“Greenhouse Effect” is Real, According to Blog

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Ben Herman and Roger A. Pielke, Jr of the Pielke Research Group defends the so-called “Greenhouse Effect” in a non-peer reviewed blog post. They didn’t even take the time to format the math properly.

Something in Physics that is called an “Effect” should have plenty of papers written to defend it. After all, “Effects” are not only based on sound theories, but observed in nature. Why could Herman and Pielke not direct us to those papers? Because those papers do not exist, and never will.

The article starts with this whopper:

During the past several months there have been various, unpublished studies circulating around the blogosphere and elsewhere claiming that the “greenhouse effect” cannot warm the Earth’s atmosphere.

I respond with this fact: http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0707/0707.1161v4.pdf is a paper published in the March 2009 International Journal of Modern Physics. I’ve already posted my papers (link), so I encourage others to do the same.

Herman and Pielke go on to try and defend the so-called “Greenhouse Effect” by talking about the very concepts that are refuted in that paper without addressing why that paper is wrong in its refutation. In fact, it agrees with the same foundation of theory that the paper does, but fails to see its own contradiction. This is equivalent to trying to make your point by shouting louder. You really have to consider the other point of view and refute their arguments, which Herman and Pielke fail to do.

Let me help the lay-person understand why the Greenhouse Effect doesn’t exist and can never exist.

At the very simplest, consider a hot cup of water sitting on a counter top at room temperature. What happens? The counter top and surrounding air warms slightly, but the cup of water cool to room temperature. This is the Second Law of Thermodynamics in action. As long as there is heat transfer, the two bodies will come to an equilibrium in temperature. We don’t have to even think about what mechanism of heat transfer exists, we simply have to know that two bodies have different temperatures to know that they will come to an equilibrium. Rather, (as I explain in the appendix below), that a body will eventually emit as much heat as it absorbs.

What people who preach the “Greenhouse Effect” want us to believe is that you can put some kind of insulator between the hot water and the counter top that will keep the water hot indefinitely, or even make it hotter than it was before. Such an insulator doesn’t exist, nor can it. At best, you can slow down the heat transfer process to a crawl, but the water will still cool. The best insulator we have—thermoses—do nothing more than slow down the heat transfer.

We know all this, so the “Greenhouse Effect” people try to confuse us by saying that CO2 acts like some sort of mirror, trapping heat. If CO2 could trap heat, then we’d use it for our thermoses. We don’t use CO2, because it doesn’t do anything like what the Greenhouse Effect claims it does. Even if CO2 reflects some heat, it will still transfer whatever heat was reflected up and out of the earth by other methods. This is the Second Law of Thermodynamics in action. You can’t win. Don’t bother trying.

Ultimately, the temperature of the earth is nothing more or less than the amount of sunlight the earth absorbs—in other words, the amount of heat transferred from sun to earth. Thus, the temperature of the world is determined by how much sunlight is emitted from the sun and how much is reflected, those being the only variables that change over time.

What is a common chemical that reflects sunlight? H2O, in its various forms of clouds and snow and ice. CO2 barely plays a role, along with the other common gasses in our atmosphere.

While we can reasonably predict how much sunlight will be emitted by observing sunspots, we are not so good at predicting cloud cover and snowfall. This makes overall climate difficult to predict, and impossible to control. This is also why we can barely predict tomorrow’s weather.

Hat tip: Climate Depot

Appendix: Why isn’t the earth as hot as the sun? The earth only absorbs a tiny fraction of the total heat output of the sun. This is because the earth is far away from the sun and only a tiny fraction of its rays reach the earth. This also explains why a fire feels warmer the closer you get to it—as you get closer, you absorb more of its total heat output, and continue to warm until the heat you emit is equal to the heat you absorb.

Compare this to the example of a cup of water in a room, where heat is absorbed from all directions, and the cup must eventually assume room temperature whereat it will emit as much heat as it absorbs. Thus, the cup must assume room temperature.

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25 Responses to ““Greenhouse Effect” is Real, According to Blog”

  1. scottd Says:

    Using the above “theory”, please explain how an actual greenhouse manages to maintain a higher temperature inside the greenhouse than outside.

    Thanks…

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      The air is trapped inside a greenhouse. If the air weren’t trapped, hot air would rise and cooler air would replace it.

      Wood in 1909 did an experiment that all but disproved the radiation theory of greenhouses. He constructed two small greenhouses with a black box inside. He put a thermometer in both of the black boxes and sealed the holes with cotton to prevent air from moving into or out of the greenhouses. One greenhouse was made out of glass, and the other was made out of rock salt. Rock salt is not only clear in visible light, but is also clear to infrared light while glass is not. (In a way, glass behaves a little like CO2 in this regard, since it absorbs infrared light while normal air doesn’t as much.)

