The Ground is not the Surface

Think like a Photon

This is a comment upgrade to a post.  Recall the earlier post about thinking like a photon, rather than thinking like a human, if you want to understand why light exhibits the behaviour that it does.  One of the other anthropocentric biases of climate alarm is to consider that the surface of the Earth is literally the ground or sea-level surface of the Earth.  However, since climate alarm is based on a radiative theory of how heat flows in the atmosphere, then one should consider what the existing electromagnetic radiation considers as the surface of the Earth, and work things out from that starting point.  If you are electromagnetic radiation, then the surface of the Earth is the atmosphere itself, not the ground surface!  Carl Brehmer outlines the result in his comment, which is the next section below, unedited from the original comment:

Mean Global Surface Temperature – Climate Alarm Sophistry

“First law of thermodynamics: When energy passes, as work, as heat, or with matter, into or out from a system, its internal energy changes in accord with the law of conservation of energy. Equivalently, perpetual motion machines of the first kind are impossible.”

Let’s remember what spawned the “greenhouse effect” in the first place. The “greenhouse effect” hypothesis presumes to explain why the Earth’s “mean global surface temperature” is some 33 °C higher than the Earth’s “effective radiating temperature”. By this definition if the Earth’s “mean global surface temperature” were equal to the Earth’s “effective radiating temperature” then the “greenhouse effect” would = 0.000.

If you consider that the “surface” of the Earth is an atmosphere (85% of which is contained within the troposphere) and you recall that the mean temperature of tropospheric air (based on the International Standard Atmosphere) is about -18 °C, then the “surface” temperature of the Earth does, in fact, equal its “effective radiating temperature”. Thus by their own definition the “greenhouse effect” = 0.000. In other words, the Earth’s “surface”, i.e., its atmosphere, cannot be shown to be retaining any excess thermal energy.

The “greenhouse effect” confusion arises because those who spawned the hypothesis chose arbitrarily to only measure the temperature of the hottest part of the troposphere—sea level air—and call that temperature the Earth’s “mean global surface temperature”. Remember that all land based weather stations are sited ~1.5 meters off of the ground and only measure the temperature of 1/11,000th of the troposphere (the one meter thick layer of air that is being measured is only one out of 11,000 meters—the average thickness of the troposphere.)

Here is where the First Law of TD comes into play. “When energy passes, as work, as heat, or with matter, into or out from a system, its internal energy changes in accord with the law of conservation of energy.”

The one-meter thick layer of air that is about 1.5 meters off of the ground whose temperature is being measured and averaged to yield what is being called the “global mean surface temperature” is a completely “open system” in that its boundaries allow both mass transfer as well as energy transfer. This means that the air whose temperature is being measured in the afternoon is not the same air whose temperature was measured earlier that morning. The morning air is long gone by the afternoon and has been replaced by air that was somewhere else in the troposphere earlier in the day.

Conversely, the “greenhouse effect” hypothesis treats the one-meter thick layer of air that is about 1.5 meters off of the ground whose temperature is being measured and averaged to yield what is being called the “global mean surface temperature” as a “closed system” that is thermally isolated except to IR radiation. Is it any wonder why they cannot figure out why that one meter layer of air is 33 °C warmer than the average temperature of the troposphere as a whole?

If you want to properly analyze why sea-level air contains as much internal energy as it does you have to factor in the “work” that is done on it prior to its arriving at sea-level. For example, the larger thermodynamic system called the Troposphere is continually overturning. Within the Troposphere we observe the existence of great cells of circulating air, the largest being the Hadley Cell in which massive quantities of air convect upwards to the tropopause at the equator driven by daily uneven solar heating. This air then moves along the tropopause to the higher latitudes both north and south and descends back to the ground at ~30 degrees north/south.

The laws of physics demand that when the air from the tropopause descends back to sea level within the down-going leg of the Hadley Cell (many ground based weather stations are sited near this latitude) the “work” done on it by its progressively increasing higher pressure surroundings converts into thermal energy within that descending air. This is the well-known “adiabatic process” that is taught in every class on meteorology and we know that the “work” done on descending air raises the internal energy of that air enough to create a temperature lapse rate of 9.8 C/km. If it were not for contravening thermodynamic forces this would raise the temperature of the air on its descent from the tropopause to sea-level some 108 C. (The average temperature of the air at the tropopause is -60 C and 11 km x 9.8C/km= 108 C.) Without contravening thermodynamic forces sea level air would be 48 C instead of the 15C (what it is now according to the International Standard Atmosphere.) Let me say that again, if it were not for contravening thermodynamic forces the adiabatic process, which is triggered by the continuous overturning of tropospheric air, would keep sea-level air very hot at about 48C.

One of the “contravening thermodynamic” forces that keeps sea-level air cooler than 48 °C is radiative heat transfer, because higher radiation from the warmer and more emissive lower atmosphere moves heat up the atmospheric column against the cooler and less emissive upper atmosphere. Extensive surface radiation data being gathered at NOAA’a SURFRAD sites around the country as well as the formula for “net radiation heat loss rate” demonstrates that the movement of heat within the atmospheric column via IR radiation is virtually always upward away from the surface. When people talk about the fact that carbon dioxide and water vapor enhance the ability of the lower atmosphere to cool this is what they are talking about.

The “greenhouse effect” hypothesis completely ignores the fact that the air whose temperature is being measured at sea level ultimately came from the tropopause where its temperature was on average about -60 °C and that it acquired enough internal energy by the “work” done on it on its way to sea level to raise its temperature up to 48 °C–the temperature that it would be if contravening thermodynamic forces did not cool it down to about 15 °C. They instead believe that sea-level air only acquires thermal energy from the IR radiation that is being emitted by the ground which isn’t enough to keep sea-level air as warm as it is. They therefore concocted the “back-radiation” theory in which a portion of the heat “trapped” in the air by “greenhouse gases” is re-radiated back down to the ground raising its temperature, all the while being completely oblivious to the entire array of thermodynamic forces that are at work within the greater thermodynamic system called the “troposphere”. Here is one such example from wikipedia:

“The greenhouse effect is a process by which thermal radiation from a planetary surface is absorbed by atmospheric greenhouse gases, and is re-radiated in all directions. Since part of this re-radiation is back towards the surface and the lower atmosphere, it results in an elevation of the average surface temperature above what it would be in the absence of the gases.”

When they say that sea-level air is warmer than what it would be if warmed by sunlight alone they are correct, because it is also being adiabatically warmed as a result of the “work” that is continually being done on descending air. If this were not the case then diesel engines, which have no spark plugs, would not work. The fuel/air mixture within a diesel piston achieves “flash point” temperature simply by the “work” done on the fuel/air mixture during the upstroke of the piston. When a parcel of air descends from the tropopause to sea-level it experiences the same thermodynamic force as the fuel/air mixture within a diesel engine on the piston’s upstroke. At the present time many people (even the Pope and his Pontifical Academy of Sciences) refuse to acknowledge that “work” done on descending air within the continually overturning troposphere warms it and are instead calling the consequential extra sea-level warmth a “greenhouse effect”.

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49 Responses to The Ground is not the Surface

  1. So going back to the First law of Thermodynamics:

    “First law of thermodynamics: When energy passes, as work, as heat, or with matter, into or out from a system, its internal energy changes in accord with the law of conservation of energy. Equivalently, perpetual motion machines of the first kind are impossible.”

    Since radiative heat from the atmosphere can not be heating the surface, because the atmosphere is colder than the surface, then we do have the case that work is being done on the air which finds itself having arrived at the bottom of the atmosphere.

    Thus, the radiative greenhouse effect theory can be abandoned, and replaced by physics consistent with the 1st law of Thermodynamics. The climate alarmists have tried to cover up the work being done on descending air, and replace that with a sophistical radiative greenhouse effect where cold heats up hot.

