Not what he Claims to Be
I’ll intro with a pertinent quote whose source can remain anonymous:
Anyone who does not provide a rational objective argument cannot have life affirming intentions, much like the parasites known as politicians/globalists who seek control at the expense of truth or rational objectivity. Roy Spencer does not seem to be interested in rational objectivity and is therefore not what he claims to be. The same applies to all who oppose rational objectivity. If they are non-rational and in a position of power or influence then THEY ARE PARASITES!
Those who are not interested in rational objectivity are not what they claim to be. Exactly. This has been an ongoing point with regards to the likes of Robert Brown, Roy Spencer, Anthony Watts, Joel Shore, Tim Folkerts etc. These people pretend to be skeptical scientists while simultaneously they defend the very fundamental basis of the alarmist environmental catastrophe religion. Therefore they are parasites. They non-rationally refuse to consider why a literal flat-Earth theory might not correspond with reality.
Roy Spencer’s post on “Skeptical Arguments that Don’t Hold Water” is all about defending the basis of alarm. Every single one of his points is in defence of the basis of alarm, and it might have been copied directly from an alarmist source such as Gavin Schmidt or Michael Mann. Let’s go through his sophistry:
1. THERE IS NO GREENHOUSE EFFECT. Despite the fact that downwelling IR from the sky can be measured, and amounts to a level (~300 W/m2) that can be scarcely be ignored; the neglect of which would totally screw up weather forecast model runs if it was not included; and would lead to VERY cold nights if it didn’t exist; and can be easily measured directly with a handheld IR thermometer pointed at the sky (because an IR thermometer measures the IR-induced temperature change of the surface of a thermopile, QED)… Please stop the “no greenhouse effect” stuff. It’s making us skeptics look bad. I’ve blogged on this numerous times….
Roy, a colder source of heat does not heat up a warmer source of heat. And the surface atmosphere stays warm overnight because of its large thermal mass and that of the ground. It is basic physics…things do not cool down instantaneously. And it is a simple calculation to perform. Empirical data demonstrates that the radiation from the colder atmosphere does not warm up the warmer surface, and the reason it is this way is because of the laws of thermodynamics – cold does not heat up hot. An IR thermometer operates on the principles of a differential – if the target is cooler then the voltage differential on the thermopile is negative and the response curve is calibrated to report a corresponding temperature. Cold does not heat up hot. It doesn’t matter if you blog about it – cold doesn’t flow heat to hot.
2. THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT VIOLATES THE 2ND LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS. The second law can be stated in several ways, but one way is that the net flow of energy must be from higher temperature to lower temperature. This is not violated by the greenhouse effect. The apparent violation of the 2nd Law seems to be traced to the fact that all bodies emit IR radiation…including cooler bodies toward warmer bodies. But the NET flow of thermal radiation is still from the warmer body to the cooler body. Even if you don’t believe there is 2-way flow, and only 1-way flow…the rate of flow depends upon the temperature of both bodies, and changing the cooler body’s temperature will change the cooling rate (and thus the temperature) of the warmer body. So, yes, a cooler body can make a warm body even warmer still…as evidenced by putting your clothes on.
This is classic sophistry. A “two-way flow” of energy results in a one-way flow of heat only, with heat flowing only one way, from hot to cold. The cold does not heat up the hot while the hot is heating up the cold. It is only heat flow from hot to cold, with the balance of the energy flow, the differential between the hot and cold temperatures, determining the intensity or rate of heat flow, which determines how quickly the cold object changes temperature. When the cooler object warms up, this does not require the warmer object to warm up also. The cool and warm object come to equilibrium and energy then flows through the cold object to its other extremities. Putting your clothes on traps air between the skin and clothes, and this air then gets heated up by your skin, which then makes you feel warmer. The clothes are not responsible for creating heat, or adding heat energy or temperature to you. Your oven doesn’t get hotter because the turkey gets cooked.