      The first experiment showed that the rock salt greenhouse was hotter than the glass one. This was not what the radiation theory suggested would happen, since the glass greenhouse should have trapped more radiation heat. Wood proposed that perhaps the incoming heat for the rock salt greenhouse was greater because the infrared was not being blocked.

      He decided to filter the light for both greenhouses behind a plate of glass for his next experiment so that the incoming radiation was roughly equivalent. Both greenhouses had the same temperature, suggesting that if there is any difference in radiation, it was so small to be immeasurable.

      Actual measurements of real air show that increasing CO2 doesn’t increase the temperature of the ground, but seems to actually cool it. This makes sense if you are looking at convection, but not if you are looking at radiation. CO2 is a heavier gas and transfers heat through convection more rapidly.

      Physics is full of these kinds of things, where theory doesn’t match experiment. In all cases where there is a discrepancy, it is the theory that must be corrected, not the experimental results.

  2. scottd Says:

    Jonathon:

    Thanks for the response. You’re right, RW Wood’s experiments did demonstrate that glass greenhouses trap heat by preventing convection rather than by preventing radiation. But that wasn’t the main point of your post.

    Your post compared the earth to a hot cup of water in a cooler room and noted that the cup of water would eventually come to equilibrium with the room air — in other words, it would cool. You claimed that this somehow showed that a planetary greenhouse effect was impossible.

    So, I was wondering how this would explain the elevated temperature in a glass greenhouse. It doesn’t cool off like a cup of water. As long as the sun is shining, the temperature in the greenhouse will remain significantly higher than the temperature of the air outside. Why is that?

    For that matter, what determines the average surface temperature of the earth? It’s higher than the temperature of outer space. If I follow your argument, shouldn’t the temperature on earth be about the same as outer space — isn’t the earth a hot cup of water in a cooler room?

    You said “Ultimately, the temperature of the earth is nothing more or less than the amount of sunlight the earth absorbs—in other words, the amount of heat transferred from sun to earth. Thus, the temperature of the world is determined by how much sunlight is emitted from the sun and how much is reflected, those being the only variables that change over time.”

    You also explained that the reason the earth is not as hot as the sun is because it is far away. The moon is essentially the same distance to the sun as the earth. Its albedo is less than half the earth’s albedo, so it absorbs roughly twice the solar energy per unit area. Yet, the average surface temperature on the moon is lower than the earth. Why is that?

    What about Venus? Venus is closer to the sun (about 0.7 AU), so solar intensity is roughly twice what it is on earth. But Venus’ albedo is roughly twice earth’s so, overall, Venus absorbs about the same amount of solar energy as the earth. Yet, the average surface temperature on Venus is more than twice the average temperature on earth. If the temperature of a planet’s surface is only determined by the amount of solar energy that falls upon the planet and how much is reflected, why is Venus so much warmer?

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      Good points.

      I don’t know much about the measurements of the temperature and radiation and albedo of Venus and the Moon. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t albedo only related to visible light? I believe that the energy we receive from the sun is much greater in the infrared than in the visible light spectrum. I’d have to get much greater detail on the earth, moon and venus’s characteristics before I can explain why the temperature between these bodies are so different. I’m also interested in how the temperature of the surface of Venus was measured, along with the moon.

      Regardless, we all know that while energy may transfer from a cold body to a warmer one, HEAT cannot, unless some external work is put into the system somehow. We cannot consider the colder layers of the earth somehow warming the warmer layers. In fact, we can only talk about how rapidly the warm body warms the cooler ones. What Greenhouse Effect advocates want us to believe is that there is a magical substance which will remain cool when placed near a warmer one. Such a thing cannot exist.

  3. scottd Says:

    The surface temperature on Venus is measured a number of ways, but most directly, it has been measured by a number of probes sent to the surface which transmitted the measured temperature back to earth for a while before the high temperatures (over 800 F) ultimately cooked them.

    Lunar temperature is also measured by observation of radiated spectra and by direct measurement (we sent a few guys there a while back, plus several probes).

    I appreciate your interest in measurement technology, but, as far as I know, there is no serious dispute in the scientific community regarding those temperature values.

    Solar radiation peaks in the middle of the visible range (yellow) — most solar energy is contained within the visible and near-IR. This doesn’t really matter for the point I am making because the albedo measurements I quoted are measured over electromagnetic bands that include IR.

