Another confused effort: Proving the greenhouse gas effect does not exist

This time from Berthold Klein. These misguided efforts are a real worry. Just because GHE is poor nomenclature does not mean earth acts like a physical greenhouse (it doesn’t) but the lower atmosphere is most assuredly warmed by compression, conduction, evaporation and transpiration and through absorption of infrared radiation. All manner of seriously stupid claims are made with reference to the infrared absorption and radiation part.

As a function of entropy the sun is radiating energy to the universe. Earth is in the emission path of a portion of that energy, enough to raise it to about 255 kelvins after allowing for the portion reflected rather than absorbed. Earth radiates a similar amount to the universe.

Some people get really confused thinking that the atmosphere is not part of Earth but the atmosphere is not a separate body at all and is constantly exchanging molecules and energy with the non-gaseous surface of the planet.

Within the gaseous portion of Earth’s surface – and below the altitude of effective emission (the point where incoming and outgoing radiation are in perfect balance) – we have a nice warm and humid zone in which we live.

The atmosphere is composed of molecules of non-zero temperature and as a spontaneous function of entropy radiates electromagnetic energy in all directions equally.

No repulsive force exists to prevent some of this radiation from being intercepted by Earth and since Earth is not transparent to these radiations it absorbs this energy. It is this feedback which keeps Earth’s non-gaseous surface warmer than it would otherwise be.

Some people misread their Clausius statement of the Second Law of Thermodynamics as meaning energy cannot be returned from a cooler body to a warmer, although it actually means that the net rate of multiple transfers must always mean that the warmer body will always export more energy than it receives from the cooler body. It says nothing about rate of cooling.

For those who wrongly believe the atmosphere to be the “cooler body” (not unreasonable at all) that can not transfer any energy to warmer body Earth (dead flat wrong), here’s two words: lightening strikes. Thousands of times every day electromagnetic energy is spectacularly transferred from atmosphere to non-gaseous surface in the form of lightening strikes and thus refutes the strict one-way hypothesis of energy transfer from Earth to atmosphere.

Never mind that Earth’s greenhouse effect does not work like a physical greenhouse, which curtails convective heat loss, Earth’s greenhouse effect is 100% real and useful to life on Earth. For Heaven’s sake stop gifting the CAGW wackos a cudgel with which to beat you and by extension all skeptics as entropy imbeciles.

Here, for what it is worth, is the link that precipitated this rant.

107 responses to “Another confused effort: Proving the greenhouse gas effect does not exist

  1. Steve,
    You do a lot of great work and all that but on this I disagree strongly. You say the “greenhouse gas theory” is poor nomenclature and then infer leading scientists aren’t stupid enough to suggest our atmosphere actually acts like a greenhouse. Sorry, but my colleagues and I have conducted extensive research and unearthed no less than 53 bogus authority statements declaring that Earth’s atmosphere DOES act ‘like a greenhouse’
    Klein is entirely correct and I recommend you follow up and research carefully the above link.

    For example, among this evidence you will find the junk science presentation of Professor David Archer of the University of Chicago – he actually teaches this c**p to his students. In his video Archer explicitly depicts the atmosphere as interchangeable with a pane of glass. Note in the photo that Archer’s chalkboard diagram shows the mythical two-way heating process (upward and downward) of “back radiation” – an entirely unphysical concept unheard of in any branch of science except climatology.
    A little more research on your part will reveal precisely those who are the real “imbeciles” and among them isn’t Berthold Klein.
    John O’Sullivan

    • John, the “like a greenhouse” analogy is perfectly adequate for politicians and the general public, only some of us actually care that physical greenhouses and blankets generally act to interrupt convection. It’s an irrelevant non-issue.

      Moreover, the transfer of electromagnetic radiation from atmosphere to earth is simply a fact, get over it. Your error is assuming that energy may not be transferred from a cooler body to a warmer body at any rate, which is dead flat wrong. The only reason there is a “flow” of energy from a warmer body to a cooler one is that the body of higher temperature fluoresces at greater intensity and so loses energy in the exchange. Its rate of cooling is however slowed and in a non-contained system like earth, where an external source (the sun) provides energy the net result of transfer within the system is that earth’s non-gaseous surface is warmer than it would otherwise be.

      To believe otherwise is to deny constant demonstration of the reality. To claim that electromagnetic radiation can not transfer from atmosphere to earth, which is what is claimed by saying the greenhouse effect or downwelling radiation or back radiation or whatever you wish to label it can not exist, is to claim that lightening can never strike the ground, which would be pretty ridiculous considering lightening is defined as electromagnetic transfer and tropical and temperate land surfaces receive an average of some 20 strikes per Km2 per year.

      Feel free to disprove entropy and trust me I will be truly and honestly awe-struck when you do so but until then stop this crap about the greenhouse effect not existing.

    • What’s with the “mythical two-way heating process”? You have this in chemical engineering as well. The presence of a warm body warms a nearby hot body despite being actually cooler than the alternative.

      Here’s how it works. Every body releases radiation proportional to its temperature and surface qualities. This radiation goes out and hits everything equally, where it is absorbed and warms it, no matter what the temperature of the receiving body is. To abuse a proverb, lighting a match will warm the sun, albeit by a miniscule amount. Increasing the temperature of the stratosphere will cause it to warm the ground below it.

      Do you want me to get out my Undergraduate Heat Transport textbookand hit you in the head with it? It’s still on my office bookcase and I need stress relief.

      [Reciprocity of heat transfer]

      Fundamentals of Momentum, Heat, and Mass Transfer 4th edition

      [Image added by Ed.]

      • Ben,
        I’d love to know how you can demonstrate that a colder object can heat a warmer one further. In effect, what you are saying is that when I put an ice cube in my drink I’m warming – not cooling it! Please show me your text book that “proves” such a concept. Otherwise hit yourself, not me.

      • The issue is that you are replacing, not adding. If you have ice in your drink and then you replace it with cool, 40F water. You will warm it compared to the alternative.

        That’s what the GHG effect does, it replaces the current air with slightly warmer air.

    • John: Just out of curiosity, how much of your living is made by defending your position that earth’s temperature is not moderated by IR-absorbing gasses? You really ought to come clean on that, you know. It’s only polite to identify your dog in the fight, as they say.

      I am stunned by the argument you make above. You say that Editor said “‘greenhouse gas theory’ is poor nomenclature — a reference to the CAGW crowd, it seems — when what he WROTE was “GHE [greenhouse effect] is poor nomenclature” (and you already know from discussion elsewhere that I say the same thing).

      That’s the first setup.

      Then you claim that he “infer[s] leading scientists aren’t stupid enough to suggest our atmosphere actually acts like a greenhouse”, when there is no language in the piece to that effect.

      That’s the second setup… of a straw man, which you then bash by referencing your own material. Looks to me, since you have to really contort what Editor wrote in order to fit your response, like a shameless bit of for-profit self-promotion (by increasing membership in your Principia Scientific Intl). Please correct me if I am wrong in that conclusion, but your site SAYS you are commercial, and for-profit.

      Readers, I’ve had a couple of Facebook debates with John, and while I respect his educational accomplishments, his understanding of radiative Physics is seriously incorrect. In point of fact, I think that the whole “no greenhouse effect” crowd damages the scientific pursuit of the destruction of the CAGW claims of crisis by, in effect throwing out the baby (actual radiative moderation impact of IR-absorption in the atmosphere) with the bath water (CAGW error).

      Have a look at some references to John and his work, and judge for yourself:
      “PSI is an active commercial publisher of science articles, compendiums and books. We share the financial rewards from sales and take seriously our obligations to our members, financial backers, customers and others to place benefits for the broader community above private gain. — John O’Sullivan

      “commercial”? “share the financial rewards from sales”? The Facebook group “There is no greenhouse effect”, founded by Derek Alder (perhaps the same “Derek” who authored a review of PSI’s book, linked below). John posts on the group frequently.
      Not one of John’s fans, for sure.
      Read the reviews of the book. Fascinating stuff.

      • Tom,
        I don’t make “ a living” from any of my science writing. My main income is wholly separate and derived from my past employment in other fields.
        I made the irrefutable point that more than 53 leading institutions including NASA claim our atmosphere acts “like a greenhouse.” It’s no strawman. I provided links – go check. As such, I demonstrated how muddled and confused are those who advocate for such self-contradictory junk science.
        Certainly, Principia Scientific Intl comprises 50+ scientists and related experts – a large proportion with PhD’s – who are honest and above board in declaring we sell books for profit. So what? I can assure you none of us is getting rich on it. You are entitled to disagree with our science but you can’t stop us sharing it or getting some small recompense for our efforts – unlike you, we believe in free speech and free trade.

  2. Steve,
    You incorrectly infer that this stuff is only for the consumption of the politicians and the general public, it isn’t. If you had bothered to follow up on the evidence I offered you’d learn that this garbage is being taught to climatology undergraduates with no caveat that it’s “only” meant for the “dumber” masses. Watch the video and see for yourself.

    I make no error on this and you are seeking to use a straw man argument here. Your reference to lightning is the first I’ve heard of this and is irrelevant in the atmospheric system. Radiation certainly moves from a colder to a warmer surface but it does not ADD any additional heat. But if you are sure heating by “back radiation” has been measured in the atmosphere please cite one paper that cites any such empirical evidence.

    • Too easy John: and stop calling me “Steve” – I’m Barry.

      Now you’ve finally got to the crux of the matter – no energy is being created by ghe, it is slowing the rate of cooling of the earth’s non-gaseous surface. Note that insolation heats earth’s surface far beyond its mean temperature and that rate of cooling is the determinant of that mean temperature. The more slowly it cools before rotation brings it back under solar insolation the higher its morning “starting temperature” and hence the higher is the average of Tmax and Tmin. The stronger or more persistent the feedback from atmospheric molecules of non-zero temperature the more slowly earth bleeds energy to space (same effect as low humidity desert air allowing deserts to cool more rapidly by night).

      Earth’s effective emission temperature is whatever solar insolation less albedo makes it and that is not affected by ghe at all.

      Saying that students are being wrongly taught about the effect is still irrelevant as to whether ghe actually exists.

      • Barry,
        You failed. There’s nothing “empirical” at all in that paper. It merely cites a figure of 324 W/m2 DLF. But the authors concede that number is merely based on “data” generated by models. If that’s your best example then clearly you do not understand the difference between empirical (real world) measurements and junk climate science computer models (based on ghe fiction). FYI two years ago Professor Claes Johnson made short work of that junk science paper. See here:

        So, I ask you again – please show just one paper that uses EMPIRICAL evidence to substantiate any GHE.

        Now, about this new claim that the GHE “slows the rate of cooling” – please cite any paper that has demonstrated the existence of such a phenomenon using EMPIRICAL evidence – and how long does this supposed “slowing” last – i.e. how many milliseconds, seconds, minutes, hours etc?

        You then end by claiming that it is “irrelevant” that so many leading universities are teaching climatology students wrongly – but surely, if the GHE is real then why aren’t these future climatologists being taught the “correct” version of the “theory”?
        Many thanks,

    • John, how can radiation move from one surface to another without adding heat? Where does the energy from the radiation go?

      As far as slowing the rate of cooling, this is again, undergraduate level heat transport.

      Heat Change = Heat In – Heat Out
      Heat Change = – Net Conduction – Net Convection – Net Radiation
      Net Radiation = Radiation Received – Radiation Sent Out
      As everything except incoming radiation is a function of temperature, we can rewrite this as

      Heat Change = Radiation Received + f(T)
      So, if you increase radiation received, you increase amount of heat received, which increases the temperature until it balances the increase of received radiation.

      Declaring that Carbon Dioxide will not significantly warm the planet is one thing (and the correct answer, I might add). Declaring that the atmosphere acts as a greenhouse is a silly analogy, and it has been abused by others. However, denying the existence of a basic physical effect that is plainly stated in physics is another thing entirely.

      • Ben,
        You make a gross error when you state: ” how can radiation move from one surface to another without adding heat?”
        Your textbooks will advise you that movement of radiation does not equate with adding heat. Space scientists and engineers understand very well the concept of non-thermal radiation. I suggest you read up on it:
        Once you’ve grasped this you will better understand why it is that any body touched by radiation does not necessarily get heated by that radiation.
        As per my example stated in this thread with the ice cube in a drink – the ice cube certainly emits radiation – but such radiation does not heat the drink.

      • However, we are talking about thermal radiation, the increased radiation from the warming of the atmosphere. Not about the radiation of particles. This link is as relevant to this discussion as dark matter or black holes.

    • John: This may have been the first time you’ve heard of lightning as an energy transfer method, but you certainly have been told before of another phenomenon that challenges your incorrect belief that the earth has absorbed all that it can from the sun, and therefore can’t re-absorb photons re-emitted back toward it: I wrote the obvious example of a magnifying glass heating the surface far beyond the temperature possible by direct insolation alone.

      You mention reading by moonlight, and incorrectly diagnose the issue. The light reflected from the newspaper spreads in all directions above the newsprint, with only a small amount going toward the reader’s eyes. But if the light from the newsprint reflected elsewhere was instead sent back to the newspaper, it would again have the chance of being reflected toward the reader’s eyes. The issue is how to capture ALL — or as much of it as possible — of the light coming from the moon toward the newspaper, instead of “wasting” most of it by reflecting it away from the reader’s eyes.

      Or, put another way, surely you would agree that five or ten readers, all observing the newspaper at once, would all get approximately the same “not quite sufficient” illumination to read the print. Then you must also agree that if all that illumination were to travel to one reader’s eyes, it would be sufficient.

      Or, another way: observe the effect of low clouds on a moonlit night, where you catch the direct light of the moon through a break in the cloud cover. Same moon. Same direct illumination. But now you get the added illumination of reflection from the clouds of the moonlight reflecting from the earth. Want to try to prove there is no more light on the newspaper than without the clouds?