3. CO2 CANT CAUSE WARMING BECAUSE CO2 EMITS IR AS FAST AS IT ABSORBS. No. When a CO2 molecule absorbs an IR photon, the mean free path within the atmosphere is so short that the molecule gives up its energy to surrounding molecules before it can (on average) emit an IR photon in its temporarily excited state.  Also important is the fact that the rate at which a CO2 molecule absorbs IR is mostly independent of temperature, but the rate at which it emits IR increases strongly with temperature. There is no requirement that a layer of air emits as much IR as it absorbs…in fact, in general, the the rates of IR emission and absorption are pretty far from equal.
CO2 can’t cause warming because it isn’t a source of heat. Only sources of heat can cause cooler objects to warm up.
4. CO2 COOLS, NOT WARMS, THE ATMOSPHERE. This one is a little more subtle because the net effect of greenhouse gases is to cool the upper atmosphere, and warm the lower atmosphere, compared to if no greenhouse gases were present. Since any IR absorber is also an IR emitter, a CO2 molecule can both cool and warm, because it both absorbs and emits IR photons.
If CO2 emits radiant energy, as you claim, then this means that it has a high emissivity. 99% of the atmosphere, oxygen and nitrogen, has little to no emissivity. As temperature is inversely proportional to emissivity for a given required radiant flux, then oxygen and nitrogen are warmer than CO2. The atmosphere stays warm overnight because oxygen and nitrogen can’t shed their heat. CO2 can lose heat.
5. ADDING CO2 TO THE ATMOSPHERE HAS NO EFFECT BECAUSE THE CO2 ABSORPTION BANDS ARE ALREADY 100% OPAQUE.First, no they are not, and that’s because of pressure broadening. Second, even if the atmosphere was 100% opaque, it doesn’t matter. 
There is indeed an effect. Adding CO2 to the atmosphere supplies plants with their fundamental natural organic fertilizer. In real greenhouses we put the CO2 level to about four times what it is in the outside air, because this is what plants like best, and lets them grow the best and produce the most food. More CO2 in the atmosphere is a boon for life. As far as spectral absorption, this only occurs when you have a cold gas in front of a warmer source. This proves that CO2 can’t be heating up the surface.
6. LOWER ATMOSPHERIC WARMTH IS DUE TO THE LAPSE RATE/ADIABATIC COMPRESSION. No, the lapse rate describes how the temperature of a parcel of air changes from adiabatic compression/expansion of air as it sinks/rises. So, it can explain how the temperature changes during convective overturning, but not what the absolute temperature is. Explaining absolute air temperature is an energy budget question. You cannot write a physics-based equation to obtain the average temperature at any altitude without using the energy budget. If adiabatic compression explains temperature, why is the atmospheric temperature at 100 mb is nearly the same as the temperature at 1 mb, despite 100x as much atmospheric pressure? 
The lapse rate formula demonstrates precisely that the bottom of the atmosphere must be warmer than the top. It does not take a logical genius to thus understand that the average numeric temperature will be found neither at the bottom nor at the top, but in the middle of the atmosphere. Thus, the bottom of the atmosphere must be warmer than the numeric average of the atmosphere, and it is only the average which corresponds with the average energy balances. The lapse rate does indeed directly specify that the lower atmosphere must be warmer than the average. It is basic mathematics. And Roy, that the temperature begins increasing again above the troposphere where non-ideal and plasma behaviour of the gas takes over is very well known, and has absolutely nothing to do with the adiabatic processes in the lower “ideal gas” atmosphere and those equations. You’re starting to sound like Gavin Schmidt…just like him in fact.
7. WARMING CAUSES CO2 TO RISE, NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND The rate of rise in atmospheric CO2 is currently 2 ppm/yr, a rate which is 100 times as fast as any time in the 300,000 year Vostok ice core record. And we know our consumption of fossil fuels is emitting CO2 200 times as fast! So, where is the 100x as fast rise in today’s temperature causing this CO2 rise? C’mon people, think. But not to worry…CO2 is the elixir of life…let’s embrace more of it!
In all past geologic records, it was indeed warming that preceded, and thus likely caused, the subsequent increase in CO2. Strange that you would talk around this fact and avoid it…being a “skeptic” and all.
8. THE IPCC MODELS ARE FOR A FLAT EARTH I have no explanation where this little tidbit of misinformation comes from. Climate models address a spherical, rotating, Earth with a day-night (diurnal) cycle in solar illumination and atmospheric Coriolis force (due to both Earth curvature and rotation). Yes, you can do a global average of energy flows and show them in a flat-earth cartoon, like the Kiehl-Trenberth energy budget diagram which is a useful learning tool, but I hope most thinking people can distinguish between a handful of global-average average numbers in a conceptual diagram, and a full-blown 3D global climate model.
The greenhouse models are produced with a flat Earth, and thus they are devoid of any actual physics that speaks to anything about reality. These flat-Earth models are the only way the greenhouse effect meme can be created. The Kiehl-Trenberth energy budget is not a useful tool, it has nothing to do with reality whatsoever…because it is based on a flat Earth. A flat-Earth cartoon, which is where the greenhouse effect meme comes from, has nothing to do with reality, because the Earth isn’t flat. Do you really not understand the difference? It is a fundamental mathematical, physical, geometric, energy flux, difference.
9. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A GLOBAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE Really?! Is there an average temperature of your bathtub full of water? Or of a room in your house? Now, we might argue over how to do the averaging (Spatial? Mass-weighted?), but you can compute an average, and you can monitor it over time, and see if it changes. The exercise is only futile if your sampling isn’t good enough to realistically monitor changes over time. Just because we don’t know the average surface temperature of the Earth to better than, say 1 deg. C, doesn’t mean we can’t monitor changes in the average over time. We have never known exactly how many people are in the U.S., but we have useful estimates of how the number has increased in the last 50-100 years. Why is “temperature” so important? Because the thermal IR emission in response to temperature is what stabilizes the climate system….the hotter things get, the more energy is lost to outer space.
A bathtub full of water generally has an isotropic temperature (the same throughout), and so yes, it does have a sensible average temperature. Same with a room. This is nothing like the Earth or any other object which has variations in temperature all over it. Temperature is an intrinsic quality of matter that corresponds only with the specific place of measurement. The numeric value of an average can be used to track changes, but it doesn’t correspond with any actual physics that might be occurring in any specific area. The Earth can only emit more energy to outer space if it is receiving more energy from the Sun.
10. THE EARTH ISN’T A BLACK BODY. Well, duh. No one said it was. In the broadband IR, though, it’s close to a blackbody, with an average emissivity of around 0.95. But whether a climate model uses 0.95 or 1.0 for surface emissivity isn’t going to change the conclusions we make about the sensitivity of the climate system to increasing carbon dioxide.
The only atmospheric sensitivity to carbon dioxide that matters in regards to temperature is how CO2 might change the emissivity. This is a high school equation. No evidence has ever been produced that shows that the Earth’s climate is sensitive to carbon dioxide, other than than it improves plant growth. The only thing CO2 could do is increase the atmosphere’s emissivity and thus help the atmosphere cool, since the atmosphere’s emissivity is already non-existent due to oxygen and nitrogen which make up 99% of the atmosphere.
10-0, for me. Spencer is at best a skilled sophist, and at worst a terrible scientist. He could have wrote his article directly for Michael Mann and RealClimate.
Nice one Joe. A level headed and purely factual response is always the best.
When I first read Spencer’s 10 ‘points’, it immediately struck me that in #2, he completely contradicts himself. I just couldn’t believe he could write something so obviously daft.
Excellent & clear response to his 10 points.
I cant understand why these and other scientists sell out – cant they understand the damaged future they are willingly a part of creating.
I share your disdain for how Spencer presents his Bull Shit.
Yours, of the same, is only slightly more scientifically correct:
My reply on his blog:
On your blog you have:
“Latest Global Average Tropospheric Temperatures”
“Since 1979, NOAA satellites have been carrying instruments which measure the natural microwave thermal emissions from oxygen in the atmosphere. The intensity of the signals these microwave radiometers measure at different microwave frequencies is directly proportional to the temperature of different, deep layers of the atmosphere. Every month, John Christy and I update global temperature datasets (see here that represent the piecing together of the temperature data from a total of fourteen instruments flying on different satellites over the years.”
How can you assert that you are measuring what you think you are measuring?:
1) How do you confirm that you are measuring the radiance of atmospheric O2 at any altitude, rather than the higher radiance from the surface at frequencies near the actual O2 absorption at that pressure and temperature?
