Greenhouse Fraud 20: Physics disproves the GHE; Steel Greenhouses; & General Electric Lightbulbs

What is heating…

The “steel greenhouse” provides a basic schematic for the meme of the atmospheric greenhouse effect, among other sources.  Sometimes the terminology goes by the phraseology of “backradiation”, and sometimes it goes by that of “heat trapping” or “heat flow restriction”, and others, as the need arises.  There is little consistency, and these terms can all mean very different things physically, which is curious for a supposedly scientific concept.

Generally, the underlying concept is that a heat source which is enclosed in some relevant fashion will “become” warmer because, variously, A) radiation from the source of thermal radiation directed back to the source of radiation (i.e. backradiation) by the enclosure leads to the source becoming warmer, because i) radiation from the cooler passive enclosure, either reflected or absorbed and re-emitted from the passive enclosure and back to the warmer source, becomes thermally absorbed by the surface of the warmer source which leads to the warmer source becoming warmer still, or ii) heat trapped by the enclosure leads to the source of heat inside the enclosure to become warmer as the source struggles to radiatively emit the same amount of thermal energy to the outside of the passive enclosure, or B) as the source of heat warms the cooler enclosure, the source of heat is lead to become warmer still as the cooler enclosure warms up to equilibrium with the source of heat, in order to maintain the temperature difference between the source and the passive cooler enclosure.

Applied to the atmosphere, the terminologies are such that the atmosphere heats the surface of the Earth with backradiation, or that the atmosphere traps heat from the surface thus leading to the surface becoming warmer in the attempt to cool, etc.  It is the presence of a cooler object, i.e. cold atmospheric gas, that by some method, leads to the source of heat of the cooler gas, which is the ground surface, to become warmer.

None of these statements are physically valid or are supported by traditional or modern physics.

Let it be clear, the only physically valid statement that could be made is that:

The atmosphere becomes warmer, if it absorbs more heat.  


The surface becomes warmer, if it absorbs more heat.

I will let Pierre Latour speak here, from a private email discussion:

“The Stefan-Boltzmann equation gives intensity of radiation, W/m2, emitted by a body at temperature T. It is analogous to fluid pressure, kg/m2. Stefan and Boltzmann called it intensity, not heat transfer, because it is intensity, not heat transfer. (It becomes heat transfer in maximum case emitting to 0K surroundings, so it is a max heat transfer. Real transfer is always less.) All bodies radiate with an intensity and they all experience a pressure. But for a fluid to flow there must be a driving force, a pressure difference. Physics teaches the fluid flows from high pressure to lower at a rate proportional to the pressure difference. The pressure at the bottom of the sea is high but uniform so no fluid flow.

For radiant energy to flow, transfer from one body to be absorbed by another body, heating it, there must be a driving force and that force for radiant energy transfer is an intensity difference. Physics teaches that the radiant heat flows from high intensity, to lower intensity, at a rate proportional to the difference (TH4 – TL4). Two identical glowing radiators facing each other radiate intensely but without any heat transfer between them.

The GHGT error is assigning to that second intensity term in the radiant heat transfer law an energy flow from cold to hot. Just because there is an algebraic term in the equation for cooler body radiating intensity does not mean it corresponds to a rate of heat transfer from cold to hot.

Atmospheric CO2 radiates with same intensity in all directions but the direction and rate of heat transfer to surroundings depends on surrounding’s radiating intensity. Energy transfer is asymmetric. So if the K-T 333 back-radiation arrow signifies direction of downward radiation intensity in all directions, ok, if they point it in all directions. But K-T labeled their diagram energy flows, and their back-radiation arrow 333 cannot be a flow, absorbed by surface, warming it further. Hence we have the dispute about semantics of physics which GHE believers dismiss with derision. “

If the atmosphere gets warmer by absorbing more heat, then something already warmer than the atmosphere (particularly its own source of heat, the surface) doesn’t need to become warmer-still in this process.  The atmosphere is simply heated to higher temperature by something warmer than it, up to the point where they’d be equal in temperature.  And that’s it.

However, such a statement is actually never made by advocates of the atmospheric greenhouse meme, and the reason is that a re-warming or additional warming of the source surface to a higher temperature by the cooler atmosphere is the centerpiece of the atmospheric greenhouse meme.  But the definition, the fundamental concept itself, of heat flow inducing a temperature rise, is that it only works from hot to cold.  The presence of cold does not require hot to to become hotter still, as the hot thing warms the cool thing.  Such a conjecture is asinine at best, or simply amateur.

This is simple logic, and only drastically logically illiterate people should have a difficult time with it: if a heater, in heating something colder, has to become hotter because of heating the colder, then as the colder warms up, the heater must warm up also.  This process doesn’t have an end point.  Nothing is known to behave like this.  It’s the most basic common-sense.  It is introductory thermodynamics.

What is heating?  It is something cooler becoming warmer, due to something warmer.  The ability of the warmer thing to induce heating on the cooler thing is proportional to the temperature difference between the warm thing and the cool thing, and the direction of heating is only from the warmer thing to the cooler thing, meaning that only the cooler thing “heats up” or rises in temperature.  The warmer thing doesn’t heat up or rise in temperature because it warms the cooler thing or due to the presence of a cooler thing.

Heating is like voltage is like pressure and force – something only happens when there’s a differential, and the direction of the “happening” is only downhill the differential.  That’s it. Therefore the GHE is a fraud.

Real Physics

Traditional physics would say that the atmosphere can rise in temperature if 1) the temperature of its source of heat input independently increased, 2) the atmosphere’s ability to absorb heat from an independent and warmer source increased, 3) the atmosphere’s emissivity is decreased.

For option 1), the source of heat input to the atmosphere is the surface, and also a little direct absorption of solar energy, but since the surface’s heat source is also the Sun in the first place, then option 1 requires sunshine to increase.  Clearly, option 1 is aside from any greenhouse effect, and the greenhouse effect is not predicated upon increasing the absorption of solar energy on either the surface or in the atmosphere.  Nor is the GHE about increasing geothermal soil temperatures, if that source is referenced.  And to be sure, if the GHE caused water vapor to increase, this is a huge negative feedback due to increased albedo and increased atmospheric emissivity.

