Callendar were the “deniers”?


  26. #26 mikatollah
    February 11, 2009

    Trever, I’ve read your posts here and I wouldn’t expect a reply from Coby any time soon. It has nothing to do with the quality of your arguments, which are rambling at best. It’s your tone.

    Your posts are sarcastic, arrogant and insolent and your disgust with people who disagree with you is obvious. So don’t confuse silence from others with a winning argument. They are ignoring you…

  27. #27 Crakar14
    February 11, 2009


    Rather than debate the science behind an issue that is not entirely understood by all, you could look for and debate the evidence to support your position.

    Have a read of this story paying attention to the part about radiosonde data.



  28. #28 Trevor
    February 12, 2009


    Sarcastic, arrogant, and insolent my posts might be. But if you will look back at the history of the discussion on this topic, you will clearly see that Coby called me “ignorant” at one point. THAT was when I responded in kind. So who, pray tell, has a problem with “tone”? Of course, I can add you to that list now, as you have called my arguments “rambling”, rather than attempting to refute them. By the way, the least you could do is spell my name right.

    No, it’s quite clear that Coby is not responding because I have thoroughly embarrassed and discredited him. He seconded Brian D’s “identification” of my “misunderstandings WRT Venus and green house effects”, which completely ignored the fact that Mercury has no greenhouse effect. Brian’s comment was ignorance of the highest order, and Coby fully endorsed it.

    Now, personally, I wouldn’t have thought that Coby was really that ignorant, and I was initially willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on this one, and write if off to Coby’s unwillingness to humiliate someone on his own side, even though he knew Brian was dead wrong. But then, when Coby made the statement that “If anything less than 100% of the IR escapes[,] the surface of the earth does not stay warm, it warms without end” and “All IR must escape eventually”, I knew that Coby really didn’t have a clue about how the greenhouse effect works. As I clearly explained in the footnote of one of my posts, any IR that is absorbed by a greenhouse gas molecule ceases to exist at that point, WITHOUT EVER ESCAPING THE ATMOSPHERE. The fact that the GHG molecule emits ANOTHER ray of IR doesn’t change the fact that the ORIGINAL IR ray is dead and gone.


    Face it, mikatollah – Coby is just dead wrong on this. His incoherent statement about “increasd CO2 … elevat[ing] the height in the atmosphere of the temperature required for this escape” (what in the hell is the height of the temperature? That’s just nonsense.) is no more than a very lame attempt to steer the discussion away from the fact that CO2 can never, EVER trap, for ANY amount of time, more than 4% of the Infrared Radiation emitted by the surface.

  29. #29 mikatollah
    February 12, 2009


    Sorry about misspelling your name… it was inadvertent.

    You can tell a lot about a person from their blog postings. So much so that businesses and government have begun personal searches on people requesting jobs and security clearances. I tell my kids to be mindful of their tone and manners online because people are watching and it could come back to haunt you.

    As for your technical argument, the CO2 molecule saturation argument against AGW has been around for years and has been discounted by climate scientists and answered on several web sites so you are not going to change any minds with it here.

    You do tend to ramble when you are trying to make a point about Venus or gas molecule saturation. You wrote 30 or 40 paragraphs about it in a thread about AGW theory and the second law of thermodynamics. A bit off topic.

  30. #30 Peter Doidge
    February 16, 2009

    [Introductory Note: I composed my comments below offline, a few weeks ago, in response to the very first post above, soon after coming across this site. Some of the comments in response to “Shane” are relevant to the discussion following, which has developed since my last visit here. In particular, the “4%” figure needs to be justified by some of the posters, like Trevor, who does not say where the 4% figure comes from.]
    The comments by Shane at the first post above are misleading, confused, and ill-considered. It is a set problem in certain textbooks on atmospheric physics (see, e.g., John Houghton’s The Physics of Atmospheres) to work out the incremental fraction of radiation absorbed by CO2 in the 15-micron band, e.g., for a doubling of CO2. When the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere is doubled, the change in the outgoing top-of-atmosphere (TOA) radiation is about 4 W/m^2 (in the absence of feedbacks). The corresponding TOA temperature change, from the Stefan-Boltzmann law, would be about 1 K, with no additional feedbacks. I suggest Shane work through this kind of set problem, to convince himself of this. Shane also appears to confound the issues by multiplying the CO2 abundance by the fraction of the total radiation that is available for absorption by CO2. This is a gross mistake. The CO2 can, if concentrations are high enough, absorb ALL the radiation, in the relevant spectral ranges. The relevant quantity would be 100% of 4%, not CO2’s “share” of the total atmopheric gas concentration multiplied by 4%. Shane should have a look at Fig. 3.14 in An Introduction to Atmospheric Physics by David G. Andrews, in which are shown the IR absorption spectra for 6 strongly absorbing gases, including water vapour and CO2, for a vertical beam passing through the atmosphere. He will notice that CO2 absorption is practically complete in the spectral interval 13.5 to 16.5 microns, and remains substantial beyond these values, out to ~13 and ~18 microns.
    I also question the “4%” in Shane’s claim that “…the band widths that are absorbed are less than 4% of the black body radiation emitted back into space.” If one looks at the Planck distribution for a temperature of 255 K, which is the equivalant blackbody temperature corresponding to the net longwave radiation to space of the Earth (240 W/cm^2), then it is quite clear that the fraction of the total radiation falling within the range of wavenumbers that can be absorbed by CO2 is much higher than 4%. In his book Radiative Heat Exchange in the Atmosphere, p.128, Kondratyev writes that “…the entire absorption band centred at 14.7 microns causes an absorption of 14% of the black body radiation.” This figure appears to be an underestimate, as it ignores the far wings of the band, and should be closer to 20%. (See Kondratyev’s Table 17.) If Shane were to find a Planck-function calculator (these can be found on the net), and look at the distribution for our 255 K blackbody, he will see that more than 40 W/m2 of the total flux of 240 W/cm^2 falls in the interval 13 to 17 microns. This is because this spectral interval falls close to the peak of the blackbody curve. Note that most of the radiation in this 15 (+/-2)-micron interval has already been absorbed by the already-existing CO2. If we were to remove all the CO2 from the atmosphere, we would get a much bigger temperature drop (something like 7 K) than would be observed as an increase upon doubling from the present value. I wonder if Shane is confusing the canonical 4 W/m^2 (for forcing due to CO2 doubling) with a percentage…..
    By the way, some of the folk here might like to learn how to spell “absorption”.

  31. #31 Peter Doidge
    February 16, 2009

    My second comment here is addressed directly to Trevor’s claim that: “I note that no one has addressed Shane’s comment, other than “notes”, who can only say, “… carbon dioxide absorbs to extinction at its main peak …”. The key phrase there, notes, is “at its main peak”. Carbon dioxide absorbs Infrared Radiation (IR) only at two very narrow ranges of wavelength, one between 2.5 and 3 microns, and another between 4 and 5 microns.”

    The last claim here is incorrect. As Kondratyev’s discussion, in the book mentioned above, makes clear, the two main absorption bands of CO2 fall at 4.3 and 14.7 microns. He writes (p.122): “Apart from these two main bands, there are also bands centred at wavelengths of 2.7 and 10 microns, and also a number of other weak bands.” HOWEVER, “…the 2.7 and 4.3 micron bands are located far from the centre of the spectral distribution curve of black body radiation at atmospheric temperatures; consequently their effect on the absorption of the long-wave radiation of the earth in the atmosphere can be ignored in spite of the second of these bands being quite intense.”

  32. #32 Crakar14
    February 16, 2009


    Thanks for adding a more technical approach to the debate, one question, you refer to the term “black body” quite a bit. Am i to assume that all the facts and figures you have supplied here are from laboratory and computer modelling results?

    If so are you aware of any real world experimentation that can accurately show how C02 reacts to the IR at the relevant frequencies and how the C02 behaves in the presence of water vapour?

    You also quote figures based on the absence of feed backs what effects would feed backs have on the data you have supplied.



  33. #33 Trevor
    February 18, 2009


    FYI, I was aware of the 14.7-micron band of CO2 absorption. But it seemed to me, that if the IR emitted from the surface followed anything like a “normal probability distribution” curve, centered anywhere near the “central” wavelengths of what we call “infrared radiation”, then this 14.7-micron wavelength was in the extreme tail of the distribution, and there would be a vanishingly small amount of IR there. That was the assumption that I made, since I don’t have access to the ACTUAL distribution of IR emitted by the surface. And under that assumption, the 4% quoted by Shane seemed very reasonable, though I confess, as I have all along, that I don’t know where Shane’s number came from.

    Now, if you, Peter, have some source for the ACTUAL distribution of IR emitted by Earth’s surface, I would be glad to take a look at it. And if it confirms that the distribution of IR emitted from the surface is something other than a normal distribution, or that the center of that distribution is closer to the 14.7-micron band, then I will have to adjust my analysis accordingly. However, none of this changes the fact that Coby is still dead wrong. Whatever the maximum percentage of IR that can be absorbed by CO2 is (whether it’s closer to your 20% or Shane’s 4%), it cannot be changed by Coby’s ridiculous claim that “If anything less than 100% of the IR escapes[,] the surface of the earth does not stay warm, it warms without end” or his nonsense about CO2 “elevat[ing] the height in the atmosphere of the temperature required for this escape”.


  34. #34 Trevor
    February 18, 2009


    “Sorry about misspelling your name… it was inadvertent.”

    Apology accepted.

    “You can tell a lot about a person from their blog postings. So much so that businesses and government have begun personal searches on people requesting jobs and security clearances. I tell my kids to be mindful of their tone and manners online because people are watching and it could come back to haunt you.”

    All well and good, but totally irrelevant to the topic at hand. But then, you AGW alarmists like to change the subject a lot, don’t you? And I must reiterate that Coby was the first to become condescending, when he called me “ignorant”. When, in fact, if he could endorse the comments of Brian D, then directly spout his own nonsense, it is Coby who is supremely ignorant.

    “As for your technical argument, the CO2 molecule saturation argument against AGW has been around for years and has been discounted by climate scientists and answered on several web sites so you are not going to change any minds with it here.”

    If so, then perhaps you could provide a link to such a site. Preferrably one that doesn’t use the same nonsense Coby has been spouting.

    “You do tend to ramble when you are trying to make a point about Venus or gas molecule saturation. You wrote 30 or 40 paragraphs about it in a thread about AGW theory and the second law of thermodynamics. A bit off topic.”

    Counting paragraphs, are you? Well, apparently, 30 or 40 isn’t enough because you guys STILL don’t get it. As for the off-topic part, perhaps if Coby had devoted a separate page to this topic, then this discussion could be moved to that page. But, apparently, Coby isn’t as confident in his ability to “refute” this argument as in his ability to refute easy arguments like “Its cold today in Wagga Wagga”, “Global warming comes from all that heat at the Earth’s core”, or “We Can’t Even Predict the Weather Next Week”. And the discussion here shows he is right to lack that confidence.



  35. #35 mikatollah
    February 18, 2009

    So we are still playing AGW denier whack-a-mole. Coby has already directed you to a discussion of the gas absorption issue and its history, but here it is again for anyone interested enough to do a little reading:


    If you are still interested in debating specific scientific points, I think Peter is preparing to take you to school.

  36. #36 Trevor
    February 19, 2009


    Thanks for the link. I had seen it before but discounted it as misleading. And it is. Just because it appears, in print, on some AGW alarmist website doesn’t make it a fact. You see, the article only pays lip service to the IR absorption bands of CO2, then goes into this same gobblydegook about elevating the height in the atmosphere where the heat escapes. When are you guys going to get it through your heads that there’s only so much IR that can be absorbed by CO2, no matter how much CO2 there is or where it is in the atmosphere?

    Look, if you have a city with a population of 1,000,000 and 1,000 crimes are committed each day, you would like to lock the criminals up. So you hire cops to arrest the criminals. But a cop can only arrest, say, 10 people per day. So, if you hire 100 cops, and distribute them evenly around the city, that’s enough to arrest all 1,000 of the criminals. Hiring another cop won’t get you any more arrests, because there aren’t any more criminals. Now, if you want to complicate things, you can say that half of the handcuffs in the town are faulty, and half of all arrests result in the criminal escaping. So, yes, if 500 of the original 1,000 arrestees escape, hiring another cop will net you another 5 arestees. And yes, more and more cops will result in more and more NET arrests. But you’re NEVER going to have more than 1,000 people locked away in jail. No matter WHERE you put the additional cops. Unless you start arresting innocent people.

    If you look closely at the article, it provides clues as to where it’s misleading you. It ADMITS that the air is thin in the upper atmosphere. But what it neglects to mention is that this means that carbon dioxide molecules, even if they were just as highly concentrated as in the lower atmosphere, are still few and far between. Additional carbon dioxide at such high altitudes is a drop in the bucket.

    The article goes on to mention that the absorption bands of all the greenhouse gasses narrow at higher altitudes. This is mentioned in the hope of minimizing the “overlap” effect of water vapor. But if you think about it, it also means that whatever percentage of IR can be absorbed by CO2 in the lower atmosphere, that percentage is significantly lower at higher altitudes. How much lower? The article doesn’t say. Probably because the author wants to leave the reader with the assumption that it’s just enough to zero out the overlap effect of water vapor without significantly affecting the direct absorption by CO2.

    Finally, the article attempts to mislead the reader into believing that a 1% increase in the earth’s “radiation balance” is equivalent to a 1% increase in the earth’s temperature. To be fair, the article doesn’t exactly SAY this, but it puts the two together in such a way that a less-informed reader would obviously make such a connection. And after all, the “less-informed reader” is the target audience of this article.