2) What measurements have you made that show that variation in surface radiance cannot overwhelm any O2 radiance?
“…. Contrary to some reports, the satellite measurements are not calibrated in any way with the global surface-based thermometer records of temperature. They instead use their own on-board precision redundant platinum resistance thermometers (PRTs) calibrated to a laboratory reference standard before launch.”:
3) This is the best! You admit that your remote sensing radiometer measurements are in no way is corrected, to a remote thermometric temperature!
How can you claim that your radiance measurement and your unknown calculation indicate any “temperature anomaly”? You have thousands of uncontrolled variables in any computation!
Your March computation of +0.17 degrees Celsius is 1/4 of the error bars, most would put on such calculation of +/- 0.8 degree.
Your effort is appreciated, and may lead to understanding of the atmosphere!
Please, prease (Chinese), supply your best guess, but with all known “warts”, to be even more appreciated!! Most all including skeptics would accept your best guess for what it is, and like chickens, pruck onry at the weak points!
“The greenhouse models are produced with a flat Earth, and thus they are devoid of any actual physics that speaks to anything about reality. ”
I would say the region in which is warmed most on Earth is fairly flat. Or if make a circle 5000 km in radius from point on Earth where sun is at zenith [in the tropics- varying seasonally] that within this 10,000 km diameter most of energy of sun enters earth and it’s not very curved- or fairly flat.
Yes definitely I agree, and when you account for it that way you don’t average-down the solar flux to some fictional average value, but can use the real-time value. That value can induces temperature approaching 90 degrees Celsius.
And so that’s a pretty important physical different compared to the -18C of the flat-Earth models which create the greenhouse effect which have solar heating at only -18C. It is a completely different phase-space of physics we’re talking about there, and the parasites run from it like hell because it destroys their sophistry.
Thanks very much for this post. I have been getting quite frustrated with some of the comments on Dr Spencer’s blog, and particularly with his lack of response to critical comments.
Your comment: This has been an ongoing point with regards to the likes of Robert Brown, Roy Spencer, Anthony Watts, Joel Shore, Tim Folkerts etc. These people pretend to be skeptical scientists while simultaneously they defend the very fundamental basis of the alarmist environmental catastrophe religion. is, in my opinion, absolutely spot on.
I replied to Dr Spencer regarding his #2 argument with this:
I’ll limit my comment to #2…
There are several things wrong with your comment.
1. If the net flow of ‘heat’ is form warm to cold (C), then there can be NO increase in the temperature of W. None at all.
2. ‘Slowing the rate of cooling’ should not be confused with ‘warming’. Something that is cooling will never get warmer than it was originally, irrespective of the rate of cooling.
3. Putting clothes on does not make you (your body temperature) warmer – you only ‘feel’ warmer because your cooling rate is slowed. This is NOT the same as actually warming.
4. As others have pointed out – putting a blanket on a corpse does not make it warmer. Or, if you prefer, putting hot coffee into a thermos flask will never raise the temperature of the coffee – and yet you have provided a high level of insulation!
5. You appear to be comparing atmospheric CO2 with ‘insulation’. This would be like comparing a string vest (made of 0.04% cotton and 99.96% air) to a fur coat. The string vest does not ‘keep you warm’ to any significant degree unless you have a further layer of insulation on top! And increasing the amount of cotton by 0.04% (doubling) will have a barely measurable effect. The radiative GHE is not about insulation, although the Atmosphere Effect may be.
6. The fact that a cooler body [C] emits radiation (some toward the warmer body [W]) is not in question but should not, by itself, imply that the emitted ‘cooler’ radiation is absorbed for energy gain by W. This is, IMO, the main problem with the “GHE warms the planet surface’ statement by the IPCC and other warmist/lukewarmist commenters.
ANYTHING THAT REDUCES THE RATE OF NET ENERGY LOSS BY AN OBJECT WILL INCREASE ITS TEMPERATURE. IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT THE TEMPERATURE OF “ANYTHING” IS. THE EXAMPLES ARE LITERALLY ALL AROUND YOU, GERAN.
…is just plain wrong.
Would you agree with these points, Joe? I received no response from Dr Spencer…
I’ve left another “big gun” (U.S. Navy spec) pointed at No.5 under the repost of your article on PSI. (Even though “it doesn’t matter” (!))