    So, Venus absorbs roughly the same amount of solar energy as the earth, but its temperature is much higher. If surface temperature was only a function of the incident energy that is not directly reflected (as you said), you would expect Venusian temperatures to be similar to earth’s. They aren’t, so there must be other factors involved. It just seems that your theory is incomplete because it doesn’t explain the observed data.

    BTW, I don’t think anyone is saying that a cold body (the upper atmosphere) is heating a warmer one (the lower atmosphere). Anyone who says that is incorrect. The lower atmosphere is heated by the sun. The average temperature of the lower atmosphere is the temperature at which the rate of energy lost by the lower atmosphere is equal to the solar energy absorbed. The rate of energy loss is proportional to the temperature, so the lower atmospheric temperature rises until the rate of energy loss equals the rate of energy absorption. If new factors impede the energy loss, then the temperature will rise further until there is a new balance between absorbed power and emitted power.

    What Greenhouse Effect advocates want us to believe is that there is a magical substance which will remain cool when placed near a warmer one. Such a thing cannot exist.

    There is nothing magical about this at all — it happens all the time. The upper atmosphere is much cooler than the lower atmosphere, and yet they are in contact. It won’t remain this way forever, but it has been this way for hundreds of millions of years and it will stay that way for many more million years.

    In fact, any substance that is not a perfect conductor exhibits this magical property if I supply heat energy on one side and let heat energy escape on the other side. Such a temperature gradient can exist indefinitely. The temperature difference between hot and cold sides will depend on the thermal impedance of the material, the amount of energy supplied to the hot side, and the mechanisms and rate that energy can be dumped out the cold side. If I hold everything else constant, I the temperature on the hot side will increase if the thermal impedance increases.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      Then why do people who know better insist that somehow heat is directed back from the atmosphere to the ground? Or, in other words, that somehow heat is transferred from the cooler body (CO2 in the atmosphere) to the warmer body (the ground) without any work added?

      We’ve already shown that the amount of heat transferred through radiation from the ground to the atmosphere is miniscule compared to the amount of heat transferred through convection. If the lower atmosphere absorbs or transmits the infrared rays from the ground—it doesn’t matter. As Wood’s experiment shows, and as every reasonable person readily admits after understanding the scale of convective heat transfer versus radiative, you can safely ignore all radiative heat from the ground and still get accurate results.

      Perhaps you’d like to explain The Greenhouse Effect given the above statements and observations. Please refer back to the paper cited above for a thorough refutation of all popular references to the so-called Greenhouse Effect and tell me where he goes wrong.

      As far as I can tell, the reason why it’s called the Greenhouse Effect is because it is fooling good scientists the same way real greenhouses fool undergrad physicists—by encouraging them to ignore convection!

  4. scottd Says:

    Jonathan:

    I haven’t made any claims about the amount of energy transferred via convection vs radiation — in fact, I haven’t said anything about the details of energy transport between different layers of the atmosphere and outer space.

    I’ve just examined statements you’ve made regarding the factors that determine planetary temperature and asked you to reconcile them with observed data.

    You said it was pretty simple — that temperature is determined only by the amount of solar energy that is absorbed. From other things you’ve said I think you understood absorbed energy to be incident energy minus direct reflection.

    I’ve pointed out that Venus absorbs roughly the same solar energy as the earth, yet it is much warmer (800 F!). If your statement were true, Venus would be approximately the same temperature as the earth. You haven’t been able to explain the discrepancy. I would suggest the reason is that your theory is incomplete.

    I’d be happy to discuss the details of thermodynamic heat transfer if you want, but for now, let’s just concentrate on this simple observation: Venus absorbs solar energy at approximately the rate as the Earth, and yet, it is 2.5X hotter. Why is that?

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      Why is Venus hotter than Earth? I don’t know, and it’s really not relevant. The Greenhouse Effect doesn’t exist, and increasing the CO2 in the atmosphere seems to cool not heat the earth.

      I do know, however, that the only variables that really change over time that have a significant impact on our world’s temperature is the amount of sunlight absorbed. I don’t have to go very far to find many great models of climate that rely almost exclusively on observing the sun and predicting the weather.

      If I were to try and understand the temperature of any planet, I would simply ask how much heat is transferred in and how much is transferred out. To figure out how much gets in, I would look at the sun and how much light is reflected and absorbed by the planet. Then I would look at the composition of the atmosphere and measure its thermal conductivity. That should be enough to make a really good guess at what the temperature of the planet is.

      I assume that the atmosphere of Venus is dramatically different from that of the earth. Either more light from the sun is absorbed or it is a really poor heat conductor, or both.

  5. demo kid Says:

    Jonathan, all this discussion gets at a fundamental flaw in your entire argument above: comparing heat transfer through convection/conduction with radiation. You also wildly misstate the Second Law of Thermodynamics over and over again… the proper statement is not that heat will always flow from hot to cold, it’s that the total entropy in a closed system will always increase.