    But at least now I understand where the “temperature” part of Coby’s nonsensical statement about raising the height necessary for escape comes from. Apparently, the theory goes like this. More CO2 in the atmosphere means more CO2 in the upper atmosphere. This (despite, somehow, the air being much thinner at that altitude, and the absorption bands much narrower) means that the level at which IR “escapes” the atmosphere is higher than it would be if there were less CO2. And the atmosphere at this level is colder than at the level the IR would have escaped at if CO2 levels were lower. So, the heat lost to space is lower. Okay, I get it now. I failed to grasp this earlier because of the ridiculous assumptions behind it. Allow me to dash those assumptions. Here goes. 1) IR “escapes” from the atmosphere at the same altitude, regardless of how much CO2 is present or where. More CO2 in the upper atmosphere doesn’t make the atmosphere thicker. 2) It doesn’t even matter what altitude the IR escapes at, or what the temperature of the atmosphere is at that altitude. It isn’t the atmosphere that is escaping. It’s the IR rays. Infrared radiation IS heat. A “unit” of infrared radiation has the same energy (heat) in the upper atmosphere as it does at the surface, and that amount of heat is not affected by the temperature of the surrounding air. This whole argument about the temperature of the atmosphere at the level where IR escapes is a red herring. If a unit of heat escapes, it escapes, and the heat balance goes down one unit, regardless of what the air temperature was at the altitude the unit of heat escaped. Just another attempt to mislead the uninformed.


  37. #37 mikatollah
    February 19, 2009

    You know Trevor, there is an old Steve Martin joke about how funny it would be if you taught a small child the wrong meaning for simple words. Then when he finally gets to go to school, he raises his hand and asks his teacher, “Can I mambo dogface in the banana patch?”

    What you are doing here is attempting to make readers mambo dogface in the banana patch…

    So we have to choose. Do we believe peer reviewed climate scientists whose only agenda is to get the science right, or do we believe the angry blogger who is scared his tax bill might go up…That is why I said earlier that you are not going to change any minds here with old arguments.

    Your arguments have been debunked generally in the realclimate posting, and specifically among the 248 responses that followed. This mole has been whacked.

  38. #38 Peter Doidge
    February 19, 2009

    Thanks for your response. You write:
    “Am i to assume that all the facts and figures you have supplied here are from laboratory and computer modelling results?”
    Not at all. The numbers I quoted were mostly from the textbooks I cited. These are (usually) written to give students (and I count myself a student in this field; I am no kind of “expert” in most of the sub-disciplines of climate science) a feel for the magnitudes of the effects. The Kondratyev book I cited is slightly different, having been written in the 1960s to summarise (probably for a largely Soviet readership) some of the results of then-recent findings in the field. Some of those papers are now rather dated. However, the underlying principles of the spectroscopy of CO2, as set out in this book and others, remain valid.

    As to “real world experimentation that can accurately show how C02 reacts to the IR at the relevant frequencies”, I think it is one of the more persistent “mythconceptions” advanced by “skeptics” that our notions about atmospheric response to increased CO2 come only from climate modeling, or laboratory measurements. In fact, there is direct evidence, which appears (to my non-specialist eye) to be quite good, from satellite observations dating back to 1970, that the spectral “signatures” of the outgoing longwave radiation have changed, between 1970 and the present day. See, for example, J. A. GRIGGS and J. E. HARRIES, Comparison of Spectrally Resolved Outgoing Longwave Radiation over the Tropical Pacific between 1970 and 2003 Using IRIS, IMG, and AIRS, J. Clim., v. 20, p. 3982 (2007). From the abstract: “The observed difference spectrum between the years 2003 and 1970 generally shows the signatures of greenhouse gas forcing, and also shows the sensitivity of the signatures to interannual variations in temperature.”
    I don’t know if this paper is available for free download- I think I had to go to my local university library to get it- but you can see some of this group’s results at this page: http://www.eumetsat.int/Home/Main/Publications/Conference_and_Workshop_Proceedings/groups/cps/documents/document/pdf_conf_p50_s9_01_harries_v.pdf

    My attention has been drawn back to Trevor, through new posts of his, so I must respond on water-vapor at some other time.

  39. #39 Peter Doidge
    February 19, 2009

    Trevor: I disagree with practically everything you’ve written in your latest posts.
    First, I do not understand why you refer to the radiation distribution as a “normal probability distribution” and go on to refer to a “…curve, centered anywhere near the “central” wavelengths of what we call “infrared radiation”.” The Planck radiation distribution (which describes reasonably well the distribution of incoming solar radiation, and that of the upgoing radiation from earth’s surface) is not “normal”. It is not “centered” in the way you appear to mean. It is peaked, but does not behave like a normal, or Gaussian, distribution, which is what I take you to mean. The area under the Planck distribution is not the same for equal frequency intervals at equal distances either side of the peak. It is not symmetrical in that sense.
    Your comments about the 15-micron CO2 band also lead me to suspect that you do not understand that the peak of the outgoing radiation curve is VERY different from that of the incoming solar flux. But this is basic bread-and-butter textbook stuff. Incoming solar radiation is approximately “black”, with a brightness temperature of about 5800 K. The radiation going upwards from the earth’s surface is also black, with a blackbody temperature of about 288 K. Again, this is textbook stuff. You asked me if I “… have some source for the ACTUAL distribution of IR emitted by Earth’s surface”. Have a look in texts by Houghton, Goody, and others. I can’t do your homework for you, Trevor. You have to show a willingness to learn. Unfortunately, this willingness to learn from such material as textbooks appears all too often to be absent among the “skeptic” contributors at sites such as this. You continue to push the “4%” value from Shane, though you produce no physical arguments yourself to support it, neither do you produce arguments as to why the numbers I’ve quoted from textbooks are wrong.

    From Wien’s displacement law, which relates the wavelength at peak to the inverse temperature, and since the peak of the solar radiation is about 0.6 microns, then the peak of the surface radiation would be at about (5800/288)*0.6 microns, or about 12 microns. This is close to the peak of the CO2 bands. It is certainly not the case that “…this 14.7-micron wavelength was in the extreme tail of the distribution”. It also means that a large part of the IR “window” region, from 8 to 13 microns (where the atmosphere is largely transparent, owing to lack of absorption by H2O or CO2) falls close to the peak of outgoing radiation.

    You question the argument in the Weart-Pierrehumbert article about “saturation”, simply because it is published at an “AGW alarmist” site (your words). You also issued a challenge: “If so, then perhaps you could provide a link to such a site. Preferrably one that doesn’t use the same nonsense Coby has been spouting.”
    Would it surprise you to know that Weart published much of the material and argument in the online article in an article published in Physics Today, the American Physical Society’s house journal? Weart’s material is also available online at APS, if you care to look. But perhaps you think APS is an “AGW alarmist”. Have a look at what one of Weart’s sources, Gilbert Plass, had to write, in the 1950s: “The argument has sometimes been advanced that the CO2 cannot cause a temperature change at the surface of the earth because the CO2 band is always black at any reasonable concentration. This argument is true for the lines near the centre of the band from 14 to 16 microns, but neglects completely the important contribution of the lines farther from the band centre”. (Plass, G.N. (1956). “The Influence of the 15-micron CO2 Band on the Atmospheric Infra-Red Cooling Rate”, Quarterly J. Royal Meteorological Society 82: 310-29.) This basically re-states, and refutes, the “saturation” argument that had been advanced by scientists for several decades. I don’t have a link to a site for the text of this article, Trevor, but you are most welcome to follow it up, at a good library.
    You also question the physical basis of the effect whereby increasing CO2 changes the height in the atmosphere corresponding to the effective emission temperature. Here is what the atmospheric physicist John Houghton had to write, in responding to Jack Barrett’s misconceptions, as set out in an article in Spectrochimica Acta, Part A: “In fact, most of the enhanced greenhouse effect occurs not because of changed absorption of radiation from the surface (although some change does occur in the wings of the carbon dioxide band where absorption is weaker) but because as the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases, the average height (around 6 km) from which carbon dioxide emits radiation to space also increases. Since atmospheric temperature in the lower atmosphere falls with altitude, if nothing changes other than the amount of carbon dioxide, the amount of radiation to space is reduced. For atmospheric carbon dioxide this reduction can be accurately calculated [my emphasis]; for doubled atmospheric concentration it is about 4 W m^-2. To restore the Earth’s energy balance the temperature throughout the lower atmosphere has to increase – hence the enhanced greenhouse effect.” [Spectrochimica Acta Part A, v.51 (1995) 1391- 1392]
    Again, this is bread-and-butter stuff, Trevor. If you don’t understand, then I doubt there’s much more I can say.

  40. #40 Peter Doidge
    February 19, 2009

    I cannot resist taking a swipe at one or two more of Trevor’s arguments.
    (1) Trevor:”The article goes on to mention that the absorption bands of all the greenhouse gasses narrow at higher altitudes. This is mentioned in the hope of minimizing the “overlap” effect of water vapor. But if you think about it, it also means that whatever percentage of IR can be absorbed by CO2 in the lower atmosphere, that percentage is significantly lower at higher altitudes.”
    No, the lines become narrower AND taller (i.e., have greater absorption coefficients). The reduced collisional (and Doppler) broadening at higher altitudes means the lines become narrower, but if the line strength stays the same (it does vary slightly with temperature, for CO2), the AREA under the absorption vs frequency curve remains contant. HOWEVER, and this is also part of the Weart argument, the amount of water vapour at the top of the atmosphere is very small. (Remember the freezing point of water?) The radiative effects up there are dominated by CO2, ozone, and other gasses that remain gases below the f.p. of water, and not so much by water vapour.

  41. #41 Peter Doidge
    February 19, 2009

    Trevor: Finally, the article attempts to mislead the reader into believing that a 1% increase in the earth’s “radiation balance” is equivalent to a 1% increase in the earth’s temperature. To be fair, the article doesn’t exactly SAY this, but it puts the two together in such a way that a less-informed reader would obviously make such a connection. And after all, the “less-informed reader” is the target audience of this article.

    Actually, Trevor, I agree with your first sentences here, but disagree with the very last one. (To the contrary, it appears to me that Weart-Pierrehumbert aim to educate a quite sophisticated audience.) A 1% change in radiative forcing (power) does not equate to a 1% temperature change. I might not have preferred to express matters that way myself.

  42. #42 Peter Doidge
    February 19, 2009

    As a general comment, I have been trying to avoid GW blogs for some time, as (1) they seem to descend rapidly into name-calling, and (2) I don’t have much time anyway. But, as Al Pacino once said, “Just when I’m out, they pull me back in”. So here I am. I have a comment on Trevor’s claim to have been called “ignorant”. I think that if Trevor reads Coby’s post again, he’ll see that Coby wrote of (what he took to be) Trevor’s “ignorance of” [an issue]. Now, to my way of thinking, saying someone is “ignorant of [some field or topic, or issue]” is not the same as saying that person is “ignorant” (which means, of course, totally ignorant).

  43. #43 Trevor
    February 24, 2009

    Peter (as quoting John Houghton)

    “… as the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere increases, the average height (around 6 km) from which carbon dioxide emits radiation to space also increases. Since atmospheric temperature in the lower atmosphere falls with altitude, if nothing changes other than the amount of carbon dioxide, the amount of radiation to space is reduced.”

    Okay, someone has finally stated this in a way that, at least on the surface, makes sense. But it is still misleading. Atmospheric temperature falls with altitude only because the atmosphere there is less dense (and therefore IR-absorbing greenhouse gasses are more rare). But if there’s more carbon dioxide up there, absorbing more infrared radiation, then there’s also more heat at that level of the atmosphere. So, although the “average height … from which carbon dioxide emits radiation to space” increases, the average temperature at that height also increases, to exactly the same temperature as at the lower average height from which CO2 formerly emitted radiation to space. So it’s still emitting radiation at the same temperature.

    “No, [at higher altitudes,] the lines [absorption bands]become narrower AND taller (i.e., have greater absorption coefficients)”.

    Okay, here is where you have a chance to convince me. You see, my source on absorption spectra for the major greenhouse gasses (avaliable online at http://www.climate-skeptic.com/2007/09/chapter-3-skept.html) is a graph that shows an absorptivity of 1 for carbon dioxide over three separate ranges of wavelengths (between about 2.5 and 3 microns, 4 and 4.7 microns, and 13.5+ microns). The important point is that for the graph I have been looking at, absorptivity is ALREADY AT 1, or 100% if you prefer to express it that way. You cannot have an absorptivity of greater than 1. Of course, I’m assuming that the terms “absorptivity” (at least as used by my source) and your “absorption coefficient” have the same meaning, and if that is not the case, feel free to enlighten me. Or perhaps you believe the graph I’ve been looking at to be wrong in some way, in which case you can hopefully point me to some source that shows absorption coefficients of less than 1, at the CO2 peaks, in the lower atmosphere. Otherwise, I would love to hear how carbon dioxide in the upper atmosphere can achieve an absorption coefficient of greater than 1.


  44. #44 Informed
    March 11, 2009

    You guys seem to want to talk about Venus a lot. The main reason for its high temperature is glaringly obvious. The atmospheric pressure on Venus is huge. Simply huge. Ninety two times larger than it is on Earth at surface level. Remember PV = nRT? Think about it. Temperature increases with pressure. That’s why Venus is so hot. The greenhouse effect has very very little to do with it. The simple fact that pressure being something other than zero requires a temperature seems too often forgotten. One sees the 33oC figure tossed around a lot… and it is all assumed to come from the greenhouse effect. How silly! surely a large portion comes from the simple pressure itself! And of course a fair bit also comes from convection; contact with the warm surface of the Earth. This 8th grade level analysis leaves very little room for the greenhouse effect, which, if it even exists, is completely and utterly dominated by water vapor.

    Also, your (Coby) 2nd law answer is insufficient. The argument goes something like: the atmosphere at that level is far colder than the surface. How can a colder part of the atmosphere warm the hotter surface up, and still be consistent with thermodynamics? In fact, the ‘greenhouse effect’ is not at all supported by any primary scientific literature. By that I mean papers. Textbooks and pamphlets and the IPCC reports (secondary and tertiary sources) include explanations and such, but as far as I know there is no rigorous analysis based strictly on the known laws of thermodynamics and physics. I’d love to be proven wrong in this regard, so feel free to point me to a primary source in the scientific literature.

  45. #45 coby
    March 11, 2009


    “Temperature increases with pressure. That’s why Venus is so hot.”

