New GWPF Briefing Paper

The Truth About Greenhouse Gases

London, 17 August – The Global Warming Policy Foundation today publishes an outstanding briefing paper by the distinguished physicist Professor William Happer of Princeton University (USA).

In his paper The Truth About Greenhouse Gases, Professor Happer criticises the misguided scare-mongering about CO2 emissions as well as the habitual exaggeration of the likely impact and risks posed by global warming. He particularly laments the co-option of climate science by governments.

Happer discusses what he calls the “contemporary moral epidemic” of climate alarmism: the notion that increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, notably carbon dioxide, will have disastrous consequences for mankind and for the planet and advocates a sober and balanced assessment based on empirical observations, not computer models.

“CO2 does indeed cause some warming of our planet. Other things being equal, more CO2 will cause more warming. The question is how much warming, and whether the increased CO2 and the warming it causes will be good or bad for the planet,” Happer writes.

William Happer is the Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics at Princeton University. He is a member of the GWPF’s Academic Advisory Council.

The Truth About Greenhouse Gases is available here

37 thoughts on “New GWPF Briefing Paper

  1. Here is a key statement: Other things being equal, more CO2 will cause more warming.

    Reminder: Our climate is a dynamic system. It reacts to changes. Although chaotic, the climate system moves towards stability. It is not inherently unstable.

  2. Wow just love this guy, he is saying what we have known for years, will not do any good though unless we all keep beating the drum

  3. I find the hypocrisy of all this highly annoying. We have CO2 alarmism, originating in the USA and explicitly supported by the Administration. Some other countries follow suit, with high taxes, amazing subsidies and even a carbon tax. But then look closely at this same USA. The Administration is very happy to isolate its oil and natural gas markets (and surpluses) from international markets, so that the USA can get cheap energy – at half the price on natural gas, and 25% less now on oil. So it can emit CO2 happily at low cost! Peak oil for the rest of the world, cheap oil for North America.

  4. I’ve been banging that drum for years too. The methods of estimating radiant heat transfer used in the fields of engineering lead to a decrease in impact of CO2 that is greater than the logarithmic decay currently used in the models. That is, at some point, the effect of doubling CO2 concentration will be less than the previous effect of doubling.

    Put another way, if you do a plot of CO2 effect on the y (logarithmic) axis against CO2 concentration on the x (linear) axis, the line is approximately straight for concentrations from 0 to some point. At that point however, the line flattens out and approaches a slope of 0. This is true in all other fields, where radiant heat transfer in the atomsphere is estimated, other than climate science.

  5. ..what he calls the “contemporary moral epidemic” of climate alarmism..

    I don’t think I could have said it better.

  6. Thinking in crowds followed by going mad in crowds but only recovering slowly one by one (not an exact quote). Yes Extrodinary Delusions … has been added to my reading list. The madness that follows is the virus of doubts seeping into the group – we are at this stage with the more independent thinkers around the periphery beginning to rehabilitate themselves and the more gregarious insiders milling about in a fever – going over to hysteria and even more elliptical alarmist claims. Their non-scientific useful fools, for whom thought is not an option, stay the course. The psychology of this beast is very interesting.

    Eisenhower’s speech and the “Extraordinary Delusions…” of Mackay should be required reading for 1st year science students and require them to write an essay illustrating the thesis.

  7. At the present time, the concentration is about 390 ppm, 0.039% of all atmospheric molecules and less than 1% of that in our breath.

    The way I read the sentence, we have less than 0.00039% CO2 in our breath. I would rewrite the sentence as follows:

    At the present time, the concentration is about 390 ppm, 0.039% of all atmospheric molecules. By contrast, the air we exhale when we breathe contains more than a hundred times as much carbon dioxide (around four percent).

    or perhaps:

    At the present time, the concentration is about 390 ppm, 0.039% of all atmospheric molecules and which is less than 1% of that in our breath.

  8. Whilst it was an interesting read, it is difficult to see what purpose it serves. It is difficult to see that it fulfills the role of a briefing paper as to the truth about greenhouse gases, nor who is to be the intended audience.

    Whilst I was in agrrement with most of what was stated, I was thoroughly underwhelmed by the paper. Perhaps the title had set the goal posts too high and it could therefore never live up to expectations. The nub of what was said,could have been said in one or two paragraphs.

