Simple Experimental Demonstration that Refutes the Greenhouse Effect

Roy Spencer postulated and then performed a “simple” experiment which he thought demonstrates the greenhouse effect.  This is actually trivial to debunk so we’ll keep this short.

First I’ll point out a deceptive little trick employed by Roy which he used to blunder his point.  To quote him:

RS: “The Wikipedia entry for the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics includes the following statement from Rudolph Clausius, who formulated one of the necessary consequences of the 2nd Law (emphasis added):

““Heat can never pass from a colder to a warmer body without some other change, connected therewith, occurring at the same time.”

“The statement by Clausius uses the concept of ‘passage of heat’. As is usual in thermodynamic discussions, this means ‘net transfer of energy as heat’, and does not refer to contributory transfers one way and the other.”

The italicized words are important, and have been ignored by my critics: while it is true that the net flow of heat must be from higher temperature to lower temperature, this does not mean that the lower temperature object cannot (for example) emit radiant energy in the direction of the warmer object, and thus increase the temperature of the warmer object above what it would otherwise be.”

Whereas, Roy left out a the final paragraph in the Wiki quote on the Clausius statement.  It fully reads:

“”Heat can never pass from a colder to a warmer body without some other change, connected therewith, occurring at the same time.”

The statement by Clausius uses the concept of ‘passage of heat’. As is usual in thermodynamic discussions, this means ‘net transfer of energy as heat’, and does not refer to contributory transfers one way and the other.

Heat cannot spontaneously flow from cold regions to hot regions without external work being performed on the system, which is evident from ordinary experience of refrigeration, for example. In a refrigerator, heat flows from cold to hot, but only when forced by an external agent, the refrigeration system.”

See that last part?  It requires “external work being performed on the system” for heat to flow from cold to hot.  Convenient for Roy to leave that part out wasn’t it?  Thus, with the full statement from Wiki, his experiment is refuted before it even begins because he is not performing external work on his system.  All he is doing is covering or uncovering the ice box, and this does not amount to work being performed by the ice on the heated surface.

As for his experiment, he is using an extremely precise measurement device which is nice for pretending that the results are likewise precise.  Just because the measurement device can measure to 0.1°F does not mean that the experiment itself is sensitive to that level.  All he actually measured was a 3-4 °F change in temperature which could have arisen merely from increased source lamp input flux onto the heated surface by reflected light from the highly reflective ice box cover.  Given a change in temperature from 254 °F to 258 °F, this is a change in input flux on the primary heated surface of only 2.3%.  So his experiment only saw a 2.3% (!) increase in flux on the heated surface, and that can easily, and undoubtedly, have come from a change in the input flux from the primary source from reflected input off of the ice cover.  So there’s that, plus there’s fast air-temperature changes from diffusive transfer which can affect the result as well; it’s not just convection, but diffusion can change the air temperature too, etc.

To totally debunk it from first principles, all we need to do is step the experiment back a little bit and see that it is actually identical to the one by Curt Wilson for Anthony Watts.  Spencer could have just as easily pointed the lights directly at the absorbing surface, and stated that backradiation would cause the lights to get hotter and thus brighter.

Let’s review something quickly:

Differential in: Causes action: Modulated by:
Force Acceleration (mechanical energy transfer) Mass
Voltage Current (electrical energy transfer) Electrical Resistance
Temperature Heat (thermal energy transfer) Thermal Conductivity

Emissivity & Absorptivity

The power emitted by Roy’s lamp is supplied by the outside work of the voltage differential coming to his electrical sockets.  That’s the source of power.  The power P emitted by his lamp circuit is given by P = V²/R, where V is the voltage differential supplied by outside work, and R is the resistance of the circuit.  So, does backradiation increase the voltage across the poles of the electrical outlet?  Does it increase the current in the curcuit?  Of course not.  And since it doesn’t, then backradiation can’t make the source of heat (the filament) get hotter still, since its temperature is determined by the power which is produced from the voltage supplied from outside, and which is constant, and which can not be affected by the backradiation.  Backradiation is not additional power…it is passive background without any ability to do work on its source, in accordance with the Laws of Thermodynamics.