For option 2), the so-called “greenhouse gases” do not cause more absorption of solar energy at the surface.  And there’s a NASA study which shows that GHG’s reflect incoming solar energy in any case.  The NASA study had shown that greenhouse gases reflect solar energy back out into space and so in fact decrease the amount of solar energy for input absorption at the surface or in the atmosphere.

However, the greenhouse meme in any case is that greenhouse gases increase the atmosphere’s ability to absorb heat from the surface.  This is ostensibly alright, but it is not really what the greenhouse effect meme is about.

The meme goes wrong by subsequently claiming that a warmer atmosphere (still cooler than the source surface) will lead to the surface having to becoming warmer still.  The surface simply emits directly to space less that by which the atmosphere might increase radiant absorption originating from the surface, and this does not mean that the surface has become warmer or needs to become warmer because at no point does the surface intrinsically emit less radiation.  The surface emits the same amount of radiation as before, according to the Stefan-Boltzmann Law and its temperature, it is just that the atmosphere might absorb more of it.  The warmer atmosphere then emits to space what it had absorbed from the surface, in conservation of energy, and because radiant emission goes up as temperature goes up.  At best, the atmosphere could become the same temperature as the surface.

To be sure, the atmosphere being warmed by the surface is not the atmospheric greenhouse effect meme.  The greenhouse effect meme is not the simple fact that a warmer surface can heat a cooler gas.  There’s nothing wrong with this.

The meme requires the surface, by some method, to become warmer due to the cooler atmosphere, either from the cooler atmosphere’s thermal radiation, or its “trapped energy” in its thermal radiation, or from “backradiation”…it specifically requires something cooler to lead to its specific source of heat becoming warmer, as if insulation in your house would make the furnace burn hotter.

So, option 2 doesn’t allow for a greenhouse effect, although it does allow the cooler atmosphere to be warmed by the warmer surface, which is unproblematic.  It is therefore curios why the greenhouse meme has added this idea that the cooler atmosphere causes, by some method, the warmer surface heating it, to become warmer still.  The reason for this confusion is of course well known, due to the problem of “greenhouse energy budgets” attempting to conserve flux in place of energy, and reducing the solar flux to an artificially small value incapable of heating anything above -40F in their literal flat-Earth physics.  This has all been discussed extensively in my papers and on this blog.

The only valid question is then one of how much does CO2 interception of surface-radiation contribute to the warming of the atmosphere?  However, this is beyond and aside from the GHE because it is not what the GHE is about.  The GHE can be completely discarded while still discussing how well the surface might heat the atmosphere due to greenhouse gases.

In any case, CO2 is dominated by collisional excitation in the atmosphere, and so interception of terrestrial radiation via its already-vibrationally-excited modes is simply a photon scattering effect rather than a true thermal absorption effect.  Also, CO2 comprises only 1 in 2500 atmospheric molecules.

For option 3), since greenhouse gases are said to be emitters, and since the majority of the atmospheric gases of oxygen and nitrogen are either very poor emitters or don’t emit at all, then greenhouse gases must not reduce the atmospheric emissivity, while the atmosphere must have a low emissivity in the first place due to its 99% of oxygen and nitrogen.

As warmer temperatures can be held for a given output flux for a substance of low emissivity as compared to high emissivity, then oxygen and nitrogen are the components of the atmosphere which can lend a higher temperature than otherwise, given the terrestrial output flux.

To repeat: nitrogen and oxygen have very low emissivity, and this means that the atmosphere can hold a higher temperature than it would otherwise, given the radiative output.  Traditional and modern physics can’t be any more clear or simple about this: low emissivity allows higher temperatures for a given output flux, and oxygen and nitrogen have very low emissivity.  If GHG’s reduce emissivity, then they could lead to atmospheric warming; however, such a conjecture is opposite the idea that GHG’s are good emitters, and, oxygen and nitrogen are already poor emitters.

Combine low emissivity with the fact that the atmosphere has to have a sequential distribution in its temperature from warmer at the surface to cooler at altitude, and the temperature of the near-surface air is entirely explained.


Now what does traditional science say about the surface rising in temperature (appreciating the silly ambiguity in climate science that mistakes the near-surface air temperature for actual surface temperature…they are NOT the same thing guys!).

The surface can rise in temperature if 1) its source of heat input increases temperature, 2) its ability to absorb heat from its source increases, 3) its emissivity decreases, 4) the atmosphere is warmer than the surface.

Options 1, 2, and 3 should be self-explanatory at this point.  The pertinent point is #4 – only if the atmosphere is warmer than the surface, will the atmosphere warm the surface. (Is it not terrible what climate science has done to destroy logic, language, and science? How do I even need to write that?)  Since in general the atmosphere is warmed by the surface, because it is cooler than the surface, then the atmosphere does not generally warm the surface.  And even when it does, this is not the greenhouse effect, because that meme requires a colder atmosphere to make a warmer surface warmer still, which is basically the precise opposite of traditional (and modern) physics.

The atmosphere can only warm the surface or cause it to rise in temperature if the atmosphere is warmer than the surface.  Therefore, the greenhouse effect is wrong.

Ambiguous Words and Math

Check out this quote from Robert G. Brown of Duke University, a fellow who pretends to have a degree in physics and who pretends that he’s taught physics for a career:

“Increasing atmospheric CO2 increases resistance to radiant heat transfer from surface to space. Assuming surface heat must continue to transfer at same rate and emissivity, the surface must radiate more intensely at a higher temperature.”

This directly relates to Pierre Latour’s earlier quote and the physics and math of heat transfer he discussed.

The first sentence is actually completely ambiguous to the point of being meaningless, but it has a certain convenience for the GHE fraudster.  Let us analyze it.  The convenience of such a sentence is that it can be analogized to, say, insulation in your house.  Insulation reduces heat transfer to the outside, i.e. “increases resistance to heat transfer”, and lets the furnace make the air inside the house a higher temperature for longer periods, with greater ease.

