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Latest Posts


2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #27

Posted on 6 July 2019 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Jun 30 through Sat, July 6, 2019

Editor's Pick

German environment minister proposes carbon tax

Svenja Schulze has said such a plan is important for sinking carbon emissions, yet other measures are needed. She claims the plan would not unduly burden the poor, but reward those who use less fuel.

 Germany's Social Democrat (SPD) Environment Minister Svenja Schulze  

Germany's Social Democrat (SPD) Environment Minister Svenja Schulze presented three independent studies on possible carbon tax schemes in Berlin on Friday. Insisting such a tax would not unduly burden the poor, she said, "those who decide to live a more climate-friendly life could actually get money back."

The plans Schulze presented suggested an initial €35 ($39.50) tax on each metric ton of CO2, to be increased to €180 by 2030. The idea being that the more expensive petrol, natural gas, and heating oil become, the less people will use.

Schulze told reporters that those who consume less, including children, will be given a so-called climate bonus of up to €100 per person, per year, which she claims would offset a person's outlay for the tax, "The less you drive, the less oil you burn, the more you will get back."

The minister underscored the importance of not burdening low and middle-class families: "It's really important to me to avoid unfairly burdening those with low and medium incomes, and especially affected groups like commuters and tenants." 

German environment minister proposes carbon tax, Deutsche Welle (DW), July 5, 2019 

Links posted on Facebook

Sun June 30, 2019

Mon July 1, 2019

Tue July 2, 2019

Wed July 3, 2019

Thur July 4, 2019

Fri July 5, 2019

Sat July 6, 2019

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Comments 1 to 43:

  1. "Insisting such a (carbon) tax would not unduly burden the poor, she said, "those who decide to live a more climate-friendly life could actually get money back."

    Apparently this is to be through some sort of rewards scheme for the middle classes if they do the right thing, and  the poor are given rebates to compensate them. This sounds nice in 'theory', but would create considerable bureaucratic complexity. The more complicated the proposal, the longer it will take to actually pass legislation, and time is a luxury we no longer have, given the lack of progress thus far, the speed at which climate change is progressing and the rate at which emissions are still rising.

    Carbon fee and dividend would be a whole lot simpler.  Given that wind and solar power is becoming cost competitive, you don't need to use a carbon tax to subsidise this any more, so it could all be given back as a dividend. 

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  2. The link to the Jeff Masters (wunderground: "Protective Wind Shear Barrier Against Hurricanes... Likely to Weaken...") article is broken.  I found it here.

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Thank you for bringing this glitch to our attention. It has been fixed. 

  3. nigelj - some of the proposals are at least in the direction of carbon fee and dividend. Perhaps not yet fully fleshed-out, but we (as in CCL Germany and and a European Citizens Initiative) are working towards that.

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  4. I thought this was an interestig article about dealig with sea level rise in California.  Some want more sea walls and others say we need to move back.

    The artice is long.  My summary: people realize they are hosed and must move.  They do not want to give up in the face of slow distruction.  What will the final chpater look like?

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Thank you for flagging the LA Times article — it's well worth reading. .

  5. Re: Carbon Tax

    I call your attention to the Citizens Climate Lobby ( This group recently held a 'lobby in' where they met with members of Congress to lobby for a carbon tax. They report Congress is becoming more receptive. (On a side note, they noted many in the GOP have gone to their think tanks on how to address Climate Change.)

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  6. Michael Sweet @4, a very interesting article thanks. Long but worth a scan.

    The final chapter looks a lot like managed retreat to me. Costs of sea walls to protect communities against 1 metre of sea level rise per century will be prohibitive . Its been difficult enough managing storm surges and 300 mm sea level rise last century, so the future looks bleak. Of course it will vary place to place based on land area, population size and geography, and incomes, but this would be the general rule.

    In NZ both central and local government at city scale are signalling they will warn homeowners about sea level rise risks in formal written documents, and it will be some form of managed retreat. This is all unresolved at this stage and one suspects people might demand sea walls as an instinctive response, once they wake up to what governmnet is proposing.

    With managed retreat coastal property owners will see the value of their properties destroyed by having to abandon or move properties. Even building sea walls could have the same outcome of reduced property values. Its a question of how we deal with these people as it becomes a very visible problem and plunges people into poverty. There are two  obvious options:

    1) A local government and community initiative to financially compensate people, but this looks like it will be messy and impractical and well outside normal functions of local city scale government. Local government finances will be hard pressed just relocating roads etc without bailing out home owners.