Secondly, consider what would happen even if backradiation did cause the filament to get hotter.  Every electrical engineer in the world knows what happens to a resister (the filament) when it increases in temperature: its resistance increases.  Now look at the equation for the circuit again:  P = V²/R.  So, if R increased due to the heating from backradiation, then P would decrease given that V is constant (it is supplied from outside).  Now think about that.  The power P is also the radiant energy emitted by the filament by P = AσT4, where A is the surface area of the filament and T is its temperature.  A higher temperature filament has higher P, and a lower temperature filament a lower P. Backradiation would cause a higher resistance, giving a lower power, which would mean lower temperature and hence less bright filament.  However, backradiation was supposed to make a hotter filament and brighter filament.  So we get a logical contradiction, which originates in the original consideration of the first sentence where we assumed that backradiation could cause warming.  If backradiation did work as they desire, it would dim the filament, not brighten it, but they desired that it brightened it.

QED.  It doesn’t work that way.

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43 Responses to Simple Experimental Demonstration that Refutes the Greenhouse Effect

  1. Joe, you have conflated two terms, resulting in a straw man construction of Roy’s argument.

    He wrote, “this does not mean that the lower temperature object cannot (for example) emit radiant energy in the direction of the warmer object”

    You replied by describing a DIFFERENT event: “It requires “external work being performed on the system” for heat to flow from cold to hot.”

    He wrote of “radiant energy”, as in emissions from an object above absolute zero, unstoppable. You replied as if he said “HEAT [flows] in the direction of the warmer object”, but he was quite careful with the words.

    Radiant energy flows both directions, HEAT only one way, as evidenced by the heat equations describing that net flux as the radiant energy from the colder object deducted from the radiant energy of the warmer object (essentially a vector sum, with opposite directions of travel). You even provided a link to those equations in one of your blog posts, some time ago: a nice, robust link. Now, if the departing energy from a warmer object is partially replaced by radiant energy from a colder object, than the temperature of the warmer object will either rise faster (if being heated by a still warmer object elsewhere) or drop slower (if not being elsewhere heated) than it would if the colder object was not present. The heat equations model this just fine for three objects in thermal radiation communication (for example, the sun, the earth’s surface, and the atmosphere)

    The argument should be about how much flux returns from the atmosphere, which molecules are the source, and whether it means a crisis is at hand. I’m sure we can agree on the last item: “absolutely not.” From my perspective, the first item is answered, “enough to keep us comfortable”, and the second, “water vapor, at average 20000ppm surface density, followed distantly by CO2, a minor player at 400ppm, which means only about 1C increase of we double CO2.”

  2. No Tom, this is what Roy said:

    while it is true that the net flow of heat must be from higher temperature to lower temperature, this does not mean that the lower temperature object cannot (for example) emit radiant energy in the direction of the warmer object, and thus increase the temperature of the warmer object above what it would otherwise be

    and he is clearly stating that heat is flowing from cold to hot, just more so from hot to cold giving a net of hot to cold. This is wrong, and contradicts the definition of heat. Heat flows one way only. Radiant emission from the cooler object is not heat, and can not warm the warmer source – that is, can not cause the warmer source object to rise in temperature.

    This is Roy’s obfuscation on the definition of heat and what backradiation can (not) do. Please ask him to correct his language.

  3. I’m sorry, that’s not correct, Joe.

    If, for example, the surface is being warmed by the sun, then measure the surface temperature at two times, T1 and T2. If no cooler object — like our radiatively active atmosphere — is present to emit in the direction of the surface, then the temperature of the surface will change proportionate to the incoming flux from the sun minus the outgoing flux from the surface. With the atmosphere radiatively interacting with the surface, the temperature of the surface will change proportionate to the incoming flux of the sun, minus the outgoing flux from the surface, plus the incoming flux from the cooler object.

    All three flux values are present, with T^4 power reduced by emissivity limits, and are clearly the sun with highest flux, followed by the surface, much lower, and finally the atmosphere, with almost always a lower temperature than the surface but certainly a lower emissivity than the surface.

    Since the incoming flux from the atmosphere is positive, not zero, the net temperature of the surface will be higher than it would be if the atmosphere was not present. HEAT is still properly noted as proceeding from the Sun, to the surface, to the atmosphere, then out into space again (not forgetting about all the other interactions, such as plant growth, ocean retention, etc.)

    We surely should fuss about how MUCH different it is, or could be, as the warmists create a crisis scenario with imaginations about a huge feedback from water vapor, but how can we quibble about the flux emitted and absorbed by objects radiating at each other?

  4. No Tom, that’s all wrong. Firstly, with an atmosphere present then you have a warm ambient environment sustained overnight. Surface warming in the morning with atmosphere having been present, from a warm temperature, is LESS FAST than if the surface had cooled to space overnight. The warming rate is proportional to the difference between input and output flux, and so with atmosphere present the warming from the sun is slower in rate, not faster.