  2. DurangoDan says:

    I was feeling rather down last night after reviewing some of the AGW “gatekeeper” websites like Skeptical Science, WattsUpWithThat and JunkScience. The amount of fraud that has infiltrated the scientific community and has been facilitated by a conspiracy of silence among the scientists themselves is quite disheartening. I was about to give it up and simply admit to myself that the banksters now own the politicians, the media and the scientists and are returning us to the Dark Ages. Then along comes this article “The Ground is not the Surface”. Again I have hope that the fraud of the AGHE theory can be revealed even to the scientifically illiterate 95%. It’s a short read, but explains it all in plain English; no math or diagrams needed, and above all, no AGHE needed. After reading it one should gaze at the sky and marvel at the beauty of atmospheric physics. I am in awe. This is why I love Science!

  3. Tom Harrison says:

    You wrote, to start: “If you are electromagnetic radiation, then the surface of the Earth is the atmosphere itself, not the ground surface!”

    One can devise expressions describing energy input and output of any surface, but there are differences in the way those expressions are written.

    One significant difference is that electromagnetic radiation is emitted omnidirectionally in the atmosphere, and the optical depth for those emissions varies smoothly. At the surface, the “optical depth” is effectively zero downward (outliers of rock outcroppings, caves, etc., excluded), while it is “smoothly varying” upward.

    Another significant difference is the emissivity of the surface, compared to the emissivity of the various components of the atmosphere.

    Is it not a straw man argument, to reduce the idea of energy transport in and out of the earth system to a single surface, of any kind? In a way, is this not just as invalid as the “flat earth” picture you supplied for the predecessor post your referenced?

    Rather than dreaming of life as a photon, is it not necessary to examine energy flow joule by joule, upward and downward, with varying optical depth and emissivity, accounting for the absorption, transmission or reflection of energy as it travels?

    In particular, this statement — “Since radiative heat from the atmosphere can not be heating the surface, because the atmosphere is colder than the surface, then we do have the case that work is being done on the air which finds itself having arrived at the bottom of the atmosphere.” — is a straw man description. This issue is not whether radiative HEAT from the atmosphere can’t be HEATING the surface — does anyone even make that statement? — but rather, is the energy emitted by the atmosphere in a downward direction absorbed, transmitted, or reflected by the object molecules it encounters?

    HEAT is a net value of energy transfers. It is a straw man argument to suggest that ENERGY emissions toward the surface are HEAT, without showing the emissions both from and to the surface molecules. Once you display the complete energy picture, it is blissfully obvious that HEAT is transferred from the surface to the atmosphere (in all but the rarest of circumstances), but ENERGY is nevertheless moving, and being absorbed, in both directions. That dictates not the HEATING of the surface, but the RATE of cooling force being applied to the surface, as retarded by the presence of that atmospheric energy feedback.

    First principles. Account for every Joule. Don’t use NET HEAT to obscure the details of energy in and energy out, which together are differenced to arrive at HEAT. That’s like using only the shadow to describe an object: incomplete, and often deceptive.

  4. Greg House says:

    “When they say that sea-level air is warmer than what it would be if warmed by sunlight alone they are correct, because…

    Carl”
    ====================================

    I skipped the explanation, because it can only be false, even if looks plausible at the first glance. Such a warmer surface, I mean the real surface of the Earth, would radiate away more energy than the Sun delivers, which is equivalent to creating energy out of nothing. It is not even necessary to look where exactly the error is sitting in that explanation, because the result is absurd. There can not be such “warmer” in absence of more powerful source of heat, therefore any attempt to explain the “additional temperature” is doomed. There is neither “greenhouse effect” nor any other effect making an impossible thing.

  5. Peter Laux says:

    Joe, when you describe the ‘work’ of descending air , are you referring to its compression ?

  6. Carl Allen says:

    If you “skipped the explanation” then how can you just assume that the statement is incorrect. The statement that you quote is about “sea-level” air and the article specifically asserts that “sea-level” air is not the “surface” of the Earth. In the article the “surface” is defined as the entire troposphere which is 11 km thick on average. Since the average temperature of the troposphere as a whole around -18C, which equals the Earth’s radiating temperature, it cannot be seen to be retaining any excess thermal energy as the “greenhouse effect” postulates.

    Within the thermodynamic system called “the troposphere” though there is an energy imbalance that is being caused by the “adiabatic process” which simultaneously increases the temperature of sea-level air while decreasing the temperature at the tropopause with a nearly linear temperature lapse rate between the two. Picture in you mind a teeter-totter; as one end goes up the other end goes down an equal amount. No energy is being created or lost in the process, it is just being moved through the thermodynamic process called “work”, which is an essential part of the First Law of Thermodynamics. There also exists a temperature differential between the inside of your refrigerator and the outside of your refrigerator. The refrigerator does not create “cold air” within the ice box, rather it moves thermal energy from inside of the ice box to the outside of the refrigerator. The reverse happens in a “heat pump” that can warm the inside of your house even when the temperature outside is subzero.

    “heat pump
    “noun
    “a device that transfers heat from a colder area to a hotter area by using mechanical energy, as in a refrigerator.”

    From the perspective of those who live at the bottom of the troposphere the troposphere behaves like a “heat pump”. If we lived at the top of the troposphere–the tropopause–the troposphere would appear to behave like a refrigerator and we would be wondering why it is so gosh darn cold. Again, energy is not being created out of nothing, rather it is just being moved by the process called “work” completely in line with the First Law of Thermodynamics.

    Carl

  7. Tom Harrison: “Is it not a straw man argument, to reduce the idea of energy transport in and out of the earth system to a single surface, of any kind? In a way, is this not just as invalid as the “flat earth” picture you supplied for the predecessor post your referenced?”

    If one is going to do an analysis of averages, then doing it correctly (with the correct average surface identified as the atmosphere itself) will definitely tell you more than doing it incorrectly (with the incorrect average surface as the ground surface). It’s a big difference, because the incorrect averages scheme produces this false idea of a radiative greenhouse effect, whereas the correct averages method actually incorporates more reality about the actual air column, such as the adiabatic gradient. The incorrect method ascribes to the (non-existent) radiative greenhouse effect what the adiabatic gradient actually does.

    They are indeed the ones who say that the cold atmosphere heats the warmer surface. And the reason, as in the other comment, is that they have a false underlying ontology in the form of these simple models from which they complexify and extrapolate outwards from.

  8. DurangoDan says:

    Greg I think you missed the point that we are not comparing temperatures at a fixed surface location. This is essentially a bait and switch magic trick and it somehow always works. The new temperature comparison involves an air mass whose temperature as measured at one location rose via thermal and moisture induced lower air density convection and has recently descended from the troposphere after having shed its moisture, releasing photons to space and experiencing gravemetric compression as it fell to exhibit a higher temperature with energy conserved upon arrival near sea level. This higher temperature at a completely different location cannot be related to the second law. It’s apple’s and oranges unless you want to explain the higher temperature by invoking the AGHE theory. Please don’t. It’s not needed and that’s the whole point.

  9. Greg House says:

    Carl Allen says: “If you “skipped the explanation” then how can you just assume that the statement is incorrect.”
    =================================

    Carl, I have already explained how in my previous comment. I am not assuming, I know that your explanation is false because you explain something that is absurd. Whatever explanation you find for surface being warmer that the only source of heat can possibly induce, it will be false, because such a difference is physically impossible. Again, it is equivalent to creating energy out of nothing. Your explanation might appear plausible to you, but it does not change its false nature. Let me illustrate that by a simple example. If someone explains “2+2=5, because…” you can skip the explanation and still know it is false, right? The same goes for your little theory.

    Now you have the choice. You can ignore the absurd result and insist on me or someone else demonstrating where exactly your error is sitting (which I am not going to do) or you can make an effort and recognize that your result is absurd and trash your theory.