      The point, John, is that radiative energy can and is absorbed by the earth, even if not directly from the sun itself. You argue that violates the second law, but that only demonstrates you are misinterpreting a corollary referring to conduction, and do not understand that increasing entropy is still the result, even though the ultimate energy loss to space is delayed a bit. The challenge in all the pieces I’ve read by you is time. Your descriptions of atmospheric radiative behavior simply don’t give a proper account of time. You discuss average temperatures, but not the differences in transport between night and day. You comment on energy radiating from the earth, but refuse to accept that the TIME for energy to radiate to space is in any way influenced by the IR-opacity of the atmosphere, including the reflective properties created by the random walk direction of re-emission of absorbed radiation.

      Please note: in none of this do I even mention CO2, because, frankly, it’s only a small contributor. Your past comments to me have never acknowledged that I consider H2O vapor to be the predominant IR absorber, and that is at best impolite.

      • Tom,
        Here’s a challenge: please provide links to any science papers that substantiate empirically your belief that photons can re-visit the surface of our planet multiple times adding additional heat energy.
        There are 63 different (often contradictory) versions of the GHE in common circulation. You would be better equipped to debate this matter after first studying them and grasping the essence of what they say.
        If you actually believe that reflected moonlight could provide additional heat at night then apply that principle to a box comprised of mirrors and set a light inside and measure how much you can amplify the heat energy via the addition of mirrors. It’s nonsense, Tom. If it were real then you’d have invented a perpetual motion machine.
        You suggest that somehow my colleagues and I do not factor in time – quite the contrary. If you read our papers you will see it is we who have identified that the Standard Model GHE avoids addressing the time component by the omission of night and day.

        You, like Barry, appear blissfully unaware of what climatologists say on the matter. Depending on who you speak to the definition of the “greenhouse effect” changes – that’s because it’s not robust under scrutiny. Read how Pierre Latour debated Roy Spencer and refuted Spencer’s errors that you and Barry repeat:

        Spencer and Lindzen bought into Hansen’s clever promotion of the myth about an effect caused by “greenhouse gases” that then caused the ground to warm an extra 33 C, because it is said that the sun unaided by a “greenhouse gas” mediated “greenhouse effect” could only heat the earth up to -18 C. This -18 C number is derived from the following calculation: One subtracts 30% from the solar constant for albedo and then divides what’s left by 4 since the earth’s surface is four times the size of the shadow that it casts. It is said that this 239W/mw average absorbed solar radiation can only heat the earth up to -18 C because at -18C the earth will be emitting 239W/m2 of IR radiation and will be in thermal balance with the sun. Unfortunately the mean surface temperature of the earth is about 15C. Ergo, the “greenhouse effect,” of which 60-90% is caused by water vapor, causes 33 C of ground level warming and that is what one sees asserted in the literature on the subject.

        “In the case of Earth’s atmosphere, it has been known for some time that the most important greenhouse gas is water vapor, contributing ~75% of the total atmospheric greenhouse gas warming of some 33 C.” The Geological Society of America, rishcar D. Schwartz, “An Astrophysicist Looks at Global Warming”,
        Both Lindzen and Spencer use the flat earth, time-free model. However, Lindzen’s version fatally contradicts Spencers because Lindzen claims the atmosphere is heated “top down” while Spencer claims the opposite. What a palaver!
        But what scientists at PSI have shown is that when Earth is modelled in 3-D with a time function there is no need to factor in any additional 33 Celsius GHE – the concept is superfluous in explaining Earth’s climate which is more readily explained by adiabatic pressure and the Ideal Gas Law.
        P.S. As you may determine from above, not only do I acknowledge that you consider H2O vapor to be the predominant IR absorber – I totally agree! But as per Kirchoff’s law a good IR absorber is also a good emitter.

  3. Editor,

    Not only are you using the term “greenhouse” in a conceptually sloppy way, you are using the word “entropy” totally incorrectly. I suggest you invest in taking a year of heat and thermodynamics from a competent engineering school so you can learn what entropy actually is. That way, the blog might be more ABOUT junk science rather than BEING junk science.

    • If you wish to claim ghe does not exist Lionell then have at it and no, I don’t care that earth does not behave as a physical greenhouse any more than those who use the term as an analogy for slowed cooling do (they can call it “like a blanket” for all I care since the end result of slowed cooling is the same – it’s an irrelevant distraction).

      • Barry,
        As per Lionell’s observation about your gaffe about entropy – it would serve you better if you just were honest enough to admit you don’t really understand thermodynamics as well as you think. Pretending otherwise merely serves to discredit this blog. The BS your spouting trying to defend the junk science of the GHE is the only “irrelevant distraction” around here.

      • Sorry, John, but it is you that is purveying the junk science, what are you are doing, in effect, is pretending that thermal radiation doesn’t exist. Or that raditaion emitted from the atmosphere is either non-thermal (utter nonsense), that only thermal upwards but not downwards (again, sheer poppycock), or that it somehow does not affect the ground (That is as realistic as saying that the weather is controlled by Pegasi and that the sun is raised by the unicorn princess).

        That is the core point. For you to be correct, this would mean that the

        I’ve seen arguments that CO2 does not absorb as much as has been calculated (possible)
        I’ve seen arguments that atmospheric absorbance is completely saturated in the wavelengths that CO2 absorbs, so adding CO2 will not increase absorbance at all (a very valid point)
        I’ve seen arguments invoking Le Chartlier’s Prinicple stating that the equilibrium effects will reduce the backradiation’s effect to next-to-nothing (my favorite argument)

        However, out of all these very valid arguments, you choose instead to focus your efforts on one of the few that is demonstratably false. This would require physics to work completely inconsistently.

        • Ben,
          Your GHE “theory” postulates “back-radiation” from cold atmospheric CO2 is absorbed by the surface, heating it more. My colleagues at Principia Scientific International (PSI) argue that violates Second Law of thermodynamics (energy can only be transferred from hot to cold bodies), leading to creation of energy, a violation of the First Law of thermodynamics (energy conservation).

          Not only is there no heating from “back radiation” but no gas can “trap” or measurably delay the exit of energy from out atmosphere. CO2, just like all other gases, absorbs some incident radiation according to its absorption spectrum and promptly emits it according to its emission spectrum. Just check Kirchoff’s Law to validate the fact that any gas is as good an emitter of IR as it is an absorber – no energy may thus conceivably trapped. We further know this because satellite data proves Earth emits all the energy it receives. If gases like CO2 were trapping heat then we would have had runaway global warming when CO2 levels were 10x and 50x higher than they are today.

          Remember, Boltzmann says intensity t is perpendicular to the radiating surface. Sunshine comes from the direction of the sun. Thermal T has no direction, it is just an amount. Combining them is the basic logical error woven into the junk science of the GHE. Read more on this fallacy here:

      • Barry,
        To test if “back radiation” is a real phenomenon, my colleagues at Principia Scientific International ( suggest the following experiment for you: On a night with moon-light so feeble that you can cannot read a newspaper, place yourself in front of a mirror letting the moonlight reflect from the newspaper to the mirror and back again, and check if you can now read. You will probably find that the paper is still unreadable, as if “back radiation” does not give more light.

        As my colleague, former NASA Apollo Mission specialist engineer, Dr. Pierre R Latour tells us, this is because planetary atmospheres reflect, scatter, transmit, absorb, emit and diminish stellar radiation intensity at the surface according to Beer- Lambert Law, 121°C incident to Earth’s stratosphere to 15°C at surface.

        “Thermal T of atmospheres increase as gravity compresses gas and converts potential energy to kinetic energy closer to the surface from -80°C in the stratosphere to 14.5°C at the ground. Therefore atmospheres cause the surface to be colder than it would be if the atmosphere were thinner or non-existent.”

        Therefore, the more O2 (oxygen) is exchanged for higher heat capacity CO2 (carbon dioxide), the colder the surface radiation intensity temperature. Atmospheres are refrigerators, not blankets. I recommend you read more on this here:

      • John, you completely misstate the setup for your experiment. You would have to position the mirror in such a way to both not block incoming light and also to reflect the light that is reflected off the paper. A one-way mirror would do the trick if you can get one clear enough. Then, you would need to account for the distortion of light color by the mirror. If you could do this and get the very closest to legible light without the mirror, then, yes it is a possibility. The conditions are bad enough to say “if pig fly”.

        Conceptually, this is no different then getting a prism and reflecting the moonlight that would normally go to the ground onto the paper. This is a difficult, but not impossible task. The reflected light plus the natural light would obviously be greater than none at all.

        In fact, you seem to be lacking a basic understanding of what I am saying. You state exactly what I say in paragraph 2 of your 4:02 post, but you fail to grasp the implications of this “immediately re-radiate”. How does a molecule re-radiate energy (remember, nothing comes from nothing)? The temperature is briefly increased before it discharges the radiation. This is dynamic equilibrium darn it. Nothing is trapped. There is only states of matter.

    • Lionell, what exactly did the Editor get wrong? His statements are completely factual as far as the science is concerned (though I do say, Barry, I dislike the wording on that “as a function of entropy” statement, it’s downright confusing, and I think that the lightning analogy, while original, isn’t really applicable). As a graduate of a “competent engineering school”, I can say that he made no error of significance.

      If it’s so bad an argument, red-line correct it and improve it. Don’t throw insults.

      • It is an insult only if he used the word “entropy” correctly. He did not. He made the error, not I. I suggest YOU go back to your books on Thermodynamics and refresh your memory on what “entropy” actually means. No. I won’t provide an education here for something as fundamental as entropy any more than I would for a mathematical error of setting 2 + 2 equal to 5. It is undergraduate physics material. All I need to do is point out the error.

        The blog presents itself as an authority in science. How can it be for such a fundamentally wrong statement as “As a function of entropy the sun is radiating energy to the universe.”? It is far worse than confusing.

      • Again, a chiding without correction is worthless. Shouting “You Lie” is pointless. What did he get wrong? If it is a minor issue, then correct it. If it is a major problem, then point it out and I shall correct it. For that kind of language, it had better be significant. If you are quibbling about phrasing, then you are merely trolling.

        The people who do not understand entropy are those who are saying that it is impossible for a warmer atmosphere to warm the Earth, a blatant falsehood that violates basic sense and occurs from a sophomoric understanding of entropy.

  4. “The people who do not understand entropy are those who are saying that it is impossible for a warmer atmosphere to warm the Earth,”

    The interesting thing about entropy is that it can do no work. Heating something is doing work. That takes energy but not all of that energy can do useful work. Some of it is lost into the entropy bucket and is no longer available to do work. Entropy is not a cause, it is a consequence.

    • Lionell, I believe you are misunderstanding his sentence. Let me rephrase: “People with a misundertanding of entropy are citing the second law of thermodynamics to claim that it is impossible for a warmer atmosphere to warm the Earth”.

      What he is referring to is the commonly (and incorrectly) cited idea that the greenhouse effect violates the second law of thermodynamics. That is why I said that I disliked some of his wording. It is not how I would have stated it for the very reason that you state. However, taken in context, stating that the total system must be observed instead of the isolated section is correct. Perhaps our editor needs an editor, but his basic reasoning is sound.

  5. One thing that is never mentioned is if GHGs have an ability to “backradiate” energy thus causing heating why doesn’t this ability show up in their measured properties ??

    Normal air is never proposed as being responsible for causing “warming” – the public is convinced that without CO2 and water vapour the Earth would be a snowball and with only a small amount more CO2 we’ll all burn in hell. And I object to the peddling of that belief system as unproven and unscientific.

    All the claims are based on backradiation with positive feedback effects and I also object to that.

    There is no evidence that CO2 actually plays any significant part in energy transport. In fact both CO2 and Water Vapour have a thermal conductivity almost half that of normal air.

    There can be no “powerful backradiative” effect from substances that are in effect effective insulators – surely. This effect is certainly not measurable if it exists and as such ought to be treated as nothing more than speculation. Trace gas insulators with about 50% conductivity of an already effective non-conducting/insulative gas (normal air) are negligible.

    Now before anyone says something about its “radiation stupid” consider how anyone could measure a physical property like thermal conductivity that excluded any radiative effect.

    But water has the properties to influence climate as it undergoes phase change – CO2s effect is either negligible or non existent.

    But water seems to have a negative impact on the heating power of the solar radiation- the hottest climates are always associated with the lowest concentrations of water vapour, more humid climates never reach the temperature extremes seen in even places like, say, Baghdad which is 33 degrees N – out of the tropics. I live at 27 degrees S near the ocean and it is rare that our air temperature exceeds even 30 C while Baghdad almost always exceeds 40 – 45 C in summer.

    So I reject the “backradiative” greenhouse effect – how can a “net” flow of energy from warm to cold cause warming ? The other point that I never seem to see explicitilly stated is that the emission of radiation causes a loss of energy to the emitting source – how can the “re-radiation” of a portion of this, if this indeed is what occurs, even return the “emitter” back to its state before the emission – clearly it can’t and the simple summation of differing radiative fluxes is just that – simple !

    And surely it is the temperature that causes the radiation and the temperature must come from some capable source be that chemical oxidation or nuclear.

    I do not believe that simple reflection of ones own radiation causes warming – that seems to be just wrong. Imagine an enclosure with mirrored surfaces with a light source – would that enclosure be heated beyond the power of the light source – I do not believe it – but this is a hypothesis surely capable of verification.

    Further, what happens when you turn the light out ? I think it will become dark but I could be wrong.

    • Rosco, you’re not even wrong. You are failing to see the forest for the trees or the town for the houses. It’s a half-baked series of strawman arguments that, while researched and at least semi-educated, is arguing nonsense.

      “Backradiation” isn’t some special property. It is a combination of two extremely basic components, absorption and emission of radiation. Put simply, any radiation that strikes an object is either absorbed, reflected, or passes through. As we are talking gases here, a good portion passes through and not much is reflected. However, some of the upwelling infrared radiation from Earth is absorbed. This will warm the air slightly. I hope there is no controversy here.