    And in any case, this is not about the GHE anyway, although it is sneaky sophistry missing the point. The GHE is about the backradiation making the surface hotter than what the source input could do on its own. And this is why Roy (incorrectly) thinks that backradiation will make the heated surface warmer still. The GHE is indeed about passive backradiation coming back, adding as heat, to make the source temperature warmer than itself. Here is the consensus basic depiction of the greenhouse which shows all that:

    It shows backradiation adding as if it is additional input. Backradiation is not additional input but is only passive ambient energy. The solar input is the only input.

  5. Hello Joe,

    My analogies are not great but was trying to make a point to Roy, am i really off kilter?

    So the Kettle was the sun, the hot water poured was meant to be sun’s power to the earth and the teapot the earth-

    Roy hate this analogy and kept referring me back to a hot pot on a stove with a lid.

    I asked him –

    “Roy , lets make it really simple,

    once again help me here, once the hot water has left the kettle can this hot water be made hotter without going back into the kettle and its heating coil.

    yes or no?

    Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D. says:
    August 30, 2016 at 8:54 AM
    No, it cannot.

    What is your point?”

  6. geran says:

    Tom asks: “…but how can we quibble about the flux emitted and absorbed by objects radiating at each other?”

    Tom, that is exactly the point! If photons are not absorbed, there is no “warming”. Warmists, and pseudoscientists, do not understand the intricacies of photon absorption,which then leads them down the path to sophistry.

  7. Beautiful, Geran.

  8. You’re not off kilter England Richard, you have him cornered and finished.

  9. Rosco says:

    If we assume that the relationships between Planck’s equations and the Stefan-Boltzmann equation are valid then a plot of Planck curves for both spectral radiance and spectral photon radiance at various temperatures indisputably demolishes the notion that electromagnetic radiation from a cold object can transfer “heat” to a warmer object.

    Click to access CalculatingBlackbodyRadianceV2.pdf

    In both cases the hotter object is emitting not only more energy ans more photons at every wavelength or frequency it is also emitting in shorter wavelengths or higher frequencies that the colder object is not capable of emitting – at least statistically as determined by Planck’s equations.

    Thus it is impossible for radiation from a cold object alone to make a hotter object hotter than it already is – not only demonstrated a few centuries ago but verified by theoretical analysis by Planck’s equation and the empirical evidence the Stefan-Boltzmann and Wien’s laws.

    No one has ever said a cold object does not emit photons – that is simply a condescending straw-man argument raised by Spencer divert from the fact he is actually admitting that no net flow of energy must mean no net transfer of heat.

    These guys write stuff like:-

    Q = sigma*(Th^4 – Tc^4) ; Th = hot, Tc = cold, and they hold Q constant so they can then write:-

    Q/sigma + Tc^4 = Th^4 and thus Th must increase – if that isn’t the transfer of heat from cold to hot then I don’t know what is. Actually I do know what it is – it is bullshit.

    I’m certain these guys think the cavity radiation experiments derived equations of “net” radiance when if fact the experiments definitely did not – the whole idea of the cavity was to ensure the radiation emitted was solely due to the internal temperature alone and P = A*sigma*T^4, e = 1 for this.

    The only remaining claim is what Tom has written – the radiation can replace some of the radiation continually lost by a hotter object and “supplement” another more powerful radiation source and either “facilitate” heating or slow down the radiation loss from the warmer object. This seems completely logical.

    But either way involves transfer of heat from cold to hot in my book.

    This leaves the only question – is every photon emitted from a cooler object necessarily absorbed by a warmer object and converted to heat ?

    I think there is plenty of evidence that photons can be absorbed without transferring their energy to the absorbing molecule – at least that is what Physics textbooks state unequivocally.

    Bohr’s model of the hydrogen atom depends on the energy of the incoming photon matching the quanta required for transition between electron orbits. This was the necessary model that made Planck’s law work.

    All gases exhibit line spectra – what happens to the photons that do not match the energy quanta required for orbit transitions ?

    I think this is further verified by Einstein’s explanation of the photo-voltaic effect. Photons below a certain threshold are totally incapable of dislodging an electron – the number of photons below this threshold is immaterial and has no effect. What happens to these photons ?

    I believe that there are thresholds where the effects of radiation differ when impacting an object.