Well, what’s greenhouse gas then?  Is the greenhouse gas the insulation, which is found as solid matter in the walls physically trapping molecules, or is the GHG a component of the gaseous air inside the house, found between the furnace and the walls?  This is ambiguity to the point of entirely losing physical and logical resolution.  Insulation physically traps gas; a GHG can not physically trap itself.  Insulation can trap a GHG but a GHG can not trap itself.

Let’s give the benefit of the doubt and say that GHG’s are both a component of the air inside the house, and the insulation therein such air.  This might work but only if the mechanism of “insulation” (temperature increase) is in low emissivity, in which case the misnamed greenhouse gases are oxygen and nitrogen.

But there’s one fact that you can’t get around: insulation doesn’t make the furnace burn hotter.  The best that could happen is that the air got to the same temperature of the furnace, and this is of course catastrophic to the greenhouse effect, because the furnace for the greenhouse effect diagrams is only inputting flux at a temperature of -40F.  The solution is stupidly simple: stop modelling the Earth as flat.

The second sentence from the above quote is usually associated with the heat flow equation that Latour referenced, i.e. radiant heat flow being proportional to temperature difference: Q ~ (TH4 – TC4).  The above quote states that there should be an assumption about the surface transferring heat at the same rate, i.e., that Q shouldn’t change.

Well, if TC is the cooler temperature of the atmosphere, and TH is the hotter temperature of the surface, then yes indeed, the equation simply shows that the rate of heat transfer from the surface to the atmosphere becomes smaller if the atmosphere increases in temperature.  There’s nothing wrong with that…it’s the basic heat flow equation.(!)  There is no a-priori fixed relationship for the rate of heat transfer that has to exist between the surface and the atmosphere.  Where would you even get such an idea?  Q doesn’t have to be and is not fixed between the surface and the atmosphere.

But there was the introduction of more ambiguity, because what should be fixed is the combined rate of energy transfer from the surface plus atmosphere to outerspace.  That makes sense to assume as fixed.  The “Q” from the Earth, QE, is QE = QS + QA for the energy transfer from the surface plus that from the atmosphere.  Assuming a constant energy input, then this QE is a valid thing to assume is constant. QE = QS + QA is an equation that makes sense and makes sense to hold as constant; the previous claim doesn’t make sense at all.

So now we see that, if the atmosphere increases in temperature, then even with low emissivity, it still will emit more radiation to space, because radiant emission goes up with temperature (to the fourth power).  So, if QA increases, then QS decreases because QE is fixed.  This is totally consistent now because if QS only decreased because QA increased absorption of QS, i.e. the atmosphere absorbed more energy from the surface on that energy’s way out, then the resulting balances are totally expected – some of the QS goes into the QA.  QA increased because its temperature increased because it absorbed more QS; QS decreased but this doesn’t mean the surface got warmer, it means the atmosphere got warmer by taking some more of the surface’s energy. It definitely doesn’t mean the cooler atmosphere made the surface hotter.

To be sure, we can use that totally sensible equation, QE = QS + QA, and say that if for some reason, QA started emitting more, say, from increased atmospheric emissivity, then either QS would have to emit less in order to keep QE constant, meaning that the surface would have to become cooler, or, the temperature of the atmosphere would decrease to emit the same as it did previously.  Simplifying: if the atmosphere’s emissivity increased, then it would emit more energy, and so to keep the QE emitted to space constant, the surface and/or the atmosphere would decrease in temperature.  This is precisely what Carl Brehmer has been looking at, and demonstrating the simple truth of.

If CO2 increases the atmosphere’s emissivity, this would finally be an explanation for why the planet has continually reentered ice-ages after the CO2 concentration goes up as shown in the ice-core records (the same ones which show CO2 increasing after temperature increase; the cause of temperature increase is still an unknown, aside from probable speculations of Milankovitch cycles).

So if we were to make the above quotation logical and based in science and real physics, it should read:

“Increasing atmospheric CO2 increases radiant heat transfer from surface to atmosphere. Assuming total terrestrial energy output must continue to transfer at same rate and emissivity to outerspace, the atmosphere must radiate more intensely at a higher temperature.”

But that really only captures part of the physics, and, of course, it no longer supports the greenhouse effect meme, and, it still wrongly assumes constant emissivity.  In totality you have to consider what effect CO2 is having on the atmosphere’s emissivity; if the emissivity increases, this will likely manifest as a reduction in temperature of the atmosphere, and also of even the surface itself.  If increasing CO2 has no effect on the emissivity of the atmosphere, and if CO2 actually does thermally absorb radiation from the surface, rather than just scattering it since CO2 is already vibrationally excited from collision anyway, then the atmosphere could increase in temperature from more CO2.  This would then likely follow the logarithmic absorption curve we’ve seen in the Skeptic’s Handbook, for example, which means that CO2 has already had almost all of the effect that it can, and, this still is not the greenhouse effect(!), even if it works this way.

And even with logarithmic CO2 absorption, how much heating can 1 in 2500 molecules have on the rest, particularly when energy is equipartitioned among degrees of freedom, and CO2 has more degrees of freedom than O2 and N2, meaning that it will be kinetically COLDER than those gases in any case, while being mixed in with them?  In a gas, it is energy which gets equipartitioned, not temperature.  The kinetic temperature of a particular species in a gas ensemble is proportional to the mean kinetic energy of the gas, divided by the number of degrees of freedom of the particular species.  CO2 absorbs energy from the gas and puts it into additional internal degrees of freedom, and thus should have a lower kinetic temperature than the other atmospheric gas species.  Therefore, perhaps CO2 really is a basic atmospheric coolant.

Light-bulbs disprove the GHE

Check out these two light-bulbs:

GE crystal clear 200 watt

GE soft white 200 watt

I saved the product sheets here and here as pdf’s in case the above links got moved.

These bulbs have identical voltage input, Wattage power, identical filament and therefore identical current usage, and identical color temperature (meaning temperature of the filament).

The only difference is that one of the bulbs is frosted, thus trapping some light, heat, and energy, inside.  What is the effect of trapping some of the light/energy inside the frosted bulb?