      Now, all objects radiate heat energy at all times. The amount radiated is based on two things, the emissivity of the surface and the temperature. This is always directly related to temperature. As we are still talking gases, this radiation is emitted in a 360 sphere away from the gas molecule.

      Now, in this 360 sphere, half goes up and half goes down (ignoring the slight difference caused by the Earth’s curvature). The radiation that goes down warms the Earth.

      The greenhouse gas effect states effectively that if by changing the composition of the atmosphere you increase the absorption of infrared radiation, this means that a greater amount of energy will be absorbed (this is a tautology). Since more is absorbed, more is re-emitted, including the portion that goes back to Earth (this is a 1st law statement). Thus, increasing the absorption of the atmosphere to upwelling radiation will increase the radiation back to Earth and thus the temperature (A->B->C). This isn’t “going back to it’s initial state”. It’s called dynamic equilibrium (remember back to freshman chemistry?). The net effect is to warm both surface and lower atmosphere which cooling the upper atmosphere.

      I don’t know how else to say it. At least fighting the greens, they typically have good interests at heart alongside their nonsense. Posts like yours make me wonder about the quality of our educational institutions.

      • Ben,
        What you describe above is a PMM. “Back radiation” is a term that was concocted by the IPCC and does not explain any mechanism described in any authoritative book on thermodynamics. Indeed, Dr. Judith Curry denounced the term on her blog last year in a debate on the issue with professor Claes Johnson.

      • “Back Radiation” is a simple phrase to say “thermal radiation emitted from atmospheric gases Earthward”. I will admit that there is discussion about the merits of the phrase, mostly in that the phrase causes people to think that it’s something odd or special when it’s so simple that I would think less of a high school student who could not understand it (one of my primary beefs with climatologists is their need to make things seem so complicated when the theory is really quite simple, it’s just the calculation that’s impossible).

        You have brought into this discussion non-thermal radiation, lots of name-dropping, a number of interesting but irrelevant tangents (we are not, after all, trying to create a full model of the atmosphere, but merely discussing the existence of a single effect), and in the end, I finally realize. You have no idea what you are talking about do you?

  6. This is usually a waste of time but lets try to eliminate the points of agreement:

    The entities involved as far as entropy and the 2nd Law is concerned are the sun, earth and space (the universe).

    Energy flow is from the sun, to the universe – in a limited case via the earth.

    Presumably everyone is happy that entropy is preserved and all is right with the universe?

    Earth has achieved thermal equilibrium and radiates at a rate consistent with its irradiation – that’s reflected solar (which can be ignored) + Planck-consistent radiation of a body of ~255 K.

    What we are concerned with is the temperature at earth’s non-gaseous surface.

    Are we still in agreement?

    The maximum temperature we can achieve without including geothermal energy is equilibrium with insolation at meridian, true?

    Depending on your sources used your mileage may vary but that will resolve to approximately 1368/2 or 684 W/m2 * 0.7 (allowing for albedo) and (480/σ)1/4 yields about 303 K or ~30 C, right?

    Except lots of places exceed that temperature and they can do so without being cloud free, low albedo areas.

    Let’s look briefly at one mechanism where cold atmosphere heats the earth – Hadley Cells.

    I’m going to leave it to readers to look up the mechanism at leisure but very briefly described tropical convective towers transport heat and moisture aloft, cooling the air and condensing out the moisture as it is dispersed away from the equator, the cold, dry air descends in the horse latitudes, heating by compression as it descends (the basic reason for the desert belts 20-30N – not as prevalent in the south due to increased ocean/land proportion).

    That’s one example of how a cold atmosphere heats the earth’s surface which, according to some is an impossibility.

    Having unsubtly introduced deserts that brings us to radiative cooling. By night deserts lose heat rapidly due to (oh no!) low greenhouse effect. Water in all its forms is by far the most prolific greenhouse gas and its low prevalence in dry desert air provides little feedback to slow cooling. The moist tropics, on the other hand, cool very little overnight simply because the atmosphere is infrared opaque.

    Finally and this seems the fundamental point of disagreement, mean temperature is not merely a function of rate of heat gain but also of rate of heat loss – this seems to be the root cause of a lot of arm waving.

    Is ghe “adding” or “creating” energy? Of course it is not. But earth’s non-gaseous surface is not transparent to, nor does it repel infrared radiation just because the net temperature of the atmosphere is lower than earth’s non-gaseous surface.

    • Barry,
      Like other GHE believers, your reasoning is fatally flawed by constant reference to only to how our atmosphere serves to delay nighttime cooling (which is a half truth and not the whole story). You omit to factor in that our wet atmosphere INHIBITS daytime HEATING. The Standard Model GHE crassly applies the numbers you cite in an averaging technique to turn daytime and nighttime into frigid, cool twilight. Among other things, this gross error critically ignores the crucial phase changes of water which has extraordinary and ill-considered latent heat capacity that come into play across daytime/nighttime (see J. E. Postma’s excellent paper:

      As Postma’s calculations show, once we account for day and night time and dispose of those meaningless “average insolation” numbers what we see is that during the daytime our atmosphere does NOT act all “like a blanket keeping the surface warmer than it would otherwise be.” Quite the opposite!

      Just compare the extremes of temps between Earth and the moon and see for yourself. It is evident that, without our wet atmosphere, the average daytime temperature on Earth would rival that of our moon (around 107°C (225°F)). Thus, how can our planet’s surface be both “warmer than it would otherwise be” yet have a far lower daytime temp that the moon which has no atmosphere to speak of?

      My colleagues at Principia Scientific International comprise several space scientists who say a better approach is to look at the actual empirical evidence (not 2-dimensional junk models) and understand that Earth’s great problem is shedding heat, not retaining it. This is because the actual data proves vacuum space acts more like a thermos flask serving to delay our planet’s cooling.

      Space scientists understand that heat transport on Earth may be better compared with what occurs on the international space station (ISS), which also has both an external and internal heating source that requires an efficient mechanism to shed heat. Both the ISS and Earth use a “wet” cooling system to move incoming solar energy from its point of incidence to distribute it to all available (cooler) surfaces to encourage its emission back to space by radiation. It is thus space science experts who have done most to expose one of the biggest gaffes in climatology – falling for the “cold space” fallacy. Even experts like Roy Spencer and Dick Lindzen were duped by the cold space fallacy to sustain their false belief that our atmosphere acts like a “heat trapping blanket.” The myth you need to dispel is that our planet would be colder without an atmosphere; instead go by the empirical data that proves all atmospheric gases (inc. CO2) don’t help to warm, but serve to MODERATE temperatures.

      Read more on this here:
      You have to get back to first principles and empirical facts to fully rid climatology of all the GHE pseudo science.

      • To some extent true John, although only marginally. Yes, water, mainly in the form of ice and droplets, not so much vapor, reduces insolation. Also the diurnal/nocturnal temperature range would be much greater if the earth rotated as slowly as the moon and the planet would be a much harsher environment with a much greater temperature amplitude – the mean can only be changed by altering net insolation by altering solar emission temperature, orbital geometry or albedo.

        That, however, has nothing whatsoever to do with claims “greenhouse effect is impossible”, which is complete nonsense.

        Possibly I have not correctly parsed your recent and past statements.

        Is it or is it not your contention that the poorly named greenhouse effect can not exist because no energy can be transferred from the “cooler body” atmosphere to the “warmer body” earth?

        • Barry,
          You ask for clarification. The premise that I hold (as do 50+ scientists and related experts at PSI) is as follows:
          1) After studying and collating 63 variants of the so-called greenhouse gas theory used by leading institutions PSI condensed the core elements into a Standard Model GHE that fairly represents the consensus. [1.] The flawed Standard Model tells us:
          · A warm body (the earth) radiates heat to a cool body (the atmosphere)
          · The cool body “back-radiates” (IPCC term) heat to the warm body.
          · This process continues perpetually, with heat flowing round and round in a continuous cycle.
          · The result of this perpetual process is that the warm body becomes warmer.
          2) PSI has found several gross errors in these assumptions and GHE equations. Among the most notable is (a) STEFAN-BOLTZMANN: the incorrect use of the S-B equation that does not apply to Earth because blackbody numbers apply to self-illuminating stars and not a planetary body being illuminated and with an interior heat source. The standard model GHE “averages” solar input power of 240 J/s/m2 to give an equivalent (bogus) temperature of about -180C (255K or -0.40F). But our earth is made up of two fundamentally opposite hemispheres that cannot be averaged to produce a sphere that is bathed in a luke-warm sun, as per the unrealistic K&T energy budget (the premise of GCM’s). [1, 2] For those wanting a formula for that: 12h Day + 12h Night ≠ 24h Twilight. Then (b) SCALAR/VECTOR BUNGLE: standard GHE equations fatally mix scalar numbers with vectors rendering them meaningless, as proven by Dr. P. R. Latour’s analysis. [3]
          The GHE “theory” thus operates with a cognitive boundary condition that Sunlight only provides -180C worth of temperature in any given second over the entire surface area of the globe at once. By this (bogus) reasoning climatologists postulated a scheme of physics to raise the temperature on the Earth to something much warmer than this. This “physics” is called the greenhouse effect. The average daily temperature found near the ground- surface is +150C so it seems apparent that the Solar sunlight cannot directly account for it when the GHE “theory” omits to account for the fact the input is on the surface area of one hemisphere, but the output comes out of the surface area of the entire sphere. Thereby the standard model greenhouse effect makes a simple but critical mistake in not differentiating between the concepts of energy flux density and total energy, in the context of the Law of Conservation of Energy.
          3) CO2 IS A COOLANT: Carbon dioxide is not a warming gas – it is a cooling gas. It only warms when trapped in a lab container. Open the bottle and the gas will cool down almost instantly whilst the container will take its time to reach ambient temperature. Prof Nasif Nahle’s experiments showed CO2 decreases infrared radiation emissions/absorptions in the air. [4.]
          4) OUR PLANET “COOLER” THAN OTHERWISE BE: In our open-to-space atmosphere, the excellent radiating properties of all so-called greenhouse gases serve to cool the atmosphere – noticeably during the day, never to warm it. We know this because the actual data shows the temperature forcing into the climate system from the Solar energy has a linearly-distributed average value of 480 W/m2, or +300C. At maximum intensity directly under the Solar-noon, this input forcing is potentially as high as +1210C! But max. daily Earth temps are rarely if ever above 57 Celsius. All gases in our atmosphere operate via the Coriolis Effect to cool our planet, either by absorbing solar radiation on its way to the surface or by taking energy away from the surface but at no stage can any gas add energy. In reality, it is the oxygen and nitrogen that act as “greenhouse gases” – they retain heat much longer than the gases now labeled such.
          5) DELAYED COOLING IS NOT WARMING: Observations prove a dry desert is always much hotter than a humid zone at the same latitude during the hours of sunshine. Delaying the cooling does not equal warming, as is the case with water vapour. No heat is ever added other than that which was added to the (earth + atmosphere) system via geo-thermal and solar energy. Carbon dioxide does not even delay any cooling, it accelerates it. Sending its own energy back to its source can never make the source produce yet more energy, if it could, engineers would by now have designed machines that produced more energy than the input allowed for. Does a thermos delay the cooling? Yes. Does it make the contents warmer than they ever were? Never.There is no empirical evidence to support the GHE “keeping our planet warmer than it would otherwise be.” The only “evidence” from climatologists is that they “can’t think of anything else”, so it has to be “greenhouse gases” [5] A growing body of independent scientific research from around the world undermines the GHE; see references [6, 7, 8, 9 and 10] and further links and articles at Principia Scientific International.


          • Just your opening premise is sufficient to see where you go wrong John.

            The earth and its atmosphere are not two discrete bodies but one body of mixed composition. While we ethnocentric denizens of the surface like to think of it as special and unique it simply is not true – non-gaseous surface and atmosphere exchange constituents and energy continuously (evaporation and precipitation, crustal outgassing, water infiltration of the crust and so on).

            The bodies involved are the sun, the earth and the universe and the sun heats the earth to 255 K.

            Moreover you still confuse thermos effect without recognizing that the crucial point is “warmer than it would otherwise be“, i.e., a function of time.

            The contents of a thermos (assuming you are trying to keep them warm) lose heat less rapidly than they would if not in their insulated container and thus, using your descriptor “are made hotter” (note that that is really “kept hotter than they would otherwise be”). The same applies with greenhouse effect – earth’s surface is heated by the sun and its rate of cooling slowed by intercepting approximately 38.5% of the radiation from the atmosphere. This is why although the effect is mainly due to infrared radiation rather than a physical barrier to conduction and/or convection it causes me no real distress when people casually say an effect kind of like a blanket or whatever – all slow rate of cooling and are therefore close enough for government work, as they say.

            No matter how you choose to term it feedback from the atmosphere keeps earth’s non-gaseous surface “warmer than it would otherwise be”.

            No one claims that the atmosphere heats the earth’s surface beyond solar insolation and if such a concept is what troubles you then relax, it is not the case.

            Your claims about desert temperatures are a little troubling too, since several effects are at work. To begin with cloudiness tends to be low so insolation is higher than humid zones but that is only a part of the story. The belts of desert girdling the earth at 20-30° latitude are the result of mechanical heating by compression of descending dry atmosphere – look up Hadley Cells. It’s not the only reason for deserts of course, topography is of great significance too but it is a big reason for the hot dry Horse Latitudes.

            • johnosullivan

              You’ve clearly not even read what I wrote and are merely handwaving with waffle.

            • What I’m trying to do John is get you to state unequivocally whether you recognize any form of energy transfer from atmosphere to non-gaseous surface, be that kinetic in the form wind-driven waves or sculpted sand dunes, latent heat of snow, rain on ice or snowfields or any such thing because as soon as you recognize feedback from atmosphere to non-gaseous surface you can stop dancing as fast as you can and simply say yes, feedback exists. And as soon as you recognize feedback you will see what people have been trying to explain for years.