    A high energy threshold for x-ray effects, for the photo-voltaic effect, electrical and magnetic effects, thermal effects at thresholds below these. If such transitions do exist – which they clearly do – is it so ludicrous to postulate a low threshold where even thermal energy transfer may not occur ?

    “In Einstein’s picture, an individual photon arriving at the surface in Fig. 38.1a or 38.2 is absorbed by a single electron. This energy transfer is an all-or-nothing process, in contrast to the continuous transfer of energy in the wave theory of light; the electron gets all of the photon’s energy or none at all.” Young And Freedman University Physics Page 1263/4.

    Anyway that is just a thought bubble similar to most of the musings from Roy Spencer – except I can cite references.

    Climate “science” is unique in that vector directions seem to be ignored. From my engineering statics studies a few decades ago I do not recall adding two opposing bending moments at a point – the net result taking direction into account mattered. A cantilever subjected to 2 equal magnitude but opposing bending moments is not subject to any net moment yet in climate “science” they add them up even though one is emission and the other absorption as in the ridiculous Steel Greenhouse.

    I find it hard to believe any of the musings of Spencer, Watts, Brown , Monckton, Willis, that Curtis bloke that stuffed up the light bulb proving back radiation “experiment” on WUWT etc etc.

  10. The photoelectric effect is good to consider: any number of low frequency photons do NOTHING, but any high frequency photon WILL.

  11. Even better Richard: does putting the hot water back into the pot make the pot hotter still? In fact I think you nailed it with that. That’s precisely what they’re saying!

    Adding backradiation back in to increase T is like putting your tea back into the pot to make the coil hotter.

  12. Rosco says:

    Universities still teach thermodynamics in a manner inconsistent with ALL of greenhouse advocates musings:-

    Click to access SecondLaw.pdf

    The second law of thermodynamics states that all natural processes are irreversible. A corollary of the Second Law of Thermodynamics (which we shall not prove) is

    In a reversible transformation, heat can only be converted to work by moving heat from a warmer to a colder body


    In the absence of external work done on a body, heat can only move from warm to cold.

    Where do these guys get their stuff from ?

  13. They’re imposters, that’s where. They’re agents.

  14. carlallen says:

    Dr. Spencer says that his experiment demonstrates that, “a cool object can make a warm object even warmer still through infrared radiative effects.”

    Was it not obvious to everyone that it was the heat lamp that was doing the warming in his experiment? What his experiment demonstrated at best was the validity of the “net radiation heat loss rate” formula–an object loses heat via radiation relative to the amount of radiation coming from an opposing surface. One is not unveiling a previously hidden truth when one demonstrates that ice emits less IR radiation than does a sheet of matter at room temperature.

    The problem with his statement is that it is thermodynamically inaccurate, even deceptive. The room temperature sheet of material was not “warming” the metal sheet above it; its presence slowed the rate at which the metal sheet was losing heat to its surroundings relative to when the metal sheet’s surroundings were a chest of ice.

    The real problem with this experiment goes beyond the skewed syntax though. The experiment is purports to affirm the reality of the “greenhouse effect” hypothesis. He states, “The purpose is to demonstrate that, energetically, the atmosphere’s greenhouse effect can make the surface of the Earth warmer than if the greenhouse effect didn’t exist even though the atmosphere is colder than the Earth’s surface.”

    The phenomenon known as “net radiation heat loss rate” mentioned above is not the “greenhouse effect” hypothesis. That the atmosphere decreases the amount of IR radiation that the surface emits directly out into space through the “atmospheric window” is not in dispute. That an increase in the concentration of water vapor, said to be “the most potent greenhouse gas”, narrows the “atmospheric window” even further is not in dispute. What is in dispute is the “therefore” that follows these observations.

    The “greenhouse effect” hypothesis says “therefore” an increase in the concentration of water vapor in the air (an increase in absolute humidity) will cause surface temperatures to increase. The hypothesis that follows the “therefore” in this statement is falsified by the observable, measurable reality that water vapor is a lower atmospheric coolant. Its presence in a climate system not only cools surface level temperatures, but the temperature of the lower 4-5 km of the troposphere!

    Using Dr Spencer’s syntax: “water vapor (said to be a powerful “greenhouse gas”) does not make a warm surface even warmer still. Rather, when it is present within a climate system it makes a warm surface cooler than it would have been and therefore has an anti-greenhouse effect.”

    Dr Spencer’s problem is not those who describes as “rabid disbelievers, who are probably beyond hope.” His problem is that his “greenhouse effect” hypothesis is out of sync with what is actually happening out in the real world.