    [JP: Greg, you have missed the point here. No new energy is being created; the adiabatic gradient is simply distributing the existing energy in such a way as to make a slope, where the average must then be in the middle, the bottom warmest, the top coolest. You need no more than that, and no radiative GHE.]

  10. Greg House says:

    Joe, I perfectly understand the point and you need to look at the result of Carl’s theory and recognize that the “warmer” by whatever imaginable process will radiate away more energy than comes from the Sun. There is no way around it.

    Right, remembering refrigerator, heat can be pulled out of a cold thing to a warmer thing, but there some additional energy (electricity from the power station) is involved which does the trick. Pull out the plug and see what happens to the refrigerator. In case of the system Sun-Earth there is no such a source. You can not get more out than the Sun brings in, that is the point. No “warmer” is possible. The “greenhouse effect” stumbles upon that and any other explanation too.

  11. Except the gas has low emissivity Greg.

  12. Greg House says:

    DurangoDan says: “unless you want to explain the higher temperature by invoking…”
    ==============================

    No, I do not want to explain the higher THAN THE SUN AS THE ONLY SOURCE OF HEAT CAN POSSIBLY INDUCE temperature by invoking whatever, I say that this is impossible and explain why.

  13. Greg House says:

    Joe, the “warmer” solid surface would radiate away more energy than the Sun delivers, hence…

  14. The adiabatic gradient does do the thing with the slope and the energy and the average in the middle with hot at the bottom etc. The temperature distribution in the atmosphere is a real thing and it is warmer than the average at the bottom. So we can’t reject that much. However, surface loss of energy is actually governed by Newton’s Law of Cooling and so with a small temperature difference with the atmosphere adjacent to it, it doesn’t emit all of its power directly out to space. Of course this is still nothing about a radiative ghe. In the daytime at Carl’s location for example, the sun truly does heat the ground surface to +80 C. The ground surface then cools down at night to the atmosphere’s much lower temperature.

    An atmosphere does have a warmer bottom than average. But the reason is not due to a radiative ghe, but other thermodynamic mechanisms.

  15. Truthseeker says:

    Greg House says:
    2015/05/19 at 9:15 PM
    Joe, I perfectly understand the point and you need to look at the result of Carl’s theory and recognize that the “warmer” by whatever imaginable process will radiate away more energy than comes from the Sun. There is no way around it.
    =====================================================
    The radiating point of the true “surface” of the Earth is at TOA which is at -18C if you average the night and day sides. However the work in the engine that is the total system is provided by the rotation of the planet and the fact that the actual temperatures go from around 121C at TOA at noon to the equator to something like -60C (or lower) at TOA at night time. The daytime is where the energy input from the Sun occurs that drives the engine.

    It is those differentials that drive the work that Carl is describing. We would have an almost no weather climate system if we got the spherical average input from six weaker suns at all points of the globe simultaneously. There would be few differentials to drive the mass energy movements we see in our actual planet.

    It is you that have created a simplified strawman that is not adding anything to the discussion.

  16. Greg House says:

    “The temperature distribution in the atmosphere is a real thing and it is warmer than the average at the bottom.”
    ===========================

    Right, but the temperature of the surface being higher than the Sun can possibly induce is not a real thing for the reason I gave above.

  17. markstoval says:

    Carl Brehmer,

    That was a most enlightening comment and post. Thanks for the elucidation.

  18. johnmarshall says:

    But the most efficient heat loss system is that created by convection, where gas looses heat due to adiabatic expansion, this could remove all heat derived from the compression on the descent.
    Another heat loss process is latent heat requirement, the reason why Rainforests are cooler than dry deserts contrary to the abominal GHE theory and in the tropics and over the oceans would exceed that loss from convection. Radiation has little effect from the surface only from the cloud tops where it dissipates to space.

  19. “Right, but the temperature of the surface being higher than the Sun can possibly induce is not a real thing”

    And it isn’t higher than such.

  20. Tom Harrison says:

    Joe wrote: “If one is going to do an analysis of averages, then doing it correctly (with the correct average surface identified as the atmosphere itself) will definitely tell you more than doing it incorrectly (with the incorrect average surface as the ground surface)”

    Sorry, Joe, maybe I didn’t make myself clear enough: modeling the complex dynamics from “averages” — or a single surface — isn’t modeling at all. Choose the right baseline, and you can justify any nonsense you like. Since we agree the CAGW crowd does that, why do the same trick, but from a different SINGLE surface, to justify your position?

    [JP: Because as the simplest model of energy input and output with the required distribution of energy in the atmosphere when you do it correctly, it actually tells you something physically real and useful rather than fake and wrong with the wrong way of doing an average using the ground surface as the energy surface. As I already explained.]

    Joe, I also pointed out that energy emission from the atmosphere has the additional “feature” of being omnidirectional. Why are you opposed to abandoning the “my average is better than your average because it matches my expectation” idea, at all? Particularly because you cannot remove the omnidirectional transport of energy, and the complex interactions of absorption, transmission and reflection it entails?

    [JP: The point was that if you do the averages analysis, you have to use the correct average features of the system. There is a right way and wrong way. The wrong way is the way “they” do it, the correct way is as Carl has explained. Yes, radiation is omnidirectional, hence is why the radiative heat flow equation has the hot and cool term; and of course, only the greater portion of the power from the warm object relative to the cool one can cause heating and temperature increase.]

    Joules must be accounted for, and it is not sufficient to simply declare victory because a LIMITED description of the system can be made to fit your paradigm.

    [JP: The Laws of Thermodynamics and heat flow equations, and Ontological Mathematics, are a good enough paradigm for me.]

    For example, consider X Joules transported aloft by latent heat each day, deposited in the high atmosphere. I’m sure you would agree that this represents a significant, important percentage of the energy liberated from the surface. OK, from that point in the atmosphere, that latent heat is going to be transferred by collision to other molecules or emitted as IR radiation directly from water vapor undergoing condensation state change. Any other molecule gaining that energy by collision is likewise either going to emit it in some wavelength, or transfer it again by collision.

    So X Joules end up emitted by the atmosphere, having not left the surface by emission. Those emissions are omnidirectional, and must be accounted for, in all directions.

    You can’t use averages as a result until you demonstrate that the averages correctly represent the details from which they are “averaged”.

    Declaring no radiative recycling in the atmosphere does not demonstrate any accounting for omnidirectional emissions.

    [JP: There is nothing wrong with radiation and other forms of energy leaving from the surface and warming the atmosphere. That energy in the cooler atmosphere, after having warmed it, can not be recycled to heat the warmer surface again, is a result of the Laws of Thermodynamics. The energy is all accounted for.]

    It would be useful if you would correct the misunderstanding written by several on this site, claiming that radiative energy travels only one direction between two objects, or surfaces, at differing temperatures, when the correct assertion is that the NET of those two emission sources — HEAT — only goes one way. After all, you know that all objects above absolute zero emit energy, therefore two objects of differing temperatures both emit toward each other, and the rules of emission and absorption govern what happens to those photons: they get absorbed according to emissivity. Otherwise, any hot object would cool at exactly the same speed regardless of the temperature of objects around it, and that just ain’t so.

    [JP: NO ONE claimed that radiative energy only travels in one direction. Rather, radiative HEAT only travels in one direction, as does any form of heat. It is the DIFFERENCE of the sources which is heat. The difference is also called the net. This has already been explained to you. You are sophizing on this point, accusing us of saying something we didn’t and then trying to turn it around and make it look like you’re the one saying it using this “NET” argument rather than simply saying “difference”, as in Q’ = HEAT = A*s*(Thot^4 – Tcool^4). That’s a difference of terms. You are identifying yourself…do not expect that re-repeating your answered statements will make it past moderation from here on out.]

  21. Tom Harrison says:

    DurangoDan wrote, in part: “an air mass… releasing photons to space”.

    Do you suggest that an air mass releasing photons releases them in only that direction? What mechanism governing the emission of energy would cause that discriminating behavior?