  7. Barry,
    You’re getting ever more vague in your platitudes. Let’s stick to facts and what is quantifiable in empirical terms. Buried deep in the 2007 IPCC Report you will find the disturbing fact that climatologists admit to “low” or “very low” understanding of 13 of the 15 factors that drive climate [1.] And you now want to turn the debate to “feedbacks”?
    Sorry, Barry, but you are increasingly choosing to dance on the head of a pin rather than admit there is nothing of substance to back your assertions for any “greenhouse gas effect.”


    • Actually John we are trying to bring you the facts. We are not trying to “turn the debate to feedbacks” – that is what ghe is.

      I’m waiting for you to acknowledge at least one of the many examples you are given of energy transfer from atmosphere to non-gaseous surface – doesn’t have to be heat, any energy transfer will do, which is why I introduced kinetics.

      Wind-driven waves and/or sand dunes are nice since they involve energy transfer with visible work being done.

      You do admit their existence, don’t you John?

      And you do recognize them as a feedback of energy from the atmosphere, don’t you, some of your diatribes include energy redistribution from the tropics via the atmosphere.

      If you don’t like the name “Back Radiation” for downwelling longwave radiation then call it “Bert” or something else, I don’t care, nomenclature does not effect existence.

      Another thing you really need to work on is “delayed cooling is not warming“. Which has the warmer mean, a body with a Tmax of say 100 °C, which cools over 12 hours to Tmin of 60 °C or a body with Tmax of 100 and Tmin after 12 hours of 80 °C? Or are you now going to try to argue that Tmean of 80 °C and 90 °C are equivalent?

      • Barry,
        The IPCC admits climatologists know next to nothing on a forcing factor as crucial as aerosols. So, in a discussion about the GHE, what can we meaningfully get from speculation over what miniscule proportions of the total solar insolation are transferred in the movement of ocean waves or sand dunes? You may as well discuss how many angels can dance on the head of the pin.
        Also, which version of the GHE are now promoting? Is it “back radiation” which implies a second stab at heating – or delayed cooling (the “blanket” effect)? Because each excludes the possibility of the other.

        • Forget nomenclature John, this is and always has been about the alleged impossibility of feedback from the atmosphere. As soon as you recognize that occurs you also recognize ghe is not “impossible” after all.

  8. (“Reply” icon not present in thread, so I must reply here)


    You wrote: “I don’t make ‘a living’ from any of my science writing.”

    Now, see, that’s a good thing. Also not surprising.

    You wrote: “I made the irrefutable point that more than 53 leading institutions including NASA claim our atmosphere acts ‘like a greenhouse.’ It’s no strawman.”

    Of course it is a straw man: Editor, to whom you were responding, made no such claim, and in fact said the opposite. You put words in his mouth, to set up your unresponsive pitch for your organization and book.

    You wrote: “As such, I demonstrated how muddled and confused are those who advocate for such self-contradictory junk science.”

    An argument for a different thread, perhaps. But not a proper response to what Editor wrote.

    You wrote: “Certainly, Principia Scientific Intl comprises 50+ scientists and related experts – a large proportion with PhD’s – who are honest and above board in declaring we sell books for profit. So what?”

    (1) Member list, if you want to be transparent. I’m public, a qualified signatory to the Oregon Petition Project, for what that’s worth.
    (2) Who claimed you can’t sell books for a profit? Not me, though I hope your current — to use your word — muddled and confused offering fails to sell enough to confuse more people. The issue was not whether or not you are for profit, but rather that you clearly identify that fact when you present your arguments. It’s a matter of transparency, John.

    You wrote: “I can assure you none of us is getting rich on it.”

    Another good thing.

    You wrote: “You are entitled to disagree with our science but you can’t stop us sharing it or getting some small recompense for our efforts.”

    Wow. You do like making unwarranted assumptions, John. Civility, John, not censorship. You need to be more forward about your interest in your argument. You’re not a trained scientist, you’re a legal consultant, apparently a few bricks short of being an attorney, though I read somewhere you joined the ABA as an associate (which requires no law degree). For a lot of people, that makes you about as trustworthy as most politicians: willing to speak what serves your interests.

    You wrote: “unlike you, we believe in free speech and free trade.”

    Another unwarranted and baseless assumption. One of my favorite stories was told by Milton Friedman, in the 1980 series, “Free to Choose”, where he describes the wonderful subsidies granted by your British government to ship builders, who then sold the barges to Poland for less than it cost to make them. Laughing, Dr. Friedman shrugged at the stupidity of doing that. And if you actually looked at my profile, or researched me at all, you would discover I defend free speech, while giving no respect for people who do so hiding behind anonymous groups.

    But at the end of the day, here’s the fact:

    You do not understand energy transport by radiative emission and absorption, nor the correct application of the second law of thermodynamics, and you defend a view of the atmosphere that imagines all can be explained by gas law compression heating and cooling alone, thus ignoring empirical data on as simple a concept as humidity.

    • Tom,
      1: Thanks for the succint response. You said it better than I could.
      2: You can only nest replies 2-deep. You can reply to a message or to a reply, but that’s as far as it goes to keep the indentations from making things unreadable.

      • Ben,
        As you are obviously incapable of conducting a debate without making personal attacks there is no point in us having any further discussion here. Goodbye.

      • So says the man who started this conversation with the distinct implication of whom he thought was an “imbecile”.

        I am only reduced to expressing my frustration with you claiming yourself to be an authority yet being unable to comprehend basic heat transport. That is the falacy and where Tom’s more personal sting comes into play. You have set yourself up as an expert and spouted scientific-sounding sheer nonsense mixed with irrelevant factoids and tangents to distract from the simple fact that you are claiming impossibility in basic thermodynamics.

        I may be a simple Texas engineer, but I can read through your transparent rhetoric.

        • Benofhouston: “So says the man who started this conversation with the distinct implication of whom he thought was an “imbecile”.”
          I insulted no one. Go back and check. In fact, my very first comment was a compliment to the site owner where I said: “You do a lot of great work and all that but on this I disagree strongly.”
          I then expressed my disagreement without resort to name calling. That preserve evidently belongs to you and Tom. Whether my expression of my colleagues’ work has been less than helpful to you their work is robust and credible and gaining traction among leading climatologists. So much so that we are currently engaged in a healthy private email debate about the GHE with a dozen or so such experts. What has emerged from these discussions is that the climate science community is now accepting that the “Slayers” (PSI members) have successfully refuted the standard model GHE, as shown in the paper by my colleague, Joseph E. Postma here:

          What the climate science community now accepts is that PSI scientists have proven that the standard model is discredited because trying to determine Earth’s surface temperature using an “averaged” flux is fatally flawed due to inter alia, the standard equations mixing scalars with vectors – a crass error. In addition, my colleagues have shown that there is ample evidence that CO2 has none of the physical properties to control energy transports on Earth – it is a simple inert gas at all ranges of ambient temperature.

          In this ongoing private debate we posed the question: if CO2 or water vapor had some powerful radiative effect why doesn’t this show up in experimentally determined physical properties such as thermal conductivity?

          From our analysis of the standard model GHE we proved that 16% of incoming IR is absorbed by the atmosphere (i.e. the surface fails to warm to that extent) while the atmosphere absorbs only 15% of outgoing. On that basis alone we make a compelling case that the net effect of radiant-responsive gases is to cool. Indeed, since all such insolation is shown to end up back in space, there’s no evidence for back radiation added heating or delayed cooling as there is now proof of low-emissivity.
          In the next few weeks I plan to publish more articles on this proving that if the earth were surrounded by something like a low-emissivity space blanket, we would see firm evidence of a failure to cool – we don’t. Quite the contrary, we have obtained compelling empirical data to prove it.

      • John, to avoid further confrontation, as a quick answer to your question the experimentally derived properties are:
        Absorptivity, Emissivity, and Transmissivity.
        It’s not a single, dedicated property, but three of the basic properties of radiative transfer. The total amount absorbed and re-emitted is a complicated system of interactions, not a fixed and calculable value

    • Tom,
      Can’t you even muster the semblance of conducting a dignified debate without resorting to lies and personal insults? Clearly your motive here is to regurgitate unfounded character assassination attempts against me that put you in the gutter alongside those who concocted them. So lazy are you as a researcher you did not even bother to verify that PSI publishes a member list.
      In the third sentence of the above article it is stated “GHE is poor nomenclature” well, no, its not poor nomenclature for NASA, NOAA, and the other 50 plus institutions that actually claim our atmosphere “acts like a greenhouse.” That is my point and it is neither spurious or gratuitous. Rather than hand wave and spout on that you are right and I am wrong why not try to refute the links to PSI papers I provided. Until you can muster an actual scientific argument little of what you say holds up.

      • John, I will give one final sentence to expose your strawman.

        There are two things that we are adressing here.
        1: The physical dynamic of the Greenhouse Gas Effect, that of upwelling infrared radiation being absorbed by atmospheric gases and re-radiated downward.

        2: The odd analogy of the atmosphere acting like a greenhouse, which is incorrect on several levels and acts as a distraction and a hinderance to learning. However, it has been siezed upon by many as a way to educate “the masses”, leading to falacies of reason.

        You make claims about how the second interpretation is wrong, and you have found no argument from anyone. However, you insist that the first is wrong as well despite every time you have addressed it, you have displayed a profound ignorance about how thermal radiation actually works, bringing up discussion points and presenting them as decisive when they are either irrelevant, beside the point, or simply wrong.

        When a man sets himself as a expert, it is only right to point out that he is a fool. While some of Tom’s points did hit too personally, the majority of his post was tearing down your self-aggrandizement and half-baked arguments. That was why I complemented his point.

        • Ben,
          Ok. I see you’re intent on labeling me as some kind of self-obsessed Walter Mitty-type loon. I guess that makes it easier in your mind to ignore my points. But I’ll try once more to explain Principia Scientific International’s (PSI) position:
          In essence, since late 2010 when the “Slayers” (now PSI) first got their teeth into debunking the GHE we’ve seen a noticeable retreat by climatologists who have now abandoned the standard model GHE (back radiation version).
          There are, in essence, only two versions of the GHE put to us by those climatologists who have engaged us in debate: the “Active heating” version (back radiation) and the “Slowed Cooling” version (“blanket” effect).
          Consistently during our debates climatologists have abandoned the “Active Heating” version and are not so keen to speak up to defend the “Slowed Cooling” version, either. Below is a copy and paste of Joe Postma’s latest public comment made on this today.

          “We’ve had more than one major climatologist now pull the old switcheroo on us…agreeing that the model we debunked is only a toy fictional model…We are now seeing them shift the description they use for the GHE…almost to a man they all seem to have stopped using the back-radiation heating explanation, and are now trying to use a more passive “delayed cooling” explanation. And to be sure, this new explanation is mutually exclusive of their former explanation. Can you believe that? They’re now trying to describe the GHE with physics which negates their former explanation. belief.

          You can not approximate +49C worth of heating on one side of the planet that has a maximum of ~+100C under the zenith over an area the size of North America, and pretend that an approximation of -18C worth of heating globally will make the same things happen in the system. Apparently, GHE advocates and CAGW alarmists have never heard of the triple point of H20, i.e., ice, water, and vapour. With -18C input to a system largely covered in water, of course you HAVE to invent a temperature-amplification mechanism to get that water to stay melted if the input is only -18C! But of course, the sunshine actually does this all by itself because it is actually MUCH hotter than -18C. … The truth is, it is impossible to predict what the actual temperatures will be for rotating systems. You can make a statement about conservation of energy, sure, and you can relate that to an effective radiative blackbody temperature, but such a temperature will not necessarily correspond to an actual kinetic temperature measured with a thermometer at any specific location. It’s just numbers being pulled out of idealizations, and the concept of average temperature for a surface where the temperature constantly changes in space & time is ill-defined in the first place.”
          In essence, when the solar insolation distributed average used to describe the GHE is dispensed with (along with it’s flat earth, constant twilight assumption) we are left with our sun delivering 1370 W/m2 of energy to ONE side of the planet ONLY. Is this significant? Absolutely!
          Here’s why: the only thing the solar insolation distributed average is good for is calculating the expected planetary blackbody temperature. It works not just for Earth or Venus, but for all other planets as well whether an atmosphere is present or not.
          As Postma says in his debunk of’s botched attempt to debunk his paper: “For Earth, the blackbody temperature works out to 255K (-18C), and in fact, this is exactly what the temperature of the planet Earth is! The temperature of the Earth is exactly the temperature it is supposed to be. But what the alarmists do is mix up two different physical metrics and phenomena: they compare the blackbody temperature of the Earth to its surface temperature, when these are completely different phenomena. We already know why the surface temperature of the Earth should be warmer than the blackbody temperature and that it has nothing to do with the greenhouse effect in the various manifestations they try to present it, as I laid out in my papers.”
          Thus I would suggest it is more likely you, not me, possessed of that “profound ignorance about how thermal radiation actually works.” FYI read and learn more here:

      • For Heaven’s sake John, you came in with:

        Note in the photo that Archer’s chalkboard diagram shows the mythical two-way heating process (upward and downward) of “back radiation” – an entirely unphysical concept unheard of in any branch of science except climatology.

        Your “unheard of, unphysical concept” actually has a name, it’s called reciprocity and deals explicitly with how two bodies exchange heat. It is a temperature independent, always valid function of geometry.

        Ben even provided the text book reference image for you: here.

        Furthermore you have admitted two-way energy transfer explicitly:

        Radiation certainly moves from a colder to a warmer surface but it does not ADD any additional heat.

        although you continue to ignore the obvious consequences of this feedback.