    Sorry, you have some serious misconceptions here. It is true that increasing pressure will raise temperature, but a body will not maintain a high temperature simply by being under a constant high pressure. If it worked the way you said, then shouldn’t the deep ocean (very high pressure) be hotter than the surface waters (low pressure)? Also, the pressures at the bottom of the ocean are greater than at the surface of Venus, so why 1oC here and 400oC there?

    Do you think a canister of high pressure O2 drifting in space will remain hot forever just because it is high pressure?

    You clearly have something very wrong in your reasoning.

    “as far as I know there is no rigorous analysis based strictly on the known laws of thermodynamics and physics.”

    I’m sorry if I sound harsh, but as far as you know is really not very far. I would like to recommend Spencer Weart’s excellent History of Global Warming for relevant research dating back a hundred years that should answer your questions, if they are sincere.

  46. #46 Informed
    March 12, 2009


    No of course the ocean will not be warmer at the bottom: it is not a gas. PV = nRT is the ideal gas law. It in no way describes or is related to liquids. I should think that this would be fairly obvious.

    And of course the high pressure O2 in space will eventually cool… The ideal gas law isn’t perfect. It’s a good approximation that gets across the form of the relationship. It deals with ideal gases, which have perfectly elastic collisions with one another and the walls of their container, this is of course never the case. There will be heat loss due to collisions with the container walls. Eventually the system will be at thermal equilibrium, with a large part (almost all of it, eventually) of the original thermal energy of the gas transferred to the walls of the canister, which will then radiate that energy away. Nothing you posted makes my statements about pressure being a major factor in the Venusian temperature invalid.

    As to the second part of your reply, I appreciate the effort, but I’ve been over all that stuff many times. Like I said, in the PRIMARY SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE there has been no comprehensive analysis, from a physics standpoint, of the so called atmospheric greenhouse effect. It’s postulated a few times, brought up, thrown in to other calculations as if it is already proven, etc, but there is no paper that is dedicated to the issue of explaining, in exact mathematical terms, what exactly it is. Again, even in the first analysis, that 33oC figure is used. All of this difference is assumed to be a direct effect of the greenhouse effect. The simple fact of the pressure that the atmosphere (regardless of its makeup) exerts on the surface, and the temperature increase that nonzero pressure requires, is left out.

  47. #47 coby
    March 12, 2009

    So you are saying that the ideal gas law is too simple to accurately describe an O2 canister floating in space, but is just fine for an atmosphere on a planet floating in space. Sure, whatever.

    Re your “search” for the missing foundation of GH theory, please stop with the bluffing. The IPCC report is completely reference to primary scientific literature. The link I offered you is completely reference to primary scientific literature. Here are a handful of the over 2000 at the History of Global Warming site:

    Tyndall, John (1861). “On the Absorption and Radiation of Heat by Gases and Vapours…” Philosophical Magazine ser. 4, 22: 169-94, 273-85.

    Tyndall, John (1873). “Further Researches on the Absorption and Radiation of Heat by Gaseous Matter (1862).” In Contributions to Molecular Physics in the Domain of Radiant Heat pp. 69-121. New York: Appleton.

    Arrhenius, Svante (1896). “On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air Upon the Temperature of the Ground.” Philosophical Magazine 41: 237-76.

    Wood, R.W. (1909). “Note on Theory of the Greenhouse.” Philosophical Magazine ser. 6 Vol. 17: 319-20.

    Lee, R. (1973). “The ‘Greenhouse’ Effect.” J. Applied Meteorology 12: 556-57.

    Here is that bibliography organized by calendar year.

  48. #48 cleanwater
    May 12, 2009

    If the greenhouse gas effect exists where is the test data that shows the effect of variations in concentration and the curves for the temperature changes vs concentration? Why hasn’t someone done an experiment that uses 100% CO2 or methane and developed prove that the greenhouse gas effect exists? I only see retoric no test data.

  49. #49 coby
    May 12, 2009

    Hi cleanwater,

    Where have you looked? You could start with the comment directly above your own.

    Denying the greenhouse effect is denying radiative physics is denying whole swaths of standard first year textbook science in numerous fields.

  50. #50 cleanwater
    May 13, 2009

    Coby: I have check Arrhenius and R.W. Wood and found that Arrhenius is all theoretical numbers no actual experimental data. The work of R.W. Wood is based on experimental work and he proves that the greenhouse gas effect does not exist. I am trying to get copies of Tyndall and Lee but keep going in circle on the internet. How about some real experimental data showing your case not just rhetoric or computer models based on fortune telling.

  51. #51 Brian D
    May 13, 2009

    Cleanwater, he already addressed that. It isn’t the most comprehensive approach I’ve seen, but it makes up for it with readability.

    If you dispute the basis of the greenhouse effect (hint: If you can’t find Tyndall’s paper online, get to a university library), you can perform some basic experiments yourself, such as this one (which you can also repeat with different gases). The results you’ll get will show the well-established logarithmic relationship between concentration and radiative forcing. As Coby notes, if you deny the greenhouse effect, there’s a lot of other physics you’ll end up denying, up to and including basic thermodynamics (explain why the Earth’s night temperature is warmer than its blackbody temperature, for instance).

    Note that mapping net forcing (i.e. the total forcing from natural and anthropogenic sources) to exact temperature change on a planetary scale by observational measures cannot be done without the use of a model, unless you happen to have a spare Earth or two and a time machine (which itself would be a model, by the way). We can use paleoclimate records to predict ranges experimentally, but really that’s beside the point — if the net forcing is nonzero, there will be a change in energy balance and thus a change in climate.

  52. #52 cleanwater
    May 14, 2009

    Attention Brian D. and Coby: Review of Model Experiment about the Greenhouse Effect. After studying the experiment above I have the following questions and comment.
    1. Are the two containers the same size, shape and type of glass? Different types of glass absorb different wave lengths of IR and heat up differently.
    2. Where are the thermometers located relative to the light? Are they in the light path were they would absorb some of the IR thus skewing the data.
    3. If the greenhouse gas effect exists there should be a different temperature of the black cardboard in the CO2 container. The temperature was not measured therefore this experiment only illustrates that the CO2 heats up. Does it heat from absorption or from conduction of different heating of the container?
    4. Was the experiment done with other “greenhouse gases?”as CH4 butane, natural cooking gas, Nitrogen trifloride ?
    5. Did the experimenters reverse the gases to the other container to evaluate differences in the set-up.?
    6. Was more than one set of test done? Is there more data to evaluate?
    7. Did you monitor the temperature of the water in the trays? If the trays are in contact with the gases there is conduction of heat from the bottom of the glass trays to the gases.
    8. I can not be sure from the photos but it appears that the top of C1 container is closed ,if this is true then you have created a confined space heating container (greenhouse effect). It has been proved by R.W. Wood and others that the heating in a greenhouse is caused by the restriction of heat convection and not back radiation of IR. The top of C2 appears open thus keeping the temperature lower by convection. Good job of cheating..
    9. What you have shown is what has been known from IR spectroscopes that different gases absorb different wave lengths of IR.
    10. I have done a similar experiment except I used clear Mylar balloons( very little or no absorption of IR as opposed to glass) Based on IR thermometer reading and available data on IR absorption by glass much of the heating in the experiment was from the glass. This was not measured in the experiment. By using Mylar balloons in bright sunlight there was no heating of the gases inside 4 balloons above ambient temperature(measured with an IR thermometer reading to O.1 degrees F. The contents were 100% CO2, 100% butane, natural gas (CH4 and CO2) and air. The black cardboard I used did not show any differential heating between areas in the “shadow” of the balloons compared to “un-shadowed” areas –no back radiation from the “greenhouse gas effect” The black cardboard did increase in temperature from ambient of 95 degree F to 175 degree F. uniformly across the surface.
    11. If the greenhouse gas effect exist why hasn’t it been applied to something useful like thermopane window filled with a “greenhouse gas” that would back radiate IR into the house and create insulated windows with R=30 values.
    You ask the question “Why can it be warmer at night than during the day? Any elementary school student that can read a weather report know that daily temperature are effected by hot or cold air masses moving across the area. It is also obvious that
    on a clear night the temperature will cool down much faster that on a cloudy night. Water is not a greenhouse gas in spite of what many people say- it has known properties that explain temperature differences 24/7/365. There is no back radiation –there is reflection of light or blockage of light(clouds) energy release as lightening and other thermo effects that are within the Laws of physics and thermodynamic.
    When you find reliable experimental data that proves that the “greenhouse gas effect exists please share it with the world.
    In the mean time read “Falsification of the Atmospheric CO2 greenhouse effects within the frame of Physics” by Gerhard Gerlich and Ralf D. Tscheuschner and when you understand it in five or ten year( a PhD level –way above your level of intelligence) and the global temperature has dropped by the 0.6 degrees that it has gone up over the passed 120year you will realize that man-made global warming is a hoax.

  53. #53 Paul in MI
    May 15, 2009

    Brian D.
    Let us suppose the results of the experiment you propose are indeed correct and accurate.

    The vessels are 0.037% CO2 and 100% CO2.
    And we see a 6degC difference.

    What does this say about two vessels whose content are 0.037% and say, 0.080%, or 0.100%?

    I think you may have solved this whole quandry for us?

  54. #54 Adam
    May 15, 2009

    cleanwater –

    You have some good questions in that post (along with some inane questions). You should perform the experiment yourself so you can address them.

    If Gerlich and Tscheuschner is so advanced, and hard to understand, how can you be sure they didn’t make any errors? Or are you just so smackin’ smarter than the rest of us, that you know it’s correct?

    Paul in MI –

    I think you may have solved this whole quandry for us?

    The only thing this experiment shows is the fact that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. It does not intend to show/predict/whatever the relationship between CO2 and temperature on a global scale, and to suggest otherwise is just asinine. If you’re a skeptic, fine, but you’re just grasping at straws here.

  55. #55 Paul in MI
    May 15, 2009


    We should draw “no” inference from a >2000x increase in concentration of CO2 causes a 6 degree C rise in temp? In a closed box?

    Would one not even be curious as to what a 2 or 3 times increase in concentration would do? In a closed box, or in open space?

  56. #56 cleanwater
    May 16, 2009

    Comments of Greenhouse gas effect 5-16-09
    Gentlemen: I will try to answer all the comments as many of them are worth sharing what I do know and give references where someone else does a better job of explaining why the greenhouse gas effect does not exist.
    A general comment on the supposed test “proving that the greenhouse gas effect exists.” This is a very poorly set up experiment. Every one of my question or comments was meant to point out an error or fault with the experiment. Having done a bite of experimenting for my Masters degree and having had my butt reamed for poor definition of the problem and ways to set up the experiment to either prove or disprove the hypotheses behind the experiment. I can recognize other’s mistakes. The experiment of proving that the “greenhouse gas effect exist” must show that there is “back radiation “caused by properties of CO2 and other gas molecules. It has been shown by Niels Bohr in 1922 that when a gas molecule absorbs electromagnetic energy as photons from IR it causes the electrons to go to a higher energy shell in the molecule- it does not cause the gas to heat up. The individual molecule can only absorb a specific amount of energy before it is reradiated as “light energy” with the same wavelength as was absorbed. The “light energy” will be radiated in any direction ( a three dimensional model) there is no force that cause it to go back in the direction that it came from. Using
    the picture used by advocates of the Greenhouse gas effect is pure fantasy. There no fixed layer of CO2, in the troposphere –The CO2 is distribute through out the troposphere thus if the molecule (very few-380ppm) absorbs the specific wave lengths that it will accept (only 2 or 3 wave lengths in the IR range) they can be from any direction thus during the day sunlight will be the primary source –very little from outward radiation from the heated Earth. At night after sundown the IR radiation from Earth could be absorbed by the CO2 however as stated above only 2 or 3 wavelengths of the IR spectrum will be absorbed. Any particular molecule may or may not absorb the IR depending on its individual energy level, because most of the molecules are already at an excited level from the sun, most of the IR from Earth will escape into space.( about 1 millionth of out bound IR will be absorbed then reradiated in any direction). This is proved every day because the temperature from one day to the next is totally different. Daily temperatures are obviously controlled by moving air masses. Ask any weatherman-meteorologist-The best they can do is predict the next 5 days with some reliability –why do you believe a Climatologist who is trying to use his frosty crystal ball to predict 10-20-30- 50- 100 years into the future. They tell us that they have this great computer model that makes all kind of assumptions but because there are limitations in the capacity of the computers they have to ignore the effects of water and sun light variation. As with all computers “garbage in is garbage out” Having checked with many Meteorologists ( and a few climatologist including the retired head of the Climatologist Society) that work with the data daily they know that the greenhouse gas effect is bull and that Man-made global warming is the product of corrupt politicians. If the politician and wacky environmentalists would close their mouths the Earth temperature would drop at least 5 degrees.
    Just a short comment about “heating” and “Heat transfer” –Thermodynamics-this is very simplified so the wacky environmental can understand it- gases do not get heated by absorption of radiation they get heated from conduction from other heated bodies- and when it heats up it causes the molecules to move faster( higher energy) this energy will then transfer to other molecules by collisions. Like pole balls colliding. This explains why the experiment that was supposed to prove that the greenhouse gas effect exists is in error. The light passes through the gas without heating it (Per Niels Bohr and others) then it is absorbed by the glass containers and the black cardboard inside the containers that heat up and then the gases are heated by conduction. The reason I was concerned whether one of the containers with the air was open is that convection through an open top would prevent heating as much as the closed top container with CO2 (greenhouse effect) We all know that the greenhouse effect exists. The problem is the explanations of why it happen is not understood- Look up the work of R.W. Wood that explains what happens –not back radiation of IR.
    The above is an answer to Brian D and Paul in Mi
    To Paul in MI –you did not read the previous comments of early May- I have performed similar experiments that were better thought out and the results were totally different. That is why I have gone into the above dissertation on basic physics, thermodynamics, not so basic radiation physics and a little nuclear physics.
    To Adam –the experiment does not prove that CO2 is a greenhouse gas- it proves that the greenhouse gas effect does not exist- again it proves that they set the experiment up wrong and proved the opposite –the greenhouse gas effect does not exist.
    To Paul in Mi- You are very good to question the reference to “Gerlich and Tscheuschner “ this is a first class reference because I have done the tests that they explained and gotten the results they said I would . Yes it is written by Ph D physicists for knowledgeable scientists. It may have some error but reading the comment there have not been any that shows any errors just rhetoric by environmental wachos who do not want to realize the works of Fourier, Tyndall and Arrhenius is Hypothesis that contain theoretical calculations and no actual test data. There has been much scientific research and great scientific discovery like the work of Einstein, Niels Bohr and many others that shows that these early Hypotheses have not been supported by facts.
    Another reference that I have given before is “Greenhouse Gas Hypothesis Violates Fundamentals of Physics” by Dipl-Ing Heinz Thieme This work has about 10 or 12 link that support the truth that the greenhouse gas effect is a hoax. It is a lot easier for the average person to read and understand. It also is consistent to the work of Gerlich etc.
    Another reference is “Ponder the Maunder” that is an excellent reading for the beginner.