    [JP: Classic sophistry tactic of creating a straw man, “suggesting” things of people’s statements. Putting words and ideas into other people’s mouths such as to create a fake debate and trick them into putting them on the defensive. We all know what he meant. The atmosphere doesn’t lose radiant energy to the surface because the surface is a barrier for these EM wavelengths and because it can’t radiative heat the surface since the atmosphere is cooler than the surface. The atmosphere only loses radiant energy to space; the heat flow equation shows that it doesn’t lose radiant energy to the surface, because the surface instantaneously replaces whatever is “lost” towards it resulting in no loss at all.]

  22. Tom Harrison says:

    johnmarshall wrote: “Radiation has little effect from the surface only from the cloud tops where it dissipates to space.”

    I read this sentiment a lot here, but it is not supportable.

    [JP: You are some sophist, because this statement has never actually appeared here before. You’re pretending some appearance of yourself and your time here.]

    More than 99% of the energy leaving this planet does so as radiation,

    [JP: He didn’t contradict that. The context was that convection takes the bulk of energy away from the ground surface. Of course radiation then takes it to space.]

    and energy certainly departs from cloudless skies, as well.

    [JP: Convection removing heat from the surface still occurs with cloudless skies. Cloud tops however have very high emissivity and are thus very efficient coolers of the atmosphere.]

    If the energy emitted from the surface does not fall into bands absorbed by the atmosphere, it will be emitted directly into space (need I remind you that VISIBLE spectrum energy does this handily when skies are clear?).

    [JP: The surface doesn’t thermally emit visible spectrum energy. We all know that some surface thermal emission goes directly out to space.]

    And from those cloud tops? energy is emitted in all directions, not just to space. Thick clouds provide obstruction for downward-aimed emissions from the tops of clouds, but the BOTTOM layer of clouds still emit, as well, and for those emissions, “UP” is obstructed.

    [JP: Yes, cloud TOPS only emit up, because the cloud beneath is opaque to the emission. He was referring to the cloud top, from where emission to space can occur – he didn’t say cloud bottom.]

    An oversimplification of the transport of energy from the surface to space, one in which the only way is “UP”, cannot be supported by emission data: you must account for emission and absorption of energy which does not “escape” before collision while still captive to the earth system.

    [JP: Energy isn’t recycled internally to cause more heating or higher temperature. Radiative energy IS only lost UP, to space.]

  23. DurangoDan says:

    Joe, I’m working on a paper for possible publication in our company newsletter. Would you be willing to review and comment and point out any areas of misunderstanding? Dan
    ——————————————-
    The Elusive Green House Effect
    In the 70’s we were told to fear global cooling. In the 80’s we were told to fear global warming. In the 90s we entered the “pause”. Now we are told to fear global climate change. We are told that measureable increases in the level of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in our atmosphere are the definitive cause of these dangerous changes to our climate. We are told that fossil fuel burning is the cause of measureable increases in GHGs, with carbon dioxide being the primary villain and methane being a close second. We are told that naturally occurring levels of GHGs are beneficial to life as these gases regulate the climate and keep it not too cold and not too hot but just right. Humanity is responsible for upsetting the natural balance and we must be stopped before we destroy our home planet and ourselves in the process. This describes the climate of fear which currently exists. Fearmongering just happens to be the best sales tactic ever created.
    Assuming that there are indeed two sides to every story, let’s try a different narrative. Carbon is the building block of all life. Carbon dioxide or CO2 is the feedstock that allows for the propagation of life. Plants via the beautiful magic of photosynthesis convert CO2 to cellular hydrocarbons thus capturing solar energy and converting it to chemical potential energy in the process. The simple carbon compounds present in coal and the more complex carbon compounds present in natural gas and petroleum originated from CO2 in the atmosphere that was upgraded by photosynthesis to become plant life.

    [JP edit: Actually natural gas is simply methane and is just CH4 chemically. Isn’t it? Coal and petroleum are much more complex with much longer chains etc etc.]

    The chemical potential energy of fossilized plant matter is essentially stored sunlight. The presence of huge amounts of carbonaceous materials near the earth’s surface, limestone, coal and petroleum, provides evidence of an earlier time in Earth’s history when CO2 levels in our atmosphere were much, much higher than at present. Earth survived. Experimentation has shown that plants actually prefer an atmosphere richer in CO2 than the current level of about 400 ppm. Freeing trapped fossilized carbon could in fact be viewed as necessary to complete the carbon cycle which appears to have been stymied by Earth’s geologic processes. Prior to the industrial revolution, CO2 concentrations were not far above the minimum level believed necessary for healthy plant growth. Is it possible that nature by means of human intelligence has found the way to continue the cycle of life which is dependent on maintaining an adequate concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere? I like that thought. It makes me proud to be an employee of the fossil fuel industry.
    Let’s return now to our climate of fear and determine how CO2 can be so devious as to both give life and at the same time destroy life by wrecking the climate. Where do these psychopathic tendencies come from? All GHG warming, heat trapping, cooling and climate change depend on the reality [postulate] of the “[radiative] greenhouse effect”. What is it?
    Per GreenFacts.org, the Earth’s [radiative] Greenhouse Effect is this: “Most of the heat energy emitted from the surface is absorbed by greenhouse gases which radiate heat back down to warm the lower atmosphere and the surface. Increasing the concentrations of greenhouse gases increases the warming of the surface and slows the loss of heat energy to space.”
    NASA tells kids: “Earth’s surface warms up in the sunlight. At night, Earth’s surface cools, releasing the heat back into the air. But some of the heat is trapped by the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. That’s what keeps our Earth a warm and cozy 59 degrees Fahrenheit, on average” and “if the greenhouse effect is too strong, Earth gets warmer and warmer. This is what is happening now. Too much carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the air are making the greenhouse effect stronger”.
    NOAA says: “Much of this thermal radiation emitted by the land and ocean is ab¬sorbed by the atmosphere, including clouds, and reradiated back to Earth. This is called the greenhouse effect.” And they add “Without the natural greenhouse effect, the average temperature at Earth’s surface would be below the freezing point of water. Thus, Earth’s natural greenhouse effect makes life as we know it pos¬sible. However, human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels and clearing of forests, have greatly intensified the natural greenhouse effect, causing global warming.”

    Before getting all worked up about the apparent danger posed by increasing the concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere we probably ought to review some basic physics, just a sense check if you will. Since too much heating appears to be the primary fear, let’s start with the laws of thermodynamics and see what this says about heating.

    The first law of thermodynamics (LOT) addresses the conservation of matter and energy; in effect it’s about quantity. We can explain it in this way: “No matter how hard we try, we can’t get more energy out of a closed system than we put into it.” The second law addresses the quality of energy and thereby dictates that heat can only flow from warmer to cooler. You must keep in mind here, and this is very important, that energy and heat are not the same thing. If they were, your body radiating infrared energy at nearly 99 degrees could warm yourself by merely standing in front of a mirror. Carrying this several steps further, such self-warming given enough mirrors and if allowed to continue long enough would wind up cooking you as the self-heating feedback loop from you to the mirror and back again heated you progressively toward spontaneous human combustion (SHC). Now that’s scary. Sound like a run-away greenhouse effect? Sounds more like nonsense to me.

    Okay, so if self-warming isn’t an option, how can the cooler atmosphere heat the warmer “surface” more than what the sun alone can do? Give up? My apologies; this is a trick question. There actually is no known physical process where a cooler body can heat a warmer one. That’s the problem with the 2nd LOT and also the beauty of it. It is designed to keep us from wasting our time trying to accomplish things that are known to be impossible. Yet, somehow we have gone astray. Perhaps if we retrace our steps we can find our error. But this approach might just exclude the possibility that we were lost before we started.