    As noted, most things that reduce heat transfer do so through reducing convection and not radiation… greenhouses (as you note above), as well as insulation in houses and jackets on cold days all work in this way. Notable exceptions are with those silvery rescue blankets or those butt-warming seats for cold football game days… they are designed to reflect radiative heat back towards the wearer.

    However, in your astute dissection of the greenhouse effect, you’re trying to make the case against radiative heating by relying on an example that largely involves heating through conduction and convection. The Earth as a coffee cup is a lousy example unless: a.) the coffee cup received constant energy inputs from a radiative source (i.e., the Sun), and b.) the coffee cup is in deep space.

    So, in the case of radiative heating, this notion that heat energy is only transferred from a warm to a cold body is kinda ludicrous. If the Sun had a slightly hotter twin parked right next to it, would it magically *know* not to transfer heat to it through radiation? The better statement is that radiative heating disperses heat energy, thus increasing the entropy in the system. While locally, the entropy in a certain part of that system may increase, a local violation doesn’t violate the rule as a whole.

    Now, if you look at the energy balance of the Earth, it receives energy through inputs from the Sun, and releases that energy by emitting radiation (heat, light, etc.) back to space. This is the only energy balance here of importance, as the world is not a coffee cup, and there is no convection to space. If the Earth were a black-body with no atmosphere to capture and re-radiate infrared, the surface temperature would be well below freezing, and even when factoring in albedo, the Earth would still be too cold to be habitable. The fact that the atmosphere captures and re-radiates heat, reducing the flux of radiation out into space, means that the Earth retains more of the energy it receives from the Sun. This re-radiation of heat is why the surface of Venus is hellishly hot; if it had a similar atmosphere to Earth’s, it would not nearly be as warm.

    So unless you plan to explain how CO2 can help with convection to deep space (which is the only place where heat energy from the Earth can actually GO), I think you should change your arguments here.

    Finally, in the paper that you propose as “proof”… I completely agree that many of the points in that paper are very relevant. Many of the examples used in science are awful and do not represent the true phenomenon, certain parts of a natural system are often oversimplified to explain it to laypeople, and the need to define complex systems in models often requires factors to be aggregated to allow the models to be assessed. Does that disprove the concept? Not really… it more calls for a realistic look at what science in the public sector can (and should) do, rather than refuting a large and established body of work.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      If you can’t recognize how the 2nd Law relates to heat transfer, and can’t restate the 2nd Law in terms of heat transfer, you don’t really understand what it is all about. Yes, strictly speaking, it states that entropy increases. But the physical manifestation of this is that heat flows from hot to cold. As heat flows, entropy increases. If you haven’t been able to see the mathematics behind the 2nd Law, I strongly encourage you to pick up a textbook that covers the physics interpretation of thermodynamics, and study the math and fundamental concepts in detail. You’ll see why talking about heat transferred from cold to hot bodies is plain idiocy unless you have some form of work added to the system. There is no such thing as heat reflection or heat re-emission. Heat simply transfers.

      Thermal blankets operate with three principles. One is radiation. The other is by eliminating convection. The third is limiting heat transfer through conduction. I can state with absolute certainty that a thermal blanket that is very porous (allows convection) and a good conductor of heat would make a terrible emergency blanket, no matter how efficient its radiation mirror is.

      Regardless, all of this boils down to measuring the thermal conductivity of a substance or system. You can’t look at one method of heat transfer (radiation) at the exclusion of all others. You can’t do that and pretend you are somehow obeying the laws of physics. Thus, the so-called Greenhouse Effect isn’t an effect at all, because it doesn’t even discuss convection and other heat transfer methods that completely dwarf radiation. Real measurements of real air show that increasing CO2 tends to increase the thermal conductivity of the atmosphere, which would hint that the earth would get cooler, not warmer, if you increase CO2.

      In all the discussions on CO2, no one on the Global Warming side of the debate has discussed the thermal conductivity of air as a whole. I am assured that the thermal conductivity of air doesn’t vary much based on CO2 concentrations, while the makeup of the water in the air has a tremendous effect, much greater than CO2 ever would.

      As a closing argument, I ask that you point me to some scientific explanation of the Greenhouse Effect, somewhere published after peer-review, that doesn’t suffer from the blatant absurdities that the paper I cited points out. For something that somehow earned the title “effect”, it is strange, is it not, that it isn’t even described in any uniform and non-absurd way?

