A Fundamental Misunderstanding in the Greenhouse Effect


I’ve been searching the past few days for something, anything, that would hint at why people ignore basic thermodynamics in favor of the more complicated radiation models. I think I have finally stumbled upon it.

See, in space, a good way to determine how hot something is is to look at its radiation output. This spectrum can give you a sense of the total power output of the object, as well as its temperature.

In a simple model we can consider the earth in space as an object where the sunlight incident on the earth is either reflected or absorbed. If absorbed, we can assume radiative balance. However, you have to measure the complete spectrum of both the incident sunlight and the earth’s emissions. The two should balance because energy in should equal energy out (unless there is a source or a sink of energy in the earth.)

Of course, this isn’t precisely accurate. Some of the energy could go to plastic deformations of the planet, or a change in the chemical properties of the planet, such as melting or freezing snow. Some of the energy could be leaked to outer space through evaporation. Some of the energy could manifest itself in the changing magnetic field, or a change in velocity or position. There are an infinite number of ways the earth could hide energy from radiation detectors. Assuming earth doesn’t, or doesn’t do it very much, is why we can use radiation balance as a rule of thumb in the first place.

And this is where climatologists go wrong. They forget that this is only a rule of thumb that is useful when you have vast vacuums between the two objects. Climatologists stretch the above simple model into a complicated model of the earth and the layers of atmosphere between them. Then they have to pretend that the layers of atmosphere can only interact through radiation. Of course, this is completely wrong; the layers of atmosphere interact with each other through convection and conduction and mass transfer. In addition, the ground interacts with the air through conduction.

Trying to map all of these interactions is nigh impossible. I know a lot of people have done tremendous work to try and figure out how much radiation goes where, and things like that. Some people even seem to have answers that seem to match what we see in nature.

Of course, in thermodynamics, the type of interaction is irrelevant. You can just measure how well the material transfers heat (via all heat transfer methods), and then have the number you were looking for all along.

I propose this simple experiment: Measure the heat conductivity of air and air with CO2 doubled or even trebled. If you think radiation is so important, then control for that, or use a really big room, or a long tube. The numbers you measure under controlled circumstances in a laboratory will give you much greater precision than anything you can measure in the wild. Show me how different air and air with more CO2 behaves, then we can start a discussion. As far as I can tell, no one has performed an experiment like that that shows the Greenhouse Effect. In fact, all measurements point to “NO.” Theory and measurements are in agreement here: there is no measurable Greenhouse Effect.

Tyndall and others did measure how radiation and various gasses interact, which is supremely interesting. But he had to isolate every other heat transfer method before making his measurements, because the interactions were nigh undetectable otherwise. Thus, his work is irrelevant in determining how well CO2 conducts heat from the surface of the earth. If anything, it is testimony to how irrelevant considering the radiation alone is.

Climate Science has a long way to go before clearing the bar that would cause me to give up my “addiction” to oil or skepticism towards climate science. It’s not an impossible road to travel, but involves scientific integrity, something which simply does not exist in the climate sciences. It has been revealed far too many times that the actors involved are not acting with any sort of scientific integrity. The fact that they do not release the data they are using is a sign that something has gone horribly, horribly wrong.

Unlike climate scientists, I don’t shift the goalposts every time something new is found. I simply want scientific integrity, accuracy, and sound logic and reasoning.


Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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

%d bloggers like this: