Climate Change – Ebb and Flow of the Tide Part 1 of 3

Emotional, agenda-driven politics confronts sound, evidence-based science

Dr Kelvin Kemm

The topic of global warming and climate change is far more scientifically complex than the public is led to believe.

Myriads of newspaper, magazine and TV items over decades have tended to simplify the science to the point at which the general public believes that it is all so simple that any fool can see what is happening. Public groups often accuse world leaders and scientists of being fools, if they do not instantly act on simple messages projected by individuals or public groups.

One often hears phrases like: ‘The science is settled.’ It is not. Even more worrying is that the reality of the correct science is actually very different to much of the simple public perception.

An additional complicating factor is that there are political groupings wanting to change the world social order and who are using the climate change issue as a vehicle to achieve these objectives. They want the ‘science’ to say what they want it to say and are not interested in the truth. Sections of the public, with noble good intentions, then frequently do not realise that they are being induced by such elements to unwittingly support a political agenda, which in reality is unrelated to the climate issue.

I found myself in an informal social debate on these topics, with some people getting rather heated. Attempts to cool the conversation temperature were not so successful. The political aspects of the climate change issue, as always, entered into the discussion. Points like: ‘saving mankind from disaster’ were made with much emotion, and UN and various government political votes on the science were referred to, as if a political vote settled the scientific facts.

Sadly, so much of the climate debate is the result of votes and not of sound science, as determined by scientific methodology and protocol which has been developed over centuries.

From the day when Archimedes ran down the street shouting ‘Eureka,’ science method has evolved along strict lines, highly conscious of the fact that bad mistakes can be made if the correct methodology and protocols are not followed.

The heated social debate, which I referred to, jumped and jolted from point to point. One moment it was science, then politics, then economics; all generating a rather random ‘Brownian motion’ of comment. People with no scientific qualifications of any sort were claiming equal right to a scientific opinion, in competition to the opinions of those of the qualified scientists present.

A result of all this was that a few days later I wrote a numbered list of points which were touched on during the discussion. The numbered list contained science, politics and economics points and I listed them in some logical sequence, to my mind. I emailed the list to a number of the people who were present that evening, and also to a number of other people who were interested, and it was well received. So I later enhanced the list, and the expanded list is presented here.

It is not intended to be totally complete and it does not contain all the scientific references that would have been inserted for a scientific paper. I wanted to make it easy reading. It is also not written as a unified flowing single article, but I believe that it presents a useful guideline to the nature of the current worldwide climate debates. These debates have huge economic consequences for all people.

Politicians, bankers and business people have significant power with respect to the national and international outcomes, but tend to be exposed largely to the daily ‘street science’ on the topic. So we really do need to get the facts and the real science into the various debates, in their correct perspective.

The Wander List: To lead you somewhere

1. Global warming and cooling have always taken place throughout the history of the planet. It is nothing new. Our planet has passed through major events like the Ice Ages and subsequent warmings, which we know were caused by astronomical events and by major geological factors, such as periods of great volcanic activity.

However, the planet has also experienced lesser warmings and coolings such as the Minoan Warming, Roman Warming, Mediaeval Warm Period (MWP) and the Little Ice Age (LIA).

2. All of these warmings and coolings are well documented in the scientific record. There is no argument about that.

3. These warmings and coolings are also documented in the historical record to varying degrees. The Minoan, Roman and MWP are documented. It is also a historical fact that past warm periods in history coincided with periods of health, welfare and general prosperity, whereas cold periods coincided with crop failure, starvation and disease.

The LIA is well documented with writings and paintings. There are numbers of paintings preserved of ice fairs on a frozen River Thames during the LIA. The ice was so thick that paintings show horse-drawn carriages riding down the river. A record even speaks of an elephant walking across the Thames. There is no doubt about this.

4. The MWP and LIA temperatures are known. Not with the accuracy of modern-day electronic means, but well recorded. There is no doubt about the magnitude, up and down, of the MWP and LIA. The clear indications are that the MWP was warmer than today. There is total proof that the LIA was much colder than modern times.

5. Research work carried out in Greenland, near the ancient Norse settlements outside Narsaq in Greenland, by Yarrow Axford and Everett Lasher of Northwestern University in the United States, found that the temperatures experienced by the Vikings, when they farmed the area, after Erik the Red with a fleet of twelve longboats led a Viking group which settled there in 985 AD, were very similar to the temperatures experienced in Greenland today.

Axford and Lasher were able to construct a climate change pattern over the short period of hundreds of years or less, making it the first study to quantify past temperature change in the so-called Norse Eastern Settlement. The researchers were able to measure oxygen isotopes from a trapped mix of fly species preserved in the sediment layers in lakes. They were able to link the oxygen isotopes to precipitation and to link this to temperature variation over time.

Many ancient Viking farms are well preserved today with walls of 1 m to 1.5 m still standing, so evidence of a thriving community exists. The last written records of Viking settlements in Greenland date from 1408 AD after which the settlements died out, apparently as result of a steep decline in temperature, which led to the LIA.

Further evidence from Greenland is that archeobotanist Peter Steen Henriksen of the Danish National Museum in Copenhagen found grains of barley in a Viking rubbish heap. From this evidence Henriksen was able to prove that Vikings were growing grain. The barley was used to make a type of porridge and to brew beer, indicating a stable self sufficient farming community.

6. The MWP and LIA were global. There is no logic to some claims that only Europe warmed during the MWP. What conceivable scientific mechanism could explain a localised warming which existed only over Europe for some hundreds of years?

A research team led by George Brook examined a large ancient cave, the Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa which is 140 m in extent. Examining stalactite formation, using oxygen isotopes, they were able to determine past temperatures which showed not only the MWP but also the Roman Warming and the Minoan Warming periods. The LIA was also evident. This cave is in a dry area near the town of Kuruman and contain centuries of undisturbed historical and geological evidence. (G Brook et al (2015), African Archaeological Review 32; 669-700).

Another research team, led by Sharon Nicholson, studied temperatures for the past two thousand years over a large area of Southern Africa, including Lake Tanganyika in Central Africa, the Ethiopian Highlands, the large Cango Caves system in South Africa, and also found evidence of the MWP and the LIA over these regions. (Nicholson et al (2013), The Holocene 23, 8, 1085-1094)

7. All these warmings and cooling’s took place without any contribution from industrially produced CO2, or man-induced anything. So, what caused them?

8. There is some global warming that has happened over the last 150 years. Some people like to say: “Since the start of the Industrial Age.” However, there is no reason to believe that the cause of the current warming is any different to the cause for the MWP and other previous warmings in the historical record.

9. It is interesting that so frequently the phrase is used: ‘since the industrial age’ when referring to global warming. That is the same time that Tzar Alexander II became Tzar of Russia and when Abraham Lincoln became President of the United States. That was also the time of the Crimean War and the US Civil War, which is also the time that Charles Darwin published his famous book ‘On the Origin of Species’. So why reference the industrial age, why not rather say: ‘since the time of Tzar Alexander II’. Clearly the ‘industrial age’ is intended to imply cause and blame, directed at industry.

10. Science proposals are either right or wrong. They are not the result of a popular vote, or consensus, as so eloquently articulated by Dr Michael Crichton, the author of great novels and movies such as Jurassic Park, which were acclaimed for their degree of scientific accuracy.

Note that Crichton was a qualified medical doctor who carried out research work at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, and was also a visiting lecturer in anthropology at Cambridge University. So he knew about science and science accuracy. All his famous novels are characterized by a foundation of sound scientific research and a factual basis.

He wrote an excellent novel on the climate change scare, called State of Fear. The novel even contains genuine scientific references. As a result of his ability to explain science to the public, he was invited to give evidence on the climate change issue to a Senate hearing in Washington DC, but there he was insulted by former senators Hillary Clinton and Barbara Boxer. Hillary Clinton said that he should not: “muddy the issues around sound science” (The New York Times 28 Sept 2005) and Barbara Boxer said:“I think that we have to focus on facts, not fiction”.

This pattern has been seen internationally – when serious scientists challenge popular dogma on anthropogenic climate change, then character assassination and derision frequently follows. This in itself is a sign that the scientist has a valid point and some say that insult at such a point is actually a compliment; because it means that that is all that the attacker has left.

Michael Crichton wrote:

In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.

Incorrect ‘popular consensus’ was directed against such people as Galileo, Darwin and Einstein.

These speeches by Dr Crichton are illuminating:

So are some of the comments on Crichton’s speech:

Greenhouse Warming does exist

11. There is an effect called Greenhouse Warming. The name comes from a greenhouse, the interior of which is warmer than the surroundings. However, a greenhouse is mainly warmer than the surroundings because it is sealed up and minimal air circulation passes through it. The ‘heat trapping’ effect due to altered Infra-Red frequencies on re-radiation is actually minimal.

12. A Greenhouse Effect does occur in the Earth’s atmosphere and has always been present. If it were not for this effect, then the Earth would have remained so cold that life probably would not have evolved. The first person to realise that the atmosphere of the Earth probably acted as an insulator was French physicist and mathematician Jean Baptiste Fourier when he mathematically showed that by his theory of heat transfer the Earth should be far colder than it was, unless something like the atmosphere was acting as an insulator. Fourier had published a book in 1822 on his mathematical theory of heat transfer which was controversial at the time.

Then a century-and-a-half ago, physicist John Tyndall (c1822-1893) proved that heat is absorbed by water vapour and carbon dioxide. He realised that the actual molecular structure of gases was the major factor in the heat absorption effects. It was not just a case of more gas, more heat trapping.

He made particular mention of the overwhelming heat absorption characteristics of water vapour. He also mentioned that this heat absorption could influence climatic effects, although the first person to publish the base concept that atmospheric CO2 could influence ground temperature was Swedish scientist; Svante Arrhenius in 1896.

13. The case of whether an Enhanced Greenhouse Effect is manifesting itself now leading to global warming is a totally different matter.

14. Carbon Dioxide does have a heat trapping effect, due to the altered frequencies, of the re-radiated infra red (IR), as required by the laws of physics. Physics states that when IR strikes the ground or anything else, some of it will be re-radiated back but that the radiation emitted from the warmed up object has to be at a different wavelength. Certain wavelengths will pass through certain frequency ‘windows’ in the atmosphere and not through others. So some IR frequencies being re-radiated upwards will get out back to space and some don’t.

Atmospheric transparency to IR is extremely well understood in physics, mainly due to the military development of heat seeking missiles and military IR detection.

The IR ‘windows’ in the atmosphere are well known. Exactly how CO2 interacts with IR is also very well understood, due to the study and development of devices such as carbon dioxide lasers. The heat trapping mechanism of CO2 at the molecular level is far more complex than simple public interest articles lead the public to believe.

15. Also extremely well known are the light and IR reflecting properties of clouds, both from top-down and bottom-up.

Here in the Pretoria and Johannesburg area of South Africa, where I live, there is generally no rain and no cloud cover throughout the winter. This is due to the high inland plateau on which both cities are situated. The plateau is known as the Highveld. Because of the great altitude of both cities, the diurnal temperature range in the winter is great. Temperature can be over 20C max on a winter’s day, but then drop to zero at night.

However, on the few winter occasions when cloud does occur at night, the minimum temperature reached is dramatically higher, by half a dozen degrees. It is common public knowledge that cloud at night in winter results in a warm night and a warm breakfast time. It is common public knowledge that winter night cloud-cover; ‘keeps the heat in’.

16. Although the physics of light and IR interaction with clouds is well understood, the cloud effects are not at all well accommodated in climate computer models. The reason for this is the dynamic nature of cloud cover. It is difficult to accurately project the amount of cloud cover, cloud density and height, and also factors like what terrain is underneath clouds, such as water, flat dry land, mountains, wet jungle, and so on.

The nature of the terrain will determine how much IR is reflected and absorbed. At any moment a substantial proportion of the Earth is covered by cloud, so even small variations in cloud screening will make a substantial difference to ground and atmospheric heating.

17. One frequently hears in the popular media of computer models predicting the state of the global climate a century into the future. But what is not brought to public attention is that the computer models are extremely complex and predict outcomes based solely on what information the researchers choose to put into the model. It is well known that minor variations in the input data can produce dramatic differences in the output scenario. Slight differences in cloud data fed in can completely change the resulting predictions.

It is also on the basis of such computer predictions that the now well known prediction that a 2C rise in temperature above the atmospheric temperature that existed at the time of Tzar Alexander II may be reached by the year 2100. Further computer predictions then project that this 2C rise may then induce some computer-predicted ‘Tipping Point’ past which there will then be some runaway rapid temperature rise leading to disaster. This potential 2C rise has come to be regarded by some groups as a highly accurate and reliable figure. It is not.

18. Another fact which is well known, is that ‘global warming’ and ‘climate change’ issues are highly politicised. Therefore, the general public debate does not take place between scientists qualified in the field, but largely between people who just voice an opinion.

19. A clear indication of this trend is a Swedish schoolgirl who gathers crowds of marching, chanting schoolchildren to demonstrate in the streets. How many of these children have any idea what a water vapour or carbon dioxide molecule looks like, or for that matter what a molecule is. Or, how a molecule absorbs heat.

What is even more astounding is that the schoolgirl is invited to address national assemblies and even the UN. Imagine a schoolgirl being invited to address the UN on international trade or disarmament. One then has to ask the question; what is the psychology driving the UN and other august bodies who will listen, enraptured, to a schoolgirl lecture them, with rather firm tone of voice, on a complex scientific topic. The phenomenon is most strange.