    This will sound like conspiracy theory and certainly is not within the realm of possibility, but what if the Greenhouse Effect as described by rock solid credible sources such as NOAA and NASA is not allowed by the known laws of our physical universe? Is it even permissible to question the “facts” as espoused by such eminent authorities? At this point you should be thinking that I must have misapplied the Laws of Thermodynamics because such a basic error by NASA or NOAA is beyond belief.

    One of the great beauties of Science is that it’s the ultimate democratic process. It is not conducted by consensus and even stupid questions are okay. Back in the day, the wrong questions might have gotten you labeled a heretic and even burned at the stake, but nowadays such wrong questions only get you labeled as a “Denier”!

    Here is one of the better, yet typical examples of how to refute the claim that the Greenhouse Effect violates the laws of thermodynamics. From ScienceBlogs.com “How to Talk to a Skeptic”:
    Objection:
    The so called “Greenhouse Effect” which is the underpinning of the entire theory of anthropogenic global warming claims that greenhouse gases in the upper atmosphere absorb outgoing long wave radiation from the surface and reradiate it back, thereby warming the climate. But the upper atmosphere is colder than the lower atmosphere and the surface and the second law of thermodynamics clearly requires that heat flow from warmer areas of a system to colder ones, the opposite direction that greenhouse theory requires. The cooler atmosphere cannot radiate energy to the warmer surface. The greenhouse effect is a myth because it violates the second law of thermodynamics!
    Answer:

    No argument with the second law of thermodynamics here, that one seems to be on pretty solid ground! But the train of logic above has a subtle problem in its over statement of the constraints this law places on energy flow. Given a warmer and a cooler body exchanging energy either through convection or through radiation, the fact is, energy is constantly being exchanged in both directions. The second law of thermodynamics does not apply to individual photons, it applies to the net flow of energy in the entire system. How could it be otherwise?
    When an excited molecule of CO2 releases a photon, it does not somehow “know” which way to send it. It cannot aim it towards a cooler body. It is simply released in a random direction. In the case of CO2 in the atmosphere, having absorbed some of the energy radiating towards space from the surface of the earth, this random choice of direction means that, roughly speaking, half of that energy is sent back. An individual molecule is not influenced at all by the temperature of the earth’s surface, be it warmer or cooler.
    Where the second law does apply is in the net flow of heat, and this happens because a warmer body will send out more energy overall than it is receiving from the cooler one. Lots of energy going back and foth, but on balance more is leaving the warmer body.

    Well I guess that must explain it then. NOT! Remember when I told you to keep in mind “that energy and heat are not the same thing”. The answer above performs a verbal sleight of hand by substituting “energy” for the term specifically addressed by the 2nd LOT which is “heat” and the fact that heat, not energy, can only flow from warmer to cooler. [the coup de grace…exactly that – sleight of hand sophistry. You are a rational human that can spot bullshit…thank you for existing…] To further understand the nature of heating you must first acknowledge that all photons are not created equal. High frequency/short wavelength photons (electromagnetic energy) from the sun possess a much higher energy state than low frequency / long wavelength photons from the warm Earth’s surface. It is this energy state property that restricts the photon’s ability to increase the temperature of the receiving body. For photons emitted by CO2 in the Earth’s cooler atmosphere and directed toward the warmer Earth’s surface, the temperature raising capability is precisely zero. Photons quite simply do not possess the energy intensity required to induce a temperature above that of the molecule that last released them. Again, the theory of the Atmospheric Greenhouse Effect is proven to be false and impossible. The answer described above to the claim that the Greenhouse Effect violates the 2nd LOT is thus shown to be nothing but deception or sophistry more commonly known as BS.

    The only valid refutation to the claim that the Greenhouse Effect violates the 2nd LOT can be found in the stomach of a purple unicorn. Let me know when you find it.

    Dan Fauth
    May 20, 2015

  24. Bart says:

    What an amazing, churning and wild atmosphere we have. So complicated and it all ends up in a beautiful balance. Thunderstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes that in short order turn to calm sunsets. Temperatures as high as 40C at the surface but climb 20000ft and it’ll be close to 0C. Wild but balanced! A beautiful thing! The moronic explanations by climate science of this wild balance is beyond disappointing. Static and moronic…..but these are the self proclaimed experts. As a pilot, I can garantee that the temperature experienced at 1.5m is not an accurate average of what the atmospheric temperature is. As you climb, it changes by about 2C/1000ft. Climate scientists need only go for an airplane ride and monitor the outside air temperature as they climb. I mean seriously!!…. Do they not know this stuff?!? They’re supposed to be studying the atmosphere but they can’t think beyond the average level above ground of a human head. Look up for goodness sake! There is at least 60k ft of atmosphere above you! The average temperature of the atmosphere is not at the surface just because you’re there! Get over yourselves!
    Good work Joe! Keep explaining….. Despite the fact that clearly, some folks cannot think beyond themselves walking around on the surface.
    Sounds familiar actually. Flat earthers viewed the earth as flat since they couldn’t think beyond themselves at the surface. If they were able to climb, they would’ve easily understood that the world is not flat. Just as the atmospheres average temperature can not be taken at 1.5m off the surface. That is not an average….. It’s a data point.

  25. Exactly Bart, and they even created a flat Earth model starting point to try to explain it to themselves! Morons.

  26. OK Dan a couple of bolded comment/edits in your comment. Great write up. Send it to me when finished and I can post it here too if you like as a main post instead of a comment.

    Be warned: You are surrounded by idiots, and they WILL come after you. Well, you might have a little more peace working in the oil industry, but it is kind of like that “Body Snatchers” movie – they’re infiltrated everywhere, pretending to be human 🙂 lol

  27. Greg House says:

    Is it possible that my last comment was lost somehow? I mean this one: http://i.imgur.com/Lo9SX5P.jpg

    It is not “awaiting moderation” any longer, as I can see, but has disappeared completely.

  28. I deleted it because I was annoyed… 🙂 Carl is explainng WHY the temperature is at is WITHOUT requiring additional or excess energy etc. The temperature is as it is; it does require an explanation that doesn’t require recycling of or additional energy.

  29. Derek Alker says:

    Joseph, it seems Tom Harrison has migrated here from the closed climate skeptics group. My apologies if that is at all due to me ignoring him in that group. Well, what am I supposed to do when the man insists a black body surface has mass, then will not admit he is inventing physics.

    I have stopped posting in that group due to him, but I had just about given up on that group anyway. So, no harm done.

    He has also expressed some bitterness that he was banned, by me, from the FB There is no greenhouse effect group too. Sad man.

    So far, in every encounter, in every group, he has gone on, and on, and on, with the same unphysical rubbish.

  30. johnmarshall says:

    Many thanks for your most welcome support. I sometimes wonder if people actually read what they comment on.
    Having read your GHE refuting papers I agree and understand that the surface cannot get as hot as the sun. But the surface gets hotter than anything in the troposphere which lets the 2nd law work its magic.

  31. Timely info on Tom Harrison, Derek. Thanks. Are you aware if he has any actual relevant qualifications or is even a real person?