    Personally, I can’t see the battle being won on the basis of a few truths (eg., that CO2 is good for plants, we need plants, present levels of CO2 are low, we do not know what is the ideal level for CO2, and we do not know whether adding more CO2 will be good or bad), and a few generalisations (eg., be wary of the madness of crowds, self interest leads to corruption, the science has to some extent been corrupted, we do not know enough about how the system works so we cannot properly model the system and therefore be cautious about the veracity/accuracy of model data and predictions). I consider that we need to produce firm empirical data based upon real world observation and physical experiment leading to empirical and qualative aevidence establishing the effects of CO2 although this may be revealed over the course of the next 10 to 15 years years by the effects of a quiet sun and negative ocean cycles.

  9. Financial note here: If you like their approach and their candor, send money. (Tax deductible, I’d assume, for US-types as well, since they are a registered UK educational charity.)

    From the bottom page of their pdf file.

    The Global Warming Policy Foundation is an all-party and
    non-party think tank and a registered educational charity
    which, while open-minded on the contested science of
    global warming, is deeply concerned about the costs and
    other implications of many of the policies currently being
    advocated.
    Our main focus is to analyse global warming policies and
    their economic and other implications. Our aim is to provide
    the most robust and reliable economic analysis and advice.
    Above all we seek to inform the media, politicians and the
    public, in a newsworthy way, on the subject in general and
    on the misinformation to which they are all too frequently
    being subjected at the present time.
    The key to the success of the GWPF is the trust and credibility
    that we have earned in the eyes of a growing number of
    policy makers, journalists and the interested public.
    The GWPF is funded entirely by voluntary donations from a
    number of private individuals and charitable trusts. In order
    to make clear its complete independence, it does not
    accept gifts from either energy companies or anyone with
    a significant interest in an energy company.

  10. Is May so long ago that you don’t realise you already posted this:

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/05/21/happer-on-the-truth-about-greenhouse-gases/

    See bottom of page 2:

    1 “The Truth About Greenhouse Gases” appeared in the June/July issue of First Things
    (www.firstthings.com) and a slightly revised version is published here with permission.

    Recycling is good for the environment though….

    REPLY: They sent me a press release yesterday, the first was a notice of its existence, yesterday was the announcement of its publication. Sorry if the extra PR seemed redundant. – Anthony

  11. The paper suggests that the sceptics are becoming better organised. That might be so, however, the sceptics are very far from being well organised.

    Presently, mother nature is probably the sceptics best friend. No doubt, the BBC and the Met Office will try and convince the public here in the UK that 2011 has been one of the warmest years on record. However, I suspect that growing amounts of people will not buy into that having witnesses a cold winter/start to the year and a summer wash out. If the UK experiences yet another cold winter, a greater number of people will become sceptics.

    The tide in public opinion has already begun to change, and this will escalate should a quiet sun and cold ocean phases bring about cold weather spells with increasing frequency. However, that is likely to be a relatively slow process and in the meantime the government can inflict much damage on the economy (although the global financial problems and the recent civil unrest in the UK will inevitably slow the governmenet down in its desire to go full steam ahead into economic suicide caused by its green agenda).

    If the sceptics were better organised they could divide themselves into groups. One group to consider what experiments need to be conducted to examine the ‘basic’ physics involved in the GHG theory and what real life observations should be conducted that would further clarify response and feedbacks in the real world. Another group, to assess which high profile/respected sceptical scientist is best suited to carry out supervise such work and that group could liaise with suitable candidates. Another group to raise required finance etc and another to liaise with lobby groups/media outlets and raise petitions and organise marches etc etc. However, for the main part, the sceptics predominantly merely blog with one another and are not well organised in contrast to the green movement.

    The reality is whatever is done, there is no quick solution and we are therefore left merely to hope that the politicians will be scuppered in their plans by other more pressing needs.

  12. jheath said, The Administration is very happy to isolate its oil and natural gas markets (and surpluses) from international markets, so that the USA can get cheap energy – at half the price on natural gas, and 25% less now on oil.

    Your evidence for this statement is … ?

  13. commieBob says:
    August 18, 2011 at 9:15 am
    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    I too noticed the poor wording of that sentence. I favour the first of your suggested alternatives (although I would say “…when we breathe out contains…” rather than “…when we breathe contains…”).

  14. “CO2 does indeed cause some warming of our planet.”

    The more skeptical among us are yet to be convinced of that.