  6. tensor Says:

    Jonathan,

    The energy balance of the Earth is governed by the First Law of Thermodynamics, not the Second. The First Law states the energy of a system (the biosphere of the Earth, in this case) is the net result of the energy entering, minus the energy leaving. Both occur via radiation: the Earth absorbs the sun’s radiation, and radiates heat back to space. Once we place an insulator (greenhouse gasses) between the Earth and outer space, the Earth’s cooling ability is impeded, and thus the amount of energy stored rises.

    The Second Law now enters the model, with the exact opposite effect that you have described: it requires some of the stored energy to go from organized (radiation) to unorganized (heat). Therefore, we would expect the Earth’s overall temperature to rise, and our measurements have confirmed this.

    Please correct your original post to include a heat source and insulator, and apologize for misleading your non-technical audience; the latter violates engineering ethics.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      I think it is you who is confused. I’d encourage you to revisit your second year physics course material.

      Global Warming, or the lack thereof, is a very poorly defined physical quantity. Until we can define what it is we are talking about, we can’t even begin to reason about it. The current methods of measuring the so-called temperature of the earth are hardly related to anything to do with thermodynamics. You can tell because they use the word “average” and they are taking data from discreet weather stations rather than measuring the system as a whole. However, we can still think about the localized conditions that can be measured with thermometers.

      Heat from the earth to space isn’t only transmitted through radiation. There is evaporation and other phenomena going on, since space is not a pure vacuum and does, in fact, have a non-zero temperature.

      I don’t know many people that think how the earth transfers heat to space has something to do with the so-called greenhouse effect. If you think radiation has much to do with greenhouses, then you should read the paper I mentioned, specifically the reference to Wood’s experiment in 1909. It is CONVECTION, not radiation, that transfers heat to the atmosphere. CO2’s effect as an insulator, or rather, the increase or decrease of CO2’s concentration in the atmosphere is only interesting as far as it changes the insulation properties of the atmosphere. Measurements suggest that higher concentrations of CO2 increase the thermal conductivity of the atmosphere, making an increase in CO2 lead to a decrease in the temperature of the ground.

  7. tensor Says:

    Global Warming, or the lack thereof, is a very poorly defined physical quantity.

    It is very well defined: the heating of our biosphere due to an insulator (man-man-made greenhouse gasses) preventing heat transfer outwards.

    Until we can define what it is we are talking about, we can’t even begin to reason about it. The current methods of measuring the so-called temperature of the earth are hardly related to anything to do with thermodynamics.

    Temperature measurements are the very essence of thermodynamics.

    You can tell because they use the word “average” and they are taking data from discreet weather stations rather than measuring the system as a whole.

    Yes, we take the average, over time and space, to show the biosphere is heating. The many thousands of discrete weather stations provide a comprehensive picture of the Earth’s heating.

    However, we can still think about the localized conditions that can be measured with thermometers.

    We’re talking about millions of measurements, recorded over the entire surface of the earth, and in the oceans; I used to work as an engineer at a company which made the recording instruments, and our customers — from institutes and companies worldwide — all agreed about the warming trend.

    It is CONVECTION, not radiation, that transfers heat to the atmosphere.

    That is true, and it is one of the major problems with your model. A teacup will transfer heat via primarily via convection, then conduction, then radiation. The major mechanism for energy transfer to and from the Earth is radiation.

    The point of the greenhouse model is that the greenhouse’s glass provides a barrier toheat energy transfer outward, just as greenhouse gasses do for the earth. Anything beyond that is abusing the analogy, as you do here.

    The other major problem with your model, which you have yet to correct, is the absence of a heat source. Please so update it.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      Great. What is the definition that the Global Warming people use for the temperature of the earth? Just tell me, rather than telling me it exists.

      Temperature measurements are the foundation of thermodynamics. And we use thermometers to measure temperature. How do you measure the temperature of the entire earth?

      If you have a chamber filled with gas, then the temperature of the gas is not the average of four different thermometers in each corner. Note carefully! The way that the Global Warming people measure the temperature of the earth is at odds with the definition of temperature. It doesn’t matter how many thermometers you have or what those thermometers say or how well-built those thermometers are. The temperature is not an average of the highs or lows, it is not the number of days above a certain temperature, it is not any number of these things that I have heard people describe as the temperature of the earth.

      Your problem in failing to accept convection as the principle heat transfer method from the ground to the atmosphere is that you are thinking of the earth as a whole transferring heat to space, and not the problem that the Greenhouse Effect tries to describe. Forget space, forget everything about radiation. These things are really irrelevant. Measure the temperature of the ground. Measure the temperature above the ground. Calculate how long it takes to transfer heat from one to the other, and you have the property that is truly important.

