Final Summation on CO2 as a Greenhouse Gas


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.)

  1. Heat is not energy. There is no back-warming with heat. Heat flows from hot to cold according to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, unless additional work is put in, such as in a refrigerator. Heat is not stored. Heat is not emitted. Heat is not absorbed. Heat flows from hot to cold, and that’s it.
  2. Since heat is not energy, you cannot consider energy flow and deduce heat flow. Talking about radiation and absorption is really pointless unless you consider the bigger picture—entropy and other factors. Entropy is a measure of disorder in a system, and the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics states that entropy MUST increase over time, which is the same as saying heat flows from hot to cold.
  3. Actual measurements of the properties of CO2 show that it does not increase the insulative effects of our atmosphere at the concentrations and pressures and temperatures we have here on earth. In fact, it may decrease insulation, meaning that increasing CO2 would lead to a cooler earth. (See here.)
  4. Measurements on Venus or Mars cannot change the actual measurements we have made on earth.
  5. Trying to measure the temperature of the earth by averaging several measurements across the globe is like trying to measure the your height by weighing a newt. The average reading from several thermometers does not tell you the temperature of the entire system. There is no scientific basis for this.

Warmists, those who are trying to convince us that CO2 is going to increase the temperature of the earth, will try to confuse you and draw doubt about the above points. However, they cannot attack them directly because they are based on solid science.

If you tell them “Heat does not flow from cold to hot”, then they will have to say, “Yes, but…” and proceed to try to show you heat flows from cold to hot with magic.

If you tell them, “Averaging the temperatures of several weather stations, no matter how accurate they are, cannot tell you the temperature of the earth”, they will say, “Yes, but…” and try to convince you otherwise with magic and desperation.

I tried to help you, the layman, understand these scientific principles. Armed with these, you should not fall prey to their distortions and mistruths.


15 Responses to “Final Summation on CO2 as a Greenhouse Gas”

  1. demo kid Says:

    Thermal energy is… errr… energy. If you consider energy as the ability to do work, heat energy is actually one of the most important forms of energy for humans! All coal, gas, and nuclear power plants are based on the idea that thermal energy can be converted to kinetic energy, and then to electrical energy.

    Saying that the Second Law of Thermodynamics is only “heat transfers from hot to cold” is the same as “entropy increases within a system” is absolutely incorrect. Radiation is a means for thermal energy to be transferred from one body to another. The Earth does not get its energy through convection or conduction with the Sun; all our light and heat passes through a vacuum to get here.

    If you deny that thermal energy is energy, and that radiation exists as a means of transferring that energy, I can’t help you… but don’t claim that you’re “helping the layman”.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      Thermal energy is energy that comes from heat. That includes every power plant that relies on heating something up and then extraction energy from the temperature difference.

      There’s a HUGE difference between heat and energy. I’m not denying that there are a variety of methods of heat transfer, including radiation. These heat transfer methods resemble energy transfer methods, and I know a lot of people, even respected PhDs get confused.

      What I am denying is that radiation is the principle means of heat transfer from the ground to the atmosphere. Other methods of heat transfer, including convection and contact, transfer much more heat than radiation, making the radiative properties of CO2 largely irrelevant.

      I’ll try to think of a simple example that explains why heat transfer is not the same as energy transfer. For the time being, you must consider that there is a property called “entropy” and it increases as the system becomes more disordered. This increase in disorder is a very important component of heat transfer. You can verify this with anyone who has done any serious study of thermodynamics.

  2. Thermodynamics 101: Entropy « Federal Way Conservative Says:

    […] Thermodynamics 101: Entropy By Jonathan Gardner I’ve gotten a reply from a well-known Democrat in these parts that shows that the true believes in Global Warming really don’t understand what temperature and heat really are. (link) […]

  3. Dan Says:

    “Heat is not energy.”