  32. DurangoDan says:

    Joe, I really appreciate the help and kind comments. I would be honored to have you post this as a main post. Hope you like the changes. Perhaps too sarcastic? Dan

    News Flash: A Unicorn Ate the Greenhouse Effect
    In the 70’s we were told to fear global cooling. In the 80’s we were told to fear global warming. In the 90s we entered the “pause”. Now we are told to fear global climate change. We are told that measureable increases in the level of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in our atmosphere are the definitive cause of dangerous changes to our climate. We are told that fossil fuel burning is the cause of these measureable increases in GHGs, with carbon dioxide being the primary villain and methane being a close second. We are told that naturally occurring levels of GHGs are beneficial to life as these gases regulate the climate and keep it not too cold and not too hot but just right. (Goldilocks always brings a smile; at least up until the end when Papa Bear eats her) Humanity is responsible for upsetting the natural balance and we (at least all of us Papa Bears) must be stopped before we destroy our home planet and ourselves in the process. This describes the climate of fear which currently exists. Fearmongering just happens to be the best sales tactic ever created; sex being a close number 2. We’ll stick to fear in this diatribe.
    Assuming that there are indeed two sides to every story, let’s try a different narrative. Carbon is the building block of all life. Carbon dioxide or CO2 is the feedstock that allows for the propagation of life. Plants via the beautiful magic of photosynthesis convert CO2 to cellular hydrocarbons thus capturing solar energy and converting it to chemical potential energy in the process. The complex carbon compounds present in coal ,natural gas and petroleum originated from CO2 in the atmosphere that was upgraded by photosynthesis to become plant life. The chemical potential energy of fossilized plant matter is essentially stored sunlight. The presence of huge amounts of carbonaceous materials near the earth’s surface, limestone, coal, natural gas and petroleum, provides evidence of an earlier time in Earth’s history when CO2 levels in our atmosphere were much, much higher than at present. Earth survived. Experimentation has shown that plants actually prefer an atmosphere richer in CO2 than the current level of about 400 ppm. Freeing trapped fossilized carbon could in fact be viewed as necessary to complete the carbon cycle which appears to have been stymied by Earth’s geologic processes. Prior to the industrial revolution, CO2 concentrations were not far above the minimum levels believed necessary for healthy plant growth. Is it possible that nature by means of human intelligence has found the way to continue the cycle of life which is dependent on maintaining an adequate concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere? I like that thought. Perhaps freeing the carbon gives ultimate meaning to our human existence.
    Let’s now return to our climate of fear and determine how CO2 can be so devious as to both give life and at the same time destroy life by wrecking the climate. Where do these psychopathic tendencies come from? All GHG warming, heat trapping, cooling and climate change depend on the veracity of the “greenhouse effect”. What is it?
    Per GreenFacts.org, the Earth’s Radiative Greenhouse Effect is this: “Most of the heat energy emitted from the surface is absorbed by greenhouse gases which radiate heat back down to warm the lower atmosphere and the surface. Increasing the concentrations of greenhouse gases increases the warming of the surface and slows the loss of heat energy to space.”
    There are several other descriptions of the Greenhouse Effect, but the radiative or back radiation version is far and away the most common. We won’t muddy those water here.
    NASA tells kids: “Earth’s surface warms up in the sunlight. At night, Earth’s surface cools, releasing the heat back into the air. But some of the heat is trapped by the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. That’s what keeps our Earth a warm and cozy 59 degrees Fahrenheit, on average” and “if the greenhouse effect is too strong, Earth gets warmer and warmer. This is what is happening now. Too much carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the air are making the greenhouse effect stronger”.
    NOAA says: “Much of this thermal radiation emitted by the land and ocean is ab¬sorbed by the atmosphere, including clouds, and reradiated back to Earth. This is called the greenhouse effect.” They add “Without the natural greenhouse effect, the average temperature at Earth’s surface would be below the freezing point of water. Thus, Earth’s natural greenhouse effect makes life as we know it pos¬sible. However, human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels and clearing of forests, have greatly intensified the natural greenhouse effect, causing global warming.”

    Before getting all worked up about the apparent danger posed by increasing the concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere we probably ought to review some basic physics, just a sense check if you will. Since too much heating appears to be the primary fear, let’s start with the laws of thermodynamics and see what this says about heating.

    The first law of thermodynamics (LOT) addresses the conservation of matter and energy; in effect it’s about quantity. We can explain it in this way: “No matter how hard we try, we can’t get more energy out of a closed system than we put into it.” The second law addresses the quality of energy and thereby dictates that heat can only flow from warmer to cooler. You must keep in mind here, and this is very important, that energy and heat are not the same thing. If they were, your body radiating infrared energy at nearly 99 degrees could warm yourself merely by standing in front of a mirror. Carrying this several steps further, such self-warming given enough mirrors and if allowed to continue long enough would wind up cooking you as the self-heating feedback loop from you to the mirror and back again heated you progressively toward spontaneous human combustion (SHC). Now that’s scary. Sound like a run-away greenhouse effect? Sounds more like nonsense to me. This just might violate the 1st LOT.

    Okay, so if self-warming isn’t an option, how can the cooler atmosphere heat the warmer “surface” more than what the sun alone can do? Give up? My apologies; this is a trick question. There actually is no known physical process where a cooler body can heat a warmer one. That’s the problem with the 2nd LOT and also the beauty of it. It is designed to keep us from wasting our time trying to accomplish things that are known to be impossible. Yet, somehow we have gone astray. Perhaps if we retrace our steps we can find our error. But this approach might just preclude the possibility that we were lost before we started.

    This will sound like conspiracy theory and certainly is not within the realm of possibility (pay no attention to that man behind the curtain), but what if the Greenhouse Effect as described by rock solid credible sources such as NOAA and NASA is not allowed by the known laws of our physical universe? Is it even permissible to question the “facts” as espoused by such eminent authorities? At this point your cognitive dissonance should replace rational thinking and it should become clear to you that I’m an idiot who has misapplied the Laws of Thermodynamics. Such a basic error by NASA or NOAA is beyond belief.

    One of the great beauties of Science is that it’s the ultimate democratic process. Democracy is sometimes described as 2 wolves and a lamb voting on what’s for dinner. Okay there may be some of that here. Science is not conducted by consensus and even stupid questions are okay. Back in the day, the wrong questions might have gotten you labeled a heretic and even burned at the stake, but nowadays such wrong questions only get you labeled as a “Denier”! So, what the hell, let’s just take a tiny peek behind the curtain.

    Here is one of the better, yet typical, examples of how to refute the claim that the Greenhouse Effect violates the laws of thermodynamics. From ScienceBlogs.com “How to Talk to a Skeptic”:
    Objection:
    “The so called “Greenhouse Effect” which is the underpinning of the entire theory of anthropogenic global warming claims that greenhouse gases in the upper atmosphere absorb outgoing long wave radiation from the surface and reradiate it back, thereby warming the climate. But the upper atmosphere is colder than the lower atmosphere and the surface and the second law of thermodynamics clearly requires that heat flow from warmer areas of a system to colder ones, the opposite direction that greenhouse theory requires. The cooler atmosphere cannot radiate energy to the warmer surface. The greenhouse effect is a myth because it violates the second law of thermodynamics!”
    Answer:

    “No argument with the second law of thermodynamics here, that one seems to be on pretty solid ground! But the train of logic above has a subtle problem in its over statement of the constraints this law places on energy flow. Given a warmer and a cooler body exchanging energy either through convection or through radiation, the fact is, energy is constantly being exchanged in both directions. The second law of thermodynamics does not apply to individual photons, it applies to the net flow of energy in the entire system. How could it be otherwise?
    When an excited molecule of CO2 releases a photon, it does not somehow “know” which way to send it. It cannot aim it towards a cooler body. It is simply released in a random direction. In the case of CO2 in the atmosphere, having absorbed some of the energy radiating towards space from the surface of the earth, this random choice of direction means that, roughly speaking, half of that energy is sent back. An individual molecule is not influenced at all by the temperature of the earth’s surface, be it warmer or cooler.
    Where the second law does apply is in the net flow of heat, and this happens because a warmer body will send out more energy overall than it is receiving from the cooler one. Lots of energy going back and forth, but on balance more is leaving the warmer body.”
    Well I guess that must explain it then. NOT! Remember when I told you to keep in mind that “energy and heat are not the same thing”. The answer above performs a verbal sleight of hand by substituting “energy” for the term specifically addressed by the 2nd LOT which is “heat” and the fact that heat, not energy, can only flow from warmer to cooler. To further understand the nature of heating you must first acknowledge that all photons are not created equal (the scourge of inequality is even endemic to the sub-micro world; the horror!). High frequency/short wavelength photons (electromagnetic energy) from the sun possess a much higher energy state than low frequency / long wavelength photons from the warm Earth’s surface. It is this energy state property that restricts the photon’s ability to increase the temperature of the receiving body. For photons emitted by CO2 in the Earth’s cooler atmosphere and directed toward the warmer Earth’s surface, the temperature raising capability is precisely zero. Photons quite simply do not possess the energy intensity (and chemtrails of pulverized Viagra won’t change this) required to induce a temperature above that of the molecule that last released them. Again, the theory of the Atmospheric Radiative Greenhouse Effect is proven to be false and impossible. ScienceBlogs refutation to the claim that the Greenhouse Effect violates the 2nd LOT is thus shown to be nothing but deception or sophistry more commonly known as BS.