      Before I correct any mistakes in my reasoning—and I can’t find any, and what you are describing is not a mistake on my part but on your inability to keep separate things separate—why don’t you work with your Global Warming buddies and begin to address the countless thousands of objections to the claims made on your side of the debate? Why don’t you correct all the mistakes your side has made? Why do we still have to hear people like John Kerry claim that the polar ice caps will melt in 5 years, or why do we have to endure so-called scientists who rely on computer models to make predictions and why do we have to be told about what we must do immediately to withhold climate ragnarok without anyone considering any alternatives?

  8. scottd Says:

    Jonathan:

    First, I want to thank you for staying with me on this. I know it takes a lot of time to keep up your blog and responding to a bunch of people takes even longer. So, thanks for taking the time to respond.

    Why is Venus hotter than Earth? I don’t know, and it’s really not relevant.

    I’m surprised you said this. It’s relevant because it presents another data point that can be used to test your theory. I’m sure you’d agree that a theory that can’t explain observable data needs to be revised.

    The theory you’ve presented is pretty simple. You’ve said all you need to know is how much energy is transferred in and how much is transferred out. (You actually said “heat”, but I think you meant energy.) Unless the planet’s temperature is rising or falling, the amount of energy absorbed (transferred in) is the same as the amount emitted (transfered out).

    We know how much solar energy is absorbed by Venus — it’s roughly the same as the earth. According to your theory, then the temperature should be about the same as the earth. But it isn’t — it’s more than 2.5X hotter. Something is wrong with the theory.

    Your response added a new element. You mentioned the composition of the atmosphere. I think you are on to something there. The atmosphere of Venus is over 95% carbon dioxide. Do you think that has something to do with the higher temperature?

    Here’s another data point: Mercury is closer to the sun. Its about half the distance as Venus so the solar radiation is about 4X greater. Its albedo is also lower, so it absorbs a greater fraction of the incident radiation — about 2.5X more than Venus. Overall, Mercury absorbs roughly 10X as much solar energy per unit area as Venus.

    What would your theory predict for Mercury’s surface temperature? Much higher than Venus, right?

    As it turns out, the average temperature on Mercury is much lower than on Venus. (It’s still very hot.) Even the maximum temperture on Mercury (high noon, on the equator) is lower than the average Venusian temperature. So, there’s another data point that doesn’t follow your theory.

    These aren’t subtle discrepancies, so I think your theory is missing something important.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      See, you’ve already proven my point. When you are analyzing temperatures, you have to talk about heat, not energy. If you are thinking only about energy, then you are going to miss a whole lot of subtle things that happen with regards to entropy and other effects.

      Venus and Mercury really are irrelevant to the temperature of earth. It’s interesting, but it’s not really that useful, to know that 95% of the atmosphere of Venus is CO2. We know that tiny bits of material can dramatically change the heat profile of the substance.

      Again, what we need to measure is the heat transfer of the atmosphere of earth, which really doesn’t vary that much according to how much CO2 is in the atmosphere. The Greenhouse Effect is non-existent, and it’s supposed explanation confuses heat and energy and ignores much more important things like convection. The things that change day-to-day and year-to-year in earth’s temperature profile are the amount of radiation coming from the sun and the composition of water in the atmosphere. If we look closely at these two variables and ignore all the others, we are going to be able to predict a large part of the weather patterns and even some of the climate patterns.

  9. tensor Says:

    Great. What is the definition that the Global Warming people use for the temperature of the earth? Just tell me, rather than telling me it exists.

    The average temperature of the surface of the earth, over the time humans have taken such measurements. Was this definition not implied by the term, “Global Warming”?

    Temperature measurements are the foundation of thermodynamics. And we use thermometers to measure temperature. How do you measure the temperature of the entire earth?

    From the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s web site

    NOAA maintains a network of buoys, tidal stations and satellite measurements that provide a continuous picture of the state of the ocean and Great Lakes. Through the National Estuarine Research Reserves NOAA tracks water quality, meteorology and nutrient data. NOAA scientists are combining this information with other weather and climate data to begin addressing many important questions such as the dynamics behind climate change, the effects of human activities on ecosystems and the impact of pollutants on the marine environment.

    (That’s just the marine section.)

    If you have a chamber filled with gas, then the temperature of the gas is not the average of four different thermometers in each corner.

    It can be, if there are no significant convection effects. (Also, the three-dimensional boxes I’ve studied had eight corners, not four.) I don’t know why you’ve decided to imagine the Earth as a “box” with four (!) corners, when it’s an oblate spheroid.

    Anyway, I’m talking about the thousands of temperature probes across the biosphere, not four isolated points.