Every man is a creature of the age in which he lives and few are able to raise themselves above the ideas of the time. Voltaire (1694–1778)

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David Baird
March 27, 2020 6:46 am

One frequently hears in the popular media of computer models predicting the state of the global climate a century into the future. But what is not brought to public attention is that the computer models are extremely complex and predict outcomes based solely on what information the researchers choose to put into the model. It is well known that minor variations in the input data can produce dramatic differences in the output scenario.

GIGO! Is it not? Too many still understood complexities to make firm predictions. And the only “concensus” that I see is the lining up at the trough to give the answers paid for.

Curious George
Reply to  David Baird
March 27, 2020 10:41 am

Didn’t this start with the Club of Rome, and the famous book The Limits to Growth? They were right at each step … it’s just that you and I had not noticed that we had died many years ago. Always trust the Elites! 🙂

Torgeir Hansson
Reply to  David Baird
March 27, 2020 7:33 pm

Isn’t the more salient point that computer climate models have a predictive skill of about 2–3 weeks?

Crispin in Waterloo
March 27, 2020 6:51 am

I think we have to make clear that for the extreme Left, the purpose of science is to serve the interests of the Party. Science and scientists do not have an independent purpose such as the bourgeois notion of science research for vain entertainment and vague interest.

A quick check of Stalin’s scientists will soon demonstrate that to make progress in a perpetual revolution one must serve the “right” masters. That starts and ends with the the Party.

If the Party needs a global warming scare, then it gets one. This is not considered noble cause corruption – it is not corruption if the Party needs certain things said, or adjusted, or suppressed, in the service of the main objective: power and control for the Party. Why do they need that power and control? To achieve the objectives of the Party. Therefore the first objective of the Party is power and control.

Does this circular argument show the only thing that matters is power and control?

The media serves that interest by presenting things such as “600 billion tons of ice and snow melted in Antarctica last year” without adding that it re-froze the same or more during the winter. So the statement is true, but omits the rebound when the winter came. This is “lying by omission” because it is intended to deceive.

Ultimately this promotes a class struggle between those who have a clue and those who don’t. In this case, ignorance is fear, not bliss. We have to educate better.

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
March 27, 2020 1:02 pm

Excellent observation, thank you Crispin. The believe that the proponents of the global warming/climate scam have always known that they were lying. No rational person could be this delusional for this long.

Excerpt from the article:
“As a result of his ability to explain science to the public, he (Michel Crichton) was invited to give evidence on the climate change issue to a Senate hearing in Washington DC, but there he was insulted by former senators Hillary Clinton and Barbara Boxer.”

Hillary Clinton has a Law Degree from Yale.
Barbara Boxer graduated from Brooklyn College with a bachelor’s degree in economics.

There two women have no apparent education in the sciences and yet they feel free to insult a highly educated and accomplished scientist like Michael Crichton.

This is the standard mantra of the rabid left – “the science is settled”. They don’t even know what science is, or the Scientific Method, let alone any of the myriad complexities of climate science. They are prattling imbeciles and scoundrels, who try to shout down the rational arguments of their intellectual superiors.

Over fifty very-scary predictions have been broadcast by the warmist camp, and every single one has failed to happen. These climate clowns have proven negative credibility. Nobody should believe them – about anything.

Torgeir Hansson
Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
March 27, 2020 7:34 pm

This is not an accurate description of Western science and scientists. The argument is baldly opportunistic.

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
March 28, 2020 7:04 am


President Donald Trump blasted ABC News “reporter” Jonathan Karl as a “wise guy” who was trying to act cute at a White House coronavirus briefing.

Trump fired back at Karl after he asked a dumb gotcha question about the availability of ventilators amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

This ABC News scam attempt is a good example of the fault lines that divide America.

This ABC reporter repeatedly asked Trump to “guarantee that everyone who needed one would get a ventilator”, so he could then play “gotcha” if later the entire country was one ventilator short. This is the typical dishonest behavior that we have come to expect from the corrupted mainstream media.

The mainstream US media are so extreme-left that one should discount everything they say and write – they have no objectivity, no integrity and negative credibility. Nobody should believe them – about anything.

The same can be said about the scary-but-false predictions of the climate clowns in the Western world – every one of their very-scary predictions of climate catastrophe, more than fifty of them, have failed to happen. Nobody should believe them – about anything.

J Mac
Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
March 28, 2020 2:26 pm

Very well said, Crispin!

Ron Long
March 27, 2020 6:52 am

Kelvin Kemm, PhD, is a Nuclear Physicist who is working hard to advance Africa into the nuclear energy era. His comments posted here at WATTS are right on, and, if I had the power, I would make him an Honorary Geologist.

Ed Zuiderwijk
March 27, 2020 6:57 am

A few hundred years ago the only ‘august’ international body was the Roman Catholic Church. In those days there were plenty of girls to whom the officials of that organisation paid heed to the point of fawning. Bernadette of Lisieux, three maiden of Fatima (Portugal) and countless before them. Al with a message of impending doom unless, of course, we repented and changed our sinful ways. Those in power loved it, yet another saint to add to the collection.

Nothing new there, nothing surprising either. Or perhaps the new thing is that they now come from Sweden.

Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
March 27, 2020 12:25 pm
Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
March 27, 2020 2:49 pm

Bernadette of Lisieux?
There was a Bernadette of Lourdes and there was a Therese of Lisieux but I’m not familiar with a Bernadette of Lisieux.
The visions at Fatima occurred to two girls and a boy, not three girls.
A few hundred years ago?
The visions of Bernadette Soubirous occurred in 1858. Hardly ‘a few hundred years ago’.
The visions at Fatima occurred in 1917. Hardly ‘a few hundred years ago’.
Countless before them? Really?
All with a message of impending doom?
What was the message of impending doom at Lourdes, Ed?
The visions of Fatima were given in 1917. The ‘doom’ had already been going on for three years. The lady in the visions said that the Great War would end but that a much worse one would occur if people did not stop offending God. Anybody want to argue that the Second World War was not much worse than the First?
So here we see the kind of sloppy “research” this comment is based on.
Anybody familiar with either story knows that the initial Church reaction to the claims of the four visionaries was one of extreme scepticism.

Reply to  Alba
March 27, 2020 4:09 pm

Incidentally, unlike Greta Thunberg, none of the people alluded to in Ed’s comment sought public attention.
Bernadette Soubirous of Lourdes joined the Sisters of Charity at their motherhouse at Nevers and died at the age of 35.
Two of the Fatima children died soon after the visions. The third one, Lucia, joined a convent at the age of 21.
Therese of Lisieux also joined a convent and died at the age of 24.

Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
April 6, 2020 9:17 am

My understanding is that Greta is NOT a school girl – she’s a dropout.

March 27, 2020 7:17 am

The strange phenomenon of a screaming school girl pretending to be knowledgeable is called propaganda.