        Unless you are an idiot and I don’t believe you are then you will realize that although the warmer non-gaseous surface emits at a greater rate than the atmosphere the net rate of loss from the surface is slowed by intercepting a proportion of the emissions from the atmosphere.

        You keep trying to cloud the issue by saying it “can’t add any heat”, which, if parsed to mean can’t increase earth’s temperature beyond that achieved by solar insolation that is trivially true. However, and it is a huge however, rate of heating is not the sole determinant of temperature, rate of cooling must be considered. Imagine bailing a tank of water and taking two bucketfuls out, pouring one away and one back in, you may have removed two bucketfuls but the level of the tank is only reduced by one.

        As reciprocity tells us and you have admitted, the non-gaseous surface also receives radiation from the atmosphere. This is our metaphorical bucketful poured back into the tank. Just as our water tank retains a higher minimum level so our mean surface temperature retains a higher minimum temperature (Tmin).

        How hard is it for you to admit the result of (Tmax+Tmin)/2 is a higher temperature because Tmin does not cool as much?

        That’s greenhouse effect, get over it.

        The real issue is over how much can/will the effect be enhanced by adding (trivially) to the atmosphere’s concentration of molecules capable of absorbing infrared radiation and I would hope you will apply your obvious enthusiasm there.

        • Barry: “Your “unheard of, unphysical concept” actually has a name, it’s called reciprocity and deals explicitly with how two bodies exchange heat. It is a temperature independent, always valid function of geometry.”

          But in Earth’s climate system there can be no reciprocity without additional work being applied. This is the whole point: in the standard model GHE there is no additional energy being added to the system (as work) to precipitate the addition of more heat via “back radiation.” Both the Maxwell relations and Onsager’s reciprocal relations have been factored into my colleagues’ equations debunking the standard model GHE. Climatologists are now accepting the standard model is discredited and I suggest you actually read the papers at the links I cited because until you do we are wasting each others’ time addressing irrelevancies.

          • You’ve finally got me convinced about one thing John. I must admit it’s the first time I’ve been told radiation heat transfer is irrelevant regarding greenhouse effect. But it’s just a scratch, right John?

            I look forward to hearing of your Nobel Physics Prize and hope you have successfully patented your wondrous magical electromagnetic radiation repellant. It’ll be worth a fortune, I’m sure but regret I will not be investing in your new um, discovery.

            • johnosullivan

              You say: “You’ve finally got me convinced about one thing John. I must admit it’s the first time I’ve been told radiation heat transfer is irrelevant. regarding greenhouse effect.”
              That’s not what I said. I said reciprocity is not applicable to “back radiation” heating without additional work. Why are putting words in my mouth to create straw man arguments? If you can’t be bothered to read the links I gave that explain our science in depth then its clear we are wasting each others’ time. Goodbye.

  9. John said:

    Radiation certainly moves from a colder to a warmer surface but it does not ADD any additional heat.

    And he’s right…well perhaps the statement should be slightly amended. More appropriately, it should read:

    Radiation certainly moves from a colder to a warmer surface, but has near zero probability of ADDing any additional heat.

    That’s right, it is possible for cold to further warm hot, it is possible for low energy to energize high, it is possible for the slowing oscillating atmosphere radiated photon to increase the of the faster oscillating surface molecule…possible…just an impossibly small probability of a the possible happening.

    • Also a misreading L.J.. It is not “further warming” but rather “less colding” by reducing the rate of cooling.

      Surely you are not going to try to argue that a higher Tmin is “an impossibly small probability” in the face of commonplace examples such as humid nights?

    • Barry, I think you’re splitting hairs and missing the point. Let me handle this. LJ, we’re not talking about statistical thermodynamics. Radiation is unlike other types of heat transfer in that its emission is independent the receiving body and absorption is independent of the sending body.

      The emission of radiation is based on surface type and temperature. The air is at a certain temperature and emits infrared radiation based on that. Since it’s gaseous, the infrared emission is in a complete, even sphere (well, it’s a photon generated in a random direction, but with enough molecules, it’s an evenly distributed sphere). Obviously, half of this radiation will go down.

      When the infrared gets to the ground, part is absorbed, and part is reflected. The reflected goes back to the atmosphere, and the absorbed turns into thermal energy in the ground or lower air, creating a warming effect.

      The temperature of the air controls how much radiation the air admits. The properties of the ground controls how much the ground absorbs. The temperature of the ground is not a factor in this process (it is in the full balance, where you consider the increased conduction, convection, and radiation emitted from the ground, but that’s a different lecture).

      This is why radiation is taught last despite being the easiest of the mechanisms of heat transport math-wise. It is counter-intuitive that cold can transfer to hot. A white painted surface and a mirror (mirrors having famously low emissitivity) facing each other in a vacuum would quickly shift to the painted surface being cool and the mirror being warmer. A surface with a high area, low mass, and low wind can even become cooler than ambient.

  10. benofhouston | August 30, 2012 at 11:15 am

    unlike other types of heat transfer in that its emission is independent the receiving body and absorption is independent of the sending body.


    Since it’s gaseous, the infrared emission is in a complete, even sphere (well, it’s a photon generated in a random direction, but with enough molecules, it’s an evenly distributed sphere). Obviously, half of this radiation will go down

    The world is isotropic… and I agree, roughly half go down…cools twice as fast as a hemispherical emission.

    … the absorbed turns into thermal energy in the ground or lower air, creating a warming effect.

    Nope! Low energy LW does not further energize (statistically) the warmer surface. The oscillation of valance electron, which produces LW indicative of temperature profile, must be further be lifted to the next higher energy level in order to produce higher energy LW radiation. Now not all oscillation and subsequent emission are peak and thus an emission spectrum is realized.

    • We are not talking about energizing it or popping up energy levels. Einstein’s Nobel theorem can take a break on this topic. We are talking about warming, a much simpler thing. How else would infrared warming lamps warm anything?

  11. Editor: August 30, 2012 at 3:10 am

    Reducing cooling does not (near zero probability) confer heating beyond input. During day, insolation represents maximum radiation input. Therefore temperature is limited by solar radiation input…GHGs “reducing the rate of cooling” can only help the insolation achieve it’s maximum.

    Surely you are not going to try to argue that a higher Tmin is “an impossibly small probability” in the face of commonplace examples such as humid nights?

    As I’m sure you’re aware, no insolation impinges on the Earth in the evening hours. A warm humid night atmosphere may in fact radiate warming LW to the Earth’s surface…hot to cold, warm to cool higher energy to lower energy is most probable. Your example, in fact, is further evidence the GHE is spurious (statistically speaking). You see EDITOR, if cool can force warm (reduce cooling), then the warm humid evening sky should heat up via the nocturnal terrestrial LW radiation.

    • I’m not sure if you are trying to argue against a position no one holds or what.

      It looks like you are trying to defend a position that slowing rate of heat loss will not affect an object’s temperature. In case that is so then consider a pot of vegetables simmering on the stove, it starts to boil so you lift the lid. Why? To increase the rate of heat loss rather than have a boil over and more stove cleaning, true?

      I’m petty sure we can agree something’s temperature is the net result of heat input and output.

      What is it that you think happens to downwelling longwave radiation? By what method do you propose it could not be absorbed by the non-gaseous surface? Unless the surface can tell the difference from whence a photon is sourced and somehow become transparent or repellent that energy must be included in the “budget”.

      Your final example above is a misstatement of the situation. The atmosphere is always subject to the outbound longwave radiation (OLR) from the earth’s surface, something which does not change just because rotation has taken that particular area away from solar insolation and so you absolutely do not expect the atmosphere to get warmer as you suggest. What you expect with increased humidity is reduced rate of cooling (limited “relief” from the day’s heat…).

      Finally, it is not a matter of probability distribution that a warmer object will receive radiation from a cooler object – it is always true that the objects with a direct line of sight will exchange radiation with rate of export from each dependent on temperature.

  12. Editor | August 30, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    then consider a pot of vegetables simmering on the stove, it starts to boil so you lift the lid. Why? To increase the rate of heat loss rather than have a boil over and more stove cleaning, true?

    True. The lid slows the heat loss. However, slowing the loss will not increase temperature beyond thermal input. Consider placing that same pot on a constant 99C heat source. Slowing the loss speeds the time to 99C for the simmering veggies…it does not however, increase temperature beyond input.

    Should the water boil, when lidded, it’s not due back radiation nor slowing heat loss, blame the pressure.

    By what method do you propose it could not be absorbed by the non-gaseous surface?

    I’m not suggesting it isn’t absorbed, I am suggesting a lower energy photon is insufficient to increase the energy level of a higher energy electron within a surface molecule. It will be absorbed…absorbed by a lower energy level, elevating the occupying electron to the next level. This newly elevated electron will return to it’s original level, thereby radiating a photon equal to that which was absorbed. What you will not see is a greater terrestrial radiation spectrum.

    Your final example above is a misstatement of the situation…

    I think we agree here, at least partially. My final example was to specifically concern temperature inversion. Under such condition, the GHE would propagate an ever increasing inverted gradient.

    • L.J. Ryan I don’t know of any suggestion anywhere that slowing rate of heat loss increases the temperature of anything beyond thermal input and that certainly has nothing to do with greenhouse effect. As you lay out the sequence yourself a photon is emitted, absorbed and emitted and then absorbed by the original emitter (or equivalent) but there has been no net heat loss in that sequence. Where are we disagreeing?

      Inevitably there will be loss, by adiabatic lapse cooling the air parcel and reducing photon energy if nothing else and energy exchanges will be at reduced intensity over time but that does not change the fact that rate of cooling is slowed and the Tmin in a given location will not fall as low during the period in shadow* as it would if there were no radiating atmosphere returning a portion of exported photons to surface.

      *Yes, I know the effect occurs constantly and not just in earth shadow.

  13. Editor | August 31, 2012 at 4:47 am

    Where are we disagreeing?

    Perhaps I misunderstood your position. The GHE, as postulated by the AGWers, supposes a resolution for the deltaT (255K to 288K). The resolution; back radiation adds energy to the surface conferring a temperature in excess of insolation. And from our discussion, we agree AGWer interpretation is nonsense. However, I think challenging the term GHE is very necessary. Not only is it poorly named, but it leads to a fundamental misunderstanding of the true atmospheric process. The so called GHE offers a solution to a contrived problem deltaT (255K to 288K). And once the mark accepts the solution to the contrived problem, the sale of AGW is easy…it cloaks unphysical kookery in true science.

    Challenging the the name, aids in correcting the discussion, and puts to rest AGW.

    • What do you mean, “conferring a temperature in excess of insolation”? If you are saying what I think you are saying, then I don’t know of a single person that believes that. “Back-radiation” does affect the heat balance, but it doesn’t warm above initial temperatures.

      • If you are saying what I think you are saying, then I don’t know of a single person that believes that.

        Are you kidding? The vocal supporters of the GHE promote this nonsense. To be sure, the GHE models assume a 240 W/m^2 insolation (conferring 255K), then adds 150 W/m^2 DLR to achieve a total flux of 390 W/m^2 (288K). You need look at a collegiate environmental science course, to see the single persons pushing this foolishness.

      • LJ, then it appears that we are talking to different groups of loonies.I was talking about the proven, physical effect. I have to defer to your knowledge where modeling is concerned. The environmental department at my alma mater (UH) was concerned chiefly with legal compliance: air, waste, and most of all water Now, the insulation and radiation separation could be reasonable if it is merely a separation (insulation measuring the conductive and convective effects and radiation measuring radiative output). I would have to look at the actual data to be sure.

        Alas, the last time I tried looking at a climate model was shortly after Climategate. The headache from that horrific, poorly documented spaghetti code caused me to nearly burst a blood vessel. It was the sort of program that I was used to reading alongside with the words “I hired the local high school to write this program for me, but it doesn’t work. Please fix it”, except without the Star Wars references in the commentary.

    • I think I see where the conflict lies. Your position, correctly, is that Earth in total receives insolation sufficient to warm it to [~ 225  typo fix] ~255 K and it radiates with that effective emission temp. I don’t think anyone has a problem with that.

      You object, I think, to the description of Earth’s non-gaseous surface being warmed by atmospheric effects – specifically an atmosphere which, on the whole, is cooler than the mean surface temperature of the Earth. – I have no intent to try to put words in your mouth (or from your keyboard) and do feel free to correct if this is not how you view the system.

      I believe the difference arrives because 255 K is not Tmax over the most heavily irradiated portion of the Earth, the tropics at meridian, for example, receives ~480 W/m2 (averaged, of course) or enough to heat to ~300 K. Atmosphere heated near the surface here lofts, cools adiabatically, IIRC is even further energized from the latent heat of water vapor condensing and eventually descends at about 30° latitude, heating adiabatically as it descends. This is an air circulation hotter than the surface at that location is heated by insolation alone and perfectly capable of adding heat to the surface, is it not?

      There is no argument that the energy came from anywhere but the sun but how can we say categorically that “the atmosphere can not heat the Earth” when Hadley circulation offers a mechanism where it can and does on a large scale.

      I agree absolutely that there is no evidence for catastrophic anthropogenic global warming and I agree that the atmosphere is not a source of energy under any circumstance (chemists, please don’t bother nit-picking about chemical reactions in isolated circumstances) but I’m sorry, I can not agree that the atmosphere can not add heat to the surface, the desert belts of the Horse Latitudes insist that it can. It is redistributive and does not affect the Earth’s effective emission temperature at all but poleward redistribution of tropical heat frequently involves warm atmosphere adding heat to cooler Earth.

      To deal with greenhouse effect specifically you made an appealing case that a photon emitted from the surface can not be returned and further energize the surface but that is not entirely true in our solar irradiated system either since emission is only occasionally perpendicular. Low angle emissions intercepted in the atmosphere and emitted such that they are absorbed by the surface far below the horizon may well be exciting surface molecules there to higher states than they were. It is still distributive but by allowing our initial relaxed molecule to be excited again by insolation without release of that initial energy from the Earth we have trivially increased Earth’s mean temperature. By increasing the proportion of absorbent molecules in the atmosphere it is not entirely implausible that there could be an increased rate of heat transport from regions of high insolation.