  15. “Ken Harvey says:
    “CO2 does indeed cause some warming of our planet.”
    The more skeptical among us are yet to be convinced of that”

    Technically, CO2 does indeed cause some warming of the >> atmosphere << (not the surface) and thus decreases the rate at which the surface radiates heat to space. The amount of heating of the atmosphere is determined by how much IR radiation from the surface is intercepted by the CO2 in the atmosphere. The atmosphere must warm up enough to radiate out to space the amount of heat it absorbs from the surface radiation.

    This is a well known phenomenon. It can be observed (and very accurately estimated) in any number of instances, including climate. If you feel that this is not occurring, that is fine, but what then explains the heat absorbance in all those other instances (like a heat exchanger, a thermal sink on a microprocessor, a blast furnace, a radiant heater, etc.)? Because the direct relation of heat loss to CO2 concentration is known and quantifiable. The only other variable that changes is: there is less oxygen and nitrogen as there is more CO2. So either increasing CO2 increases the amount of energy absorbed by an intervening atmosphere, or decreasing oxygen, nitrogen, or both increases the amount of energy absorbed by an intervening atmosphere. The fact that this does not occur if one substitutes helium for CO2 would suggest that it is CO2.

    There are entire courses in university, that have been taught for far longer than people have thought about global warming, that teach this stuff. It is a specific area of thermodynamics, very specifically, absorbance of radiant energy by intervening gases. Pretty fundamental stuff actually.

    And for the purposes of calculating how much energy is absorbed in the earth's atmosphere, 390 ppm is a lot. 800 ppm is probably the limit beyond which increases no longer impact on radiant energy absorption.

  16. richard verney says:
    August 18, 2011 at 9:55 am
    “However, for the main part, the sceptics predominantly merely blog with one another and are not well organised in contrast to the green movement.”

    It is a whole lot easier to organize then you have billions of dollars PER YEAR and the UN to do it! The IPCC just hands out money to anybody who supports their agenda—basically self-organizing. AND the MSM simply follows like a bunch of adoring puppies.

    When you have 1/10,000 as much money per year and not all in one place, it’s nigh on impossible.

  17. No wonder Richard Lindzen picked Will Happer as a referee for his recent PNAS paper. Unfortunately, that’s just as wrong as Phil Jones’ pal reviews of other team members. Happer comments about the politicization of climate science are good.

  18. jheath said:
    August 18, 2011 at 8:36 am
    > I find the hypocrisy of all this highly annoying. We have CO2
    > alarmism, originating in the USA…

    Did the alarmism not originate with the UN?

  19. I found it interesting to compare and contrast the style and prose of this paper with the intolerant bigotry that emerges from the warmists. There was no dogma with regard to CO2, just a desire that people think. This I feel is the main thrust, that human activity MIGHT not be to blame for global warming, more research is needed by less bigoted researchers and that we cannot afford to destroy our already precarious economies by taking expensive and unnecessary measures.

  20. Richard Verney says…
    “If the sceptics were better organised they could divide themselves into groups. One group to consider what experiments need to be conducted to examine the ‘basic’ physics involved in the GHG theory and what real life observations should be conducted that would further clarify response and feedbacks in the real world. Another group, to assess which high profile/respected sceptical scientist is best suited to carry out supervise such work and that group could liaise with suitable candidates. Another group to raise required finance etc and another to liaise with lobby groups/media outlets and raise petitions and organise marches etc etc. However, for the main part, the sceptics predominantly merely blog with one another and are not well organised in contrast to the green movement.”
    My response to this is mixed, but I must say that your comment on GHG theory is somewhat erroneous. We do know the theory, so there is no need to clarify anything. The main problem seems to me to be the collection of reliable, accurate data over many decades for that information to indicate reliable, accurate trends, and there lies the rub. Measurement of any parameter has improved in both reliability and accuracy, but by changing the measuring instrument (or anything else), one cannot expect resultant data to be compatible with former readings. This has been discussed here a couple of days ago.
    I have an inkling that you will not find a “high profile/respected sceptical scientist” who will “supervise”… whatever; and anyway, who will determine these “groups”?
    I do not think that I need to go further.
    I should add that this post has also added a query (for me). Dr Happer concludes by saying
    ” “CO2 does indeed cause some warming of our planet. Other things being equal, more CO2 will cause more warming. The question is how much warming, and whether the increased CO2 and the warming it causes will be good or bad for the planet,” Happer writes.”
    My query is that historical data show that temperature always leads atmospheric CO2 levels, by as much as 800 years, so there is some slight confusion in what Dr Happer states.