    It doesn’t matter how many thermometers you have or what those thermometers say or how well-built those thermometers are.

    Are you really claiming that the quantity and quality of the data points have no effect on how we use that data to evaluate a hypothesis? Please say you did not.

    The temperature is not an average of the highs or lows, it is not the number of days above a certain temperature, it is not any number of these things that I have heard people describe as the temperature of the earth.

    Since everything you just cited is a good measure of global temperature, please define what you mean by the term.

    Your problem in failing to accept convection as the principle heat transfer method from the ground to the atmosphere is that you are thinking of the earth as a whole transferring heat to space, and not the problem that the Greenhouse Effect tries to describe.

    I never claimed that convection is not a mechanism for transfer of heat from a solid body (the ground) to a fluid in which that body has a large surface exposure (the air). I merely stated that radiation is the main method of heat transfer from the Sun to the Earth, and from the Earth to space. Greenhouse gasses, emitted from human activity, are an insulator against the transfer of heat from the Earth to space. Hence, the Earth’s temperature rises.

    Forget space, forget everything about radiation.

    Radiation is the main mechanism for transfer of the Earth’s heat into space. You’re asking a swimmer to forget about water.

    Measure the temperature of the ground. Measure the temperature above the ground. Calculate how long it takes to transfer heat from one to the other, and you have the property that is truly important.

    And if the temperature of the ground and air are both rising, should we not look for a reason the why the heat above the ground is not escaping to space?

    Before I correct any mistakes in my reasoning—and I can’t find any, and what you are describing is not a mistake on my part but on your inability to keep separate things separate…

    Your teacup model does not have a radiative heat source; the Earth does, and it is called the Sun. Please add a radiative heat source to your model. Then add an insulator, which prevents the teacup from transferring heat to the environment around the teacup.

    (The rest of your response lacks citations, so I cannot address it.)

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      What is the science behind finding the temperature of a body by averaging several thermometer readings? It doesn’t exist, because you can’t measure temperature that way. I’m glad some organization like NOAA think they are doing the world a favor by averaging the temperatures of buoys and weather stations, but that number is meaningless. It doesn’t matter how fancy those machines are, or what kind of processor you used to calculate the average, a meaningless number is still meaningless. You can’t use it to reason about the thermodynamic properties of the earth.

      Your observation that four thermometers can give you the temperature of a chamber of gas, if we are only willing to ignore convection, is my main point. When it comes to heat, you can’t ignore convection when gasses or liquids are involved. In fact, you have to consider convection first and foremost, because it has the largest effect.

      OK, let me help you break down the problem for you. You are confusing the earth (including the ground and atmosphere) with the earth (just the ground and not the atmosphere.)

      If you consider the earth (ground + atmosphere), then the Greenhouse Effect has nothing to say. There is no significant amount of CO2 outside of the earth (ground + atmosphere). You measure the temperature of the earth by looking at it, and you predict what will happen based on how much of the sun’s heat is absorbed by the earth (ground + atmosphere) and how much heat is emitted by the earth (ground + atmosphere.)

      if you consider the earth (just the ground), then the Greenhouse Effect supposedly enters in, claiming that heat is transferred from the cooler atmosphere to the ground. This is, of course, a blatant violation of the 2nd Law, and should you claim it, you should realize you are making the same mistake that countless crackpots have made.

      Or, it enters in claiming that the Greenhouse Effect increases the insulation of the atmosphere, reducing the amount of heat transferred from the ground to the atmosphere. However, it is important to note in this case that the principle method of heat transfer is not radiation but convection and conduction, and CO2’s property as a decent heat conductor is well-known, and it is measured as possibly increase the thermal conductivity properties of the atmosphere.

      If you try to confuse the two scenarios above, then I can see why you’d think radiation is so important. However, that doesn’t mean you aren’t confused. When we get confused, it’s best to step back, make sure apples are apples and oranges are oranges, and look at the simplest cases one at a time until we have examined all the cases.

      The teacup model expresses one critical point: The 2nd Law says that heat transfer will occur, and it says that it will always flow from hot to cold. My example points out that we really don’t need to think about HOW the heat transfer occurs, but concern ourselves with the fact that it does and then measure how fast it occurs. Greenhouse Effect believers bring in needless details, confuse heat transfer with energy transfer, and exclude heat transfer methods that are obviously present. That’s why they get the science all wrong.

  10. scottd Says:

    We know that tiny bits of material can dramatically change the heat profile of the substance.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “heat profile”. Are you saying that Venus is hotter because it absorbs more energy from the sun?

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      I’m talking about the heat properties of the atmosphere of Venus.