Thanks Joe, another plain speaking, clear explanation.
I have always thought that the measured”downwelling” radiation has a better explanation than that of the GHE crap. Solar radiation includes SIR which is in the adsorption spectra of CO2. The CO2 immediately emits LIR. this will be in proportion to the SIR. What is being measured is the LIR from the emissions of the CO2 from the sun. There is no way that you can assume that the measured LIR is actually from downwelling energy and even if it was has it the energy (temperature) to heat the surface?
This sums things up….
Thanks for that, Derek!
[“The demonisation of carbon, the very basis of all life on earth, can only be explained as a religious phenomenon. Its sheer perversity is its attraction:…”]
Couldn’t agree more.
Aren’t scores best decided by an impartial judge?
Not to engage on the whole array, just one point. You wrote: “If CO2 emits radiant energy, as you claim, then this means that it has a high emissivity. 99% of the atmosphere, oxygen and nitrogen, has little to no emissivity.”
You should check that assertion. Emissivity is a function with respect to wavelength, not a simple constant for a given material. CO2 has high emissivity in some IR wavelengths, while O2 and N2 do not emit much at that wavelength. But as you agree elsewhere, satellites actually measure the microwave radiation from O2 (noting that the atmosphere scatters that radiation fairly well, given the 20% O2 mix). Do you not agree with the spectral absorption charts that pre-date this whole debate?
Then you wrote: “The atmosphere stays warm overnight because oxygen and nitrogen can’t shed their heat.”
Suggesting that O2 has little IR emissivity is fine, but suggesting it cannot cool by radiation is not correct. Likewise, to a lesser degree, N2. Further, since both N2 and O2 collide with, and transfer energy to, H2O vapor and CO2, which do radiate IR quite well, they are also efficiently cooled by that transfer. Not to mention to obvious fact that neither O2, N2, or CO2 have the heat capacity of H2O vapor, which is by far the biggest player in the radiative heat transport parade… which is why humidity plays a big role in night-time heat retention.
I’m surprised you make the argument this way, given that you recognize that thermal emission is a function of every atmospheric molecule, and is accounted for in the understanding that no molecule has ZERO emissivity — at any wavelength, even though the emissivity can be very close to that “ideal”.
Sure Tom it is about degree of emissivity. Greenhouse gasses are said to increase emissivity, etc., whereas the other gazes are less emissive. In GHG climate alarm they ascribe ALL emission to ghg’s.
They do? I had not seen that. As is obvious to any observer from space, energy also is emitted from the surface directly into space in the visible spectrum. It certainly is true that except for emissions from the surface which escape into space directly, all the rest of the energy leaving the planet takes its last hop from the atmosphere, and that is by radiative emission.
That’s where the rub is: acknowledging that those atmospheric emissions are omnidirectional, there is large amount of flux that doesn’t exit immediately upon emission, but rather has to take another pass through absorption/emission, or reflection, to finally escape — in the same random-walk manner photons escape from the high-energy environment of the sun. The atmospheric treatment of that energy — its absorption and subsequent movement through collisions or re-emission — shouldn’t be complicated to understand, but the CAGW crowd muddies the water with claims of positive feedbacks to water vapor which are not observed, layered on top of the claimed sensitivities of temperature to CO2 increases (also not observed, but claimed because the models are constructed too simplistically to accurately reflect real behavior).
On that note, I will complain of one other thing that you wrote: “The greenhouse models are produced with a flat Earth, and thus they are devoid of any actual physics that speaks to anything about reality.”
The only models I’ve actually looked were a hurricane tracking model (I briefly helped a weather service guy code it 40+ years ago in Dartmouth’s Thayer School computer lab), and the recent NASA ModelE (because somebody else noted it, and I was curious). The hurricane model was flat (surely not now, but that was a very early attempt, just attempting to keep track of lat/lon data), but the NASA model definitely treats the earth as a rotating sphere, with appropriate trig to adjust incident energy and such. Plenty of other reasons to see the models as insufficient, but “flat earth” construction is inaccurate. I’ve read the code, and I suggest you download it and read it for yourself (search for the symbol TWOPI, which itself is a hint that spherical math is nearby). Even if you aren’t a programmer yourself, I’ll bet you can figure it out.