  21. Richard Verney has it spot on. The realists/sceptics do need to get much better organised, and find a powerful mouthpiece to get the message out, in spite of the nutters in places like the BBC, and the spineless behaviour of most other MSM organisations.

    I would not normally hope for a really cold winter, but I do this year, and expect that we will get one.

    I wonder how poor the crop yields will be in the UK this year, as the summer has been absolutely lousy. Another excuse to raise prices, no doubt.

  22. “CO2 does indeed cause some warming of our planet. Other things being equal, more CO2 will cause more warming.

    The more I see this statement the more annoyed I get. Don’t spout the mantra, gives us the proof. Show us the equations. Show us the empirical measurements then show us that your proof equates directly to the observed measurements. aaaaaaaaarg !!! If not SHUT UP.

  23. Tony B (another one) says:

    August 18, 2011 at 1:14 pm I would not normally hope for a really cold winter, but I do this year, and expect that we will get one.

    Look at the NCEP projections, then look at Dr Spencer’s satellite measurements and your wish could very well come true. Temperatures ‘globally’ are plunging and the NCEP forecast shows cold across the US and UK and Europe. Should be interesting to how the twats will explain another cold winter. he he !!

  24. I read it, fairly good, but could do without the missing word not.

    I do wonder though, if CO2 cause it to get warmer, then why aren’t the planet warming accordingly?

  25. “without the greenhouse warming of CO2 and its more potent partners, water vapor and clouds,
    the earth would be too cold to sustain its current abundance of life”.
    I think the jury is still out on whether clouds cause warming or cooling. I believe there is some evidence that clouds cause cooling, not warming.

  26. stephen richards says:

    August 18, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    “CO2 does indeed cause some warming of our planet. Other things being equal, more CO2 will cause more warming.

    The more I see this statement the more annoyed I get. Don’t spout the mantra, gives us the proof. Show us the equations. Show us the empirical measurements then show us that your proof equates directly to the observed measurements.

    Steven:

    I’ve a nice little paper on my blog with the equations, etc., just like you ask. These are from combustion engineering, not climate science (mine are that is). You will see that the “forcing” as espoused by the climate alarmists are, UP TO A POINT, identical to what is seen in many other disciplines. If you doubt that these are real, you must explain how we (engineers) are supposed to estimate heat losses.

    Cheers.

    JE

  27. For those not absolutely sure of the effect of CO2 on global warming, I recommend reading John Eggert’s paper.

  28. “”””” John Eggert says:

    August 18, 2011 at 8:43 am

    I’ve been banging that drum for years too. The methods of estimating radiant heat transfer used in the fields of engineering lead to a decrease in impact of CO2 that is greater than the logarithmic decay currently used in the models. That is, at some point, the effect of doubling CO2 concentration will be less than the previous effect of doubling. “””””

    The trouble is John, that we have “reliable” consistently observed CO2 data, that goes from about 315 ppm in 1957/8 (Geophysical Year) to about 390 ppm today. That by my calculation is less than 1/4 of one doubling of CO2; and I submit to you, that the associated earth Temperature rise data for the same period of time, clearly cannot distinguish between a logarithmic relationship and a linear relationsship; or for that matter, any other mathematical function you want to name. Remeber that going from one CO2 molecule in 22.4 litres of STP atmosphere to two CO2 molecules, comprise one doubling. I doubt that causes the same warming as going from 280 ppm to 560 ppm.

    There’s no experimental verification of any logarithmic relationship; and the usual Beer-Lambert Law explanation for a theoretical logarithmic relationship simply doesn’t hold water. The atmosphere does not obey the Beer-Lambert Law; absorbed LWIR energy doesn’t stay captured; but is re-emitted and carries on; much like the Sourcerer’s Apprentice couldn’t stop the broom from carrying water by chopping it up..

  29. I was under the impression that in the troposphere heat was initially lost by convection not radiation. Radiation may overtake this above the tropopause.

  30. John Eggert;
    All irrelevant, in the end. If the interlocked energy systems on the planet squelch and suppress the CO2 effect and signal, then it is false to say that increasing CO2 causes planetary warming. There are many such documented and potential negative feedback forces and loops, none of which are given more than cursory representation in GCMs to date.
    As is evident by their divergence from observation.