There is no change in power usage, and no change in color temperature.  If there’s no change in color temperature, then the filament has not gotten hotter.

There is a change in the lumen output for the frosted bulb (it is reduced), and this is the visible portion of its spectral output.  There are two ways to reduce the lumen output:

1) by reducing the color temperature (which is a cooler blackbody spectral output and hence a less-intense visible portion)

2) by occluding with a semi-transparent screen some of the light output from the filament

Option 1) isn’t occurring as per the spec-sheet, and if it did occur, it would mean the filament got cooler, not warmer, in any case.  The only way to do this would be to reduce the voltage across the circuit.

Obviously, option 2) is occurring because the frosted bulb occludes (traps) some of the filament output.  This proves that some light is being trapped, while having no effect on the power output or temperature of the source.  The lumen output is reduced, but it has no effect on the current usage or color temperature of the bulb.

Hence, a bulb can’t brighten itself with its own light, which is an asinine thing to claim anyway.(!)  You can’t make a light brighten itself with its own light, as some of the greenhouse fraudsters accidentally helped demonstrate (without understanding their own results…).

The bulb gets its power from the voltage applied across the circuit, from outside – backradiated light from the bulb doesn’t increase the voltage or the current, and so the bulb doesn’t get brighter from that.  That is why the lightbulb experiment proved that there is no GHE.  If it could, then it would be a run-away, over-unity, perpetual motion device, because the more the bulb brightened, the more it would get backradiation, and hence the more it would brighten, etc., in a never-ending loop.  Again, this is basic logic that only completely philosophically inept and irrational people have a difficult time with.

Disproved by its own Usefulness

Now, I work with some very big players in the aerospace engineering business…the biggest companies and most expert engineers that Canada has to offer.  You don’t find any higher electrical, mechanical, computing, optical, radio, etc., and thermal engineering expertise than you do with these guys and gals.  My role with these fellows is as an expert scientist for data analysis, detector calibration, systems configuration, specifications, and functionality, etc.  This is the top level of engineering and science you can get to in Canada.  This isn’t teaching, it’s doing.  We physically and mentally handle things, hardware, software, etc., that end up in outer-space, and function as they should, and we produce original and qualified scientific data.

So I asked these people if sending radiation from a filament, back to the filament, will make the filament hotter.  That is, if trapping/backradiating (whatever phraseology you want) radiant energy to its own source can cause the source to increase in temperature.

Their answer was that this would be wishful thinking by people who want to get around the laws of thermodynamics, particularly the 2nd Law.  They said it is a basic violation of power input and output.

The power in a circuit with a resistor like a light-bulb filament is P = V2/R = I2*R.  The energy is supplied from outside the circuit via the voltage which induces the current.  Heat and light (light being the visible portion of the dissipated heat) is a dissapatory output of the circuit and can’t be used as further input.  Not only can the light/heat dissipation from the circuit not be somehow added to the circuit’s voltage (which is a physically meaningless proposition), it also cannot simply be directly added back to the heat dissipator (the filament) itself because this would not follow the laws of heat transfer, i.e. that heat flows from hot to cold which means that the cold thing warms up due to the hot thing.  Any heat (quote/unquote) “returned” to the filament can at best be the same temperature as the filament, and so this would be null for heat transfer and hence null for temperature increase.

Holding “I” and “V” constant so that the power input is constant, returning the light back to the filament or otherwise trapping the energy output does not change the current “I” or voltage “V”, hence, the power emitted by the filament doesn’t change and hence it doesn’t get brighter.

If it did, then the power output (brightness) of the bulb would increase; this increase would then cause more light to come back to the filament or be trapped; this would cause the filament to emit more power (become brighter); then this would cause more light to come back to the filament or be trapped; this would cause a brighter filament; this would cause more light to come back to the filament or be trapped etc.  And this would all happen without increasing the input power.  It is perpetual motion, and a basic violation of energy conservation and heat flow mechanics.  No devices have been made to operate this way, nor do they in nature.

A device like this would be useful!  High temperature is useful.  If we could get higher temperature out of a source of energy, with some simple passive trick, that produces higher temperature than the source intrinsically creates, this would be useful.  It would be the most useful thing ever created, ever.

Willis’ steel greenhouse would be extremely useful!  If the internal sphere was filled with water, then with a passive outer shell you could boil the water inside the inner sphere and create a steam-engine with less heat input than is actually required to boil water.  Then it is just a matter of engineering – engineer it well enough, and you could build a steam engine to work with a pittance of external input.

All of the thermodynamic cycles that we use to create power, to do work, etc., are based on the precise disallowance of the meme of the greenhouse effect.

All of these cycles work, they all produce power and work, precisely because something like the atmospheric greenhouse effect does not exist!  There is nothing more thermodynamically factual, than this statement.

The fact that greenhouse-effect devices do not exist, given their purported thermodynamic usefulness, is proof enough that the meme is a fraud.  The fact that devices have been manufactured which should show evidence of the supposed greenhouse principle, and don’t, is proof enough that the meme is a fraud.

The Source

The make-pretend physicist that was quoted above also insisted to me that insulation in your house does indeed increase the temperature of the source of heat, of the furnace.  Let’s analyze that and consider just how unscientific the claim is.

What is it that produces high temperature in your furnace in the first place?  Let’s assume natural gas is the fuel source.  Okay, so then it’s the combustion of natural gas which produces high temperature.  If you had a parcel of natural gas, but diluted it over a cubic kilometer, and then it combusted all at once, well, this would be much lower density of energy release than if that parcel of gas were confined to a cubic meter and combusted.  This parcel of gas would have hardly any effect on the temperature of an entire cubic kilometer, but would have a much larger effect on a cubic meter.  So, the volume in which a parcel of gas is combusted has an effect on what temperature will be produced – smaller volume, higher temperature, for a given parcel of gas undergoing combustion in an equal amount of time.

Obviously the same physics works for “volumes” of time – for a given parcel of gas, the quicker it is combusted in one location, the greater effect it will have on the local temperature.