    Adam-do you think “I am grapping at straws? In additions I have communicated to physicists that are experts in IR photography and they have supplied data on the absorption of IR by CO2 and other gases. This supports the fact that the greenhouse gas effect is a hoax.
    I am not contending that what I have written is absolutely correct, much has been simplified for understanding. Many of the references and there links give more complete explanations. It is not possible to condense 7000 years of scientific research and learning into a few pages. There have been many mistakes made during that time like the Earth is Flat (Known by the ancient Egyptians that it is spherical) or that the Earth is the center of the Universe but to go back 150 years to a Hypotheses that has not been proven by data is asinine.
    There have been references to the 95% CO2 atmophere of Venus and the fact that it is at a mush higher presure than on Earth and the temperature of it is mush higher. Some idiots claim this is proof that the greenhouse gas effect exists-they are wrong.One Venus is much closer to the Sun therefore it recieves much more radiation than Earth and this will make it hotter. Because of the higher pressure and higher concentration of CO2 there are many,many,many more molecules of CO2 in the atmosphere-if the greenhouse gas effect existed all the IR radiation from the hot Planet (2 or 3 wavelenghts) would be capured and back radiated to the planet.NASA has data that this is not happening.Also there are clouds of Sulfuric Acid over the layer of CO2 that has the same effect as the water cloud on Earth. These are not greenhouse gases-Water has proven effects on temperature because of known properties. There are Thousands of volumes about water and it effect. Water and CO2 are essential for live on this planet.

    There are a few million pages of scientific information or more and yet people prefer to believe the fantasy and fiction of a few corrupt politicians, Henny Pennies and climatologist that use frosty and dirty crystal balls to predict 50 or 100 years into the future based on illogical and unproven fantasy.

  57. #57 Paul in MI
    May 16, 2009

    I think you mis read the top of Adam’s post as being from me.
    He was referring to me in the middle of his post. My only comment was if Brian is correct, what do the results of the test say about really trivial amounts of CO2, as opposed to 100%.

  58. #58 cleanwater
    May 16, 2009

    Paul in Mi: sorry for misreadingthecomment. If I understand your question the answer would be that as the atmosphere on Venus is near 100 % at 95% and the greenhouse gas effect does not effect the temperature-per tests by NASA information. Thus If the experiment at the University of Bremen had been performed properly At 100% CO2 or CH4 Or any other Supposed greenhouse gas the temperature would not have increased. The experiment I performed with mylar balloons and 100% CO2,100% butane, natural gas and Air exposed to Sunlight on a bright sunny day the temperature of the ballons did not increase. The gases stayed at the same temperature as the outside air. The blackcard that was placed about 3″ away heated up to 145 degrees F. Another test with the same balloons in front of an aluminum painted door-The door heated up to 135 degrees and the balloons were at ambient(93 degrees F). Does this answer your question? Thanks for asking.

  59. #59 Paul in MI
    May 17, 2009

    Yes. But not looking for an answer as much as a thoughtful comment. One comment might be> if we increase the GHG by x 2000 and see a 6C increase we may expect something less if we increase it by x 2 or x 3. And how would this help us understand our situation on earth?

  60. #60 coby
    May 17, 2009

    re comment 56 from cleanwater,

    I have to say I have not read such a remarkable mix of ignorance, hubris and plain bull crap in quite a long time. It is much too long to waste time answering every point, but I would like to point out that your level of knowledge is clearly no deeper than the cartoons drawn to show a lay audience the very general principles. Arguing against the specifics of these cartoons is frankly laughable.

    Getting scolded by your thesis advisers for not knowing how to set up an experiment hardly seems a ringing endorsement for your skills in that area now, but did they also scold you for talking about things before doing even the most basic research? For example, you do not even know that CO2 is almost completely transparent to direct sunlight and you think predicting climate is like a 30 year weather prediction.

    Do some basic research, then you might have an opinion worth listening to.

  61. #61 cleanwater
    May 17, 2009

    Paul in Mi: The comment is very simple- At 3000X the concentration of CO2 would be 11.4% the temperature increase caused by any “greenhouse gas effect” is zero. Thus at 2 or 3 times the increase is still zero. The 6 degree shown in the test is caused by a bad experiment that does not measure what it claims to be measuring. I’ll bet this experiment will be pulled shortly because it is so full of errors.

    Cogy: Thank you for the endorsement and acknowledgement that you are not knowledgement enough to answer any points in the dissertation. Thank you for telling the world that the dissertation is fact and you cannot present anything to show it is wrong. You obviously do not know how to read- my statement is that CO2 only absorbs IR at 2or 3 wavelengths -thus you are in agreement with me that CO2 is nearly transparent to both visible and IR electromagnetic radiation. Of the total energy delivered from the Sun and the long wave IR being radiated outbound from Earth only about 0.0000001% is available for absorption.
    The cartoon is laughable because it is being used by clowns.
    To attach the messenger instead of the message is the voice of a loser.

  62. #62 cleanwater
    May 23, 2009

    Contact your Congressman ASAP
    Tell your Congressman to get evidence that the Greenhousegas effect exists.
    The congress is planning to pass a Cap& steal or Carbon tax tell them that they must get evidence that the “greenhouse gas effect exists” If they cannot get this evidence they should not pass this stupid legislation.

    If they pass it then we should tell them that we will not vote for any Congressman that vote for this legislation.
    Even if you think that this legislation should be passed-demand the evidence that the “greenhouse gas effect exists”

  63. #63 Peter Ravenscroft
    July 14, 2009

    G’day all,

    What a splendid exchange of ideas. I would like to establish something straight up, so no-one need ever be abusive. I am an aging ignoramus. Lets try get this science debate to being polite, that OK, kids? The strident new men are most welcome in these long geological debates (this particular one about ice ages has rambled on in print since 1840), but since Soapy Sam Wilberforce and Bulldog Huxley were allowed in on another issue, things have gone slightly downhill in the manners department. Time to lift the game?

    The debate just here seems to swing around roughly 4% of heat radiated from the surface being trapped, give or take whatever, fine. But what if there is a far greater variable effecting heat flows?

    The earth’s geomagnetic field varies hugely, over all time scales. That field reverses totally at erratic intervals and the effect seems to be quite large when it does so. We have, despite every one of the four? deep Antarctic drill holes targeting the deepest ice, so far not found anything clearly older than the last reversal, at roughly 800,000 bp and we may never do so. But glaciation in the south, from independent marine evidence, is known to have started some 35 million years go. So, where is all the old ice? It gets blow-torched at every reversal, is my wild guess.

    Next, to come to the closer time scale. Every major decline in temperature in the last five thousand years, from the historic record, at least in the northern hemisphere, is matched closely by a radical drop in the VADM, the vertical axial dipole moment of the planet, go see Google or Wiki.

    Next, to deal with just this century, the sharpest decline in the magnetic field of this planet has been at the Antarctic Peninsula, right where the sharpest warming on the same planet has occurred. The far more most extensive but not quite as sharp rise in temperature in the north has been more or less centred on the new emerging magnetic north pole, located halfway between Lake Baikal and the Arctic Ocean. As the magnetic lines of force in the north are inwardly directed, as the field there strengthens, that has the same effect on the magnetosphere as a decrease in the south. The Van Allen Belts dip lower and in come more highly energetic protons, electrons and helium nuclei from the sun plus all the very high energy extra cosmic rays. When sunspots are aplenty, it gets hot. When they are scarce it gets cold. But that is all severely modulated by the trends in the geomagnetic field at the time. At present and since Roman times, we have the geomagnetic field declining, more or less. And the temperature with it, as the Roman Warm Period is reckoned to have been hotter than the Medieval, and both were hotter than now, see where what was grown.

    You want the references? There are none, this is it. Merely some lunatic looking at the time-series maps and the ground and satellite temperature and mag data from the real world and then guessing wildly. But, this has a good chance of being the missing main driver of climate change, as it can explain the ice ages as well as swings now, which ice ages the carbonist model cannot even touch.

    Geophysics is not popular with the climate crowd, on both sides of the carbonist argument It has it’s own nightmare jargon and it takes a while to get up to speed, like a few years. I am not a geofink, just a geo who uses geofizz, to make it all even less reliable. Any geofink out there care to explain why I am drivelling? Be happy to know.

    Try the website above if you want more confusion. And ABC Pool Climate change debating group (of one), for some of the maps, at http://www.pool.org.au/group/climate_change



    Closeburn, Queensland, Oz

    Pete’s Dictum. In science, it’s often not either or, reality may be a mix of all four.

  64. #64 cleanwater
    July 27, 2009

    Peter Ravenscroft: Hello Peter you may be absolutely correct. The point I’ve been making is that CO2 and all the other supposed GHG’s can not cause global warming. The ghg effect is a Fairly-tale. Based on some other information that may meld with your info is that the Sun is going into a “Solar Hibernation” which will result in significant global cooling.

  65. #65 B. Troglodyte
    August 16, 2009

    “The greenhouse effect is a myth because it violates the second law of thermodynamics!”

    Rubbish. That is obvious nonsense. The solar energy gradient drives the whole process, and anyone with the slightest understanding of thermodynamics – or even a person who dropped out of the class after the third week – knows this.

  66. #66 Spector
    September 11, 2009

    It is my understanding that the transmission absorption of gasses like carbon-dioxide is primarily the result of molecular resonances with each absorption wavelength corresponding to a mode that that particular molecule may be made to ‘jiggle.’ Some have suggested that thus excited molecules can only drop down to lesser energy states by re-emitting similar photons. However I also believe that this energy can be exchanged by interacting with surrounding molecules. This is usually called heat conduction.

    I find very believable and reasonable the concept put forth by skeptics that the greenhouse effect is subject to a saturation limit or a law of diminishing effect, once the concentration of a greenhouse gas goes beyond the point where more than half of the absorption-wavelength photons emitted from the earth’s surface fail to make it to outer space. It is claimed that we are well beyond that point with respect to carbon-dioxide. In simple terms, once a given piano string is cut, it does not matter how many more times it is cut, only that note cannot be played.

    As ocean-warming forces dissolved carbon-dioxide out of solution (just like the bubbles you see on the inside of a glass of warming water), I think that past indications high concentrations of carbon-dioxide in the atmosphere are more likely to have been induced by ocean-warming rather than its primary cause.

    This does not preclude the fact that man-made industrial pollution may be increasing the greenhouse effect because each new exotic man-made molecule that we add to the atmosphere will have a new set of unique absorption wavelengths. I do question the focus on carbon-dioxide as the primary culprit.

  67. #67 Eric L
    September 11, 2009


    Wouldn’t the amount of energy needed to saturate the CO2 be determined by the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere?

    The physics of the greenhouse effect is quite straightforward as compared to the physics of the climate as a whole. It is also easier to measure, for example, by measuring the spectrum of infrared that escapes to satellites in space and seeing how much each gas traps, or by doing lab experiments with containers of CO2, or measuring infrared radiation from the sky at various wavelengths. The more serious of denial scientists (e.g. Lindzhen, Spencer) don’t dispute that additional CO2 will cause additional warming; instead they speculate about negative feedbacks in the climate (e.g. a cloud related effect) that will counter the warming. Not that they’ve found anything to substantiate their ideas or been able to turn them into models with any predictive ability, that would be too much like real science work.

    Are you aware of any scientist who has demonstrated (physically) that the ice ages are explainable solely from the small changes in the Earth’s orbit without the CO2 feedback contribution?

  68. #68 Spector
    September 12, 2009

    In this context ‘saturate’ refers to the increase in greenhouse effect obtained by increasing the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. Once the CO2 concentration reaches the point where those photons of a particular CO2 absorption wavelength have almost no chance of reaching outer-space from the earth’s surface, I believe a law of diminishing effect for increasing concentrations should set in — depending on the width and shape of that absorption band.

    If you have camera filters that only block green light, using three such filters in tandem will not also block red and blue light. It is my understanding that there we already have more than enough CO2 in the atmosphere for 100% absorption at the critical wavelengths. Pure carbon-dioxide is nominally a transparent gas.

    Even if the carbon-dioxide greenhouse effect is fully saturated, I believe it is still possible that we may have an increasing greenhouse effect from continued industrial pollution due to other gasses that are being added to the atmosphere.

  69. #69 Eric L
    September 12, 2009

    Okay, I thought by saturation you meant some other claim I’ve heard.

    Yes, the effect is diminishing, but how it diminishes matters. Also, diminishing does not mean there is a ceiling to how much of an effect it can have. So here’s the conventional view on how it diminishes:


    It should be noted that while some bands are saturated (i.e. 100% of radiation in that band is absorbed), that does not imply that further increases in greenhouse gas concentration have no effect on that band. Rather additional greenhouse gases will cause the radiation to be captured closer to the Earth’s surface which still increases warming. However rather than doubling as concentrations double, the overall effect proceeds only by small increments giving rise to a logarithmic progression rather than a linear one.

    So when you get to the point of diminishing returns, doubling the amount of CO2 still increases temperature, and doubling again increases it that much more, and so on — twice as much CO2 required to get the same effect on climate, but you can always get that much more effect if you raise CO2 enough. And of course, not every band is saturated, especially at the edges of the bands.