      In sum it is quite commonplace for large portions of the Earth’s non-gaseous surface to receive energy from the atmosphere and a blanket statement of “greenhouse effect is impossible” is insupportable.

      • Thanks; nicely written. Now, how do you suppose we can convince John O’Sullivan, who has an investment in the condemnation of “downward” radiative transfer (through his company and published book), and others he interacts with (Facebook “There is no greenhouse effect” page, where I first encountered him) that radiative transfer toward the earth is not a myth of the CAGW crowd. My most stunning take-away from that Facebook page was this comment, contesting my assertion that energized IR-absorbing gasses re-emit in an unpredictable spherical direction, with some heading back to the surface: “I would suggest the random walk is not as random as it may first appear it would be.” It’s important to reach agreement on the facts regarding IR effects, in spite of the fact that we seem to disagree about little else, because the “no greenhouse effect” group gets to be the “deniers are stupid” poster child for the CAGW folks.

  14. Editor | August 31, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    I think I see where the conflict lies. Your position, correctly, is that Earth in total receives insolation sufficient to warm it to ~225 K and it radiates with that effective emission temp. I don’t think anyone has a problem with that.

    Assuming a typo…255K is a calculated black body temp based on TOA emissions. This is not at all representative of actual average insolation values. So not to disagree, but 255K is irrelevant to actual temp. I think we agree insolation is hemispherical not global. So average insolation conferred temp is not 255K but rather 303K

    You object, I think, to the description of Earth’s non-gaseous surface being warmed by atmospheric effects – specifically an atmosphere which, on the whole, is cooler than the mean surface temperature of the Earth…


    I can not agree that the atmosphere can not add heat to the surface, the desert belts of the Horse Latitudes insist that it can. It is redistributive and does not affect the Earth’s effective emission temperature at all but poleward redistribution of tropical heat frequently involves warm atmosphere adding heat to cooler Earth.

    If I said “can not”, it was not my intention..low probability is what is/was intended. Specifically regarding heat distribution via the atmospheric mechanics you detail…no objection

    By increasing the proportion of absorbent molecules in the atmosphere it is not entirely implausible that there could be an increased rate of heat transport from regions of high insolation.

    Heat transport…absolutely!..additional heating, no. Regardless, the name and accepted process, the GHE is problematic..

    In sum it is quite commonplace for large portions of the Earth’s non-gaseous surface to receive energy from the atmosphere and a blanket statement of “greenhouse effect is impossible” is insupportable.

    Perhaps. However, my argument is not with the process you describe, but rather the definition and exchange as detailed by the CAGW champions…and some whom balk at the C but agree with he AGW.

  15. Benofhouston | August 31, 2012 at 9:19 pm |

    Dissecting code…yikes. If you like, I can point you to lectures pdf files which detail the so called GHE. All explain how low insolation and excessive “back radiation” increase surface temp.

  16. FWIW The 33 degrees of so-called greenhouse gas warming is a bogus number obtained by the fatal mixing of a vector temperature (outgoing infrared radiation) and a scalar temperature (ave. of ground thermometer reading).

    The creator of this fraud was Dr. James Hansen of NASA who ignored requests to correct this junk science error. The IPCC propagate the “33 Degrees” fraud with their 2007 Report.
    See more here:

  17. One thing that has been missing from this discussion is that the “back-radiation” phenomenon is not a theoretical construct in the least. It was emphasized in Guy Callendar’s 1939 treatment of GHE, prior to Gilbert Plass and others developing a detailed mathematical treatment of atmospheric radiative transfer in the 1950s. Today the view is that back-radiation is more an incidental effect of the overall GH process, which is driven primarily by increasing altitude of the ‘mean radiating layer’ of the atmosphere. (That is what modulates Earth’s cooling rate.) BAck-radiation is nevertheless important for understanding (and predicting) the evolution of local temperatures on hourly timescales, and is dealt with accordingly in weather forecasting software, for instance.

    The history of the phenomenon of ‘back-radiation’ begins with measurement, not theoretical postulates, and goes back nearly to the days of the founding of the US republic, in the person of William Charles Wells of Charleston, SC. He first observed it in London in 1812-1814, when investigating the phenomenon of dew.

    Since his day, observations of back-radiation have become much more frequent over the centuries, and there has been an ongoing program of more-or-less continuous measurement now for some time. Observers are now able to buy off-the-shelf hardware rather than building their own gear as early researchers had to do; it’s a little bemusing to consider that whole product lines supposedly exist to measure a “unreal postulate!” For a more extended discussion of this topic, see:

    We are probably all familiar with the computerese acronym “RTFM.” In the case of the ‘slayers,’ I think the word “manual” should be replaced with the word “literature.”

    • Kevin,
      You’ve entirely ignored every word of the refutation of the “33 degrees” of so-called GHE warming I cited. Why is that? No one disputes that radiation goes where it likes. What the Slayers have proven is that there is not a shred of real world evidence any additional heating occurs from radiation that has already discharged its energy into the system from its initial entry into our atmosphere as solar insolation. If you have the actual numbers to back your inference that there may be added or ‘back radiated’ additional heating please provide them. At minimum please try to read the link I provide above and see if you can refute it.

      • For crying out loud, John, will you EVER quit imagining that all who oppose the exclusion of the radiative effects from the climate discussion are eye-twitching IPCC CAGW advocates? Simple thing: any body radiating toward another will “heat” it, regardless of the two bodies relative temperatures. This is not a violation of the 2nd law, but completely in accord with it, because the relative temperature change — delta-T — of the two objects is simply moderated by the “return” energy. That’s a NEGATIVE feedback, John, precisely what the IPCC says doesn’t exist. The warmer body still gets cooler, and the cooler one warmer, because of the net difference in emissions. This is, John, freshman Physics. Entropy still goes up, as required. Just not as fast as if the warm body was emitting to absolute zero targets with infinite absorption capability. At least you are finally admitting that IR emissions from atmospheric molecules are omni-directional, when you have argued otherwise before. Now perhaps if you actually studied Physics, instead of “appealing to authority” of your “slayers” group, we could start getting to more useful parts of the discussion about climate.

        • Tom,
          With respect, like Kevin you’ve entirely ignored the link I provided.You are entirely incorrect to say “any body radiating toward another will “heat” it, regardless of the two bodies relative temperatures.”
          My colleagues and I are perfectly familiar with the “freshman physics” you cite – it is academic illusion refuted by applied science. You’ve incorrectly assumed radiation equates to heat – it doesn’t. How else could so many of my colleagues have enjoyed such lucrative and successful careers in industry where they routinely employ applied science and thermodynamics?
          Academics have never tested their greenhouse gas ideas in the real world yet keep repeating such junk science and it needs to stop. Please read the link I provided and understand our arguments based on APPLIED SCIENCE. Until you take the time to understand what we say we cannot have any meaningful discussion.

          • Oh, John, there you go again: no personal studied knowledge contributed to the discussion, just appeals to the claimed authority of your “colleagues” as being somehow superior to the basic “freshman physics”, which you actually have the audacity to claim has been refuted. I don’t need to go down your rabbit hole to understand simple things, John, including the relationship between radiative energy, heat, and temperature. Radiation is a form of energy, forms of energy are convertible (made obvious by the facts you accept, such as the obvious conversion from kinetic energy to radiative energy at the boundaries of space) and indeed they MUST be convertible, and delta-T between two objects controls the rate of temperature loss of the warmer object. I repeat, apparently without hope of penetrating the slayer-fog, that the energy content of the atmosphere moderates the energy loss from the earth, in part because radiative transfer occurs in both directions. Your “slayers” group incorrectly calls emissions from a colder body to a warmer one a violation of the 2nd law, but that’s ridiculous: entropy still increases because the result is simply a reduction in the speed of net energy loss, not an increase in temperature of the warmer body. A little calculus would help you, John. A little direct study of Physics would, as well.

            • johnosullivan

              Tom, Kevin,
              Please read my link and stop hand waving. My colleague, Dr Pierre Latour worked on engineering the Apollo space mission and another, Joe Postma, currently designs satellites for the Canadian and Indian space agencies. These men are top experts in thermo. Both have proved that James Hansen, who is the originator of the claim that the GHE warms our planet by “33 degrees” obtained that number by mixing a vector temperature with a scalar temperature, which is a fatal error. Either please refute that refutation as provided in my link or stop waffling.

            • John: your rabbit hole argument is not useful. Appeals to authority do not make a valid debate stance, and in any event the suggestion that being a “rocket scientist” give validity to a argument about radiative transfer is at best laughable. I can make the same claim — having worked for Grumman and Boeing, and been solicited to design a guidance system for a missile — but I don’t pretend that such experience should make my opinions about planetary Physics more valid. So, drop the whole “those guys are smart and they say…” thing, OK? Bad debate tactics. Now, I have made no claim defending Hansen. I said… see if you can stay on the subject, please… that radiative transfer which you have labelled “back radiation” does not make the warm object warmer. Have you got that, finally? I SAID… please read carefully… that such radiation SLOWS the COOLING of the warmer object. This the WHOLE POINT: radiative effects from IR absorbing gasses are negative feedbacks to the climate system. Such IR absorption and re-emission causes IR input to the atmosphere to be reduced, lowering the temperature increase at the surface, and causes IR output from the surface to be slowed, moderating the minimum temperatures reached. This is the effect that people feel, which is wrongly labelled the “greenhouse effect”: a real effect being abused into the service of the false and damaging CAGW war, by renaming it and then claiming a positive feedback instead of the verifiable negative feedback it actually is.

            • Tom, it is you who appealed to authority with your opening gambit declaring my colleagues and I need to learn “freshman physics” which is an insult to specialists in thermodynamics with decades of industry experience. It’s a pity you dodge the refutation I provided. Because once you understand that Hansen’s “33 degrees” is the product of a fatal error in mixing scalars with vectors you then understand there are no hard and fast numbers sustaining the GHE.

              In particular, your handwaving about “IR output from the surface to be slowed, moderating the temperatures reached” shows no numbers whatsoever, Tom. So please provide us with ACTUAL numbers otherwise you have nothing of substance to prove your non existent phenomenon of GHE “back radiation.”

              BTW, your also waffle about how “people feel” the GHE is “wrongly labelled.” But NASA are among 53 major institutions that PRECISELY declare that our atmosphere DOES “act like a greenhouse.” See the facts that disprove your claims here:

              Your “authority” for the GHE is nothing more than “a few dozen” climatologists, as exposed in a 22-page PDF by leading UK (alarmist) climatologist, Prof Mike Hulme. He admits the greenhouse gas theory is a “consensus judgment…reached by only a few dozen experts in the specific field of detection and attribution studies.”

              So please stop waffling and actually check the numbers, please!

            • johnosullivan

              Let’s keep this simple: I have provided a link to a refutation of the only precise numbers GHE believers can offer to substantiate their ‘theory’ which is Hansen’s “33 degrees” of claimed GHE warming. No other numbers exist, if you believe they do then please cite them. My colleagues proved ( my link above) that number is the product of a fatal calculating botch where Hansen and his 1980’s team mixed a scalar temperature with a vector temperature.

              You claim GHE “back radiation” is proved by “freshman physics.” But there are no books on thermodynamics that speak of “back radiation,” which even Dr Judith Curry admits is simply an IPCC term not found in any thermo texts she’s seen. So if you believe you can cite chapter and verse from any standard textbook of precise NUMBERS of GHE COOLING then please show us.

              Even leading UK alarmist government climatologist, Prof Mike Hulme concedes the only “authority” on the GHE are a “few dozen” climatologists.

              Moreover, you talk of “the effect that people feel, which is wrongly labelled the “greenhouse effect.”” But no less than 53 major universities plus NASA PRECISELY describe the GHE as “working like a greenhouse.” See this link:

              You see,Tom, the more you put this muddled “theory” under the microscope the less there is to see. So, if you cannot back up your hand waving with precise NUMBERS then I repeat that you are being duped and need to carefully examine all the evidence my colleagues and I have adduced.

            • Oh, John, we’ll just have to let the readers review these postings, and come to their own conclusions. I have said: (1) I do not defend the CAGW position, Hansen, the IPCC, or the Easter Bunny, (2) that YOU called it “back radiation”, while I refer to it as the simultaneous emission from both bodies — surely you agree that all bodies emit IR, correct?, (3) YOU are the one who keeps clinging to this absurd 33 degree number, while I have SPECIFICALLY and ABSOLUTELY said that the effect of IR-absorption and re-emission is to moderate temperature extremes, not to HEAT the surface warmer than insolation, and (4) YOU are the one who keeps referring to other “scientists” for disagreement or agreement, while I refer only to specific physical properties, observable in the lab and the real world. I don’t care who calls what, what. I care what clear physical properties tell me. All objects emit IR if not at absolute zero. All IR energy is either absorbed, reflected, or transmitted by objects in its path. If the earth is in the way of irradiation from the sun, it must submit to that A/R/T fact. The earth emits IR, reducing the energy content of the globe. That IR again must submit to the A/R/T fact. IR-absorbing gasses will absorb and re-emit if a photon collides with them. Some of that IR re-emission will travel again earthward. Some of that will encounter other absorbing gasses on the way down, others will finish the journey at the surface, where again the A/R/T fact is obeyed. Observe that partial path: less energy returns than is emitted, which means, simply and irrefutably, that the earth surface is STILL losing energy, entropy still wins, and the Easter Bunny can still frolic… in a world which doesn’t get as hot or cold as it would without such IR-absorbing gas intervention.

              Your untrained regurgitation of the co-authors of the slayers group’s opinions is not helpful, especially when you attempt, in spite of my unrelenting comments to the contrary, to convince the reader that I’m really Jim Hansen in disguise.