Finally, for a given parcel of natural gas, what determines the total amount of energy it is capable releasing in the first place?  Well, that is a function of the chemical potential, of the energy released per molecule when it undergoes oxidation with O2.  This “chemical potential” is a fixed quantity per unit mass of the gas.

So, the internal temperature that a furnace achieves is a function of the volume of combustion of the gas, the flow rate (time of combustion) of the gas, and the intrinsic chemical potential of the gas.

Does insulation in your house, or greenhouse gases in the air inside your house, change any of those parameters?  No, it does not.  And any real physicist would know that.  Insulation does not make the source of heat hotter!  Greenhouse gases do not increase radiant heat absorption from the Sun at the surface of the Earth!

This is of course entirely analogous to the fact that the temperature and brightness of a lightbulb is due to the external voltage applied to its circuit, and not due to backradiation.  (Of course, as we saw, the greenhouse fraudsters attempted some experimental sophistry in measuring the temperature of the frosted glass, rather than the actual source of heat/light, the filament.  Nice try losers.)

Another proof of the fraud of the greenhouse meme is that its promoters use fraudulent concepts, claims, analogies, and experiments, to try to promote it.  The whole meme cannot at this point be any more of a fraud.

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31 Responses to Greenhouse Fraud 20: Physics disproves the GHE; Steel Greenhouses; & General Electric Lightbulbs

  1. Greg House says:

    Joe, overall a very good article (although I have to confess I skipped some places, e.g. about bulbs :oops:). But I would not mix physics and “climate science” referring to correlation between ice ages and CO2 concentrations. I repeatedly asked “climate scientists” on the blogs to explain e.g. how they calculated the “global temperature” for the year 666 and they either chose to remain silent or got nervous, but I never received a reasonable answer. They seem very much to know what sort of unscientific crap everything involving “global temperature” is.

  2. Cheers Greg. If you have a minute, do go over the bulbs section…direct physical experimental disproof of their claims that has existed for a hundred years.

  3. Greg House says:

    Joe, I will, I promise. And you start thinking about the “global temperature” for the year 666 😀 . This alleged knowledge about climate comes out of the same dark corner as the “greenhouse effect”. Or have you ever heard of a professional climate scientists clearly denouncing the “back radiation warming”? I recommend being highly distrustful of everything they tell us.

  4. Oh yes I entirely agree and understand your point there! Basically the WHOLE field is a fraud. After all it is based on a fraud in the first place – the GHE!

  5. squid2112 says:

    Hi Joe, great article! I read this over at PSI and commented. Here is what I wrote over there.

    Joe, a relatively simple experiment has just come to mind that would indeed dispel all notion of “back-radiation” warming.

    Let us say, in this experiment, that I have exactly 1000W of power I can utilize. I have a 1m by 1cm metal plate that I can heat with the 1000W of power (hot plate). Then, I cut the 1m plate in half (making two of them), place the two 1mm apart, and split the 1000W between the two plates (500W, 500W). If “back-radiation” warming were possible, the “heat” I would now get should be greater than the single 1m plate alone. Again, if I cut each of those 0.5m plates in half (giving four plates), place each 1mm apart from one another, supply each with 250W of power, I should now be generating more heat than I did with two plates, or one plate. One could repeat this until you had 1mm x 1mm cubes, all 1mm apart, and suddenly you would be producing an enormous amount of heat (blast furnace).

    Clearly, this cannot be true, for if it were, I could be heating my house this winter for mere pennies (and probably with pennies, all 1mm apart each receiving only 1 mW of power).

    Thanks for another excellent post Joe!

  6. Cheers Squid 🙂

  7. Carl Brehmer says:

    “Traditional physics would say that the atmosphere can rise in temperature if . . .”

    There is a fourth method of lower atmospheric warming that is relevant. The vertical movement of air causes an internal energy imbalance within the troposphere. Descending air has work done on it by its surroundings and that work raises the internal energy of the descending air thus raising its temperature. An extreme example of this is the compression of air within a diesel engine gets so hot that it will spontaneously ignite the fuel.

    Conversely ascending air does work on its surroundings and that work done lowers the internal energy of ascending air thus lowering its temperature. An extreme example of this is the expansion of air within an aerosol can that is being sprayed. It can make a can cold enough to form frost in the middle of the summer.

    These are simultaneous processes; one cannot occur without the other. When air raises in one place other air must descend in another to replace it. As this occurs a ground level air pressure differential is created, which in turn creates the wind that we all experience as the troposphere constantly attempts to establish hydrostatic equilibrium.

    Consequent to this never ending quest for hydrostatic equilibrium within an unevenly heated rotating mass, within the greater troposphere there are massive, constant movements of air within the Hadley, Mid-Latitude and polar cells that insure that this adiabatic process is ever ongoing.

    This adiabatic process does not change the amount of energy that is contained within the troposphere (the average temperature of tropospheric air from the ground to the tropopause is about -20 °C) but that energy is mal distributed. Since all of the thermometers whose readings are averaged to create the “global mean temperature” are located near the ground at the warm end of the troposphere’s temperature gradient, there is a longstanding misassumption that the atmosphere is warmer than it should be and that the atmosphere must therefore be retaining excess thermal energy. The “greenhouse effect” hypothesis evolved to explain this misassumption. Thus, even today you will read authors assert that “greenhouse gases” warm the lower atmosphere while simultaneously cooling the upper atmosphere.


  8. Wonderful, Carl. I hoped you noticed the reference to your work on emissivity too. Just use the equation QE = QS + QA. If the atmosphere begins radiating more due to increased emissivity, then either or both of the atmosphere and surface have to reduce in temperature to keep QE constant.

  9. Just highlighting the party I really liked:

    Brehmer: “This adiabatic process does not change the amount of energy that is contained within the troposphere (the average temperature of tropospheric air from the ground to the tropopause is about -20 °C) but that energy is mal distributed. Since all of the thermometers whose readings are averaged to create the “global mean temperature” are located near the ground at the warm end of the troposphere’s temperature gradient, there is a longstanding misassumption that the atmosphere is warmer than it should be and that the atmosphere must therefore be retaining excess thermal energy. The “greenhouse effect” hypothesis evolved to explain this misassumption. Thus, even today you will read authors assert that “greenhouse gases” warm the lower atmosphere while simultaneously cooling the upper atmosphere.”