    So your intuition is in a certain qualitative sense correct. But do you have any reason to believe that the various climate scientists working on this have not correctly understood the physics or measured the atmospheric scattering and absorption?

  70. #70 dhogaza
    September 12, 2009

    It is my understanding that there we already have more than enough CO2 in the atmosphere for 100% absorption at the critical wavelengths.

    This is absolutely wrong. It was proposed early last century and disproved by physicists back in the 1950s.

    Here’s an explanation of the real science.

    The greenhouse mechanism doesn’t work like stacking photographic filters (and since this analogy, along with the saturation argument, are standard denialist claims, I’m sure you’ve been misled by a site designed to *mislead* you).

  71. #71 Spector
    September 17, 2009

    I find that real data on CO2 absorption appears to be very hard to find as open source data on the web. Access to HITRAN data is restricted. The Wikipedia article on carbon-dioxide does not appear to include any actual data on this critical topic. I have found plots that do seem to indicate a law of diminishing effect (soft saturation) setting in around 50 ppm. It would appear our current CO2 level is about 387 ppm, up only 107 ppm from the pre-industrial level of 280 ppm.

    The reference provided by dhogaza seems to support my conclusion. One plot (in part II) shows that a 400% increase in CO2 concentration would cause only a slight increase of the width of the saturation band. To date, we have only seen a 38% CO2 concentration increase above pre-industrial levels. As radiated thermal energy is proportional to the fourth power of absolute temperature, it should take only a minor temperature increase to compensate for this minimal reduction in the width of the transmission window.

    I still believe that the carbon-dioxide greenhouse effect is self-limiting and does not yet present a clear and present danger of climate-change catastrophe.

  72. #72 Eric L
    September 17, 2009

    As radiated thermal energy is proportional to the fourth power of absolute temperature, it should take only a minor temperature increase to compensate for this minimal reduction in the width of the transmission window.

    So then a 4% increase in radiated thermal energy would be needed to go with a 1% increase in temperature. You need to keep in mind that a 1% change in temperature would actually be a pretty big change — about 3 degrees Celcius or 5.5 degrees Farenheit. That’s already well into the range of IPCC projections for 2100. In fact, the predicted direct effect of CO2 for 2100 under business as usual scenarios is less than that, a lot of the temperature increase comes from feedback effects like increased H2O greenhouse effect and less snow/ice cover.

    Once again, you are correct that the effect is diminishing, it is your assumption that the climate science community is unaware of this and not accounting for it in their calculations that is unfounded.

  73. #73 Spector
    September 18, 2009

    It appears to me that the public has been repeatedly told that ‘Global Warming’ is directly proportional to the carbon-dioxide concentration in the atmosphere. When expert climate-science skeptics pointed out that this cannot be true, I found my confidence in the ‘accepted’ climate-change theory greatly undermined. I am now lead to believe that the public case against carbon-dioxide may be overstated and perhaps, coincidental.

    I do not purport to know who is aware or unaware of the diminishing effect of increasing CO2 concentrations. Perhaps this is just one of those distinctions that always get lost in translation.

  74. #74 dhogaza
    September 18, 2009

    It appears to me that the public has been repeatedly told that ‘Global Warming’ is directly proportional to the carbon-dioxide concentration in the atmosphere.

    If they’ve been told this repeatedly by climate scientists and those who listen to what they say, then you’ll have no problem coming up with a link to a credible quote, will you?

    Of course, climate scientists have never said any such thing, which means you’re builiding a strawman …

    When expert climate-science skeptics pointed out that this cannot be true, I found my confidence in the ‘accepted’ climate-change theory greatly undermined.

    For so-called “expert” climate-science skeptics to knock down.

    I am now lead to believe that the public case against carbon-dioxide may be overstated and perhaps, coincidental.

    And, of course, just maybe you’re making shit up.

    I’m eager to see those references asked for above …

  75. #75 dhogaza
    September 18, 2009

    It appears to me that the public has been repeatedly told that ‘Global Warming’ is directly proportional to the carbon-dioxide concentration in the atmosphere

    Here’s why I think you’re making shit up.

    Climate scientists have known for about 50 years that long-term forcing due to increased CO2 goes up proportional to the LOG of the increase, not directly proportional.

    This isn’t something pointed out by “expert climate skeptics”, it’s something they’ve read in the basic science, just like every climate scientist alive today and any layperson who bothers to spend an hour or so learning the basics.

    You don’t understand the basic science if you claim that science states that the relationship is “directly proportional”. Rather than undermine your confidence in science, what should be undermined is your faith that you *understand* the science. Because clearly you don’t.

    As I said above, I’m eager to see a reference to this “directly proportional” claim from a credible source, which will prove to us that you’re not just making shit up.

    I do not purport to know who is aware or unaware of the diminishing effect of increasing CO2 concentrations

    But you led by claiming it was “expert climate skeptics” that discovered this and pointed out, which is equally a (false) claim that mainstream climate scientists (physicists, really, back in the 1950s) who are unaware of the log relationship.

  76. #76 PaulinMI
    September 19, 2009

    dhogaza forgets the inconvenient truth that Al Gore made that “linear relationship” famous. Of course, now the casual observer should know it’s not true and oh yeah, temp led CO2, not quite the way it was portrayed in the crockumentary. That’s where masses of people get incorrect ideas, mass propaganda…

  77. #77 coby
    September 19, 2009


    You are mixing up “linear relationship” with “correlation”. Goggle is you friend.

    Meanwhile, Spector will likewise fail to come up with anyone knowledgeable claiming a linear relationship between CO2 concentrations and its effect on temperatures.

  78. #78 Spector
    September 19, 2009

    I must assume that any scientist who has made serious study of this topic is aware of the log relationship.

    From personal experience, I believe that the unlimited direct proportionality of the carbon-dioxide greenhouse effect is a common misconception of the public at large. Perhaps this begins as a simple sin of omission in the press.

    I have not, as dhogaza seems to presume, claimed the log relationship to be a recent discovery of climate-change skeptics. I have only said that they have undermined my acceptance of the carbon-dioxide as a possible cause of catastrophic global warming with this information.

  79. #79 dhogaza
    September 19, 2009

    I have only said that they have undermined my acceptance of the carbon-dioxide as a possible cause of catastrophic global warming with this information.

    So let’s dissect your logic:

    1. Climate scientists have known since the 1950s that forcing isn’t linear in the increase of CO2.

    2. You, for whatever reason, didn’t know this.

    3. You learned this from some random climate skeptic site.

    $. Therefore you think climate scientists are wrong.

    Is it safe to assume that if, by chance, you first learned this from, say, Real Climate, that you would now conclude that the denialists are wrong?

    In either case, your conclusion is based on your own prior ignorance, not science (or denialism). At the risk of offending you – this is really stupid.

  80. #80 PaulinMI
    September 19, 2009

    Spector was stating what he believed to be common knowledge among the public. And I am not mixing up correlation and linear relationship. That was due to the likes of Al Gore.
    Not a denialist.
    AGW “informers” need to be more careful in how the message is presented. You may not like the situation, but there it is.

  81. #81 dhogaza
    September 19, 2009

    Spector was stating what he believed to be common knowledge among the public.

    Yes, he’s stating that he and some members of the public are misinformed.

    Therefore climate science is wrong.

    And you agree, apparently.

  82. #82 dhogaza
    September 19, 2009

    “And I am not mixing up correlation and linear relationship. That was due to the likes of Al Gore.”

    Great. Here’s a transcript of the movie:


    I’m sure you’ll have no problem showing us where he says there’s a *linear relationship”, rather than making the less precise point that there’s a correlation.

    Direct quote, please.

  83. #83 PaulinMI
    September 19, 2009

    Spector nor I said climate science is wrong.

    We’re talking about perception here.

    So, again, AGW “informers” need to be more careful in how the message is presented. You may not like the situation, but there it is.

  84. #84 dhogaza
    September 19, 2009

    “Spector nor I said climate science is wrong”

    Spector saith:

    I am now lead to believe that the public case against carbon-dioxide may be overstated and perhaps, coincidental.

    Shorter form: Climate science is wrong.

  85. #85 Spector
    September 19, 2009

    Slightly longer form: ‘Some long-term conclusions of climate scientists may be invalid as our understanding of this science is as yet incomplete.’ The same can be said of any other living science.

    See “CBC Global Warming Doomsday Called Off” on video-google. (44 min)

  86. #86 coby
    September 20, 2009

    Spector, please have the courage and integrity to own up to what you are saying. You have clearly stated that you think CO2 may not be causing global warming. This is not some “long term conclusion” or incompleteness. This is a fundamental concept of planetary atmospheres and derives from very basic physics.

    dhogaza’s clarification of your POV and how you say you arrived there is precisely what you have yourself presented.

  87. #87 PaulinMI
    September 20, 2009

    Hey, does this MO sound familiar?

    The swine flu pandemic could kill millions and cause anarchy in the world’s poorest nations unless £900m can be raised from rich countries to pay for vaccines and antiviral medicines, says a UN report leaked to the Observer.

    It paints a disastrous picture for the world’s most vulnerable people unless there is immediate action. “There is a window in which it will be possible to help poor countries get as ready as they can for H1N1 and that window is closing rapidly,” it says.

  88. #88 Spector
    September 20, 2009


    What I said was that I thought *increasing* carbon-dioxide concentrations should be subject to a (self-limiting) law of diminishing effect on the Earth’s temperature. A logarithmic relationship is just such a law. This appears to be well known by those who should know, but the general public appears to be largely unaware of this technical distinction.

  89. #89 Eric L
    September 20, 2009

    A few more points on this:

    1. A log relationship and a linear relationship aren’t that different when you’ve only changed the input by 40% so far. This is a rather technical point and not a major omission, particularly in any article not in-depth enough to give a mathematical relationship between CO2 and temperature.

    2. It is important to distinguish between the (log) relationship between warming and CO2 and the rate of warming over time. Growth in atmospheric CO2 concentrations has not been linear, it is accelerating due to an increased number of cars and power plants putting it into the atmosphere at an increasing rate. What is usually reported for climate change predictions are business-as-usual predictions of warming over time. These are based on CO2 rise that continues to accelerate, and they generally predict warming will accelerate. This is not in contradiction with warming being diminishing with respect to CO2 levels.

    3. You can check here for a fairly recent review of the science and range of predictions. Any predictions assume a log relationship between CO2 levels and temp, as do all projections in the peer reviewed literature. If the news sources you rely on have been suggesting that global warming will be far worse than this report implies, then 1) take that up with them, or switch to news sources more focused on science reporting for this sort of info, 2) don’t take that as a reason to dismiss those projections actually justified by the literature, and 3) this will almost certainly not be due to anyone assuming a linear relationship between CO2 and temperature, though I’d be curious to see if you have actual examples.

  90. #90 dhogaza
    September 20, 2009

    This appears to be well known by those who should know, but the general public appears to be largely unaware of this technical distinction.

    No, this is what you said:

    When expert climate-science skeptics pointed out that this cannot be true, I found my confidence in the ‘accepted’ climate-change theory greatly undermined.

    Difficult thing about online discussions is that you can’t lie your way out of your previous statements.

  91. #91 dhogaza
    September 20, 2009

    Hey, does this MO sound familiar?

    Universally anti-science, are you?

    No one will be surprised.

  92. #92 PaulinMI
    September 20, 2009

    Universally concerned with inividual freedoms being usurped for the reason of the year.

  93. #93 crakar14
    September 20, 2009

    This debate is interesting as Spectre makes a good point, in that as you increase CO2 it has less warming effect and then dogs arse jumps in boots and all spins it around and calls him a skeptic, then before the dust can settle (suprise, suprise) coby jumps in to save dogs arse. My suspicions that Coby and dogs arse are the same person strengthen by the day.

    The funny thing is, is that all the CO2 in the world cannot increase the temp as much as the IPCC claim it will by 2100, what causes this temp rise is of course water vapour. But hey lets not tell the masses about that, lets just tell these morons that as you increase CO2 so will the temp. Dont tell them about saturation or the log relationship with IR absorption either.

    So yes spectre we are not given the full picture, in fact they have gone to great lengths to not do so, now ask yourself why?

    And yes i know dogs arse, i am a denier and all the rest of the names you wish to call me, this does not bother me one iota.

  94. #94 Spector
    September 20, 2009

    In this case I was referring to accepted public understanding as promoted by the popular media. The skeptic videos seem to show science divided on this topic.

  95. #95 Eric L
    September 21, 2009

    But science isn’t divided on this topic.

    As for popular understanding, yeah, I suppose if you quizzed a random sample of the population, they would not be able to tell you that CO2 had a logarithmic effect on temperature. And there are plenty of far less technical points on climate that they would not be aware of as well. Does this mean they have been misinformed? What is usually presented to the public are projections for how climate will change over the next century. I gave you a link to some such projections. They are based on a logarithmic relationship between CO2 and temperature. Are they misinformation?

  96. #96 dhogaza
    September 22, 2009

    Universally concerned with inividual freedoms being usurped for the reason of the year.

    Nice. Thanks for openly admitting that for you, science and knowledge takes second place to political ideology.

  97. #97 dhogaza
    September 22, 2009

    In this case I was referring to accepted public understanding as promoted by the popular media. The skeptic videos seem to show science divided on this topic.

    I don’t give a rat’s ass what skeptic videos “seem to show”.

    Provide us SOLID EVIDENCE that science is divided on whether or not CO2 forcing increases logarithmically as CO2 concentrations increase.

    You’re building a strawman, knocking it down, then uses this as a basis to claim that climate science is wrong.

    Shorter form: you’re lying.

  98. #98 dhogaza
    September 22, 2009

    in that as you increase CO2 it has less warming effect and then dogs arse jumps in boots and all spins it around and calls him a skeptic

    Liar. I didn’t call him a skeptic.

  99. #99 PaulinMI
    September 22, 2009

    freedom is not a political ideology, it’s a birthright for all.
    how it is maintained is political.

  100. #100 PaulinMI
    September 22, 2009

    but, yes, openly admitting that anything else takes second place to freedom.