              Belief in the physical operation of electromagnetic radiation traveling wherever it chooses, and encountering obstacles with which it interacts, transferring energy in the process, while on it’s way to the ultimate entropy of deep space is not the same as being in league with the IPCC and its quest for power, John. Although at this point it’s obvious to me that further transmission of information to you makes about the same change to your thinking as the light energy of the sun does to the deep cold of the universe: entropy wins. Take Physics, John.

  18. Tom,
    No one is interested in Tom Harrison’s version of the GHE just as no one should be interested in mine. The issue at hand is the disputed “consensus” GHE science that is costing taxpayers billions in wasted research funds. It is the Standard Model GHE and its 63 variants peddled by the leading institutions that is under the microscope here – not your handwaving – number-free version. Until such time as you can put away your ego and actually address the commonly accepted versions of that science put out by NASA et al there is no point in discussing anything with you.
    Of course all bodies above zero Kelvin emit radiation but that does not mean that all bodies are heated by it. I know this because, for instance, when I look in the mirror my face is not heated by the light reflected back at me as per your assertion of the “simultaneous emission from both bodies” . But if you say a block of ice can make me warmer if I stand next to it then either show me how and by how much or quit dancing on your pointless pinhead.

    • John, you have descended into the absurd. I have stated, repeatedly, that I have no agreement with the CAGW crowd, or the IPCC, or Jim Hansen, or anybody else that believes that IR effects are a reason to panic, tax every carbon atom emitter, regulate energy production, etc. You have demonstrated only that you can parrot others, with whom you have significant financial ties. Your utterly absurd notion that you are not “heated” by light from a mirror comes from your misunderstanding that such re-absorption only slows cooling (a moderating effect), not increases temperature (requiring additional energy from a warmer source). This is fundamental, mathematically provable, in keeping with Stefan-Boltzmann and the 2nd law, but still you simply don’t understand. Try to grasp this, John: the earth, with its atmosphere, forms an obvious radiative emitter. The SURFACE of the earth, not counting the atmosphere, is also a radiative emitter. This is modeled, in any instant, by two concentric black bodies, one contained within the other. The rate of cooling being experienced by the surface is based upon its emissivity MINUS the received energy, which cannot simply be “thrown away”. During the daytime, the cooling rate is negative, because of greater insolation. At night, however, the net cooling rate is still not at total surface emissivity, because the atmosphere is not at absolute zero, and still has emissivity of its own.

      You keep harping on “heating” as “increased temperature”, and that is fundamental error. The moderation effect in question — whether from IR-absorption and re-emission from the atmosphere to the surface, or from the mirror to your face — is the “heating” causing a lower net loss of energy from the surface.

      This is simple extension of the Stefan-Boltzmann law, and a simple elucidation of it can be found on page 1005 & 1006, here:

      • Tom,
        Please tell me what is absurd about asking you to provide actual verifiable numbers for your “back radiation” cooling/re-heating hypothesis?

        You’ve told me to stop “parroting” my colleagues and inferred I was stupid. You appealed to your own authority as an expert who “worked for Grumman and Boeing, and been solicited to design a guidance system for a missile.” So why not show us all how clever you are. You can do this by first desisting with all your hand waving telling me to go read a book.

        All I’m asking you to do is man up and prove what you assert. For example, you explicitly declared above that so-called “back radiation” is all “freshman physics.” You also claimed above that you “refer only to specific physical properties, observable in the lab and the real world” and assured us back radiation “SLOWS the COOLING of the warmer object.”

        So my question to you, Tom, is: where are your ACTUAL NUMBERS if this is all readily proven in labs and the real world!

        • John, you persist in suggesting that I am a CAGW believer, which is, bluntly, silly. I have never denied convection and conduction, but you consistently argue that IR absorption and re-emission earthward has no effect, which is a simple misunderstanding of radiative Physics.

          You demand a number because you think I believe that radiative transfer is the only mode of energy transfer in the atmosphere, something I’ve denied several times with you, and many times elsewhere. Generating such a number is currently beyond the computer modeling skills of anyone I am aware of, simply because there is no adequate way to globally model, for each grid space, (a) concentration of IR-absorbing gasses, (b) specific heat, (c) surface temperature, (d) incoming insolation, (e) cloud cover, not to mention the conductive and pressure gradient factors in convection, precipitation, etc. This is, of course, why the IPCC is so easily mocked: they claim to have “a number”, but are wrong all the time. Your “slayers” group is no different, given that there is no data set which provides a base for a global model, and no computer array which can process it in enough detail to be meaningful. You may have the arrogance to suggest such a number exists, but I don’t.

          But the absence of your mythical “number” does not alter the simple Physics, modeled by blackbody analysis, using formulae of long standing. I referenced the formulae for change of temperature over time for concentric blackbodies for you, but you don’t care… you want a number, which presupposes that although for any surface temperature and any atmospheric temperature, the Stefan-Boltzmann equation for concentric blackbodies will yield a perfectly good net energy transfer number, you imagine that such a complete model exists. It does not.

          I complain about your prattle because you deny a physical process which is simply demanded by the Physics of blackbody emission: your ridiculous claim that emission from the atmosphere cannot be absorbed by the earth, in spite of Stefan-Boltzmann saying precisely the opposite.

          You complain that I “appealed to my own authority” as having worked for Grumman, etc. But that is a childish lie, for I wrote, exactly, “I can make the same claim — having worked for Grumman and Boeing, and been solicited to design a guidance system for a missile — but I don’t pretend that such experience should make my opinions about planetary Physics more valid. So, drop the whole ‘those guys are smart and they say…’ thing, OK? Bad debate tactics.” In that passage, I specifically noted that my work experience did not affect the validity of my opinions about planetary Physics, anymore than doing engineering for the Apollo space mission (40 years ago!) or designing satellites makes your cronies opinions valid. In other words, John, since you seem not to understand why “appeals to authority” are not valid, in science the formulae and data talk, and nobody cares who you worked for or how many Brownie points you’ve collected along the way.

          You said, “not one word of mention anywhere in your cited hyper link for delayed/re-radiation back radiation cooling!” Gee, John, couldn’t you read the equations? Could you not read the layman’s translation, regarding net energy effects? Was it too out-of-reach for you, given that it talked about the mathematical model appropriate to understand radiative net transfer, instead of animated cartoon images of sun and clouds with little squiggly lines for energy?

          See, this is the problem, John: without training in Physics and the math behind it, you are left simply demanding submission to your cronies, and no matter how straight-forward the physical principles are, and no matter how many times it is explained to you, you don’t have the tools with which to digest it, even if we could get past the bias inherent in your vested financial interest in the “slayers” book.

          So, have at it, John, because I’ve no more time to waste. Be assured, however, that I will sort of follow you around, because your “I don’t know this stuff but I’ve written a book with guys who are really smart and you should trust them — and BUY! OUR! BOOK!” argument style offends my sense of science. (Aside, reading the comments on Amazon for your #957754 book is quite humorous, as even the bit players in the production of the book work to defend it) So, we’ll meet again, I’m sure.

          In the meantime, you keep coming back with false complaints about me ignoring (a) your cronies (I have standards, John), (b) other aspects of energy transport (that’s silly: it’s just not what we’re discussing), (c) education (I majored in Math, with minor-level study in Physics, at Dartmouth, and still study both today; what did you study?), (d) debate style, (e) what’s in Physics textbooks, which I still have but you seem not to have, or whatever, in order to avoid the obvious Physics from a textbook that demonstrates (a) all objects radiate heat and (b) the change of the temperature of any object by radiative transfer is a net sum of emission and absorption. But you add nothing to the discussion because, simply, you’ve never even claimed to have studied Physics, nor Calculus — the language created to understand the processes of Physics. Add to that the padded resume with educational adventures that keep changing, claiming writing for Nat Review (different John O’Sullivan, and he actually is pretty smart — caught ya!) and Forbes (at least you fantasize lofty results), the faux legal career, and your unbelievable “Vanilla” excursion, and you are one serious piece of work to have any contact with.

          All this to simply try to stop you from making skeptics look stupid, by you and your cronies denying the impact of basic physical processes that must occur because the players are above absolute zero, an error that’s just as bad as the CAGW crowd claiming that CO2 and H2O vapor presents a positive, run-away feedback mechanism. They soiled the bath water, but you guys have thrown out the baby with it.

          • Tom,
            As you have done on other web sites you’ve set up a slew of strawman arguments and repeated lies about my character. Then you try to claim it is me who resorts to ad hom and appeals to authority. How disingenuous!
            I’m sure in your own mind you believe you are winning this SCIENCE debate but despite your claim that “in science the formulae and data talk” you again fail to offer any data or calculations. All I’ve asked is that you back your blind faith belief in the discredited GHE hypothesis with ACTUAL NUMBERS as evidence. I say you don’t because you can’t.

            Frankly Tom you are welcome to continue to stalk me around the blogosphere if all you can manage is to demonstrate to readers that your goal is to personalize the debate in attempting to assassinate my character. But if you can somehow contrive the self-discipline to keep to a science discussion and can evince actual real world numbers to back your GHE hypothesis then Dr. Jennifer Marohasy is looking for submissions of essays on this subject. Read more here:

            Good luck!

  19. John, yes you are heated by the mirror. It’s even measurable. It’s just too weak to feel. Energy cannot disappear (excluding relativistic fun).

    And yes, standing next to a block of ice will make you warmer, compared to standing next to a block of dry ice or liquid nitrogen. That’s trivial. If there were no conductive or convective effects, then yes, it would make you warmer in an absolute sense as well.

    Anyway, stop your convoluted strawmen. You lost this argument months ago.

    • Ben,
      Utter drivel! Please tell us by precisely how much we can be heated by our own reflections in the mirror. Surely if you’re correct there are verifiable numbers for this incredible phenomenon. For example, please show us the actual numbers that prove standing next to a block of ice will make us warmer (of H2O not your dry ice or liquid nitrogen dodge).

      • Ignoring conductive and convective effects (ie: assume in vacuum). After all, this is explicitly about you denying basic radiative physics.

        Energy with mirror = light reflected off mirror + greybody radiation
        Assuming no reflected light
        E = emissivity * 5.67×10−8 W/(m^2K^4) *Temp^4 * area of mirror
        Let’s say a 0.1 m^2 mirror and 273 K, and an emissivity of 0.1 (mirrors are bad emitters) and all radiation hits you, you will get hit with 3.1 Watts from a 0C mirror. You can calculate the temperature rise yourself by simple heat capacity.

        It doesn’t matter if it’s a glass mirror or a block of ice, the math doesn’t change.

  20. John: continue your overdue education here:

    In the section “Interchange of energy”, find this: “Using the formulas below shows a human, having roughly 2 square meter in surface area, and a temperature of about 307 K, continuously radiates approximately 1000 watts. However, if people are indoors, surrounded by surfaces at 296 K, they receive back about 900 watts from the wall, ceiling, and other surroundings, so the net loss is only about 100 watts.” That’s one example of a warmer object being surrounded by a cooler one, and yet the energy LOSS from the warmer object is moderated by IR “back radiation”.

    In the section “Radiative heat transfer”, find formulae identifying the FACT that heat transfer is dependent on delta-T, prefaced by this — obvious to Physics students — sentence: “The radiative heat transfer from one surface to another is equal to the radiation entering the first surface from the other, minus the radiation leaving the first surface.”

    Now, John, since it is blindingly obvious that radiative transfer is taking place, and that the objects are at different temperatures, and these formulae denote differing net emission based upon the delta-T, how long are you going to persist with the very unstudied assertion that there is no moderating effect on temperature created by the absorptive elements of the atmosphere?

    Please go back to school, and actually TAKE PHYSICS.

  21. Tom,
    How interesting, not one word of mention anywhere in your cited hyper link for delayed/re-radiation back radiation cooling!

    Now stop this waffle and cut to the chase and answer my question: by HOW MUCH does your supposed “back radiation” delayed cooling and/or re-heating GHE phenomenon alter our climate?

    Your lack of a straight, simple answer speaks volumes. Moreover, it is evident that absent from all your replies is any mention of the crucial roles played by conduction and convection. This suggests that it is more likely you who is most clueless about climate.

    A serious discussion of the mechanism of our climate should register that radiation is the least important mode of energy transport in our gaseous atmosphere. But you insist on putting it all down to some unproven “back radiation” phenomena you infer is our temperature controller. It isn’t and, in fact, you have still not demonstrated that “back radiation” in our atmosphere does anything at all.

    Now please curb the insults and try learn from our science which proves that conduction and convection via Hadley Cells removes surface heat upwards towards the top of the atmosphere (as weather) where it eventually overcomes the vacuum of space (Nature’s perfect insulator) in the form of IR (see: thermos flask effect).

    As such, my colleagues and I assert that our (moderate) climate is regulated by our “wet” atmosphere and the de facto perpetual motion of our spinning (3-D) planet (i.e. Coriolis Effect). Also key is adiabatic pressure and understanding of the Ideal Gas laws in consideration of the unique thermal properties (phase changes) of water. In short, our atmosphere moderates Earth’s temperature such that we feel cooler by day and warmer by night due to ALL atmospheric gases, not least as liquid H2O covering 70% of our planet. By contrast, your over-simplistic IR model GHE is a static, flat earth, water-less concept where the critical component of daytime COOLING due to our dynamic clouds/oceans is missing as is nighttime warming due to slowed heat emission from the vast latent energy stores of our oceans. Our atmosphere is thus a giant air conditioning machine – a cooling system – NOT a heating system.

    If I am wrong and you are right then you can swiftly and neatly win the argument in a short and verifiable sentence or two for “idiots” like me. So, please tell us by how much does “back radiation” slow the cooling of Earth’s atmosphere and demonstrate your calculations. Please feel free to accompany your ACTUAL NUMBERS with a citation to a standard thermodynamics text book that explicitly affirms your methods. I’m eager to learn from the man who believes it is all down to “freshman physics.”
    Many thanks!!