  10. Huffington Post shows how anthropogenic global warming circumvents the 1st Law of Thermodynamics

    A ‘physicist’/blogger on the Huffington Post admits that while “The laws of physics dictate that energy is conserved,” somehow the Earth/atmosphere system is exempted in the case of global warming, since “more energy is coming in than going out.” His claim is directly opposed by satellite measurements, the NASA Earth Observatory site, and many, many other references clearly demonstrating that in accordance with the 1st Law of Thermodynamics, the “flow of energy into the atmosphere must be balanced by an equal flow of energy out of the atmosphere and back to space.”

    In addition, outgoing infrared radiation to space from greenhouse gases has increased over the past 62 years, instead of decreased as predicted by AGW theory, proving that there is no observational evidence for influence of CO2 on present or past climate.

  11. Outgoing infrared has been increasing…and this has been known for some time…AGW theory predicts a warming planet to emit less radiation in total contradiction of the textbook and standard physics of the Stefan-Boltzmann Law…and this fraud still exists. I hope it is starting to come apart.

  12. Arfur Bryant says:

    Hi Joe,

    Another great article. Thank you.

    There is one point I’d like to discuss as it is the source of some confusion for me and a subject which pro-cAGW commenters are unwilling to address.

    You state:

    [“The only valid question is then one of how much does CO2 interception of surface-radiation contribute to the warming of the atmosphere?  However, this is beyond and aside from the GHE because it is not what the GHE is about.”]

    I understand you are specifying the GHE as being the ‘Radiative GHE’, which fails on both scientific and logical levels. However, there is a argument of logic which can be made even assuming the (radiative) GHE actually exists. Your initial question quoted above is extremely valid and germane. How much does CO2 contribute to the GHE/Atmospheric Effect/whatever? Before any possible anthropogenic effect took place (lets say pre-1850 as chosen by the IPCC) there existed whatever effect (GHE/AHE/Atmosphere Effect/whatever) causes the Earth to be a hospitable environment. If that effect really did raise the global temperature (whatever that means) by 32 deg C and CO2 played a significant part in the effect, then, logically, a significant increase (40%) in this ‘significant player’ would either a) cause a significant increase in temperature or b) not cause an increase because the effect had already reached saturation point. Unfortunately, the observed data doesn’t even come close to supporting that assertion – as we know.

    If a), then where is the significant warming and if b), then what’s the problem?

    If a), then all anyone OBJECTIVELY looking at the DATA can say is that CO2 caused an unknown (and probably unknowable) portion of the 0.8C rise since 1850. And that’s assuming that the GHE is based on radiative effects in the first place. Any argument centred on lag or feedback is effectively smashed by data and logic. They can’t have it both ways. They can’t say that CO2 must have a significant warming effect and then make up pseudo-scientific reasons why it hasn’t.

    So I’m not sure that the question is ‘beyond and aside’ the GHE as it seems to me to be completely central to the debate, particularly as the IPCC defines the GHE as warming due to radiation re-radiated back to Earth.

    I’m in agreement with your well-written article, I just don’t get what you mean by ‘beyond and aside’. Sorry if I’ve misunderstood.

    Kind regards,


  13. Hi Arfur, that is a great and insightful question.

    The point I was trying to make, is that if CO2 only helps the surface heat the atmosphere, then this is not the same thing as the cooler atmosphere and GHG’s causing the surface to rise in temperature by 33K. Do you see the difference there?

    The radiative GHE requires GHG’s to raise the surface’s temperature, even though they are colder than the surface; whereas, if the warmer surface heats the atmosphere, and GHG’s might help the surface heat the atmosphere, then at no point does this mean that the atmosphere gets warmer than the surface or heats up the surface. There is nothing wrong with the warmer surface heating the cooler atmosphere, but there is something wrong with the idea of the cooler atmosphere heating the warmer surface or causing the surface to be 33K warmer.

    So the point is that, if we want to talk about the surface heating the atmosphere, this is a legitimate concept, and the warmer surface heating the cooler atmosphere, up the point where the atmosphere might be as warm as the surface, has nothing to do with the radiative greenhouse effect, because the GHE is about something else, is about the cooler atmosphere making the warmer surface warmer still. I hope this explains well enough how the concepts and logic get separated here, how they diverge.

    Now, what you point out in your excellent critique falls more in-line with the proper greenhouse effect theory and standard alarmism. Your centre paragraphs are excellent, analysing the options. Where my critique of the GHE falls into this, is to say that the postulate that GHG’s cause 33K of warming on the surface is wrong. This doesn’t even happen in the first place. This renders any subsequent analysis of options superfluous, because the whole premise of the cause of the 33K isn’t even correct.

    What your analysis shows is that there is a fundamental problem somewhere within the whole alarmist/GHE paradigm. You’ve succinctly pointed out a paradox that can not actually be resolved with standard GHE theory. This is brilliant.(!) This is logical and philosophical and scientific competence that I have an extremely high degree of respect for.

    The solution to the paradox, as always, is in a reconsideration of the axiomatic boundary conditions that created it. The source of the paradox is in the initial assumption of this supposed 33K of heating, from something cooler to something warmer, caused by the greenhouse effect. Well just look at it: something cooler can’t heat something warmer, and of course, this is right in the heart of the sophistry that GHE and alarmist adherents spend their time creating to try to make the premise appear legitimate. No matter how much they try to pretend and how much vitriol they spew, something cooler simply never heats up something warmer, and something warmer doesn’t become warmer still as it warms the cooler. QED.

    To repeat: something cooler never heats up something warmer, and something warmer doesn’t become warmer still as it warms the cooler. Hence, there is no GHE, and the premise that a GHE causes 33K of warming is wrong. That is the solution to your paradox, and to the paradox of alarmism and the greenhouse effect in general, and to the paradox of the concept of cool heating hot. The solution is simply that this is wrong and doesn’t happen.