  101. #101 dhogaza
    September 22, 2009

    but, yes, openly admitting that anything else takes second place to freedom.

    Your honesty is refreshing. However, ignoring science in the name of freedom isn’t going to cause the problem to go away.

  102. #102 PaulinMI
    September 22, 2009

    dhogaza, the dialogue is appreciated.

    I would claim freedom is the foundation for solving the problem.

  103. #103 Spector
    September 22, 2009

    Thanks for the criticism. In view of the fact that solar activity over the past two years has dropped to the lowest levels in more than 150 years and shows no real sign of recovery, I propose to hold my own opinion in suspension for the next two or three years.

    In that period, a continuing increase of global temperatures with this greatly reduced solar activity would fully discredit the solar-driven climate hypothesis proposed by skeptics.

    On the other hand, I believe the commencement of a *solid* cooling trend in the face of increasing CO2 in the atmosphere would indicate that the current theory needs to be restudied.

  104. #104 coby
    September 22, 2009


    Don’t forget puppy dogs and apple pie. All together, that should fix everything.

  105. #105 dhogaza
    September 22, 2009

    I would claim freedom is the foundation for solving the problem.

    Which, of course, includes the freedom to take collective action.

    People like you want deny that freedom for those of us who want to take advantage of it…

    Collectivism isn’t anti-freedom when people insist on acting collectively.

    Of course, you’ll say “collectivism is anti-freedom when people agree on limiting behavior, like random murder and rape and stuff! People should be *FREE* after all!”

    And next you’ll accuse me of using ridiculous examples which are false because they involve people, not corporations …

  106. #106 dhogaza
    September 22, 2009

    In that period, a continuing increase of global temperatures with this greatly reduced solar activity would fully discredit the solar-driven climate hypothesis proposed by skeptics.

    Actually, even holding steady in the face of reduced solar activity discredits the “it’s the sun!”” people.

    We have about 50 years of good data regarding solar output and global warming, and, as Lindzen (the best scientist on the skeptic side) says, “it’s not the sun!”

  107. #107 dhogaza
    September 22, 2009

    On the other hand, I believe the commencement of a *solid* cooling trend in the face of increasing CO2 in the atmosphere would indicate that the current theory needs to be restudied.

    So your claim is that basic CO2 physics would require the earth to continue warming even if the sun were to disappear? Go to zero?

    You’re saying that any reduction in solar insolation will be overwhelmed by CO2 forcing? Even if solar insolation reduces to zero?

    Sorry, this is simply stupid.

  108. #108 PaulinMI
    September 22, 2009

    Which, of course, includes collective action.
    Not sure where corporations and murder fit in.

  109. #109 Spector
    September 22, 2009

    “So your claim is that basic CO2 physics would require the earth to continue warming even if the sun were to disappear?”

    I made no such claim — you did. I do not think you need be afraid that the sun is going to disappear just because we have entered an abnormally long period when sunspots are few and far between.

    At the very least, a significant cooling trend would void the ‘it’s not the sun’ argument unless that cooling could be attributed to other causes such as volcanic eruptions.

  110. #110 Chris S.
    September 22, 2009

    Quick question to all: When was the last time we had a solar minimum combined with a La Nina as we’ve experienced in the last year? What was the temperature then?

  111. #111 dhogaza
    September 23, 2009

    At the very least, a significant cooling trend would void the ‘it’s not the sun’ argument

    Actually the fact that temps have remained high despite the solar minimum would be enough to do that for logical people.

  112. #112 Eric L
    September 23, 2009


    An easy place to look up the solar and temp data is this site:


    So 2008 was warmer than 1999, which was also a La Nina year, even though 1999 was during a solar maximum.

    Here is some El Nino/La Nina data that goes back before 1999 (oddly it does not come up to today, maybe someone can find a better link):


    So 1996 was a La Nina year that happened during a solar minimum, and it was cooler than 1999. 2009 has so far been warmer than 2008, even though solar output has continued dropping, primarily due to it being an El Nino year.

  113. #113 Terry Oldberg
    March 31, 2010

    Coby states: “The second law of thermodynamics does not
    apply to individual molecules, it applies to the net flow of
    energy in the entire system.”

    This statement is inaccurate because it is ambiguous regarding what is meant by “flow of energy.” When the ambiguity is eliminated, “the greenhouse effect” can be seen to violate the second law.

    The second law applies to a flow of “heat” and not to a flow of “energy.” In thermodynamics, a distinction is made between the types of energy that are called “heat,” “work” and “internal energy.”

    Thermodynamics is based upon a picture in which a material body is surrounded by a boundary. Energy that flows across this boundary from the outside is called “heat.” In the language of thermodynamics, only heat is said to “flow.”

    Pushing on the boundary from the outside and across a distance performs “work” on the body. Under the first law of thermodynamics, the heat that flows across the boundary of a body plus the work that is performed on the boundary of this body equals the increase in the body’s internal energy. Raising its internal energy raises the body’s temperature.

    Under the second law, heat cannot flow from cold to hot matter unless work is performed. The laws of thermodynamics establish the minimum amount of work that must be performed per unit of heat.

    A device that performs this work is called a “heat pump.” Your refrigerator contains a heat pump whose function is to pump heat from the cold inside of this refrigerator to the hot outside. If you pull the plug on your refrigerator, it ceases to function.

    As the language and concepts of thermodynamics apply to climatology, the matter in the troposphere usually is colder than the matter in Earth’s surface. Thus, when greenhouse gases in the troposphere absorb infrared radiation and the adjacent air molecules convert the energy in this radiation to heat, this heat cannot be transferred to matter in Earth’s surface unless it is pumped.

    IPCC climatologists have made mistakes in the equations that are solved by their climate models in computing temperatures at Earth’s surface. Under these mistakes, heat formed in the troposphere by absorption of infrared radiation is transferred to Earth’s surface without a heat pump in violation of the second law. These mistakes create “the greenhouse effect.” This topic is covered in detail by the peer reviewed article “Falsification Of The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within The Frame Of Physics” by Gerhard Gerlich and Ralf D.Tscheuschner (January 6, 2009).

  114. #114 Ian Forrester
    March 31, 2010

    Shorter Terry Oldberg:

    I know nothing about science or thermodynamics but I do know that the rubbish written by G & T is absolutely correct and all climate scientists, physical chemists, physicists and atmospheric scientists are wrong.

    Good grief, DKS is surely pandemic these days. However, a cure is at hand, just go to your local library or college and borrow some books on elementary science, chemistry and physics. Everything you read in these text books will be 100% accurate compared to the zero rating on the G & T paper and similar piles of garbage.

  115. #115 skip
    March 31, 2010


    I think TO is a plant by our side.

  116. #116 Ian Forrester
    March 31, 2010

    Skip, I’m afraid your are wrong. TO is a hard-core denier.

    Check here:


    What is even more scary is this purveyor of pseudo-scientific junk is a big cheese in the nuclear industry. And we wonder why they are prone to accidental releases and leakage. How can someone lacking in scientific knowledge be put in such a position? No wonder many people are very worried about nuclear plants. I think their worry is entirely justified.

  117. #117 crakar
    March 31, 2010

    So now Ian is branching out and attacking all in sundry. Well done Ian, and what branch of science are you in again?

    My second guess is you study the disposal of human waste at the local shit farm, am i right?

  118. #118 mandas
    April 1, 2010


    You have been going on about the ‘climategate’ email affair for months now. What do you have to say now that the parliamentary inquiry has vindicated Phil Jones of any wrong doing? Are you going to apologise for wasting our time?

  119. #119 PaulinMI
    July 24, 2010

    Uh-oh Skip,


    That religious nut job says that CO2 back radiates to make the world warmer.
    Looks like the jig is up.

  120. #120 skip
    July 24, 2010

    Although if Spencer did buy into this idiotic “laws of thermodynamics” argument, it would not have surprised me in the least.

  121. #122 Michael of Brisbane
    March 14, 2011

    Hey folks, I found this today.
    I’d like to know your thoughts.
    (NO ad homs please, and please read the article and the comments?)

  122. #123 Wow
    March 14, 2011

    It’s bollocks.

    No, not an ad hom, a statement of fact.

    If it were true, then there would be no goldilocks zone, since closer in to the sun, the earth would still have 1 atmosphere and, according to that link, it would still have the same temperature.

    Further out? Still 1 atmosphere and therefore still the same temperature.

    All that idiocy is saying is that if you have a normal-earth-gravity planet with a gaseous atmosphere that doesn’t change phase appreciably, you’ll get an earth-like adiabat.

    Since the outer limits are at a fairly fixed 3K, if your atmosphere is deeper than 1 earth atmosphere, you’ll get an earth-surface temp at a depth of 1 atmosphere.


    The gravity sets the adiabat. What sets the surface temperature? The greenhouse gas.

    PS, please try to use it to explain why the earth with CO2 and water et al are 33C higher than if it didn’t have IR active molecules in its atmosphere (whose absence would not reduce the atmospheric pressure at the surface to any appreciable extent).

  123. #124 Michael of Brisbane
    March 14, 2011

    Thanks Wow. I thought so.
    Here’s another. I’d appreciate your thoughts.

  124. #125 Marco
    March 14, 2011

    Michael, I urge you to read the last three sentences (page 12) of Gerlich & Tscheuschner’s article you link to.

    Anyone who has a functional brain will note that they start out with “Venus does not show what others claim”, only to follow that with “but we won’t explain how and why, it’s complex, you know…”.

    Also note their references, both the number and the type of references. Red flags all over this paper.

  125. #126 mandas
    March 14, 2011


    Regarding your link at post #122, where you stated “…(No ad homs please….)

    I stopped reading after this statement in the opening paragraph:

    “…. Being a competent physicist rather than an incompetent climate scientist (which 97% of them demonstrably are)…..”

    So I thought I would go and check out who would author such a provocative – and obviously wrong – comment (I wonder how he was going to ‘demonstrate’ his claim?). And here is the good gen on the author, Harry Dale Hoffman:

    “…Independent research physical scientist, author (“The End of the Mystery”), and discoverer of the astounding world design behind all the ancient mysteries….”

    Wow, the world design behind all ancient mysteries. I wonder what that could be? Let’s find out shall we. And here it is!!

    “…..The Earth, indeed the entire solar system, was re-formed wholesale, in the millennia prior to the beginning of known human history; c. 15,000 BC marked the decisive event, when the Earth first began to orbit the Sun as it does today. Worldwide ancient myths and sacred traditions all refer directly but metaphorically to the core elements of the world design. Megalithic monuments such as the pyramids, Sphinx, and temples with fundamental celestial alignments commemorate the establishment of those alignments within the passed-down memory of mankind. All of the ancient mysteries originated or passed through the filter of this design event….”

    Ummmmmmm right. And you don’t want us to make ad hominem attacks on that guy? Ok, I won’t. But I will suggest that his statement about being a competent physicist is probably stretching the truth somewhat.

    Naaah. Fuck it. The guys a loon. Can you link to science in future please, rather than that garbage.

  126. #127 mandas
    March 14, 2011

    I just couldn’t resist. I just had to find out more about this guy that Michael from Brisbane doesn’t want us to make ad hominem attacks on. So I googled him, and read his bio. Makes fascinating reading:

    “….I am 59 years old, with a Master’s degree in Physics (Jan. 1976-a long time ago) and varied math and physics work experience in both academe and high-tech industry. I have been an independent researcher into the “ancient mysteries” since 1996, and I’ve been suppressed since 2003-by near unanimous lack of response, especially from other scientists-for my truly great discoveries in that area. I have written a book, “The End of the Mystery,” and articles on the subject (see http://www.lulu.com/hdhsciences). I can tell you what and where the original “Holy Grail” is, when and why the Great Sphinx was carved, the location of Atlantis, and many more answers to the most famous mysteries of the ancient world. It is apparently not time for these things to come out, because no one wants to believe anyone, even a professional scientist, has actually solved any of these enigmas….”

    So ok Michael. I retract my previous statement about the guy being a loon. No-one could be that delusional. He is really very clever and it is all just woo.

  127. #128 adelady
    March 14, 2011

    mandas, he probably is pretty clever – just applies his intelligence in that very human “pattern-seeking” way with no reflection or genuine analysis.

    I think of these people the way many of us view those talented, but misguided, craftspeople. It really doesn’t matter how technically excellent you are as a weaver, knitter, embroiderer, lacemaker, crochet or tapestry worker if every item you produce is downright ugly, useless or both.

    “Oh! A crocheted red, yellow, lime and purple handbag.
    Thank you sooooo much. And matching earrings?”

  128. #129 mandas
    March 14, 2011


    I am going to stick with my original position – the guy is a loon. I have no idea where he got his Masters in Physics, but I suspect the university concerned will want it back if they read some of his work. Check these out:

    “…..The temperature profile of the atmosphere is basically determined only by gravity, which increases the pressure in the atmosphere the farther down toward the Earth’s surface you go (just like the pressure increases with depth in the water ocean), and the greater the pressure, the greater the temperature — the presence of infrared radiation, or infrared-absorbing gases, has essentially nothing to do with it….”

    So ummmmmm……. yeah. Guess I should throw away those textbooks – and that infra-red lamp. And I should completely forget everything I know about the temperature profile of both the atmosphere and the ocean. But wait – there’s more:

    “….The only thing that has kept the greenhouse theory alive, even after the lapse rate was observed and explained by simple thermodynamics, has been the breathtaking magnitude of the entrenched incompetence among climate scientists….”

    Looks like everyone in the world is incompetent except this guy. That must be why his papers keep getting rejected by every single journal in the world; incompetence – and a conspiracy to hide the truth. The truth about…….

    “…..a scientific narrative about a great design of the Earth and solar system, a unique and critically important discovery in the history of man on Earth–but consensus science will not hear of a comprehensive world design, will not let it be broached in scientific journals. I am a professional research scientist in physics and mathematics. I submitted this article to the magazine New Astronomy, only to have the online submission unceremoniously “removed by the editor”, without explanation or consideration. Modern science is broken; it is not confronting the evidence, it is not seeking the truth…..”