    2) It will all more likely fall back on central or state governments to help people with financial assistance, either by specifically targetted assistance for destrroyed properties, or through normal poverty alleviation and social welfare systems. Governments are normaly the provider of assistance of last resort when all else fails, and private sector insurance doesnt cover things. This will probbaly flow over into climate related issues. The increased pressure on governmnet spending  will be a significant burden,  right at the same time the population is aging and people who resent their taxes going towards poor people and people with problems will be very vocal.

    Either way I suspect the can will probably be kicked down the road.

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  7. The current level of atmospheric CO2 has one cubic foot of CO2 distributed over each 2400 cubic feet of atmosphere.  That faint presence is having no measureable effect on global air temperature.  

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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] The radiative physics of greenhouse gases are well established.  Please read this post and the comments for edification on your point.  Place any related comments there, not here.

    As an FYI, changes in the sun's output falling on the Earth from 1750-2011 are about 0.05 Watts/meter squared.

    By comparison, human activities from 1750-2011 warm the Earth by about 2.83 Watts/meter squared (AR5, WG1, Chapter 8, section 8.3.2, p. 676).

    What this means is that the warming driven by the GHGs coming from the human burning of fossil fuels since 1750 is over 50 times greater than the slight extra warming coming from the Sun itself over that same time interval.

    Radiative Forcing

  8. billev... Think about it this way:

    Distribute one cubic foot of CO2 over 2400 cubic feet, stacked vertically. Then consider how high the troposphere is, which averages out to about 45,000 feet. You end up with stacks of 2400 cubes done 18.75 times to reach the tropopause. 

    Now, do a thought experiment, a la Einstein. Imagine you're riding on a single photon of IR energy emitted from the Earth's surface traveling up through those 45,000 cubic feet of atmosphere.

    What are the chances you will encounter a molecule of CO2? ...Close to 100%. 

    What happens when IR encounters CO2? The energy is absorbed and then re-emitted in all directions, where that IR again encounters CO2, is again absorbed and re-emitted. Some energy makes its way back to the surface, adding more heat to the surface, while some eventually makes its way out to space.

    It's kind of like a giant pinball machine where the pinball is IR and the bumpers are CO2. The more bumpers you have the longer the ball is going to stay in play.

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  9. billev - you can directly measure the effect of changing the CO2 content. eg
    here. One thing for sure, arguing from Personal Incredulity and ignorance of the physics does not beat direct measurement in science. It is hard to understand what you are trying to achieve by posting demonstably false statements here (and offtopic at that).

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  10. And that's why engineers use the surrounding air to retain the heat in hot water pipes, right? 

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  11. billev @10,

    And any self-respecting engineer will tell you that hot water pipes are indeed encased in air to better insulate them. The air is held in place by such materials as a polyurethane foam which being filled with a matrix of air has perhaps ten-times greater an insulating effect than does solid polyurethane.

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  12.  If you didnt have the air enclosed in something (eg the foam cells or the fibre of wool etc), then you would have convective transfer of heat away from pipes, which is the more effective than conductive or radiative transfer. Air has very low conductivity and so limits conductive energy transport from your pipes.The GHE affects radiative transport and would not have a measurable effect in the thickness of the lagging. Foil is used as well to reduce radiative losses from your pipe.

    If you need a primer of energy transfer, try here.

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  13. My point is that without insulation the air is an insufficient barrier to excessive heat loss.  My larger point is that regardless of CO2's properties there isn't enough of it in the atmosphere to measureably effect the loss of heat from the Earth's surface as distance from that surface increases.  The  Table of U.S. Standard Atmosphere Heights and Temperatures shows a uniform loss of temperature for each one thousand feet of height from the Earth's surface beginning at the surface.  This would appear to show that the only determinant of the  heat loss from the Earth's surface is the distance from the surface.

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  14. billev... It seems to me that you're starting from an assumption that there is no effect and are attempting to position arguments that you think confirm that conclusion. That's motivated reasoning, or confirmation bias.

    You have to understand that this basic science regarding CO2's effect on the Earth's temperature has been understood pretty much since the 1850's. Without some form of additional radiative effect in the atmosphere our planet would have a surface temperature 33°C colder than it is. Thus there has to be a radiative effect related to various atmospheric gases.

    John Tyndall did the experiments in the 1850's to show which gases have these properties. Nitrogen? Nope. Oxygen? Nope. Argon? Nope. CO2? Yep. Methane? Yep. Water vapor? Yep.