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  16. johnmarshall says:

    In a refridgerator heat still flows from hot to cold. The work done is to compress a gas to become a liquid, cool that liquid and force that liquid through a small nozzel thus turning the liquid to a gas of lower pressure. The cooling is due to adiabatic heat loss plus latent heat loss due to the phase change. Heat flows from the freezer compartment into the colder gas which is further compressed for another cycle.

  17. johnmarshall says:

    Another problem with that basec energy flow diagram is that flux quantities are added forgetting the units. The units are Watts per Square Meter. They forget the square meters. The true answer is still 239W/m2 which does not give 303K but a temp. some way below 0C.

  18. Joe, will you ever allow me to continue the debate, past a couple of responses?

    [JP: Sure, when you start using correct definitions and wording. Start by getting rid of using the term “NET”, and use the proper definition of heat, and note that energy from cold does not add to hot.]

  19. johnmarshall says:

    “nd law can be simplified still further:-
    Entropy must increase.

  20. johnmarshall says:

    I meant 2nd. My finger trouble. Sorry.

  21. Will Janoschka says:

    johnmarshall says: 2016/09/02 at 4:40 AM

    “2nd law can be simplified still further:-Entropy must increase.”

    I like the Rudy Clausius version better: “Stuff don spontaneously go uphill, ever” !!

  22. Mr. Pettersen says:

    Simple logic will teell us that Spencer is wrong. Two objects with same temperature does not heat each other. From that fact we know that all inside the common Planck curves doesn`t change anything.
    When we calculate the heat transfer from hot to colder we remove the common energy level to establish a potensial. But when we calculate from cold to hot the common levels suddenly mather. The rules should be the same whatever way you calculate.

  23. Of course two objects at the same temperature don’t heat each other, but also of course they both emit energy toward each other, and that energy will be absorbed according to the other object’s emissivity. HEAT is the NET of the transfer between them ( in this case, zero ). But both are still emitting and absorbing energy.

    It’s not necessary to suspend rules, or “remove the common energy level”, or anything else when you simply account for all energy in, all energy out, and calculate the net for each object.

    [JP: If by “NET” you mean difference, then the statement is more accurate. There is a common energy level when considering the difference, and the remainder of the difference is heat. No, it is not as simple as accounting all energy in & all energy out, because if you do that then you do what Spencer does, and add the energy from cold to hot. The energy from the atmosphere does not add as input.]

  24. Matt in Frisco says:

    Just a few thoughts for the discussion. Having had a e-conversation (via WUWT or Spencers page, I can’t recall which) with Roy Spencer 6-7 years ago whenever he penned the ~”Yes Virginia, cool objects can heat warm objects” nonsense and then I was unceremoniously rebuffed with condescending non-sense by him and then I had to argue with Joel Shore about their bologna violating the laws of thermodynamics which ended with them carrying on in their erroneous ways of course. I have been pondering this issue for a loooong time.

    So, a thought experiment for the GHE garbage theory proponents. Since cold heats hot (according to their theory) how many ice cubes does it take to cook a steak, you can even use magnifying glasses if you like. How many will get you a nice sear on the steak? 10? 1000? 1e100? Of course there is not enough ice cubes on all the planet to do such a thing, because cold don’t heat hot.

    I am thoroughly at a loss as to how any of the intrepid arctic explorers ever passed away frozen in the tundra with the power of the mighty cold heats hot theory at their disposal …such a pity.

    These goobers seem to think that all photons are equivalent, which to anyone even lightly informed on the matter know full well is absolutely not true and is fundamentally idiotic. Screw visible light and the rest of the EM Spectrum, we only have one kind of photon now it’s the GHE kind.

    Am I missing anything here?

    Stumbled onto your site a few years ago JP and greatly enjoying your work. Thanks.

  25. You got it Matt. Great stuff.

  26. geran says:

    Matt in Frisco: “Since cold heats hot (according to their theory) how many ice cubes does it take to cook a steak, you can even use magnifying glasses if you like. How many will get you a nice sear on the steak? 10? 1000? 1e100?”

    Good thinking, Matt. There are many flaws in the GHE “theory”, and you’ve just exposed one of them.

    Ice cubes are typically well below the freezing point. Let’s assume they are at -4ºC (25ºF). Ice has a very high emissivity, assume .98. So, the S-B equation calculation results in 328 Watts/sq.meter.
    Then, a wall of such ice, with a surface area of one meter, would be emitting 328 Watts. Consequently, a room of ice constructed such that the total area of the walls, ceiling, and floor was 10 square meters would be putting out 3280 Watts!