  31. Mark and two Cats says:
    August 18, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    jheath said:
    August 18, 2011 at 8:36 am
    > I find the hypocrisy of all this highly annoying. We have CO2
    > alarmism, originating in the USA…

    Did the alarmism not originate with the UN?
    ===========
    I rather think Maurice Strong and a mate or two? started the whole Un climate idea rolling.
    earth day follow on or something?

  32. “”””” John Eggert says:

    August 18, 2011 at 11:38 am

    “Ken Harvey says:
    “CO2 does indeed cause some warming of our planet.”
    The more skeptical among us are yet to be convinced of that”

    Technically, CO2 does indeed cause some warming of the >> atmosphere << (not the surface) and thus decreases the rate at which the surface radiates heat to space. The amount of heating of the atmosphere is determined by how much IR radiation from the surface is intercepted by the CO2 in the atmosphere. The atmosphere must warm up enough to radiate out to space the amount of heat it absorbs from the surface radiation.

    This is a well known phenomenon. It can be observed (and very accurately estimated) in any number of instances, including climate. If you feel that this is not occurring, that is fine, but what then explains the heat absorbance in all those other instances (like a heat exchanger, a thermal sink on a microprocessor, a blast furnace, a radiant heater, etc.)? Because the direct relation of heat loss to CO2 concentration is known and quantifiable. The only other variable that changes is: there is less oxygen and nitrogen as there is more CO2. So either increasing CO2 increases the amount of energy absorbed by an intervening atmosphere, or decreasing oxygen, nitrogen, or both increases the amount of energy absorbed by an intervening atmosphere. The fact that this does not occur if one substitutes helium for CO2 would suggest that it is CO2. """""

    """""
    The fact that this does not occur if one substitutes helium for CO2 would suggest that it is CO2. """""

    So just when did they perform this experiment of removing CO2 from the atmosphere, and replacing it with Helium ? I didn't know we even had enough helium, to substitute it for the CO2 in the atmosphere.

    In any case Professor Happer is one of the good guys; and a truly nice fellow to boot. He was most gracious in his replies to several e-mails I sent him, enquiring about certain atmospheric phenomena..

  33. ozspeaksup said:
    August 19, 2011 at 5:58 am

    Mark and two Cats says:
    August 18, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    jheath said:
    August 18, 2011 at 8:36 am
    >>> I find the hypocrisy of all this highly annoying. We have CO2
    >>> alarmism, originating in the USA…

    >> Did the alarmism not originate with the UN?
    ===========
    > I rather think Maurice Strong and a mate or two? started the whole Un climate
    > idea rolling. earth day follow on or something?

    Ah – a Canadian. That explains everything!

  34. Statements to the effect that CO2 “warms the Earth” are inaccurate or if you prefer are bunk.

    More accurately you could say that the presence of GHGs slows the radiation back into space but does NOT stop it. A significant portion radiates all the way thorough the atmosphere into space from the surface, perhaps 20% the balance is absorbed in the atmosphere momentarily. It is slowed by the by the number of times it takes the radiation to travel through the atmosphere on average, into space which might be as many as five or six re-radiations occurring in a few seconds.

    The incoming amount of radiation must equal the amount of radiation re-radiated to space, else the Earth warms rapidly but the radiation can “bounce” several times as it is absorbed and some portion re-radiated back toward Earth, while other is radiated to space, and soem reabsorbed elsewherein theatmosphere. . But despite the “bouncing ” it is gone back into space very quickly in a few re-radiations that occur very rapidly within fractions of a second.

    The latest NASA satellite data confirms the equality. of input equals outgo. Other modern data from Ocean buoys confirm there is no rising repository of heat hiding in the Oceans,as Warmist have posited, to explain the “missing heat” which in reality went back into Space.

  35. Professor Happer,

    Well said. Very well said.

    Thank you for speaking out for the integrity of science and for an observation based future for mankind.

    John

  36. stephen richards says:
    August 18, 2011 at 1:55 pm
    “CO2 does indeed cause some warming of our planet. Other things being equal, more CO2 will cause more warming.”

    “The more I see this statement the more annoyed I get. Don’t spout the mantra, gives us the proof. Show us the equations. Show us the empirical measurements then show us that your proof equates directly to the observed measurements. aaaaaaaaarg !!! If not SHUT UP.”

    Even poor old Arrhenius understood that the warming or cooling is found in the feedbacks. Though additional CO2 in the atmosphere has the potential to cause warming, the actual impact of the CO2 cannot be determined until there is a substantial science of the feedbacks, phenomena such as changes in cloud formation.

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