Tom, the radiative greenhouse effect theory originates out of this flat earth model:
Joe, that’s not one of the “models”, but rather a display of a postulated gross energy flow through the system, portrayed with averages. It’s a “shadow”, if you will, cast upon a page by light coming from radiative Physics, low resolution, expressing averages, devoid of internal complexity. You can’t go backwards from the “shadow” to the object that cast it. No “prediction” or “back casting” or actual programming is done with that “climate for dummies (or journalists!)” overly simplified single picture. And I’m sure you know that.
No matter how bad the actual computational models are at actually trying to represent the real complexities of the climate, none — not even one — is based upon that simple picture. Instead, the models — even the worst of them — at least take insolation, divide it up across day and night, latitude and longitude, and make an attempt — failed, by virtue of bad assumptions and incomplete dynamics — to predict the effects on that grid region. Dynamically, not statically (as your picture is).
And you do know that the models — again, no matter how bad they are — don’t completely ignore latent heat and other conduction/convection transfer.
Calling this picture of “averages” a model would be comparable to describing even the rudimentary hurricane tracking model I briefly touched in the 70’s by the phrase “hurricanes spin”. “Hurricanes spin” is not a model basis for tracking the beasts.
The climate is more complex than the models used by the CAGW crowd; on that I’m sure we agree. But just as the CAGW crowd skews sensitivity and feedbacks toward amplifying the impact of a beneficial trace gas, it is not helpful toward finding the truth to skew the CAGW crowd’s argument into an unreal shadow — the oversimplified shadow of one aspect of the debate — of their portrayal.
Go after the sensitivities and feedbacks in their models, which are the real lies being used to push the CAGW agenda. Trying to kill the idea of radiative energy recirculating for a time while on the way out of the system is a battle against first principles of Physics, and first principles will always win, eventually.
That simple model is indeed what they base the rest of their thinking on…it starts from there and gets more complicated. It is in their textbooks and this is the way they discuss it all the time.
The models can be quite complex indeed in terms of computing the fluid mechanics of atmospheric flow etc etc etc…but from what I’ve seen of the full models, the only place the radiative greenhouse effect actually enters them is when they assume a surface temperature increase in the future given the rate of temperature increase vs. CO2 increase measured since 1850, in which the temperature increase is assumed to be from CO2. And so of course, there’s no justification for that extrapolation because the temperature increase since 1850 isn’t from CO2 anyway. So then they put in the feedbacks etc. and see what the model pretends will happen, after already making the assumption that temperature will increase at the same rate of temperature vs. CO2 since 1850. This is why the positive feedback from water vapour was so important to them, etc. So, it’s all complete garbage.
The simple diagram forms the basis of their thinking, and they do believe that the diagram is a valid free-body energy physics diagram.
Actually Joseph, it’s worse than you think. The flat earth diagram doesn’t cover water vapour feedbacks, nor does extrapolating future predictions based on temperature rises since 1850 plotted against CO2 rises.
Finding your site has enabled me to takle the back radiation sophistry head on. Before, though I knew it was bs, I avoided it generally because I would get bogged down by my oppoent arguing details. My preferred method of debunking the alarmists was simply to point out that even if the rest of the theory wasn’t BS, the 0.8C temperature change to 120ppm rise made it mathematically impossible for the next 120ppm rise to be greater, especially when they also claimed that the drop to 180ppm during ice ages was responsible for at least 2C cooling below 280ppm levels. Water vapour was present during all of this history, so obviously if they were correct about the rest of it then CO2 plus feedbacks creates a logarithmic curve. The water vapour feedbacks predicting accelerating rises in the computer models must, therefore, have been added from the present onwards and not be included in past temperature retrofitting. Nor can any inclusion of modelling of ice ages. Otherwise how could they turn their logarithmic curve into a compounding one?
And all they actually do is assume that the rise in temperature since 1850 was caused by CO2…even though once again the temperature rose before CO2 did even here. And they make this assumption justifying it on their GHE, which is of course fraudulent. It is so pathetic. They are such pathetic people. All people who believe this stuff and go along with the ideology are so pathetic.
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