    If 3280 Watts won’t cook the steak fast enough, just add more ice!


  27. Matt in Frisco says:

    Nice update Geran. 3280 Watts should be plenty! Right?

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  29. Richard111 says:

    Here is a layman’s view of the problem. CO2 in the atmosphere is unlikely to be radiating in the 2.7 and 4.3 micron bands as it never gets hot enough. It CAN absorb some of those photons when the sun is shining. It loses that energy by conduction to local air molecules and some by radiation over the 13 to 17 micron bands. The 13 to 17 micron band constitutes roughly 20% of the black body emission with a temperature of 288K (15C), but the claim is half goes up and half comes down. My conclusion is radiation from CO2 in the atmosphere to the surface DELAYS cooling by about 10%.
    Non of it is “back radiation”!
    I’ve lived and worked in deserts. Nights can drop to near freezing after daytime temps of 50C. Only a good band of cloud overhead keeps the desert warm at night.

  30. carlallen says:

    “My conclusion is radiation from CO2 in the atmosphere to the surface DELAYS cooling by about 10% . . . I’ve lived and worked in deserts. Nights can drop to near freezing after daytime temps of 50C. Only a good band of cloud overhead keeps the desert warm at night.”

    The observation that near-surface air temperatures drop precipitously at night in arid climates has been used since the 19th century, particularly by John Tyndall, to justify believing in the “greenhouse effect” hypothesis. The idea is that when there is high humidity in the air the extra water vapor that is present either “traps heat in the air,” transfers thermal energy back to the ground via “back radiation” or in your view “delays cooling”.

    Your own statement though contains the secondary observation that falsifies the “greenhouse effect” hypothesis. You wrote, “only a good band of cloud overhead keeps the desert warm at night.”

    Notice that you didn’t say that “high humidity” keeps the desert warm at night. Rather you said only a good band of clouds overhead keeps the desert warm at night.

    I did a study in which I looked at the rate of nighttime cooling under clear skies and high humidity had no effect on the rate of nighttime cooling. Only when that humidity condensed into clouds did the rate of nighttime cooling slow.

    Important scientific point: clouds are not water vapor. Clouds are made of H2O in liquid form and water vapor is H2O in gaseous form. It is an axiomatic truth that the thermodynamic properties of a liquid differ from the thermodynamic properties of a gas. It is folly therefore to observe a thermodynamic effect of H2O in liquid form and then ascribe that effect to H2O in gaseous form. It is folly to observe that clouds slow the rate of nighttime cooling and then assert that it is the humidity in the air that is delaying the cooling.

    One more point, the rate at which near-surface air temperatures drop at night is only one half of a diurnal temperature swing. The “greenhouse effect” hypothesis does not assert that “greenhouse gases” narrow the diurnal temperature swing. Rather the “greenhouse effect” hypothesis asserts that “greenhouse gases” raise the yearly “mean” temperature of near-surface air some 33 °C globally on average.

    You cannot divine from the size of a diurnal temperature swing what the yearly mean temperature will be. You cannot assume that the larger the size of the diurnal temperature swing the cooler the daily mean temperature will be because nighttime cooling is rapid.

    The fact is, clouds also severely inhibit daytime warming; thus the narrowing of the diurnal temperature swing within humid climates is a “cloud effect” and not a humidity effect. Beyond that the mean yearly temperature within humid climates tends to be lower than the mean yearly temperature within arid climates that lie along the same latitude and therefore receive the same amount of sunlight year around.

    If high humidity does not cause regional warming it cannot cause global warming.


  31. Richard111 says:

    “If high humidity does not cause regional warming it cannot cause global warming.”

    Yes. I think we are basically in agreement. The problem could be in the way we explain things.

    In the Ideal Gas Laws there is a unit called a ‘mole’ for recording the masses of different gasses at specified temperature and pressure. Nitrogen, N2 is 28 grams per mole, Oxygen, O2 is 32 grams per mole, water vapour, H2O is 18 grams per mole and carbon dioxide, CO2 is 44 grams per mole and all have equal numbers of molecules per mole. If we take the average mass of the atmosphere to be 29 grams per mole ( 4 x N2 + O2 ) we see that CO2 is 150% of average mass and H2O is 62% of average mass. Figures are rounded for convenience.