The phenomenon has been well studied and perfected and is practiced with rigor by thise in the Media every hour in presentations pretending to be news reports.

Reply to  DocSiders
March 27, 2020 11:12 am

Those with totalitarian tendencies have long known about the effectiveness of brainwashing the youth.

Hitler Youth.

Mao’s Red Guards.

And now Greta and the “skolbarn” (school children).

Antero Ollila
March 27, 2020 7:36 am

It is an excellent story about warming with some concrete pieces of evidence that the warm periods have happened, and they have been called “climate optimum” periods before the present climate panic. We have an excellent continuous dendrology history back 7644 years in Finland – the third-longest in the world.
The sample woods are mainly from the lakes in Lappland, the most northern part of Finland stretching to 70 degrees latitude, which is about as the same latitude as the northern coast of Alaska. These woods are tall and big because the whole Lappland was totally covered by sturdy pine forests being greatest from 6000 to 5000 before Common Era. Pine never came back to most Nordic areas of Lappland since then. The temperature at that time was 2-3 degrees warmer than now.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Antero Ollila
March 27, 2020 8:07 am

Trees are not thermometers. Their growth is determined by the most limiting factor at any given time. I don’t trust a tree ring series to tell me it was warmer any more than one that tells me it was colder. Unless you know all the growth factors for each season, you’re simply guessing. And if you knew the growth factors, you wouldn’t need tree rings.

Antero Ollila
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
March 27, 2020 8:14 am

If you read the whole comment of mine, you should have understood that it is not just a question of wood rings. Nowadays there are now pine forests in Lappland.

It is the same thing as the forest remains exposed under the two retreating glaciers in Alaska. There have been sturdy forests from 700 to 1000 matching with the warm Viking period at the same time. Do you think that there were Indians burning too much wood?

Reply to  Antero Ollila
March 27, 2020 9:00 am

The species that reliably grow in an area give a pretty good idea of the overall climate. It indicates that a set of criteria are met, one of which is the length of the growing season (roughly frost free days). That, in turn, is roughly related to average annual temperature.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Antero Ollila
March 27, 2020 9:33 am

You’re right, my mistake. I automatically thought tree rings, since they’re thrown at us so much.

Mark A Luhman
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
March 27, 2020 9:24 am

Were trees once grew and they don’t grow now because it to cold for them to grow, somehow I think that is a fairly good thermometer. The tree line ebb and flow north and south, up and down based on temperature. The same is true for grass(grass does not require as much water as trees,) the Woolly Mammoth feed on Grass survived in the Arctic until it turned into tundra. No grass no mammoth. Tree rings is another thing.

olav ankjær
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
March 28, 2020 9:09 am

I can agree with you Jeff, to a certain extent. When we talk about the thickness of the individual ring and claims of growth – temperature have been attributed somewhat to high correlation.
But when talking about whole forests of trees in Lapland (Finland) and in the highlands (Norway) above or north of where trees (pine) can grow or grow today, and we know it is not due to drought, then we can probably with great certainty say this was due to a warmer climate, over a relatively long period of time.

Antero Ollila
March 27, 2020 7:52 am

Quote: “Physics states that when IR strikes the ground or anything else, some of it will be re-radiated back but that the radiation emitted from the warmed up object has to be at a different wavelength.”

This statement is not very good, and it gives a wrong idea about the longwave (LW) radiation sources and cause-and-effect relationships in the atmosphere. Firstly, there is no IR radiation entering the Earth from the space, but it is SW radiation. The original source of IR radiation is the surface of the Earth which emits IR radiation about 395 W/m2 quite exactly according to Planck’s law. This IR radiation partly (28 W/m2) transmits through the atmosphere through so-called “atmospheric window” around the wavelength zone of 10 micrometers but most of the radiation(367 W/m2) is absorbed and emitted myriads of times and finally 212 W/m2 is emitted into space: the total IR radiation into space being thus 212+28 = 240 W/m2.

The GH effect is the result of three energy sources: LW absorption 155 W/m2, latent heating 91 W/m2 and sensible heating 24 W/m2, a totally of 270 W/m2. This radiation together with SW absorption of 75 W/m2 is 345 W/m2 emitted by the atmosphere to the Earth’s surface. This 270 W/m2 is the energy source of the GH effect recycling between “the sky and the Earth” creating the GH effect. It is not more complicated than that but the IPCC is cheating that the driving energy source of the GH effect is only that 155 W/m2.

Reply to  Antero Ollila
March 27, 2020 8:28 am

There is IR radiation coming from space, it’s just small compared to the SW radiation.

Antero Ollila
Reply to  MarkW
March 27, 2020 10:28 am

Right, radiation of 3 Kelvin degrees. Making the whole difference?

Reply to  Antero Ollila
March 27, 2020 12:32 pm

Last time I checked, the sun is a lot warmer than 3K.

Antero Ollila
Reply to  MarkW
March 27, 2020 1:38 pm

Sorry, my mistake. I did not notice that Dr. Kemm wrote about infrared radiation, which has been officially defined to be from 0.7 to 1000 micrometers. The shortwave range is from 0.2 to 3 micrometers and longwave radiation from 3 to 1000 micrometers. But strangely enough, in many cases, infrared radiation means the same as longwave radiation. For example, the incoming insolation has been called shortwave radiation and the radiation emitted by the Earth has been called LW radiation or infrared radiation. Terminology is not always strictly the same.

Reply to  Antero Ollila
March 27, 2020 12:11 pm

The only reason the emitted energy of photons would be less than the energy of the arriving photons is because the emitting area is larger than the absorbing area. For Earth, the emitting area is 4x the area that solar energy is arriving and the average energy of photons leaving the planet is about 4x less than the average energy of photons arriving from the Sun.

In the steady state, it’s not just some of the absorbed energy that’s radiated away, but on average, all of the incident energy that’s absorbed is radiated away and it’s this conditions that defines the steady state. Keep in mind that the steady state is the average across a whole number of years.

Latent heat has nothing whatsoever to do with photons or the GHG effect. All of the energy entering the atmosphere as latent heat is returned to the surface as rain or snow that’s warmer than it would be otherwise and as the energy driving the weather. To the extent that clouds radiate some of this away, for those clouds to be in a steady state, they must be absorbing the same as they’re emitting otherwise, those clouds would warm or cool without bound.

Clouds on the other hand are direct contributors to the GHG effect with the difference being that GHG’s are narrow band absorbers and emitters of photons while clouds are a broad band absorber and emitter of photons. In both cases, about half of the surface photons absorbed by GHG’s and clouds is returned to the surface offsetting surface emissions and the remaining half is emitted into space offsetting the incident solar energy. Furthermore; relative to surface emissions in excess of the forcing, clouds contribute more than GHG’s.