    These are the qualities of the ‘scientists’ that deniers link to as support for their worldview. It’s like playing wack-a-mole. No sooner do you knock down one loon, when another pops up! I really wish our denier crowd would try harder and do some reading beforehand. But I guess if they read any science they wouldn’t be a denier, would they?

  129. #130 Chris S.
    March 15, 2011

    “Let me cut right through all the intellectual mud that “defenders of science” will want to throw at me. I am a physicist by education and experience, and no doubt of an older, and I think finer, school. I have proved that the surface of the Earth was deliberately re-formed, largely between 20,000 and 10,000 years ago–which just happens to be the time frame of the last supposed “ice age”– to enable a great design that was the original, objective motivation for all the exoteric ancient mysteries (as opposed to the esoteric, or spiritual truths, also claimed by wise men and women since “the beginning”); I have found enough answers from the design, to a broad range of such ancient puzzles, to state this as a fact.”



    It gets better though: “Now, find yourself a good atlas, with an accurate image of Africa. I have included a simplified one here, showing the outline of Africa, the interior lakes along the Great African Rift outlining the “cheek”, the larger Lake Victoria as a recognizable “eye”, and the Zambezi River as the “mouth”. This image was one of the first indications I found of a deliberate shaping of the landmasses on the Earth, in my research. And, while some will tell you that it is just a subjective illusion to see the face in Africa, I know better, because I remember that Monty Python skit, which turned on that precise resemblance, and succeeded so well because of the amazing fact of it.”


    Isthis ad hom? Maybe, maybe not. It is very amusing though…

  130. #131 Wow
    March 15, 2011

    Heck, it’s all secondary school maths if not junior shcool.

    graph of a straight line:


    a=slope (the lapse rate)

    a is defined by gravity.

    This loon thinks that you can ignore b.

  131. #132 Wow
    March 15, 2011

    “Here’s another. I’d appreciate your thoughts.”

    OK, how does a blanket work, Michael?

    According to G&T it cannot keep you warm because your blanket is cooler than your body.

    Remember: a single sheet of cotton will stop all of the convection from your bodyheat in the air of your bedroom and air is a very good insulator against heat conduction.

    Why do you find these idiots and ask people to waste their time reading it?

    G&T’s paper fails at the level of physics taught in the UK in the first year of secondary school (11 years of age).

  132. #133 Michael of Brisbane.
    March 15, 2011

    Ok, ok, UNCLE!
    Alright! So he’s a loon!
    I asked for it didn’t I?

  133. #134 Wow
    March 15, 2011

    The problem is, Michael, that this is errant whack-a-mole. Time and again, G&T or the “PV=nRT therefore no GHG!” is propped up like Breshnyev at a military parade to be shown to the people to say it’s all OK.

    Yet as I’ve tried to do here, even schoolyard physics shows them wrong.

    So why didn’t you, Michael, apply your schoolyard physics and check out whether they were worth making other people spend their time on it? A big thing is made of “skepticism” and not believing hype, but nothing even remotely apparent to skepticism has been shown here on those two posts.

    Did you not want to apply your skepticism and schoolyard physics (a level everyone who has finished school in the first world should have attained)?

  134. #135 Michael of Brisbane
    March 15, 2011

    You poor thing Wow.
    Sorry you had to waste your precious time.
    I’ll be more careful next time.

  135. #136 mandas
    March 15, 2011


    I will say one thing – goodonya for accepting that the guy is a loon and disowning him. Not everyone around here has sufficient integrity to admit they may have made a mistake. I congratulate you for having that courage.

  136. #137 skip
    March 15, 2011

    . . . errant whack-a-mole . . .

    “arrant”–*arrant* you non-spellchecking bastard.

    As in, “We are arrant knaves, all,” from Hamlet’s speech I think.

    (Now watch Snowman pounce if I’m wrong. I’m sure the Pompous Pom still lurks stealthily from time to time.)

    Michael was *errant* in investing any credibility in his source.

    Sorry, mandas. I hadn’t seen my own words in print in too long and I was just looking for a pretext. Well done by you and Chris on the legwork.

  137. #138 mandas
    March 15, 2011


    Nice catch on the mispelling. I bet ‘Wow’ will feel suitably chastised (you do realise it was him, not me, right?)

    But thanks for the compliment on the leg-work ;-)

  138. #139 skip
    March 15, 2011

    Only now do I realize it. LOL.

    Wow, you non spellchecking . . . .

    Ah, whats the use?

  139. #140 Chris S.
    March 16, 2011

    Believe me skip, that was some of the most enjoyable legwork I’ve had in a while. I’ve not chuckled so much since Plimer. Thanks MoB!

  140. #141 Wow
    March 16, 2011

    “Sorry you had to waste your precious time.”

    It was precious enough for you to want me to spend it on you. Or would not answering be OK for you? Because most idiot denialists posting “what about this?” get REALLY ratty when their petulant demands are ignored. I take it you won’t mind, though?

    Seems like you think time is worthless if it’s from someone else.

    You’re not in management, are you?

    Your ability to waste someone else’s time and not try to do anything yourself is extremely management material.

  141. #142 Wow
    March 16, 2011

    1. Erring or straying from the proper course or standards: “he could never forgive his daughter’s errant ways”.

    So, still fits.


  142. #143 skip
    March 16, 2011

    Still an *arrant* stretch . . .

    And ease up on dear Michael–at least he came clean, and at least it was just whak-a-mole, not whak-a-whak-a-whak-a-whak-a-whak-a-whak-a-whak-a-whak-a-whak-a-whak-a-whak-a-whak-a-whak-a-whak-a-whak-a-whak-a-whak-a-whak-a-whak-a-mole,

    as was the case with the Black Knight of climate denial. I swear that was like killing a Taiwanese cockroach.

  143. #144 Wow
    March 17, 2011

    So an arrant stretch would be a straying from proper course? :-)

    Why ease up on Michael?

    He’s happy with wasting other people’s time when he can’t even be bothered to make even minimal effort himself (the G&T paper for example, has been heavily commented on, a simple google will show up “what do you think” from people who study the science). Then, when pulled up on it gets all snippy (which you let pass without comment).

  144. #145 skip
    March 17, 2011


    Remember John Travolta in Pulp Fiction after he accidentally blew Marvin’s head off in the car?

    “Now I apologized! There is a rule that says when someone apologizes they are immediately resolved of all wrongdoing!”

    Does that apply here?

  145. #146 Wow
    March 17, 2011

    I dunno wrt what? Blowing off Michael’s head wasn’t accidental here, so I’m not apologising for it (neither is he apologising for wasting people’s time) so I suspect not.

  146. #147 dfishw
    June 22, 2011

    I agree with your comments about co2. It is true i think that co2 absorbs the heat and then rises as you would expect a warm gas to do. This limits any transfer of heat to the surface. In order to get ANY warming from this a method is indeed needed to impede this convection. There is actually a real greenhouse in our atmosphere but it does NOT come from co2. It is the tropopause and this “heat trap” (caused by a temperature inversion) is what traps the heat. Yet there is a limit and if earth got too hot, the lid would break. This means there is a limit to how effective it can be,
    In relation to venus the pressure clearly does cause the bulk of the temperature. The more air, the greater its ability to absord energy from the sun directly and the greater ability to heat up due to conduction. Also any greenhouse effect on venus can easily conduct heat back to the surface, why? Because the odd thing with venus is there is no convection! This is why venus is so hot. If there was convection, the air would rise and the heat would escape. As to how venus ended up so hot i dont beleive the runaway greenhouse effect why? Because surely the hotter it gets, the more clouds are produced and the get thicker and blacker until eventually almost no light gets through. This is what happens on earth just look at tropical cyclones. Co2 or H20 cant trap heat if there is no sunlight getting through! Has this been taken into account? Something else must have caused be responsible.

  147. #148 mandas
    June 22, 2011

    Ummmmmmm, should I try and address all the errors in the previous post, accept that it could well be poe, or just say that it is the singularly most stupid thing I have ever read in my life?

  148. #149 Vernon
    June 22, 2011

    Actually, while I agree with the GHG theory, I fail to see how much impact it can have when it can only warm 28 percent of the surface at most.

  149. #150 coby
    June 22, 2011

    It is far better to address it seriously and identify the errors. As I usually do, due to lack of time, I stopped reading this comment carefully after the first significant and basic error. That is the statement “co2 absorbs the heat and then rises as you would expect a warm gas to do”

    This is NOT how the GHE primarily works. A more accurate simplistic explanation is that the CO2 absorbs some of the IR radiation emmitted by the earth’s surface and reradiates about half of it back down further warming the surface. The convection of the atmosphere is caused by the surface warming lower layers of air by conduction, not radiation. The amount of energy converted from radiative to thermal directly via CO2 absorbtion is much too small to matter.

    When one constructs an argument on a faulty premise, it does not matter what follows, so I did not pay much attention to the rest….

  150. #151 coby
    June 22, 2011

    Vernon, please elaborate.

  151. #152 mandas
    June 22, 2011


    You probably did the right thing when you stopped reading after the first error. I kept reading and my head nearly exploded. If you want someone to be nice and to attempt to educate Mr dfishw, then it probably should be someone else – probably a first year high school science teacher, because that is about the level required.


    Please tell us you are not suggesting that the greenhouse effect only works over land? Or are you just making a clever (but to me at least, rather obscure) parody of some denialist dogma?

  152. #153 crakar24
    June 22, 2011

    Mandas in 148,

    Can i offer you some advice?

    If you believe dfishw is incorrect then could you simply respond by explaining to them why they are incorrect?

    Now i am not saying that i agree with them but if you respond in a polite manner you never know they may actually post here again, by responding in the way you have they may never post here again and leave thinking you are just another warmbot with an axe to grind. This is just advice either take it or leave it and DO NOT think it is anything more.

    Now i have a question dfishw mentioned Venus but i was thinking about Mars, Mars has 95% CO2 in its atmosphere and yet it can get very cold and also very hot (daytime/nightime) now i am sure there are many reasons why all that CO2 does not cause GW but i am unsure of the process. Do you know why?

    Once again this is purely a question, if you know the answer then please explain it to me if you dont then just say i dnt know and maybe someone else can tell us both.

  153. #154 mandas
    June 22, 2011


    You can offer all the advice you want. It would be a little more credible if you were to practice what you preach, but I understand what you are saying.

    Despite that, if dfishw (or anyone for that matter) had asked questions for clarification, then I would be only too happy to respond in a polite manner etc. But he didn’t. Instead, there were outlandish statements that current science and scientists are wrong, and that well established physical laws are wrong.

    His claims could have been easily checked by spending two minutes in front of a computer (ie less time than it would have taken to type that nonsense), or by paying attention in a year 7 science class. It is patently obvious that dfishw is only interested in putting forward the standard denialist ideology that climate change is wrong, based on (in this case) scientists don’t know what they are doing. All he wants to do is to try and stick one up us ‘alarmists’ or ‘warmists’ or ‘true believers’ etc. And after a while it gets pretty tiresome attempting to educate the ineducatable, or to use logic and evidence against someone who is impervious to facts.

    Anyway………. on to your second point.

    Mars DOES have a greenhouse effect. But because the atmosphere is so thin, any warming is minor. But then, you could checked that for yourself as well. What was the real point of your question?

  154. #155 crakar24
    June 22, 2011

    Understanding the GH effect on Venus does not mean you understand the GH effect on Earth which seemed (to me at least) to be the main thrust of dfishw’s post. When you consider both Venus and Mars have much higher CO2 levels than Earth but they are heading in opposite directions (climate wise) then simple Co2 levels are not the only aspect that nees consideration.

    I was reading this article and they said the same thing you did except they say it is also dry (no WV of course)


    I read somewhere pressure plays a part so Venus GH is much worse than here, i suppose thats why Mars GH is even less, this of course is a basic explanation i was hoping you could give a more detailed one (though i admit i was not clear on this).

  155. #156 mandas
    June 23, 2011


    I’m going to disagree with you about the main thrust of dfishw’s post, which was less about relating the GH effect on venus and more about putting forward a flawed ideological point. I mean, statements like:

    “….There is actually a real greenhouse in our atmosphere but it does NOT come from co2. It is the tropopause and this “heat trap” (caused by a temperature inversion) is what traps the heat. Yet there is a limit and if earth got too hot, the lid would break…”

    “….Because the odd thing with venus is there is no convection! This is why venus is so hot. If there was convection, the air would rise and the heat would escape….”

    “…As to how venus ended up so hot i dont beleive the runaway greenhouse effect why? Because surely the hotter it gets, the more clouds are produced and the get thicker and blacker until eventually almost no light gets through. This is what happens on earth just look at tropical cyclones….”

    well, they are just too ridiculous to take seriously on any level.

    And could you please explain what you mean by your assertion that mars and venus are, “..heading in opposite directions (climate wise)…(to Earth)”. I have to admit, that has me totally flumoxed. But yes, “…simple Co2 levels are not the only aspect that nees consideration…..”, but then no-one I know has made such a claim. Could you please explain what you mean.


  156. #157 Wow
    June 23, 2011

    “It is the tropopause and this “heat trap” (caused by a temperature inversion) is what traps the heat.”

    That stops convection.

    Doesn’t stop conduction or radiation.

    Poor little mite. Knows almost nothing, but is certain that he knows everything necessary to be the premier climate scientist in the world…

    “Yet there is a limit and if earth got too hot, the lid would break…”

    Please give the mechanism.

    “Because the odd thing with venus is there is no convection”

    Sorry, there’s plenty of convection. The Tropopause on Venus is much higher than the tropopause on earth.

    “If there was convection, the air would rise and the heat would escape”

    How will the heat escape? Convection doesn’t work into a vacuum.

    “Because surely the hotter it gets, the more clouds are produced and the get thicker and blacker until eventually almost no light gets through”

    Venus is much brighter than earth. Because it’s dense cloud cover is reflecting a lot of the sunlight falling on the planet. Almost no light gets through: about 1/3 of the light falling on Venus compared to 2/3 for the earth.