    Let us assume we have a dry day with only 1% water vapour in the atmosphere. 1% of 10,300 kg is 103 kg, 62% of that is 63.86 kg, call it 64 kg of water vapour in our 10,300 kg square metre column of atmosphere. Well now, in this same column of atmosphere we have 6 kg of CO2.

    Now we need to look at the respective radiation characteristics of H20 and CO2. We will see that H2O completely swamps CO2 except for the 4.3 micron band. When the sun is shining H2O has 7 times the absorptive action as CO2 thus warming the surrounding atmosphere much more heavily than CO2. Also this absorbed sunlight does not reach the surface, a very effective coolant. When the sun is not shinning we must look at the 10 micron band and beyond. CO2 is active over the 13 to 17 micron bands and H20 is active over the 14 to 70 micron bands.

    Which ever way you look at it for just 1% water vapour in the atmosphere giving TEN times more (MASS) H2O molecules than CO2 molecules. Do the sum again with say 4% water vapour. Also water vapour tends to remain in the lower 80% of the atmosphere.
    How can anyone claim CO2 controls anything? I live in South West Wales and have a lot to say about clouds but I’ll leave it at that.

  32. Damian Scott says:

    Carlallen: “Important scientific point: clouds are not water vapor. Clouds are made of H2O in liquid form and water vapor is H2O in gaseous form.”

    As I understand it, clouds mostly consist of ice, 10 miles up the almospere is never above freezing.

  33. carlallen says:

    Important scientific point: clouds are not water vapor. Clouds are made of H2O in liquid (or solid) form and water vapor is H2O in gaseous form.

    The point is clouds are not a gas and since clouds are not a gas their effect on the thermodynamics of the atmosphere should not be projected onto the purely gaseous components of air such as carbon dioxide and water vapor, which is being done. Specifically, since one can observe the fact that the presence of clouds slows the rate at which the air near the ground cools at night they assert that the presence of “greenhouse gases” do the same thing.


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  35. Max says:

    I came across this recent article by Hermann Harde ( who seem to have done a proper experiment that shows that greenhouse effect “works as advertised” (although he admits there’s nothing to be worried about…). I find it interesting because Harde is a climate realist and not an alarmist by any means. I think his experiment is the first that really tries to reproduce the GH effect, and apparently his results are supporting it…

  36. Max Polo says:

    …which is making me nervous, since I was pretty much certain that the GHE was debunked

  37. Max Polo says:

    Thanks Nepal, much appreciated. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

  38. Joseph E Postma says:

    Can’t see the whole paper Max…do you have it?

    In any case:

    “We measure the additional warming of a pre-heated plate due to back-radiation of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide as a function of the gas concentration, and we derive from the observed warming the radiative forcing of these gases.”

    It really sounds like they have the conclusion they want already pre-determined. The experiment doesn’t look like it actually performs what needs to be tested, and for some reason they write-off the Woods experiment, and that is all that they would have had to do themselves is to repeat that.

    They also then say that the Woods-style experiment:

    “answers the question how far a reduced IR transmission can warm a compartment {which was zero, as they admit}, it gives no information about interaction of greenhouse gases with IR radiation.”

    And that is a load of bullocks right there. Here we have the quintessential alarmist talking point and pseudoscience, that physics behaves in a special way for GHG’s, and not the same way for other scenarios where the exact same physics occurs, such as Woods’ box experiment.

    These people are liars, and frauds.

    Whatever they pretend to do with their experiment, and it even seems that they have two power sources going into it, one for each plate, they’re just making it up.

    All you need to do to demonstrate the RGHE is Woods’ experiment, with a plate on top of a box. And these experiments always show no RGHE…they’re heated to what the Sun can do, and that’s it…

    Max, ALL of thermodynamics is based on heat flow, and the equations for heat flow, which is all about the action from warm to cold. Cold does not radiatively or conductively increase the temperature of warm.

  39. Joseph E Postma says:

    Get their contact info – I’d like to talk to them.

  40. Joseph E Postma says:

    Not much more needs to be said, although there is something else, but repeating some from above:

    1) They dismiss the Woods’ experiments as not being relevant when they are precisely and perfectly relevant, providing all of the backradiation one requires to test the GHE, just as ALL greenhouse buildings in existence do. These experiments use a passive ceiling, which can “emit backradiation” according to prescription, and they do not demonstrate backradiation heating. Claiming that the exact same physics will work differently with a partially-emissive gas for the ceiling which cannot “backradiate” as well as a fully-emissive solid surface is, simply, pseudoscientific sophistry. A solid surface with full emission of “backradiation” doesn’t perform the RGHE at all, whereas a partially-emissive gas does? That’s not logical, rational, or could follow the existing laws of physics of emission.