    Bzzz. Try again bozo. Different forms of energy include kinetic, potential, thermal, gravitational, sound, elastic and electromagnetic energy.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      Dan, please avoid the ad hominems. Calling people names doesn’t help understand scientific truth. If you think someone is stupid, it’s most likely because you can’t understand what they’re thinking, and it may reflect stupidity on your part.

      Heat is most definitely not energy. You must be thinking of Entropy (which is energy) or something else. Thermal Energy is not anything like Kinetic Energy. Thermal Energy would be something like Potential Energy or Kinetic Energy derived from processes that rely on heat flow or transfer.

      • Dan Says:

        No, you’re confusing entropy with enthalpy if you think that entropy is a unit of energy. Entropy is in chemistry measured as Joules (energy) per unit Kelvin, whereas enthalpy is measured in Joules (energy). And from chemistry class I’m sure you’ll remember that the exothermic or endothermic energy (enthalpy) is usually measured as heat.

        You also fail to understand that different forms of energy readily convert back and forth. Think how a combustion engine works: combustable fuel is burned, which releases thermal energy, which expands the air in the chamber, which moves the pistons converting the thermal energy into kinetic energy, which is transfered to the wheels of your car in the case of a car engine. Or if the combustable engine is in a coal-fired power plant, the kinetic energy it transferred to an a metal rod moving between copper coils, which converts the kinetic energy into electromagnetic energy.

        How exactly did you manage to have a discussion about entropy here and in your next post without mentioning enthalpy anyway???

      • Jonathan Gardner Says:

        OK, I am now kicking myself for not remembering Enthalpy. However, as you said, the two are related very strongly with each other, and it’s only in how we measure them that they vary.

        Different forms of energy do readily convert between themselves—except entropy/enthalpy is a one-way street. Once energy ends up there, it’s not coming back out. Yes, you can build engines that convert heat to work, but it’s always going to be very lossy. You’re never going to get 100% of the energy back out, and if you take the system as a whole, you’re only increasing entropy as you try to convert entropy to KE or PE. This is why engines run hot—there is always waste entropy that needs to be removed or the engine will keep getting hotter as it makes more and more energy.

        We’re not talking about engines here, though. We’re talking about how heat flows from the sun to the earth to the atmosphere and to space. And we’re pondering whether changing the atmosphere by adding more CO2 will cause the earth to warm up or not, keeping all other variables equal.

        Oh, I think I know where you’re getting this “Thermal Energy” stuff from. I guess in Chemistry they tell you that some of the energy ends up as thermal energy which is converted to some other kind of energy, and the rest ends up just making stuff hotter. That’s not what really happens, but it’s a good crutch that will help you solve a lot of problems quickly. All of the energy from the reactions ends up as entropy. What you can do is extract some entropy and convert it to work of some sort by various cycles and processes, all of them inefficient and lossy, and all of them requiring some amount of work, which can come from the process itself. However, if you look at the system as a whole, entropy is always increasing.

  4. Dan Says:

    “Once energy ends up there, it’s not coming back out.”

    Clearly you’ve never heard of glucose. Photosynthesis converts photons into the chemical bonds of glucose, cellular respiration converts that energy into ATP, ATP is hydrolyzed to do work within the cell.

    But at least you’re starting to realize that you were being a clown that doesn’t have a clue in hell what he was talking about.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      So the secret to reversing entropy is glucose! Whodathunkit?

      I’m sorry, but you’re the one who doesn’t get it. 2nd Law is an absolute law, and not even glucose can save us. The net result of the entire process of generating and consuming glucose is more entropy.

  5. Dan Says:


    We’re not talking about engines here, though. We’re talking about how heat flows from the sun to the earth to the atmosphere and to space. And we’re pondering whether changing the atmosphere by adding more CO2 will cause the earth to warm up or not, keeping all other variables equal.

    Right, and the atmosphere acts as an insulator. More insulation —> more heat being retained. That’s pretty darn straightforward.