    The only valid refutation to the claim that the Greenhouse Effect violates the 2nd LOT can be found in the stomach of a purple unicorn. Let me know when you find it. Mighty tasty those unicorns and “No, they don’t taste like chicken”.

    Dan Fauth,
    BS (un)Civil Engineering

  33. Dan I would keep the humour out of it and just keep it professional. It makes it too silly with the silly references etc. It looks and sounds more professional to just keep it on point, without the unicorns and unicorn humour, children story references, etc. I had to stop reading because I was getting annoyed at trying to understand someone else’s humour and having to take asides for it. Remove that stuff, make it simply professional and on point. I’ll read it again then.

    Cheers!

  34. DurangoDan says:

    Joe, this is your website and you set the standards. That being said I recall you referencing the movie Idiocracy. That movie is our current reality and that’s a sad statement. My piece attempts to reach that segment of the population that isn’t too far gone. Anyhow before I remove the humor or inanity let’s see what your current audience has to say. Fair enough? Regardless thanks for posting and thanks for educating those of us that are content with and perhaps prefer academic purity. Dan

  35. markstoval says:

    Dan, it would be hard to say if you should leave the humor in or take it out without knowing the target audience and where you expect to publish it. Is this for a corporate news letter?

    Without knowing much more, I would just say that I like humor, but humor is hard. 🙂

  36. DurangoDan says:

    Mark One audience would be corporate, primarily office workers, but more to the point, people like you. Don’t worry about my feelings. Does my attempt at humor in this case annoy you too? Thanks.

  37. Peter McD says:

    Greg House says:
    “No, I do not want to explain the higher THAN THE SUN AS THE ONLY SOURCE OF HEAT CAN POSSIBLY INDUCE temperature by invoking whatever, I say that this is impossible and explain why.”

    If you put a spectrometer on the surface, that measures radiation in the solar spectrum, you’ll find less energy than the Earth radiates upward in infrared radiation.

    What is your explanation for this?

  38. DurangoDan says:

    Joe, If someone wants the silly version, they can go back to the posted comments. Here’s the no nonsense version. Thanks. Dan.

    The Elusive Greenhouse Effect
    In the 70’s we were told to fear global cooling. In the 80’s we were told to fear global warming. In the 90s we entered the “pause”. Now we are told to fear global climate change. We are told that measureable increases in the level of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in our atmosphere are the definitive cause of dangerous changes to our climate. We are told that fossil fuel burning is the cause of these increases in GHGs, with carbon dioxide being the primary villain and methane being a close second. We are told that naturally occurring levels of GHGs are beneficial to life as these gases regulate the climate and keep it not too cold and not too hot but just right. Humanity is responsible for upsetting the natural balance and we must be stopped before we destroy our home planet and ourselves in the process. This describes the Climate of Fear which currently exists.
    Since there are at least two sides to every story, let’s try a different narrative. Carbon is the building block of all life. Carbon dioxide or CO2 is the feedstock that allows for the propagation of life. Plants via the beautiful magic of photosynthesis convert CO2 to cellular hydrocarbons thus capturing solar energy and converting it to chemical potential energy in the process. The complex carbon compounds present in coal, natural gas and petroleum originated from CO2 in the atmosphere that was upgraded by photosynthesis to become plant life. The chemical energy in fossilized plant matter is essentially stored sunlight. The presence of huge amounts of carbonaceous materials near the earth’s surface, limestone, coal, natural gas and petroleum, provides evidence of an earlier time in Earth’s history when CO2 levels in our atmosphere were much, much higher than at present. Earth survived. Experimentation has shown that plants actually prefer an atmosphere richer in CO2 than the current level of about 400 ppm. Freeing trapped fossilized carbon could in fact be viewed as necessary to complete the carbon cycle which appears to have been stymied by Earth’s geologic processes. Prior to the industrial revolution, CO2 concentrations were not far above the minimum levels believed necessary for healthy plant growth. Is it possible that nature by means of human intelligence has found the way to continue the cycle of life which is dependent on maintaining an adequate concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere? I like that thought. Perhaps freeing the carbon gives ultimate meaning to our human existence.
    Let’s now return to our climate of fear and determine how CO2 can be so devious as to both give life and at the same time destroy life by wrecking the climate. Where do these psychopathic tendencies come from? All GHG warming, heat trapping, cooling and climate change depend on the veracity of the “greenhouse effect”. What is it?
    Per GreenFacts.org, the Earth’s Radiative Greenhouse Effect is this: “Most of the heat energy emitted from the surface is absorbed by greenhouse gases which radiate heat back down to warm the lower atmosphere and the surface. Increasing the concentrations of greenhouse gases increases the warming of the surface and slows the loss of heat energy to space.”
    There are several other descriptions of the Greenhouse Effect, but the radiative or back radiation version is far and away the most common. We won’t muddy those waters here.
    NASA tells kids: “Earth’s surface warms up in the sunlight. At night, Earth’s surface cools, releasing the heat back into the air. But some of the heat is trapped by the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. That’s what keeps our Earth a warm and cozy 59 degrees Fahrenheit, on average” and “if the greenhouse effect is too strong, Earth gets warmer and warmer. This is what is happening now. Too much carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the air are making the greenhouse effect stronger”.
    NOAA says: “Much of this thermal radiation emitted by the land and ocean is ab¬sorbed by the atmosphere, including clouds, and reradiated back to Earth. This is called the greenhouse effect.” They add “Without the natural greenhouse effect, the average temperature at Earth’s surface would be below the freezing point of water. Thus, Earth’s natural greenhouse effect makes life as we know it pos¬sible. However, human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels and clearing of forests, have greatly intensified the natural greenhouse effect, causing global warming.”

    Before getting all worked up about the apparent danger posed by increasing the concentration of GHGs in the atmosphere we probably ought to review some basic physics, just a sense check if you will. Since too much heating appears to be the primary fear, let’s start with the laws of thermodynamics and see what this says about heating.

    The first law of thermodynamics (LOT) addresses the conservation of matter and energy; in effect it’s about quantity. We can explain it in this way: “No matter how hard we try, we can’t get more energy out of a closed system than we put into it.” The second law addresses the quality of energy and thereby dictates that heat can only flow from warmer to cooler. You must keep in mind here, and this is very important, that energy and heat are not the same thing. If they were, your body radiating infrared energy at nearly 99 degrees could warm yourself merely by standing in front of a mirror. Carrying this several steps further, such self-warming given enough mirrors and if allowed to continue long enough would wind up cooking you as the self-heating feedback loop from you to the mirror and back again heated you progressively toward spontaneous human combustion (SHC). Sound like a run-away greenhouse effect? Sounds more like nonsense to me because this self-warming feedback loop clearly violates the 1st LOT.

    So if self-warming isn’t an option, how can the cooler atmosphere heat the warmer “surface” more than what the sun alone can do? My apologies; this is a trick question. There actually is no known physical process where a cooler body can heat a warmer one. That’s the problem with the 2nd LOT and also the beauty of it. It is designed to keep us from wasting our time trying to accomplish things that are known to be impossible. Yet, somehow we have gone astray. Perhaps if we retrace our steps we can find our error. But this approach might just preclude the possibility that we were lost before we started.