Of the 620 mw per W/m^2 of forcing that the surface emits in excess of the forcing, about 3/4 is replaced by cloud emissions sending LWIR photons to the surface while the rest comes from energized GHG molecules sending photons to the surface. An important fact that is generally ignored is that incremental GHG effect between clouds and the surface is irrelevant to the surface temperature, as the clouds would have absorbed and re-emitted those photons anyway.

Antero Ollila
Reply to  co2isnotevil
March 27, 2020 1:59 pm

To CO2isnotevil.

Well. This discussion about the GH effect discussion was very keen two weeks ago when Dr. Spencer commented on my article:

There are now 582 thoughts about this story. I do not find too many comments supporting Dr. Spencer’s opinion that it is too complicated to define the measure of the GH effect. The IPCC says it is 155 W/m2 and I have shown that without violating physical laws it is 270 W/m2.

Hartmann writes in his book “Global Physical Climatology” that the reradiation depends on the temperature of the atmosphere as it must per Planck’s law. Wikipedia writes in the same way in its description of the GH effect. All the energy sources contribute in maintaining the temperature profile of the atmosphere. If you take any of these energy sources out of this process, the reradiation will be less. I have calculated this by spectral calculations.

It does make sense to discuss this matter with somebody with his own laws of physics. And by the way, water absorbs LW radiation through the whole range of surface emitted radiation from 3 to 100 micrometers but not 100 %. GH gases absorb on average 79 % of LW radiation in clear sky conditions, in cloudy sky conditions 100 % meaning that on average 89 % of emitted radiation will be absorbed by GH gases and clouds. People do not know that.

Reply to  Antero Ollila
March 27, 2020 3:23 pm

The temperature of the atmosphere is slaved to the surface temperature, not the other way around. Radiation being returned by the atmosphere to the surface is orthogonal to the kinetic temperature of air molecules in motion.

By my analysis, the total amount of RADIANT surface energy absorbed by the atmosphere is about 300 W/m^2 of the 390 W/m^2 emitted (77%), leaving 90 W/m^2 to escape directly into space. Half of the 300 W/m^2 absorbed is re-emitted into space, and added to the 90 W/m^2 and offsets the 240 W/m^2 of incident solar energy. The remaining 150 W/m^2 is added to the 240 W/m^2 arriving from the Sun offsetting the 390 W/m^2 emitted by the surface. Note that if more than 300 W/m^2 is absorbed by the atmosphere, more than half of what’s absorbed must be emitted into space in order to offset the solar input.

If you consider only the net absorption of clouds and GHG’s that’s returned to the surface, then the IPCC’s 155 W/m^2 is close enough. Of course, about 3/4 of this is from clouds while the language they use implies it’s all from GHG’s. If you consider the total absorbed by the atmosphere by clouds and GHG’s, then your 270 W/m^2 is relatively close.

What confuses many about my analysis is that they get derailed by considering that not all of 240 W/m^2 from the Sun arrives at the surface and some is absorbed by clouds. However; owing to the tight thermodynamic coupling between clouds and oceans we can consider that relative to surface temperature averages across intervals longer than the nominal hydro cycle, solar energy absorbed by clouds is a proxy for solar energy absorbed by the oceans.

Tom Abbott
March 27, 2020 8:01 am

From the article: “The MWP and LIA were global. There is no logic to some claims that only Europe warmed during the MWP. What conceivable scientific mechanism could explain a localised warming which existed only over Europe for some hundreds of years?”

There is no mechanism to explain how extreme heat in one part of the globe stays there and doesn’t travel to other parts of the globe. This would apply to the claim that the high temperatures in the United States during the 1930’s, was local, not global. Of course, a look at any unmodified Tmax chart from around the world would put the lie to that claim. It was hot all over the world in the 1930’s.

From the article: A research team led by George Brook examined a large ancient cave, the Wonderwerk Cave in South Africa which is 140 m in extent. Examining stalactite formation, using oxygen isotopes, they were able to determine past temperatures which showed not only the MWP but also the Roman Warming and the Minoan Warming periods.”

Yes, and then there is the Early Twenthieth Century Warming (ETCW), which was determined by actual temperature readings, not proxies. The ETCW was just as warm as today and was also global.

So we really don’t have to use proxies and cite warm periods of long ago to knock down the human-caused climate change claims (not that I object to people doing so, I just think it is unecesary considerig we have actual temperature readings to back up these claims about the ETCW).

All we have to do is cite the actual unmodified global temperature record covering the ETCW to demonstrate that it was just as warm in the early 20th century as it is today, and that warming was not influenced significantly by CO2, according to the IPCC, so the similar warming of today does not require CO2 to reach those levels because those levels were reached in the recent past without the enhancement of CO2. CO2 is not the control knob of the Earth’s climate.

The ETCW destroys the “unprecedented warming” claims of the alarmists. If it was just as warm in the ETCW as it is today (and it was), then that means there is no unprecedented warming today, and that means that human-caused climate change is dead. Mother Nature is running this show.

March 27, 2020 8:24 am

Excellent summary.

Tim Crome
Reply to  John Shewchuk
March 27, 2020 12:36 pm

Couldn’t agree more.

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  John Shewchuk
March 27, 2020 9:24 pm

I agree, and I think Eb and Flo would probably agree, as well.

March 27, 2020 8:39 am

The time of Tsar Alexander II is perhaps useful as a replacement for “since the industrial age began’ but perhaps use of something more tangible like life expectancy would be useful for communicating benefits of modernization. For example the like expectancy in 1850 was just under 40 years and now it is almost 80 years.

One might argue that the quality of life is better now, in addition to length. Good piece by the way. I look forward to parts 2 and 3.

shortus cynicus
March 27, 2020 8:45 am

Global Worming (TM) is promoted because nice, guild riddled white people react to it and pay ransom money.

Arrogance can be destroyed only by more arrogance, not by niceness.

So, say it laud, say it not nice: I give a f….k about melting ice!

If it happens, I have clear message to the poor suckers who invested in wrong property: just suck it in and cope.

March 27, 2020 9:02 am

So much of what is considered “the science” behind climate change is in the computer models. Several years ago I watched a presentation by the late Dr. Bob Carter who indicated models are not predictions. They only allow you to explore the limitations of your current knowledge and then use that to look for factors you may have missed. If you have already assumed your primary driver is CO@, then you are not looking for anything you missed because you already have it! The characterization of what the models mean by climate change warriors is a perversion.

March 27, 2020 9:45 am

“The topic of global warming and climate change is far more scientifically complex than the public is led to believe.”

Not really, in fact, it’s far simpler. The apparent complexity arises from political posturing, scientific ignorance among many of those who claim to be climate scientists and a massive amount of misinformation and misdirection coming from the IPCC.