    What we are still left with lingering, however, is this concept of the 33K difference between the near-surface air temperature, and the temperature of the equivalent radiating blackbody of the flux output of the Earth. The GHE is based on this presenting some sort of a problem, some sort of a semi-paradox, but even here the premises are incorrect, because there is no a-priori reason why the near-surface air temperature and equivalent blackbody temperature of terrestrial radiation to outer-space should be equal. The GHE starts off with an assumption that they should be equal…but this assumption is wrong, and can’t actually be physically justified in the first place.

    The thermal radiant output of energy for the entire terrestrial ensemble has to include the atmosphere. A physically correct treatment must consider the natural lapse rate of the atmosphere, and the attendant natural fact that the bottom of the atmosphere must be warmer than the average, the average is found in the middle, and the top of the atmosphere is coolest. As the average (found near the middle altitude) must be associated with the temperature of the flux output by definition, then the bottom of the atmosphere must be warmer than that equivalent temperature, and this is precisely what is calculated from fundamental theory – a 33K difference between the equivalent blackbody radiative temperature, and the near-surface air. The number of 33K gets precisely solved, predicted, and explained, and it has nothing to do with any concept of a GHE. And so now, the paradox has been resolved, and the lingering concept of this 33K thing gets explained. QED at this point…Fini. Well, the low emissivity of the atmosphere due to oxygen and nitrogen must also have an effect, but this is the type of legitimate science that GHE and alarmist political science wouldn’t ever desire to touch, because it all still leaves the GHE behind as a paradoxical blunder.

    (I might make your question and my response its own article, in the future.)

  14. Greg House says:

    Joe, this “33K difference between the equivalent blackbody radiative temperature and the near-surface air” must be a fiction for the same reason you have already given in your comment.

  15. Yes it is definitely in the “grey” territory, Greg. It is certainly convenient for creating fraud…so…that probably indicates its physical nebulosity.

  16. Arfur Bryant says:


    Many thanks for your comprehensive and complimentary reply. You are too kind.

    [“The GHE starts off with an assumption that they should be equal…”]

    I see this word ‘assumption’ quite a lot in the cAGW debate. The pro-cAGW commenters assumed that Arrhenius was correct. That they base their entire belief system on at least one assumption and then try to bludgeon any critical argument by resorting to groupthink, appeals to authority and sanctimony merely portrays the weakness of their case.

    [“if CO2 only helps the surface heat the atmosphere, then this is not the same thing as the cooler atmosphere and GHG’s causing the surface to rise in temperature by 33K. Do you see the difference there?”]

    Yes, I do, thanks. I have had many arguments with pro-cAGW posters on this very subject. If they are correct, the way to make a heated room warmer is to add more furniture and wait for the back-radiation to work!

    I am also constantly amazed by the lack of evidence to support their case.

    Anyway, thanks for taking the time. Keep up the good work, Joe.

    Kind regards,


  17. LOL new paper claims that climate models say the global temperature would be -30C if CO2 levels were at or below 1/8 of the 1950 value. Ergo, according to the models, the alleged “GHE” is -12C more cooling with an atmospheric CO2 ~39 ppm in comparison to the [false] -18C global temp with no atmosphere or “GHE” at all!

    Not to mention the alleged declining logarithmic ‘greenhouse’ effect of CO2 is greatest at the lower concentrations


    ya can’t make this stuff up folks, oh wait, some people can

  18. Truthseeker says:


    I agree with the rational and scientific statements you have made. You do not need to pollute them with ad-noms like;

    “Check out this quote from Robert G. Brown of Duke University, a fellow who pretends to have a degree in physics and who pretends that he’s taught physics for a career:”

    Robert Brown does have a degree in physics and is teaching physics as a career. He is not pretending to do either of these things. How well he does them is a matter for others to decide, but this one snide comment leaves an opening for others to dwell on and target. Those of us who are interested in the science deplore attacking the man. Do not fall into the same trap that the alarmists seem to live in.

  19. Arfur Bryant says:

    @Hockey Schtick

    Agreed. This is typical alarmist hype by people who base their belief on an assumption and refuse to look at the facts.

    [“Abstract: [1] How does climate sensitivity vary with the magnitude of climate forcing?”]

    Answer: It entirely depends on how YOU set up the model!

    CO2 in 1950 = appx 310ppm

    8 x 310 = 2480ppm
    32 x 310 = 9920ppm

    Wow! Some really big figures going on there! Notice how the authors want to hype the effect in – what – between 1400 and 4800 years? No mention in the abstract of what a contemporary doubling would be. Nothing like letting the truth get in the way of a good story!

    And remember Lacis is the guy who said CO2 contributed 20% (alone) to the ‘GHE’. That means CO2 was responsible for 6.4C in 1850 and 6.6C now, despite a 40% increase in CO2! He refused to address my direct question to him a couple of years ago on this subject.

    They live in a world of dogma and assumption.


  20. Wow that’s a good one, Hockey Schtick. What ever happened to their -18C???? lol

  21. @Truthseeker…yes indeed….there is some shadow aspect of my personality I must work on there there perhaps.

    But we also need to understand just how despicable such a person actually, objectively is. Okay, maybe I need to not be so blunt about it, but we must realize that these people are lying on purpose…whatever it is that Robert Brown does at Duke University, is a mere appearance. If he’s been teaching physics then he’s obviously been harming young and innocent minds. He needs to be held responsible for the lies and the harm he’s purposefully putting out there.

  22. Joe,
    Robert G. Brown of Duke University teaches that radiation,”is” radiative intensity without the necessity of radiative flux, as “is” written in modern physics textbooks,, and comes fron a lack of definition of terms. Look up Poynting vector which is “field strength from a single source”, verses Poynting flux,, which does consider an opposing Poynting vector. John Poynting had Jimmy Maxwell as faculty advisor, lucky guy. This confusion is forced by the Climate Clown’s refusal to define things such as warming, temperature, heat, global, and radiation. Dr Brown IMHO is not actually as bad as Shore, Folkert or Roy Spencer, who only write to confuse otherst!