      Hey, here’s a thought. Why is Io so warm? (Tidal forces and volcanic activity, of course.) How much volcanic activity occurs on Venus? Is Venus still cooling off from an early period when it was much warmer? Is the moon colder because it has already cooled off?

      Again, the question at hand is does adding CO2 to the atmosphere change the properties of the atmosphere enough that significant and measurable differences in climate will occur on earth’s surface? The answer is a resounding “NO”, according to actual measurements and real science.

  11. scottd Says:

    Hey, here’s a thought. Why is Io so warm?

    Umm….it isn’t. The mean surface temperature of Io is 110 K (-260 F). That’s about the same as Europa, Callisto, and Ganymede — and pretty cold by any standard. (You can look this stuff up, you know.)

    BTW, Io is an excellent example of how little a role internal heat and volcanism play in directly heating the surface. That’s because miles of rock make an excellent insulator.

    Regarding volcanic activity on Venus — nothing remarkable. About the same or maybe even less than Earth.

    Is the moon colder because it has already cooled off?

    No. The total heat flux from the Earth’s interior through its surface is less than 100 mW/m2, compared to over 100 W/m2 from solar heating. So internal cooling accounts for less than 0.1% of the earth’s surface temperature. It’s not the reason the earth is warmer than the moon.

    Keep trying…

  12. tensor Says:

    What is the science behind finding the temperature of a body by averaging several thermometer readings? It doesn’t exist, because you can’t measure temperature that way.

    Really? we cannot measure “the temperature of a body” by using a set of thermometers embedded in that body, and averaging their readings? Then how should we do it?

    I’m glad some organization like NOAA think they are doing the world a favor by averaging the temperatures of buoys and weather stations, but that number is meaningless. It doesn’t matter how fancy those machines are, or what kind of processor you used to calculate the average, a meaningless number is still meaningless. You can’t use it to reason about the thermodynamic properties of the earth.

    So, Lord Kelvin was wrong: our science is not as good as our measurements?

    Your observation that four thermometers can give you the temperature of a chamber of gas, if we are only willing to ignore convection, is my main point

    No, I said that the four thermometers might give a correct temperature profile, if the ambient conditions are right. Consider an air-filled box being heated entirely from above. In that case, there are no convection currents, and heat transfer would occur entirely by conduction and radiation.

    Or, it enters in claiming that the Greenhouse Effect increases the insulation of the atmosphere, reducing the amount of heat transferred from the ground to the atmosphere.

    No, the greenhouse effect claims an insulator prevents radiative heat transfer from the earth to space. Have you ever heard of the meterological term, “radiative cooling”? It refers to heat escaping from the ground into space, via radiative heat transfer from the ground to space. Now, if a greenhouse gas atop the atmosphere absorbed this radiative heat, and kept it in the atmosphere, then we would have a net gain in heat energy in the earth’s biosphere.

    If you try to confuse the two scenarios above, then I can see why you’d think radiation is so important.

    I think “radiation is so important” because it’s the only mechanism for transfer of energy through a vacuum, like the vacuum of space between the sun and the earth, or between the earth and space. If you know of another method of energy transfer through a vacuum, please enlighten us.

    Again, the question at hand is does adding CO2 to the atmosphere change the properties of the atmosphere enough that significant and measurable differences in climate will occur on earth’s surface? The answer is a resounding “NO”, according to actual measurements and real science/

    Could you please provide a link to these “actual measurements and real science”?

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      Really? we cannot measure “the temperature of a body” by using a set of thermometers embedded in that body, and averaging their readings? Then how should we do it?

      That is your problem. How do you measure the temperature of the earth? Until you can show the scientific world a method of measuring this, you cannot even begin to talk about Global Warming.

      Now, if a greenhouse gas atop the atmosphere absorbed this radiative heat, and kept it in the atmosphere, then we would have a net gain in heat energy in the earth’s biosphere.

      Did you not pay attention to anything we’ve been talking about? You can’t “keep” heat! Heat isn’t absorbed or emitted—it is transferred between two bodies. You cannot treat heat like energy. If it were energy, we would call it energy.

      Mark Hugo sums up the paper in question that shows that CO2 is a COOLING AGENT: http://www.drroyspencer.com/2010/07/yes-virginia-cooler-objects-can-make-warmer-objects-even-warmer-still/#comment-940

  13. Final Summation on CO2 as a Greenhouse Gas « Federal Way Conservative Says:

    […] Final Summation on CO2 as a Greenhouse Gas By Jonathan Gardner I’m going to summarize some points that I think might help people understand why CO2 is not Greenhouse Gas, and indeed, why the Greenhouse Effect is not an effect at all. (See previous post here.) […]

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