The top down science quantifying the planets macroscopic behavior is quite simple and unambiguously constrained by the Stefan-Boltzmann LAW and Conservation of Energy which dictates that the next Joule of forcing must have the same effect on the surface emissions as all of the others. Each W/m^2 of forcing adds 1.62 W/m^2 to the surface emissions where the temperature effect depends on the starting temperature and as a result of the T^4 relationship between temperature and W/m^2, the higher the starting temperature, the smaller the ultimate effect. At the current average of about 288K, the temperature effect of the next W/m^2 of input (forcing) would be about 0.3C which is actually less than the IPCC’s presumed lower bound.

A significant complication arises because the IPCC assumes that the next W/m^2 increases the surface emissions by between 2.2 W/m^2 and 6.6 W/m^2 in order to achieve the required 0.8C +/- 0.4C per W/m^2 of forcing they need to support the UNFCCC’s anti-humanity agenda. It’s all the hoops they must go through in order to come up with some fanciful way to support what the laws of physics can not that makes climate science seem far more complex than it really is.

Another contributing factor is that they model from the bottom up and ignore the top down constraints like COE and the SB Law. Yes, a bottom up calculation is very complex, the number of unknowns is astronomical and the veracity of the results is highly suspect and far too dependent on the initial conditions, but it’s also completely unnecessary in order to understand and quantify how the macroscopic climate responds to incremental input power.

The simple, immutable truth is that each average W/m^2 of forcing uniformly contributes a temperature independent average of 1.62 W/m^2 to the surface emissions which is demonstrably true from pole to pole and from season to season and is unambiguously supported by theory and data. The fact that this truth is ignored in favor of conformance to a political narrative is an embarrassment to all science.

Antero Ollila
Reply to  co2isnotevil
March 27, 2020 2:07 pm

To CO2isnotevil.

What do you mean by this: “Each W/m^2 of forcing adds 1.62 W/m^2 to the surface emissions where the temperature effect depends on the starting temperature and as a result of the T^4 relationship between temperature and W/m^2, the higher the starting temperature, the smaller the ultimate effect.”

The IPCC’s radiative forcings (RF) are normalized to happen a TOA for making them comparable to solar insolation. The next step is to calculate what is the temperature effect of RF. According to the IPCC, it is dT =0,5 *RF. What is your equation? You show W/m2 and temperatures never showing any grounding.

Reply to  Antero Ollila
March 27, 2020 2:59 pm

What this means is that the relationship between W/m^2 and temperature is given by the Stefan-Boltzmann Law where W/m^2 are proportional to T^4. Incrementally normalized or not, this relationship must be true in the steady state. The incremental nature of the IPCC’s definition of forcing is an unnecessary level of obfuscation that leads to confusion by implying that different W/m^2 can have different effects, while COE dictates that they must all contribute equally to the surface emissions, where the temperature is backed out by applying SB in reverse to those emissions. Note that feedback analysis can only be applied to a system whose input and output are linearly related to each other over all possible inputs and outputs, not just approximately linear over a small range around the average as presumed by the IPCC.

The ONLY forcing influence are W/m^2 from the Sun. W/m^2 of forcing said to arise from incremental CO2 is not actual forcing, but is a change to the system which can be considered to have the same effect as a change in forcing while keeping the system, i.e. CO2 concentrations constant.

To calculate a dT, first calculate the emissions corresponding to the current average temperature (288K -> 390 W/m^2) and divide these emissions by the total solar forcing of 240 W/m^2 to get the surface power gain of 1.625 W/m^2 of surface emissions per W/m^2 of forcing. The next W/m^2 must have the same effect as the average, so add 1.625 to the original emissions and calculate temperature that would emit that much, 391.625 W/m^2 -> 288.3K. DT is the difference between this temperature and the baseline temperature, dT = 288.3K – 288K = 0.3K.

and subtract this from the temperature that would result in emissions 1.62 W/m^2 more than the baseline emissions (288.3K -> 391.62 W/m^2), dT = 288.3 – 289 = 0.3.

Alan McIntire
Reply to  co2isnotevil
March 27, 2020 5:26 pm

I suspect that in actuality, it would be less than that 0.3° C increase per watt, The surface wattage is actually about 490 rather than 390 watts. About 80 watts goes into the latent heat of evaporation, and 20 watts goes into the latent heat of convection, about 20% total,

Your 1.62 figure should be upped to 490/240 = 2.04

If the same partition into latent heat/sensible heat happened with future wattage increases as happens now, you’d get the same 0,3C increase in sensible heat, with an additional added latent heat factor of (492,4/490)* 100= 0.49 watts, As temperatures increase, I suspect a larger and larger fraction of any wattage increase would go into latent heat. Check out “Bowen Ratio”.

Reply to  Alan McIntire
March 27, 2020 7:19 pm


But the latent heat of evaporation has a zero sum influence on the NET radiation from the surface. Whatever goes into the atmosphere as latent heat is returned to the surface, mostly in precipitation warmer than it would be otherwise and the power driving weather. The distinction is energy transported by matter and energy transported by photons, where only photons can leave the planet, moreover; matter must absorb and emit the same amount of energy to be in the steady state and changes to the steady state are all we need to be concerned about.

Ask yourself the question, what effect does the latent heat, plus it’s offsetting return to the surface have on the average temperature and its SB emissions other than the effect they’re already having?

Trenberth confused everybody with his energy balance that tries to draw an equivalence between energy transported by matter (latent heat, thermals, convection) and the energy transported by photons (incident energy and SB emissions). Remove latent heat and thermals plus their return in his ‘back radiation’ term and it should become clear.

Alan D. McIntire
Reply to  Alan McIntire
March 27, 2020 8:08 pm

The latent heat is radiated away at a higher level, reducing the lapse rate, Currently, with the troposphere extending up an average of 5 kilometers, a 288 k surface minus 6.5 *5= 255.5 K, Add more latent heat, reduce the lapse rate to 6 degrees per kilometer, and surface sensible temperature would only be 285 K,

Without that latent heat, we’d get a 9.8 degree per kilometer lapse rate, and a surface temperature of (9,8^5) +255 = 304 K, It makes a BIG difference when energy goes into latent heat rather than sensible heat,

Reply to  Alan McIntire
March 28, 2020 8:12 am


It doesn’t matter that some of the latent heat is ‘radiated’ away by clouds. For those clouds to be in the steady state, they must be absorbing an amount equal to what’s being radiated, therefore, relative to the STEADY STATE RADIANT energy balance, there’s no NET loss of latent heat energy by cloud radiation.

The lapse rate is also irrelevant to the surface temperature, the radiant balance or the sensitivity. It’s simply a function of the matter in the atmosphere at any given place and point in time and quantifies how energy is distributed within the atmosphere. Given that the matter in the atmosphere is an insignificant contributer to the planets thermal mass which is otherwise dominated by the oceans, obsessing about the details of how so little relevant energy is distributed within the atmosphere tells us nothing important and is a contributing reason for why climate science is so broken.