    This will sound like conspiracy theory and certainly is not within the realm of, but what if the Greenhouse Effect as described by rock solid credible sources such as NOAA and NASA is not allowed by the known laws of our physical universe? Is it even permissible to question the “facts” as espoused by such eminent authorities? At this point your cognitive dissonance should replace rational thinking and it should become clear to you that I must have misapplied the Laws of Thermodynamics. The idea that NASA or NOAA could make such a basic error is surely not credible.

    One of the great beauties of Science is that it’s the ultimate democratic process. Democracy is sometimes described as 2 wolves and a lamb voting on what’s for dinner. There may be some of that here, but let’s continue. Science is not conducted by consensus and even stupid questions are okay. Back in the day, the wrong questions might have gotten you labeled a heretic and even burned at the stake, but nowadays such wrong questions only get you labeled as a “Denier”!

    Here is one of the better, yet typical, examples of how to refute the claim that the Greenhouse Effect violates the laws of thermodynamics. From ScienceBlogs.com “How to Talk to a Skeptic”:
    Objection:
    “The so called “Greenhouse Effect” which is the underpinning of the entire theory of anthropogenic global warming claims that greenhouse gases in the upper atmosphere absorb outgoing long wave radiation from the surface and reradiate it back, thereby warming the climate. But the upper atmosphere is colder than the lower atmosphere and the surface and the second law of thermodynamics clearly requires that heat flow from warmer areas of a system to colder ones, the opposite direction that greenhouse theory requires. The cooler atmosphere cannot radiate energy to the warmer surface. The greenhouse effect is a myth because it violates the second law of thermodynamics!”
    Answer:

    “No argument with the second law of thermodynamics here; that one seems to be on pretty solid ground! But the train of logic above has a subtle problem in its over statement of the constraints this law places on energy flow. Given a warmer and a cooler body exchanging energy either through convection or through radiation, the fact is, energy is constantly being exchanged in both directions. The second law of thermodynamics does not apply to individual photons, it applies to the net flow of energy in the entire system. How could it be otherwise?
    When an excited molecule of CO2 releases a photon, it does not somehow “know” which way to send it. It cannot aim it towards a cooler body. It is simply released in a random direction. In the case of CO2 in the atmosphere, having absorbed some of the energy radiating towards space from the surface of the earth, this random choice of direction means that, roughly speaking, half of that energy is sent back. An individual molecule is not influenced at all by the temperature of the earth’s surface, be it warmer or cooler.
    Where the second law does apply is in the net flow of heat, and this happens because a warmer body will send out more energy overall than it is receiving from the cooler one. Lots of energy going back and forth, but on balance more is leaving the warmer body.”
    Well I guess that explains where I went wrong. Well, actually no. Remember when I told you to keep in mind that “energy and heat are not the same thing”. The answer above performs a verbal sleight of hand by substituting “energy” for the term specifically addressed by the 2nd LOT which is “heat” and the fact that heat, not energy, can only flow from warmer to cooler. To further understand the nature of heating you must first understand that all photons are not created equal. This is what ScienceBlogs either doesn’t understand or doesn’t want you to understand.

    Electromagnetic energy in the form of high frequency/short wavelength photons from the sun possess a much higher energy state than low frequency / long wavelength photons from the warm Earth’s surface. It is this property of energy state that restricts a photon’s ability to increase the temperature of the receiving body. For photons emitted by CO2 in the Earth’s cooler atmosphere and directed toward the warmer Earth’s surface, the temperature raising capability is precisely zero. Photons do not possess the energy required to induce a temperature above that of the molecule that last released them. Read this paragraph as many times as it takes for this to sink in.

    Again, the theory of the Atmospheric Radiative Greenhouse Effect is proven to be false and impossible. ScienceBlogs refutation to the claim that the Greenhouse Effect violates the 2nd LOT is thus shown to be nothing but deception or sophistry more commonly known as BS. In conclusion, the Atmospheric Radiative Greenhouse Effect is purely BS.

    Dan Fauth
    BS Civil Engineering
    University of Colorado

  39. Greg House says:

    Peter McD says: “What is your explanation for this?”
    =========================

    The same as for 2+2=5.

  40. DurangoDan says:

    Joe. Typo in the third to last paragraph. Next to last sentence. Created equal. Sorry.

  41. markstoval says:

    @ DurangoDan

    I doubt I am a good one to ask since I have a lot of Scots-Irish in me and love humor. I think for a newsletter type thing that folksy good humor works well. But is real informal your intention? Anyway, you wrote it so you have to decide.

    ~ Mark

  42. That’s awesome Dan. Love it! Very good work that is…you pull that “sleight of hand” right up and out into the open, and expose the bastards for the frauds they are. Excellent stuff.

  43. Mr Pettersen says:

    http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/

    Take a look at this!
    Venus have a BB temp of only 184 K even with 2600w/m2 from the sun and a surface temp of 464 celcius!
    NASA have known since the 70s that BB temp is not the surface temp.
    So then the Earths BB temp of 254 K can not be the surface temp either.

    The difference from minus 18 Celcius to plus 15 wich makes upp 33celcius of greenhouse effect is not same as a surface temp with or without greenhouse gasses.

  44. I am devouring your blogs this morning like a starving man at an all you can eat buffet!

  45. Mr Pettersen says:

    “First law of thermodynamics: When energy passes, as work, as heat, or with matter, into or out from a system, its internal energy changes in accord with the law of conservation of energy. Equivalently, perpetual motion machines of the first kind are impossible.”

    What is the definition of a system? Who decided that the atmosphere is a different system than the ground? If we look at the whole planet and its atmosphere as one system with a continuing temperaure gradient from core to space, there will be no in or out other than sun insolation and radiation to space. And from space both are observed as a single BB objekt at 255K.

    Why is the change for water from fluid to gas defined as a different system when the same is not the case for ice to liquid?
    The surface consists of multiple systems if every change is defined as a different system.

    If we go back to a snowball earth scenario both the surface and the atmosphere would be mostly H2O. One chemical identety, only different temperature. Ergo one system.

  46. Yes indeed it is one system. That is why “the surface” needs to be considered as the system’s surface, which is thus found at altitude in the atmosphere. In regards to considering the ground surface and atmosphere as two different systems, indeed the cooler atmosphere cannot pass heat to the warmer surface.

  47. Frans says:

    I think that all the explanations given above are irrelevant. What is clear to me is that we are producing too much CO2 and at the same time we are are destroying millions of acres of tropical forests that used to absorb most of this CO2. Since this is heavier than air it will absorb heat faster than the air above. Apart from that water evaporation will be greater, due to less trees to contain this water, hence the worldwide heavy rainfall and floodings. That alone should tell us that we have to cut down on CO2 emissions. No need to go into aerosols and radioactive emissions.

  48. Frans, you DO realize that man produces only a tiny fraction of the CO2 produced each day, right? Perhaps 3%. You DO realize that the earth has been in an ICE AGE with CO2 at roughly 10 times today’s levels, yes? And surely you know that CO2 is not the most significant radiatively active gas in the atmosphere, by about 40 times, correct? (That would be water vapor)

    And while we’re at it, you must realize that mature forests produce no net Oxygen, since the decay of dead trees and leaves CONSUMES Oxygen while the growing vegetation PRODUCES Oxygen, and mature forests are dying as fast as they are growing. You agree, certainly.

    And if the earth is made warmer by more energy from the sun being delayed on escape, and if that did increase evaporation (no data suggests that prediction was correct), then the increased rainfall would also be cooling the earth (the heat captured by evaporating molecules is released at cloud level, and continues its journey to space, while the cooled water now falls again to the ground, less all that energy).

    We are on the same page with all of those basic physical and geological facts, aren’t we?

    Frans?

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