  22. John, it’s not a new or a different phenomenon. It’s exactly the same as all other blackbody radiation. The only difference is why the air is hotter than it was previously. Give it a rest.

    Now I know how biology teachers feel when they get a Young-Earthian in their class.

    • Ben,
      Personal abuse aimed at me is not an answer to the questions I posed. If you insist “back radiation” heating of the atmosphere exists and should be obvious to anyone then please tell us precisely by how much such “back radiation” heats/delays cooling of our atmosphere. As Tom keeps insisting, this is all “freshman physics” so I’m puzzled at your resort to name-calling rather than giving straight answers to simple and direct questions.

  23. Ben: Before Derek Alker (friend to John) banned me from the “There is no greenhouse effect” facebook page, for continually arguing that radiative transfer was part of the climate energy transport process (obviously, he and John, and the rest of the “slayers” cabal disagree), he descended into the realm of ad hominem assault, leveled at me and another fellow banned at the same time, with great fanfare. On 9/30 Derek posted this link on his “no greenhouse” page:

    Funny picture, but certainly not part of civil debate. Derek followed up the link with “I am forced to name this pigeon ‘Tom’.” Sweet debating style, isn’t it? What a hoot. The comments from the like-minded are instructive, as well; you can find it if you like.

    It is a hallmark of bankrupt arguments, such as the ones John and Derek provide, that eventually it gets around to appeals to authority instead of appeals to reason, then to name-calling, sarcasm, and such.

    Dang, ain’t science fun? 40 years in the in science and technology, and it’s just never boring.

    • Tom,
      I’m not insulting you. I’m simply asking you give us straight answers about how much you calculate to be the amount of additional heating you claim must exists due to the delayed cooling/re-heating mechanism you claim is the GHE. Again, all we seem to get from you is evasion. Such a pity.

      • John, you already have the answer: the Stefan-Boltzmann equation for concentric blackbodies. Plug in any surface temperature and atmospheric temperature you wish. Right after you spend a few years time learning Physics and Calculus.

        Don’t you get it? The IPCC/CAGW climate models don’t work because the morons who put it together (a) don’t have sufficiently powerful computers, (b) don’t have finely-grained enough data (10 mile cubes are not adequate), (c) don’t have enough data about a host of factors in the atmosphere, including such serious contributors as global albedo as a function of frequency and precipitation/evaporation, and are bent upon the ideological destruction of the carbon-based economy by falsely proclaiming that CO2/H2O forms a run-away positive feedback, so they can blame carbon for future evil deeds.

        Lack of empirical data + lack of computing power + ideological blinders + willingness to mislead = global mischief.

        So along comes a different bunch — YOUR cronies — with EXACTLY the same set of limitations on data and processing, and the ideological blinders imposed by the good intention of opposing the IPCC/CAGW and their false assertion of positive feedback. So, they falsely proclaim that there is no IR effect at all, effectively throwing out the baby with the bath water, as the cliche goes.

        Lack of empirical data + lack of computing power + ideological blinders + willingness to mislead = global mischief.

        I oppose you because you are HELPING the CAGW crowd, by preaching a silly misinterpretation of the 2nd law, coupled with a complete ignoring of both the convertibility of energy from one form to another, and blackbody model behavior. Read what THEY say about the “slayers”? Well, about a bunch of it, they’re RIGHT.

        And about you, I can’t tell WHAT the motivations are. No science education that you admit to, a strange past full of changing resumes and claims of education and authorship, with the only anchor point seemingly being this crony group of “slayers”.

        • Tom,
          Sorry, but you are categorically incorrect to assert that my “cronies” lack empirical data. They have performed experiments and have published them and challenged others to verify/refute them. But you are too stubborn/lazy to go read our papers yourself.
          See under ‘Publications’ at
          For example, Prof Nasif Nahle performed experiments in the open atmosphere and found that CO2 delays the re-emission of energy by 3 to 5 milliseconds proving no meaningful “delay” in heat loss to space. While Carl Brehmer’s experiments compared regions of high and low humidity to prove that higher humidity means lower temperatures, thus refuting the claim GHE means additional heat. You will be astonished to learn that Brehmer’s results affirm those of John Tyndall (see below).

          My colleagues have also performed several years of extensive research into the back story of the GHE and I can assure you that even the supposed “grandfather” of the “theory,” John Tyndall found that there is no such thing as a “greenhouse effect.” (Check: Tyndall, John, ‘On radiation: The “Rede” lecture,’ delivered in the Senate-house before the University of Cambridge, England, on Tuesday, May 16, 1865). Hansen and IPCC revisionists in the mold of Lysenko altered such facts to suit their “story.”
          You can denounce the ‘Slayers’ all you want and it won’t make you or other believers in that junk science any more right. What you have bought into is a re-hash of discredited ideas neatly packaged by James Hansen and others since 1981. Indeed, long-standing meteorologist can tell you no one in that profession talked about the GHE prior to 1970’s. While the infant science of climatology could not claim any taught degree courses until the University of Queensland, Australia in 2001. Even the Climategate university, the UEA, didn’t begin teaching degree courses in the subject till 2010.Guys like Hansen, Phil Jones et al have been making it up as they went along. Even Prof Mike Hulme, climatologist at UEA admits the “greenhouse gas theory is a “consensus judgment…reached by only a few dozen experts in the specific field of detection and attribution studies.”

          Go study the back story, Tom. You will learn that Tyndall himself found there is no “greenhouse effect” in the desert because there is very little water vapor there. Tyndall also revealed that his “apparatus” showed carbon dioxide to be a “feeble” absorber of IR radiation, whose affect was basically unmeasurable at atmospheric concentrations. He said, “Carbonic acid gas is one of the feeblest of absorbers of the radiant heat emitted by solid sources. It is, for example, extremely transparent to the rays emitted by the heated copper plate already referred to.” Knut Ångström later confirmed this experimentally in 1900 and published his results in a paper entitled ‘On the importance of water vapor and carbon dioxide in the absorption of the atmosphere.’ Ångström, Knut, 1900, “Ueber die Bedeutung des Wasserdampfes und der Kohlensäure bei der Absorption der Erdatmosphäre”, Annalen der Physik, Volume 308 Issue 12, Pages 720 – 732.

          But what further discredits junk GHE science is that Tyndall, Arrhenius, Fourier and others all believed in the bogus concept of “luminiferous aether.” Hansen and other GHE advocates deliberately skirt round these and other critical flaws to promote a “theory” that has no empirical evidence to back it but plenty to refute it. Wise up and do some proper research rather than spout the same tired and discredited faith-based arguments I’ve heard countless times already.

          P.S. you’ve clearly believed all the lies spread about me – I have denied them all and called the purveyors of those slurs liars and web page fakers. It is no coincidence that such attacks only began once it became widely known that I was assisting Dr Tim Ball in his legal battles against Michael Mann and Andrew Weaver. FYI Ball is on the brink of winning both cases – so watch this space!

        • Tom,
          As per my suggestion you read some PSI publications. Take a look at Doug Cotton’s excellent paper, “Radiated Energy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics.” I suggest Cotton’s paper because it may help resolve the disagreement we have about the role radiation plays at our planet’s surface.

          If you read the paper you’ll see Cotton applies the work of Prof Claes Johnson and examines (one way) heat transfer between, say, two parallel plates at different temperatures, corresponding to the energy in the radiation represented by the area between the two Planck curves.

          Cotton shows that the Planck curve for the warmer body always envelopes that for the cooler body – ie the area under the cooler body’s Planck curve is a subset of that for the warmer body. So each body radiates all the frequencies represented by the area under the Planck curve for the cooler body. But, all this radiation represented by the area under the cooler body’s curve for BOTH bodies – all that radiation in each direction merely resonates in each body and is thus scattered. There is no associated heat transfer. And this is my whole point. Energy wise, it is the same as diffuse reflection and there is no heat transfer associated with it.

          Cotton says “This is how and why the SLoT works for radiation. There can be no other explanation, because if heat were transferred each way there would be no necessity for it to come back via radiation.”

          For example, if radiation from a cooler atmosphere transferred heat to a warmer lake, that energy could return to the atmosphere via evaporative cooling, not radiation. Hence such a heat transfer can’t happen. You can’t just assume there are only radiated heat transfers in each direction with a net effect. Mathematically the result is the same, but there is only one possible physical explanation, as Claes Johnson has said.

          Yes, on one level the radiative rate of cooling will be affected, because the scattered radiation is really a part of the quota of radiation (as per S-B) which the warmer body can radiate. It doesn’t use up its own thermal energy for that part, so in a sense radiative cooling is slowed. BUT, in the case of the surface/atmosphere interface, at least 70% [1] of heat transfer from the surface to the atmosphere is non-radiative transfer. There is nothing to stop the rate of non-radiative cooling increasing to compensate for any slowing of radiative cooling. And it will do so.

          [1] Cotton says 70% because you need to take into account the fact that much of the radiation observed rising from the surface is really just the scattered “back radiation,” none of which is actually transferring heat from the surface to the atmosphere. Thus most heat is transferred by simple molecular collision processes, ie sensible heat transfer.

        • As the demi-mod here, since Barry has apparently left the building, and Milloy is busy, I’m going to have to do something unusual.

          John and Tom, can you please take this personal feud to a private forum? This has gone beyond the limits of civil discussion or discussion of science and turned into a private argument, including multiple personal attacks and inside references. This really isn’t the place, it’s gotten out of hand, and it’s clogging up the most recent comments feed.

          Thank you.

          • Bless you, Ben. Happy to comply.

          • Ben,
            Could you please specify precisely where, in my comments, I have engaged in “multiple personal attacks” or have “gone beyond the limits of civil discussion or discussion of science.”? Many thanks,

            • johnosullivan

              Purely on the science and specifically regarding GHE by “back radiation” could you comment about the Stefan-Boltzmann’s Law and how it can be formulated in the following two algebraically equivalent, but physically different forms:
              E = sigma Te^4 – sigma Ta^4, (photon particle model: difference of two-way gross flows)
              E = sigma (Te^4 – Ta^4) ~ 4 sigma Te^3 (Te – Ta), (wave model: net one-way flow)
              where E is the intensity of the heat energy transferred from a blackbody (emitter) of temperature Te to a blackbody (absorber) of temperature Ta smaller than Te, and sigma is a constant.

              Professor Claes Johnson addresses this here:
              Version 1 is the basis of CO2 alarmism based on “backradiation” of sigma Ta^4 from absorber to emitter, as transfer of heat energy from cold to warm.

              Johnson says:
              In Slaying the Sky Dragon and Mathematical Physics of Blackbody Radiation I present a derivation of Version 2 based on a principle of finite precision computation in a wave model, without backradiation. And without backradiation CO2 alarmism crumbles.

              The original version by Stefan and Boltzmann is formulated with Ta = 0 as Version 0. without backradiation (in which case 1. and 2. look identical), as an integrated version of Planck’s law based on a statistical particle model.

              Which is the correct formulation? Version o, 1 or 2? Particle statistics or waves? Let’s list some answers from the web supposedly reflecting scientific sources:
              Hyperphysics: 2.
              Wikipedia: 0.
              Britannica: 0.
              Wolfram: 0.
              Univ. of Singapore: 2.
              MIT: 2.
              Warwick: 0.
              UNL: 0.
              Physics Handbook: 0.
              Engineering Toolbox: 2.

              The list can be made much longer, but we dont find any support of 1. and backradiation. And without backradiation CO2 alarmism crumbles.

              The following questions present themselves:
              Why is 1. found only in the CO2 alarmism of IPCC, and not elsewhere?
              Is 1. a free invention which lacks original scientific source?
              Is 1. a form of hyper-reality for which the original is missing?
              Is 1. a form of folklore known by everybody to be true, yet without any individual scientist claiming to have demonstrated the statement.
              Is 1. an expression of “scientific consensus” for which no original scientific source is required?

              What do you think?

  24. As a non-expert, also not particularly worried about AGW, this debate was fascinating. From the non-expert point of view, Johnosullivan is arguing right past points like a car running a stop sign. I can’t come close to doing the math in the text book pages provided but I can understand that if the assertions are correct in the red boxed area, Johnosullivan is wrong.

  25. I am a little late, sorry. I am catching on to the CAGW meme of “re-radiate.” Gases in the atmosphere with a dipole moment absorb outgoing infrared and heat up a little. This is the real “greenhouse effect.” All this re-radiation discussion is only meant to obfuscate, so they can say “Radiative Forcing” and ascribe it to CO2. Of course water vapor is a hundred times more powerful, but no one seems too scared of water vapor. Concerning the Second Law, the calculation of heat transfer is always done with the net flux towards the colder and away from the warmer because that is what happens. The fact that the colder body is radiating too is trivial.

    • Hey, Michael: colder bodies radiating is “trivial”? well, then, why does the temperature change rate of both the warmer and cooler body slow down as the temperature difference decreases? Net transfer is important. If radiative emissions were not, in part, radiated back to the surface, the surface would cool faster than the moon after sunset. Why? Earth’s surface is cooled by both conduction and emission, while the moon is cooled only by emission. Radiative emissions are ONLY a factor of temperature, so unless the surface is regaining some energy from the atmosphere as it cools, the radiative emissions of the surface would be sufficient to remove energy from the surface at the same rate as on the moon. Add conduction to that, and that additional removal of energy would cause the earth’s surface to cool faster yet. The OBSERVABLE fact is that energy is still radiating back toward the earth’s surface, even at night. This cooler radiation still represents energy, and it slows the effective energy loss from emissions. Not a bad thing, a good thing. And of course: sensible people don’t suggest it’s CO2 responsible for this, because water vapor is indeed the major player.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s