Keep in mind the path latent heat takes within a cloud. When vapor condenses, the water droplet it condenses upon gets a heavier and little warmer owing to the latent heat. The heavier water droplet falls in the cloud, only to evaporates again as the cloud temperature increases. The water vapor rises in the cloud and the cycle repeats until the droplet is heavy enough to fall out of the cloud as rain before it has a chance to evaporate again. For all intents and purposes, latent heat is recirculated within clouds by the convection they cause until it eventually leaves the cloud as precipitation. If it radiated away, cloud convection would not occur.

Yes. clouds radiate energy, but they also absorb radiant energy from the surface and in the steady state, these fluxes MUST be exactly equal, otherwise, the cloud will heat or cool without bound.

Considering that the energy transported by matter and the energy transported by photons contribute equally to the RADIANT balance is a red herring introduced by Trenberth that has nothing to do with the actual sensitivity or the RADIANT balance but seems to have been done to propagate confusion by inflating the ‘back radiation’ term with energy that’s not actually radiant and that makes the GHG effect look more important than it actually is.

Reply to  Antero Ollila
March 27, 2020 6:00 pm


Another way to calculate dT is to consider the ratio between solar input and surface emissions as the equivalent emissivity of a gray body emitter whose temperature is that of the surface and whose emissions are that of the planet (i.e. e = 0.615). Then differentiate the SB Law using an emissivity of 0.615 and invert to calculate dT per W/m^2.

o is the SB constant of 5.67E-8 W/m^2 per K^4.
T is the surface temp
P is the planets emissions
e is the equivalent emissivity of the gray body macroscopic model of the Earth

P = eoT^4
dP/dT = 4eoT^3

P = 0.615*o*(288K)^4 = 240 W/m^2

In the steady state, P is equal to total solar forcing, so the reciprocal of dP/dT is dT/dP and is a measure of dT per W/m^2.

dP/dT = 4*0.615*o*288K^3 = 3.33 W/m^2 per K

dT/dP = 0.3 K per W/m^2

The dP/dT metric is what the IPCC calls alpha and there are dozens of alphas for different kinds of W/m^2 and they even have non overlapping uncertainties. This is insane as all W/m^2 are the same no matter their origin since in all cases, the W/m^2 are the equivalent W/m^2 of solar forcing. Any uncertainty should be in the equivalent W/m^2 not in the alpha (1/sensitivity) which has only one value and even for solar energy, the alpha they claim is only about 1.3 W/m^2 per degree K. This is an absurd underestimate pulled out of thin air which would be true only if either the surface temperature was about 55K or the planets equivalent emissivity was about 0.24 where the planet was only emitting about 90 W/m^2. This is what you would get if you failed to acknowledge that half of what the atmosphere absorbs is eventually emitted into space which increases the NET equivalent emissivity to somewhere between 0.61 and 0.62.

March 27, 2020 10:01 am

“Further computer predictions then project that this 2C rise may then induce some computer-predicted ‘Tipping Point’ past which there will then be some runaway rapid temperature rise leading to disaster”

That tipping point 2C warming limit since pre industrial to avoid catastrophic irreversible climate change has been 5C since pre indistrial and it came down in stages to 2C since pre indistrial and is now 1.5C since pre industrial except that we don’t really know exactly when pre industrial was and what that reference temperature is.

Curious George
Reply to  Chaamjamal
March 27, 2020 10:48 am

The Apocalypse is coming, sooner than later!
Pray only in remote corners, don’t offend savages among us.

Does the Earth Day 2020 really celebrate the 150th anniversary of V.I.Lenin’s birthday?

Reply to  Chaamjamal
March 27, 2020 8:23 pm


Tipping points are bogus as the runaway condition they’re worried about requires the implicit and infinite source of Joules powering the gain that’s otherwise missing. The power supply is not the Sun as the Sun is the forcing and can not be both. Bode’s active linear feedback amplifier model subverted by Hansen to represent the climate system requires the forcing to be measured to determine how much power to deliver to the output from the implicit supply. A passive system like the climate consumes the input forcing to produce the output power directly. This is further obfuscated by making the output a delta T, rather than a change in emissions corresponding to a change in temperature. An emissions output makes more sense since emissions are already mostly linear to forcing across all possible inputs and outputs which satisfies Bode’s requirement for strict linearity, but still not his requirement for the implicit power supply. The additional error of making the output a delta T and asserting approximate linearity around the mean is either an amateurish mistake or a sophisticated ruse that obfuscates the underlying linearity as it doesn’t even satisfy the linearity requirement!

March 27, 2020 10:27 am

Very informative. Succinctly written

Al Miller
March 27, 2020 10:57 am

I started out as a true believer (they picked a method that kind of makes intuitive sense, not by accident). As time went on however I began to read more and more and I began to see lies, misinformation and self serving hypocrisy more and more.
I’m now completely and utterly fed up and disgusted with the massive waste of human resources this entire topic has become for the extreme benefit of a few who hope to gain immeasurable wealth and/ or political power from the misinformation they are spreading. I will not sit quietly by anymore while these lies are being perpetrated upon us.

Nick Graves
March 27, 2020 11:57 am

It is a good precis of the situation.

Perhaps the most inflammatory thing is that instead of repudiation or refutation of challenges, the protagonists resort to ad hominems. That ought to be a dead giveaway in a more critical-thinking society. It was certainly what alerted my suspicions in the first place; spidey sense alert.

Perhaps all we need to get that through is a new catchphrase:

“Bzzzt: Argumentum ad hominem. You LOSE”

Repeat ad nauseam…

March 27, 2020 1:37 pm

What is the psychology driving the UN and other august bodies who will listen, enraptured, to a schoolgirl lecture them, with rather firm tone of voice, on a complex scientific topic?

A. delusional disorder
B. mass hysteria
C. misanthropism
D. primitivism
F. all of the above

March 27, 2020 2:19 pm

I have an interesting story about the novel “State of Fear”. I had a fellow engineer that worked with me in the coal power industry. He was convinced that man-made climate change was very real. I challenged him to read the novel. He said he would if I would watch “An Inconvenient Truth”. I mustered all of my strength and agreed to his challenge. After we each had accomplished our tasks I was still a skeptic and he was a questioning believer. Further discussions on the life style of Al Gore raised some questions. He then got assigned several projects that involved mercury control for coal fired power plants. That opened his eyes to how politics gets involved in so many decisions. He saw the massive cost that were being forced on Utilities for very little return. He became a skeptic.

I also gave that novel to over 10 friend and family members to read. Most became skeptical of the man made

Zig Zag Wanderer
March 27, 2020 2:27 pm

I would add that ‘tipping’ points are patently ridiculous. If there were such tipping points, any warming, for any reason, would have triggered them. The cause of the warming is irrelevant.

The fact that if this had happened, we would have evidence of extreme warming caused by small bouts of warming, which we don’t. The climate would rage from extreme heat to extreme cold and back again, which it doesn’t, apart from ice ages which we still do not fully understand.