  6. joulesbeef Says:

    lol may cause cooling.. which is why CO2 was high every time the earth was warm.

    tell me this, why is the moon average temp lower than the earths.

    why is the moon not warming?

    how can you say measuring the average temps arround a sphere is the same as weighing a newt? that is hogwash man.

    and why dont yall ever come up with a reason for the increased heat? because everytime you do it gets quickly debunked? like
    it is the sun spots or it is cosmic rays.

    there is a reason why 98% of climate scientists agree and their is a reason why you are not a scientist.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      I think we have a winner, here.

      If this is what passes as debate, then surely the debate is over.

      To address your questions, as far as I can understand them:

      (1) Correlation does not imply causation. In fact, with the CO2 record, it appears that CO2 levels increase many years after the average temperature increases, suggesting that higher temperatures increase CO2 in the atmosphere, not the other way around.

      (2) I don’t understand why you’re using the moon’s temperature to determine whether increasing CO2 would change the earth’s temperature. What does one have to do with the other?

      (3) Temperature is not measured by taking several temperature measurements and averaging them. There is no scientific basis for this. Thus, you might as well determine the global temperature by averaging temperatures as by weighing a newt. If there is a correlation between temperature and average temperature, I would like to hear it. So would a whole lot of other people.

      (4) What increased heat are you talking about? There is no data, anywhere, to suggest that the earth is warming. What data did exist was a fraud. The scientists who claimed to have aggregated the data for us now claim that they lost it. Perhaps the dog ate their data? Without data, we cannot know anything about the temperature of the earth.

      (5) Sun spots, unlike CO2 levels, is actually a really good way to predict not only climate, but weather. Have you heard how Poor Richard’s Almanac uses sun spots to determine future weather, a year or more in advance?

      (6) 90% of climate scientists do not agree.

      If you have any interest in being correct, then you’ll behave a little more like a scientist and read carefully the articles that talk about global warming. Then you’ll actually take the time to read the papers mentioned. When you cite a fact, you need to cite its source, otherwise you have no better foundation in truth than any bum on the street.

  7. P. Ramos Says:

    Interesting posts.

    Kindly refrain from insulting people that disagree. It is juvenile and unworthy of any serious discourse.

    By calling this effect “Greenhouse” they are referring, as I’m sure you all know, to what occurs when sunlight enters a glassed enclosure. Glass is transparent to a great spectrum of radiation, hence lets it through, but it is opaque to much of the heat generated by that radiation as it impacts surfaces therein. Glass is a poor heat conductor and therefore an actual heat isolator. As a result, the environment inside the greenhouse becomes and stays warmer than the outside, an apparent breach of the second law, because you actually see heat migrating from cold to hot. The same happens when you leave your car in the summer sun. if the greenhouse effect didn;’t exist, your car would become as hot as the outside, but never any hotter. However, that is not what happens.

    Whether CO2 shows insulating effects or not is irrelevant. the atmosphere does have a sort of greenhouse effect, which is augmented by certain products. CO2 is actually a poor thermal insulator, but there are tons of it being emmitted. Methane is much much worse, as are fluorocarbons, water vapor. When a blanket of these gases cover the plannet, it reduces the rate at which heat radiates back to space, hence warming the earth.
    Look at venus. it is generally accepted in the scientific community that a runaway greenhouse effect actually created the hellish environment our twin planet suffers from.

    • Jonathan Gardner Says:

      You are right to start talking about CO2 and other gasses as thermal insulators. Now we need to measure the insulative effects of each gas and the atmosphere with different combinations of gasses.

      Such a measurement has, in the past, shown an increase in CO2 actually decreases the temperature because CO2 acts as a better thermal conductor than other gasses. Remember, we’re not comparing CO2 to nothing, we’re comparing CO2 to what is already in the atmosphere.

      You are also right that the science behind the so-called Greenhouse Effect in the atmosphere is all wrong. What greenhouses do and what the atmosphere does are entirely different processes. Greenhouses eliminate the convection heat transfer method, which is, by far, the way most heat is transferred from the lower to the upper atmosphere.

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