  23. Ron C. says:

    The fallacies of global warming by atmospheric CO2

    I find there are 3 fallacies promoted by various warmists:

    Some claim that back-radiation from CO2 warms the earth’s surface;
    Others claim that by absorbing IR from the surface, CO2 “traps heat”, thereby warming the air;
    Others claim that more CO2 in the air raises the effective radiating level at the top of the atmosphere, thereby reducing the cooling effect and resulting in warming.
    1) On the first point, there is downwelling IR (DWIR) from the atmosphere incident upon the surface, most of it from water vapor. In circumstances when surface objects are cooler than the nearby air, that radiation can warm those objects, although most of the warming is due to conduction. This effect is further reduced by subsurface retained heat that rises to keep surface objects warm during nightime.

    The actual earth surface is not a black or gray body as assumed by energy budgets, but in fact absorbs and emits selectively. CO2 radiation is mostly 15 microns, at the weak end of the IR range. It turns out that most materials found on the earth’s surface can not absorb IR over 12 microns, and thus CO2 back radiation is reflected, and no surface warming occurs from it.

    In a parcel of air, each CO2 molecule is surrounded by 2500 other molecules, 99% of them N2 and O2 which are radiatively inactive. The temperature of the air parcel is set by conduction, convection, and latent heat transfers from water. The lapse rate measures the fact that the air cools and thins with altitude. When a CO2 molecule succeeds to emit a photon, it loses energy, which is immediately replaced by collisions with N2 and O2 molecules. The heat transfer in the troposphere is mostly from N2 and O2 to CO2, and not the other way around.

    Click to access JCao_N2O2GreenGases_Blog.pdf

    Satellite measurements of Earth emission data show that the IR photons absorbed by CO2 molecules are not re-emitted before the energy gained is redistributed by collisions with other non-greenhouse gas molecules. We know this because the re-emission of radiation does not occur at a black body temperature of 288K and instead occurs at a black body temperature of about 210 to 220K characteristic of general air temperatures at altitudes from 10.5 km to 22 km.

    This part of the atmosphere is called the tropopause, where the temperature does not vary much from an average of 217K. Any change in the effective radiating level in the tropopause will not lower the temperature, and not cause warming.

    Click to access Gravity%20Rules%20the%20Greenhouse%20EffectV2_R.%20Clark_9.27.10.pdf

  24. That’s great stuff Ron C., thanks! That comment could be an article to itself.

  25. Joe,

    You might be interested in this paper published today. I haven’t had a chance to go through the findings in detail, but curious how the findings might relate to your planetary modelling.

  26. Bryan says:

    Joe well done.
    Clear explanation
    Another physics analogue is the EMF of a cell compared to the thermoelectric potential of a chemical reaction.
    Drawing from Edward Weston’s US Patent 494827 depicting the standard cell.
    The Weston cell, is a wet-chemical cell that produces a highly stable voltage suitable as a laboratory standard for calibration of voltmeters. Invented by Edward Weston in 1893, it was adopted as the International Standard for EMF between 1911 and 1990.
    Its value is 1.018638 Volt .
    Now when the cell is connected in a circuit the internal and extenal resistance of the cell cause a drop the external voltage to the circuit.
    To get the maximum external voltage you want a near infinite external resistance.
    Now electrical resistance is the analogue of thermal insulation.
    So no-one (I hope!) would claim that resistance is a power source.
    Yet some claim that insulation is a thermal power source (the greenhouse effect).

  27. Brilliant, Brian 🙂

  28. Will Janoschka says:

    Bryan, Joe, Ron C. words, words, words!!!
    Robert G. Brown of Duke University teaches that radiation,”is” radiative intensity without the necessity of radiative flux. This “is” written in modern physics textbooks,, and comes fron a lack of definition of terms!
    Look up Poynting vector which is “field strength from a single source”, verses Poynting flux,, which does consider an opposing Poynting vector. John Poynting had Jimmy Maxwell as his faculty advisor, “lucky guy”. This confusion is forced by the Climate Clown’s refusal to define things such as warming, temperature, heat, global, and radiation.
    Dr Brown IMHO is not actually as bad as Shore, Folkert or Roy Spencer, who only write to confuse otherst! Alll of these are the fools that are teaching nonsense to poor high school graduates.
    Your opponents will use any lingustic variation in a scientific definition to defeat you. Radiationj, warming, global, average, long term trend, correlation, covariance, or consensus, have no physical meaning. All is in the mind of the receiver. Radiance, Irradiance, radiative flux,
    thermal flux, energy, and power are all well defined.
    The enemy must have the power to destroy you, else it would not be an enemy, but only
    a nusance

  29. Ron C., you did a great explaination about warming the earth, thank you for contribution.

  30. Mark Fife says:

    This is an excellent article. The light bulb analogy is easily understood. Just a quick question. Where does the extra energy from the blocked light go? I am assuming it results in slightly higher heat being conducted to the air. Thus the total output of energy would be the same between the two bulbs.

    Also I do not understand how anyone can be certain when calculating how much thermal energy is produced by the earth from absorbing light from the sun. Assuming you can accurately measure incoming energy that doesn’t mean you can accurately calculate how much heat is produced. Each and every object, surface, or substance has a different specific heat, a different range of absorption, and different emission characteristics. Even salt water is not always the same from place to place as it can be dirty or clear, clouded with marine life, flat and calm, or choppy and frothy. Surely the surface of this planet is just too complex for someone to sit in a room somewhere and state definitively that x incoming energy results in temperature y.

    Finally it is my thought that the atmosphere keeps us cooler, not warmer. I believe since water has a high specific heat relative to air and cools much more slowly than land it is this slow release of energy that keeps us warm at night. Having been on many a pre dawn fishing trip I know the air can be much warmer over even a small pond than over the ground. I wonder if the life supporting temperature of this planet is not due in large part to the apparently unique amount of water covering most of the world.

  31. @Mark,

    The energy from the blocked light just heats the bulb glass…yes then conducted to the air.

    Yes indeed about local physical variations and that is why an average temperature is senseless.

    Yes latent heat release from atmospheric water vapor is the only thing which slows cooling at night. It is absolutely all about water and water vapor.

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