The fact that the climate is relatively stable most of the time is in itself remarkable, and definite proof that these imagined tipping points do not exist.

I would also add the issue that CO2 rises after temperature, which leads many to believe that rises in CO2 are caused by outgassing of CO2 from the seas as they warm (for other reasons). The hypothesis that the CO2 outgasses from the seas and then causes more warming (as posited on un-real climate) is patently ridiculous for the same reasons that the tipping points cannot exist.

Alan McIntire
March 27, 2020 5:33 pm

As to Item #2, I agree that there’s no RATIONAL argument to deny the existence of the Medieval Warm Period, but Mann and Hughes, two of the co authors of the notorious “Hockey Stick” paper do just that in these papers,

I see that Hughes even wrote a book on the subject, It appears that the ALARMISTS are the true climate change “deniers”,

Farmer Ch E retired
March 27, 2020 9:59 pm

A question for the experts;

Has the heating by induction coupling of the sun’s magnetic field with the earth system (especially oceans and atmosphere) been calculated? I was introduced to induction heating while at Battelle in the ‘80s testing the technology for melting transuranic wastes. My current induction cooktop is pretty amazing at heating a metal pan w/o conduction, convection, or radiation. I suspect the sun’s induction coupling would likely coincide w/ solar maximum when sunspots are active. The coupling may be DC rather than AC. In any event, resistance heating should be possible.

Brett Keane
March 28, 2020 12:14 am

The complexity evinced by Dr Spencer and others merely means they are riding the wrong horse and do not realise it. “Explain it to ten year olds so they can get it”, or you do not know the facts properly, Good educators understand this.
Sorry, if you are confused by the complexity, study Maxwell’s “Kinetics of Gases” and good Commentaries eg from “Hockeyschtick”. Please.
Brett Keane, from the land of Rutherford……

March 28, 2020 1:36 am

I agree with you. We should blame Global Warming on Tzar Alexander II and Abraham Lincoln.

Alan D. McIntire
Reply to  RoHa
March 28, 2020 5:35 am

There’s no doubt that freeing slaves and serfs had a major impact on climate,

Reply to  Alan D. McIntire
March 28, 2020 9:57 pm

Then we would have to blame the Royal Navy. They were the ones who freed the slaves worldwide.

Phil Salmon
March 28, 2020 3:17 am

A Greenhouse Effect does occur in the Earth’s atmosphere and has always been present. If it were not for this effect, then the Earth would have remained so cold that life probably would not have evolved.

The null hypothesis as to why an atmosphere makes the surface warmer is simple gas physics. Higher pressure causes higher temperature by the well established gas laws (Boyle’s, Charle’s Gay-Lussac’s). Are we allowed to say the word “gravity” here?

Nikolov and Zeller (ooo – feel the love) made an observation (wake up campers – they made an OBSERVATION, not a theory or a mechanism, only an observed measured relationship) which sets out the null hypothesis of why gas at sea level of a planet is the temperature that it is. Comparing all the planets it looks very much as if temperature depends only on insolation (distance to sun), gravity (oops – said it again) and the amount of gas. From all this come temperature and pressure, at the surface and all heights above. Remember – no theory, no proposed mechanism here, just an OBSERVATION – remember those?

Nikolov-Zeller is the null hypothesis. If anyone wants to argue that radiative effects involving IR, CO2, water vapour etc. play a role in atmospheric temperature, they need to start by acknowledging gas physics. This is rarely done. Narratives about the greenhouse effect nearly always talk about IR radiative balances as if they are the be all and end all of atmospheric temperature. No mention of the gas laws. This is utterly wrong and total trash pseudoscience. Please START WITH GAS PHYSICS. It’s ok to involve gravity. It’s not a denier-force, it’s real.

Do IR effects have any effect whatsoever on atmospheric temperature? It’s a fair question. Yes, water vapour and cloud definitely affect local temperature. In the day they block sun and cool the surface. At night they make it warmer. Partly by IR blocking. Partly by increasing the heat capacity of the atmosphere. A hot water bottle rather than a blanket. What is the relative importance of both effects?

In short, how different would Earth surface temperature be if the atmosphere was pure hydrogen, pure CO2 or pure argon? My guess? +/- 1 degree C. As Nikololov and Zeller observed. Because given the choice, observation is better than theory.

Alan D. McIntire
Reply to  Phil Salmon
March 28, 2020 6:44 am

When I had freshman physics in college, I thought the same. This guest article convinced me that I was wrong,

To get a greenhouse effect, you need BOTH a gravitational lapse rate and greenhouse gases, With pure argon, we’d get a lapse rate closer to zero- of course there would be no clouds acting as a negative feedback to increase albedo, so average surface flux on an ocean covered Earth would be closer to 342 watts than 240 watts, giving the Earth an average temperature of + 1 degree C.

Chic Bowdrie
Reply to  Alan D. McIntire
March 28, 2020 10:03 am

“To get a greenhouse effect, you need BOTH a gravitational lapse rate and greenhouse gases,…”

That’s a priori reasoning. I could alternately say the IR absorbing gases only perturb the gravitationally created lapse rate.

Phil Salmon
Reply to  Alan D. McIntire
March 28, 2020 1:47 pm

Thanks for the link to Prof Brown’s article.
Those same textbooks carefully demonstrate that there is no lapse rate in an ideal gas in a gravitational field in thermal equilibrium because, as is well known, thermal equilibrium is an isothermal state; nothing as simple as gravity can function like a “Maxwell’s Demon” to cause the spontaneous stable equilibrium separation of gas molecules into hotter and colder reservoirs.

I just stated reading it and Brown is already wrong in the above introductory sentence.
Gravity alone absolutely can and does set a temperature gradient. The lapse rate does not need radiation, only gas molecules and gravity.

Chic Bowdrie
Reply to  Phil Salmon
March 28, 2020 10:25 am

“In short, how different would Earth surface temperature be if the atmosphere was [inert]?

I would guess at least 10 K colder depending on how extreme temperatures would be between day and night. With little albedo and no water or clouds, the surface would get much hotter during the day and much cooler at night.

Chic Bowdrie
Reply to  Phil Salmon
March 28, 2020 10:43 am

“In short, how different would Earth surface temperature be if the atmosphere was [inert]?

I would guess at least 10 K colder depending on how extreme those temperatures would be between day and night. With little albedo and no water or clouds, the surface would get much hotter during the day and much cooler at night.

Ed Zuiderwijk
March 28, 2020 6:59 am

You are right, it was Theresa. At my age you tend to forget the names of females or, more embarassingly in some situations, mix them up.

Phil Salmon
March 28, 2020 6:36 pm

Dr Kelvin Kemm is absolutely right to show that substantial temperature variation characterises climate history on all time scales. This sets a demanding null hypothesis that a global warming hypothesis has to address and overcome. Just ignoring it is not good enough.

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