    2) They actually have two power sources, indicated by the supply feed to provide the temperature of the “Earth plate”, as well as the supply feed to provide the temperature of the “atmosphere plate”. This is no a longer a system which represents the Earth and atmosphere, and thus, the experiment isn’t even the correct experiment, anymore. The Woods’-type experiment is the correct one, where you have a heated surface, and a passive receiver ceiling. Their receiver, the “atmosphere plate”, is not passive, but has a power supply attached to it via the supply feed to provide its temperature. So that’s two independent power systems, which is not what the Earth experiences, nor what the Woods’ experiments do. The real atmosphere does not have an independent power system or supply feed doing something to its temperature, and neither do the Woods’ experiments, and hence, you find consistency between the Woods’ experiments and the actual Earth & atmosphere: we do not ever measure temperatures above the heating potential of sunlight on the surface of Earth.

    3) The moon’s surface gets hotter than Earth’s…it gets as high as the heating potential of sunlight. The Earth’s surface stays far cooler than the heating potential of sunlight.

    4) We have the explanation for why the bottom of the atmosphere is its warmest part, due to the adiabatic gradient and the definition of an average,

    So, there you go.

  41. Joseph E Postma says:


    More precisely: They threw out the Woods experiment claiming that it is not a good representation of the physics in question because it uses a solid ceiling for backradiation instead of a gas for backradiation, and substituted another experiment which they claim is a better representation of the Earth-atmosphere system because the new experiment has gas in it to create backradiation instead of a ceiling. They admit that the Woods experiment does not show a RGHE, and so in this way they ignore it, because they imply that backradiation from a gas can do what backradiation from a solid ceiling does not do. They don’t answer or explain why backradiation from gas can create a RGHE but backradiation from a solid ceiling cannot, they merely take it for granted that you will accept that because their experiment has gas in it, then it is more like the Earth-atmosphere, hence a “more valid” experiment than Woods’. They then also proceed to have two power sources managing the two temperatures involved, which is of course, not at all like the Earth-Sun system or Earth-atmosphere system…but because their experiment has gas in it then it is more like Earth and that’s all that matters.

    It’s a complete train wreck. I’ve been through all this before. Whether they’re retarded, amateur, or hostile, they have no sense of experimentation, and that what you experiment upon is the underlying physics, the mechanism of the physics, precisely, and how it should occur, and what it should do by itself. The Woods’ experiment does all that. They made up something that isn’t the thing any longer…even though they pretend it is by cutely using gas “which is like the atmosphere” instead of a ceiling, even though this would give better backradiation than a gas! But then the experiment is botched even if they were going to use a gas instead of a ceiling, because they use more than one power source…the cooler plate isn’t passive.

    Train wreck.

  42. Joseph E Postma says:

    You see how sophistry works, Nepal? How sophistry can trick science?

    The Woods experiment represents the underlying physics involved, and in a more perfect way, because you can get full transmission of solar and full blockage and “backradiation” (per prescription, ostensibly) of IR. Woods experiments, and all greenhouses, should easily demonstrate the RGHE, as they (should) perform the underlying physics involved more perfectly than the partially-emissive atmosphere. They don’t perform the supposed underlying physics of the RGHE involved, because it doesn’t exist.

    Ah, but – do you not find this following believable?:

    The Woods experiments use a solid ceiling for backradiation, whereas the Earth-atmosphere system actually uses a gas for backradiation. Therefore, the Woods experiment doesn’t actually represent the Earth-atmosphere system, and therefore its results do not apply to the Earth-atmosphere.

    You see what was done there?

    That being said, a gas “ceiling” and a solid ceiling would actually perform the same in terms of the underlying physics of “backradiation” ostensibly having some heating effect. And so that is to say: a Woods experiment using gas as the ceiling would show the same results as with a solid ceiling, because the physics is actually still the same, and that result would be NO observation of a RGHE heating.

    So what do you do about that, then? You botch the experiment, and create an experiment that is actually no longer what you actually need to test in terms of the underlying physics, but pretend it is a better experiment “because it has gas which is like the atmosphere”, and hope that most people can’t tell what you botched…which most people, even scientists, wouldn’t.

  43. Pingback: Another Botched Experiment – the Tricks of Pseudoscience | Climate of Sophistry

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