  157. #158 Vernon
    June 23, 2011


    LW radiation does not (and I know the terminology is wrong) heat water beyond a depth of a micron or so. There it does cause surface water molecules to change state and ties the LW radiation up as kinetic energy. I have not read anywhere how this mechanism similar to the impact to what happens over land with LW radiation. How does the mechanism over land and the mechanism over water achieve the same results?

  158. #159 Wow
    June 23, 2011

    Vernon, if sunlight gets below 1 micron, then SW radiation will warm the water at any beyond that depth.

    Most of the energy from the sun is in SW not LW.

    The subsequent queries are rendered meaningless because of that error, though they maintain very little meaning since you haven’t explained what you mean by “the mechanism”.

    If “the mechanism” is “absorption of radiation” then the mechanisms are directly equivalent, except the depth at which heating occurs is far more with water and sunlight than land and sunlight, with the added heat capacity of being able to move temperature differences deeper down by convection in water that isn’t possible to manage in solid land.

  159. #160 Vernon
    June 23, 2011

    Someone please explain GHG theory to wow.

  160. #161 Wow
    June 23, 2011

    I know exactly what the GHG effect is.

    But you can’t, apparently, explain what the hell you’re going on about.

    If you’re talking about the IR from the atmosphere at a temperature, then what is your problem? That doesn’t penetrate as IR far down into either soil or water.

    It excites the molecules in both.

    Such excitation being seen as warmth.

    There is no difference between them. Land or sea.

  161. #162 Vernon
    June 23, 2011

    You see no difference in heating a rock with IR and trying to heat water with IR?

  162. #163 Wow
    June 23, 2011

    Vernon, I’ll have to use baby-talk for you. This seems to be rather beyond you otherwise.

    Rock: Absorbs IR within a micron of the surface. That energy heats the rock.

    Water: Absorbs IR within a micron of the surface. That energy heats the water.

    What do YOU think happens to the energy? Pixies take it away?

  163. #164 Vernon
    June 23, 2011


    Rock: Absorbs IR with a micorn of the suface, the rock heats.

    – I totally agree. The rock warms up and radiates more LW radiation.

    Water: Absorbs IR with a micron of the surface. The energy heats the water.

    – Well actually no it does not. The surface moleclues absorbe the photons, move to a higher kinetic energy state and change from liquid water to water vapor – also called evaporation. The water as a whole does not warm and radiate more LW radiation.

  164. #165 Wow
    June 23, 2011

    “- Well actually no it does not.”

    Really, do tell.

    “The surface moleclues absorbe the photons, move to a higher kinetic energy state and change from liquid water to water vapor”

    Sorry, how many molecules of H2O do you get in a micron at STP?


    About 100pm means that you’d get 10^4 molecules.

    How is it meant to get past all those molecules without hitting at least ONE of them?

    Do you know what happens when an excited molecule hits another one?

    It loses energy.

    So you’re wrong there. Evaporation doesn’t work like that.

    “The water as a whole does not warm and radiate more LW radiation.”

    Do you mind if I giggle at the stupidity here for a bit?

    How does water warm, then?

  165. #166 Wow
    June 23, 2011

    Oh, and by the way, since the binding energy of H2O is 350meV whilst the energy of a 10um IR photon is 124meV, how can the IR photon cause the breakup of an H2O molecule?

  166. #167 Wow
    June 23, 2011

    Oh, and if you’re talking about boiling the water, why does water evaporate quicker under the sun than in the shade? The photons from the sun have as much energy as the IR (to a factor of 2), but take 10-20 times as much energy each, therefore having a count of about 10% of the photons from the IR sky.

    And since these visible photons penetrate further into the water, dispersing their effect massively, their effect should be entirely negligible.

    Yet water evaporates quicker under the sun than in the shade.

    Why is that, Vern?

  167. #168 Vernon
    June 23, 2011


    For the record, I have no knowledge of whether you are stupid or not. I can state that you are ignorant about this subject and lack reading comprehension in the English language. I am not going to ask why a link to the question, “is a water molecule larger than an alcohol molecule” relevant to the discussion.

    Oceans warm from SW radiation that penetrates several hundred meters. The photons are absorbed at depth and the water warms is the molecules gain kinetic energy.

    I cannot help that you have no knowledge about what you are trying to discuss. I will wait on Coby’s reply.

  168. #169 Ian Forrester
    June 23, 2011

    For the record, Vernon has shown himself to be extremely stupid time and time again with just about every one of his posts here and elsewhere. Dunning Kruger is rife in all his postings.

    Vernon, if you really want to understand a little more about what you know nothing, just check here:


  169. #170 Vernon
    June 23, 2011


    Ignoring the insults and that your a fairly stupid twit, there was never a paper written, at least not by that author, on that topic. All you have presented is a blog post. Please point to some peer reviewed paper that addresses how GHG cause water to warm below the surface effect.

  170. #171 crakar24
    June 23, 2011

    Mandas in 156,

    After another reading you might be right about dfishw’s post.

    I will leave my thoughts about Mars/Venus for another day if that is OK by you. These thoughts are in no way AGW related but with WOW and Ian in full flight i would be wasting my time.

    Have a good weekend.

  171. #172 mandas
    June 23, 2011


    Thank you, I will have a good weekend. Going diving with the university, so it should be very productive and enjoyable. Same to you.


    Far be it from me to get in the way of your debate, but I want to congratulate you for your post #170, and ask if that is the standard that you will seek to maintain in the future? Will we only see comments and ideas put forward that come from peer reviewed science? It is certainly an idea that I have advanced on previous occasions, and I want to thank you for joining with me in your refusal to accept information from blog posts.

    Only science in the future from Vernon!!

  172. #173 Wow
    June 24, 2011

    “For the record, I have no knowledge”

    You could have stopped there and gotten something right for once.

    “I can state that you are ignorant about this subject”

    Yes, completely fictional science is something everyone is ignorant about except the idiot pursuing said fiction.

    “Oceans warm from SW radiation that penetrates several hundred meter”

    They also warm from IR radiation that penetrates water.

    “The photons are absorbed at depth and the water warms is the molecules gain kinetic energy.”

    And exactly the same process works for the IR radiation.

    And exactly the same processes work on heating the rock.

    You see, it goes like this:

    IR Photon is absorbed by H2O exciting it’s rovibrational state.

    In its excited state, it hits another H2O molecule and the inelastic collision repartitions energy between the two H2O molecules.

    This process is carried on in a causal chain and the bulk temperature (since temperature is a bulk measure, not a molecular measure) rises.

  173. #174 Wow
    June 24, 2011

    I note you haven’t managed either to tell anyone why the H2O molecule you say is now vapour manages to get past 10,000 other H2O molecules to make it out to the surface and into the atmosphere.

    Another problem with your laughable hypothesis (you got it from Nassif Nahle, didn’t you?) is that your method would have evaporation independent of the temperature of the water.

  174. #175 Vernon
    June 24, 2011


    Are you going to respond?

  175. #176 Wow
    June 24, 2011

    “Please point to some peer reviewed paper that addresses how GHG cause water to warm below the surface effect.”

    Could someone please explain the difference between GHG and IR radiation.

    The stupid from him is burning through the internet here.

  176. #177 Wow
    June 24, 2011

    I always parse cracker-ass’s statements through the denialist translator.

    cracker thinks I’m doing well.

  177. #178 Ian Forrester
    June 24, 2011

    I wont respond to Vernon’s obvious ad hominem comment in #170.

    However, since he appears to be incapable (either through laziness or incompetence, or both) to actually conduct a literature review to source relevant papers I will give him a starting point:


  178. #179 Vernon
    June 24, 2011


    Please, I have read that paper and many more. They all indicate the same thing, that down dwelling LW causes in general 66 wm2 cooling not warming. This is not how LW works on land. So please, point me to the paper that shows that down dwelling LW by increasing GHG conentrations (CO2) over the ocean will cause the ocean to warm. That was the basis of my initial question which Coby has yet to address.

    Sorry Ian, I did give in and respond to your ad hominem comment in 169.

  179. #180 Ian Forrester
    June 24, 2011

    Vernon whined:

    Sorry Ian, I did give in and respond to your ad hominem comment in 169

    My comments were not ad hominem but an accurate description of your behaviour here and on other blogs.

    As expected you refuse to accept any science which shows you up as the ignorant denier that you are (that is not ad hominem by the way). I don’t know why I bothered to waste my time trying to explain science to you as you simply reject it if it doesn’t conform to your denier ideology.

  180. #181 Vernon
    June 24, 2011


    Since your in pure ad hom mode, I guess you cannot answer the question either? You do not know how increasing GHGs will warm the ocean. Well, that makes you and Wow that do not know the answer. Guess I am still waiting on Coby.

  181. #182 Ian Forrester
    June 24, 2011

    Vernon, I’m not wasting any more of my time on ignorant, arrogant and rude denier trolls like you.

    Anything anyone says to answer your questions gets the same response. “It is all wrong because it does not say what I want it to say”.

    Get lost, crawl back into your crib, you are just behaving like a spoiled toddler.

  182. #183 Vernon
    June 24, 2011


    The more it is pointed out that you do not know the answer the more abusive you become. Please keep your word, do not waste your time posting to me.

    Anyone else (not Ian or Wow) know how increased GHG cause ocean warming? Nothing published that I have found shows any warming mechanism, only cooling.

  183. #184 coby
    June 24, 2011

    Vernon, stay tuned, I will make a post out of this question. Thanks.

  184. #185 Vernon
    June 24, 2011

    Thanks! I am looking forward to it.

  185. #187 Neil B
    June 24, 2011

    Coby, you make good points but a suggestion: for people searching, etc. consider putting such titles in quote marks (altho there’s a case to be made for drawing in skeptics who think they’re finding helpful talking points.) As for CO2 extinction in a short distance: that is the “peaks” themselves, but don’t they drop off so that nearby wavelengths might find 1/2 level over 100m, then 1000m, etc? It’s not like fence post slats sticking up in a graph, is it?

  186. #188 KevinP
    September 1, 2011

    I made about a quarter of the way down looking to see if anyone had posted a good counter to the CO2 can absorb at most 4% of the IR energy leaving the atmosphere (so if already made, please disregard).

    The problem with saying that CO2 can only absorb that amount regardless of level is that’s looking at it like it’s a single pane of glass (ala the realclimate article linked earlier). Any energy absorbed is either re-radiated (random direction) or turned to heat to later be re-radiated. This is happening on an individual molecule basis, a small but important distinction. As energy moves outward from the surface, it gets absorbed and re-radiated or passes through undisturbed depending on what molecules it encounters. Depending on absorption/reflection rates for the atmosphere above it, this can result in roughly 50% of energy going back down (possibly more or less as angles near horizontal as they have longer paths through the remaining and thus higher chances of scattering/absorption). As you add CO2, it spreads through the whole atmosphere. Each small layer may only send back 0.02% (not a real number), but if there’s 200 layers, the overall effect is more on the amount of radiation sent back to the surface than the total passed through. Think, (100% – 0.02%)^200 probability of transmission; not 100% – 0.02%*200. Again, those numbers are not actual values, just picked for demonstrating the difference in effect.

    What matters to the climate is the overall balance of radiation from the sun vs out from the earth, not how much of initial radiation from the earth gets past the carbon. That second statement is what the “4% max” is actually saying. For understanding what the effect we care about is, you have to look at what doesn’t get out because of absorption.

    Take everything posted with a grain of salt, none of us are putting our real world reputations on the line to comment on a blog post. I’m a senior studying physics (after a long hiatus) and felt like the main flaw in that argument wasn’t being pointed out.

    PS: taking the simple statement, “what happens if we don’t radiate 100% of the energy we take in?” and taking that as a runaway greenhouse Venus argument is a strawman. The (obvious) answer is temperature increases until the radiative balance is again attained. The question that begs is what changes will that new temperature bring with it and can we afford the changes (or the risk of changes)? Oh, to head off another strawman, I’m not assuming anything with that question but making a point of logic that if the temperature is to increase:

    1. 1) what will happen?
    2. 2) what is the impact on humanity?
    3. 3) if we have the option to prevent it, is it worth the cost?

    I have my thoughts on those but they’re not really relevant to this discussion.

  187. #189 solarmanke
    April 11, 2012

    Seems foolish to be arguing about”warming planet” and burning life support system substance and polluting the air and water, which is measurable, when energy can easily and cleanly be gotten without that. Seems so ‘neanderthal’ that in all the time of human evolution, we have only been able to re-locate the burning to “outside our caves”. It is merely a threat to the established profit systems who are inhuman and have collective ego’s of their own. I have been working and waiting for solar energy evolution all my life because it is so logical and proven beneficial. Burn-tec is merely a temporary fill-in tec to bide the time for this paradigm to appear. We all know this, but because we, as egos, identifying with form (the body, et al) as reality, fear the advent of what we simply refuse to understand.

  188. #190 bcapps
    April 23, 2013

    It is interesting that Venus is mentioned, I believe studying that planet is what started the AGW frenzy. Venus rotates very slowly, retrograde.. its surface was presumable completely molten at some point, and evidence suggests heavy volcanic activity. Some papers on Venus states that it has a cooled interior due to lack of tectonics… I agree that tectonics have ceased, but extreme volcanism is the interiors release for heat and pressure… that is the fastest way to release trapped gas from mantle. So, we have constant solar bombardment that ionizes thousands of tons of atmosphere a day, yet we have enough mass in the Venusian atmosphere to maintain 90+ bars of pressure? Is it possible we are not seeing the whole picture? We assume that water vapor caused the runaway effect, but are we certain runaway volcanism did not cause the extreme conditions? If Venus is our doomsday model, We have to assume that the extreme pressure is the reason Venus can trap the heat… I do not think it would matter if the atmosphere was methane, carbon, or nitrogen, the sheer amount of molecules traped in every square inch of space is a better determination of how much heat you can trap, and for how long. Thermodynamics states that heat will escape, the only difference is how long you can trap it.. So, with these observations, I do not see how Earth could ever become like Venus. Mars has completely carbon atmosphere, but only 1/100th our pressure, its daytime to night time temperatures are very extreme.. heat escapes almost instantly… So I ask everyone here.. is it the type of atoms in the atmosphere that matters? or the density?