    Even though these gases are small in concentration, their affect on the surface temperature is significant.

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  15. And our point, is that if you stop convective heat losses, then air is a very adequate insulator for your heat pipes but that has nothing to do with the radiative properties.

    You are making assertion "isn't enough of it in the atmosphere to measureably effect the loss of heat from the Earth's surface as distance from that surface increases." which is demonstrably false. See paper on how it observed. You are not understanding how the GHE works and drawing invalid conclusions from things like the laspe rate. Temperature drop with altitude till the tropopause. The lapse rate is pretty much ideal gas law - as pressure drops so does temperature. However, the effect of adding GHGs raises the tropopause. See here for considerably more detail on why.

    See here for observations of change in tropopause height, and here looks to be further validation this year.

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  16. Billev:

    This video demonstrates how ink at 280 ppm in water visibly is much darker than pure water.  390 ppm is visibly darker htan 280 ppm.  Your claim that 400 ppm CO2 insignificantly effects that absrbtion of IR light in the atmosphere compared to 380 ppm is demonstrated to be incorrect.

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  17. It is interesting that the lapse rate is being wielded by billev @13 as in some way a proof of the absence of a greenhouse effect.

    "The Table of U.S. Standard Atmosphere Heights and Temperatures shows a uniform loss of temperature for each one thousand feet of height from the Earth's surface beginning at the surface. This would appear to show that the only determinant of the heat loss from the Earth's surface is the distance from the surface."

    The atmosphere is, of course, effectively static vertically, with the air rising at the equator in the Hadley Cells and taking over a week to rise from the surface to the top of the atmosphere (tropopause). This slow movement prevents large levels of global cooling through convection and the reason it is so slow is because the atmosphere is very much in balance. As the air rises it expands with decreasing pressure and thus cools. The process is so leasurely because it is so close to being an adiabatic expansion. The Lapse Rate that billev @13 describes as disproving the greenhouse effect is in truth an essential part of the insulation process, holding the atmosphere in place so it can act like a greenhouse.

    Ironically, the role of the lapse rate in preventing heat loss is exactly like that polyurethane foam that hold air in place against hot water pipes, the previous argument cited by billev @10.

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  18. It's sad when someone makes confident, broad, sweeping statements that are pretty much completely wrong, such as those from billev in this thread.

    Starting with comment #7, billev bascially makes the "CO2 is a trace gas" argument, which is debunked here.To further elaborate on why this is a bogus argument, let's consider a few aspects of radiation transfer:

    • The absorption of radiation is, with minor secondary effects, solely a function of how much of the absorbing material there is between the radiation source and the detection point. A thin, compressed layer is no different than a a wide, dispersed layer.
    • Filling the space between the widely-dispersed absorber with other materials that have no radiative effects will not change how much radiation is aborbed by the absorber. Dilution is irrelevant, to a first (and probably second) approximation. (Eventually, pressure does start to play a role, well-known by radiation modellers.)
    • Expressing CO2 as a fraction of the abundant inert atmospheric gases is just plain wrong, when it comes to calculating radiation transfer.

    Let's do a thought experiment.

    • Consider a plate of perfectly clear glass, 1mm think. Light (AKA radiation) passes through completely.
    • We then coat one side of the plate with a 0.1mm thick layer of something that absorbs visible light. The light trasmitted through the plate is reduced. (How much depends on the properties of that material.)
    • If we mix that 0.1mm coating into the clear glass, dispersed evenly across the 1mm thickness (well, let's assume it is now 1.1mm thick), the effect on light transmission will not be changed.
    • If we put that 0.1mm absorbing layer on a 10mm thick plate of clear glass, the effect is the same as it was  on the 1mm plate.
    • If we put that 0.1mm absorbing layer on a 100mm thick plate of clear glass, the effect is the same as it was on the 1mm plate.
    • If we disperse that 0.1mm of absorbing material across a 1000mm plate of glass, the effect is still the same.
    • The ratio of absorbing material to clear glass plate is irrelevant.

    Billev needs to learn more about radiation transfer.

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  19. Billev then goes on (comment #13) to attribute the decrease in atmospheric temperature with height as being the result of distance from the heat source.

    Not true. Billev seems unaware of (or not remembering) the universal gas law, which relates temperature, volume and pressure of gases. He needs to find an elementary meteorology text that can explain adiabatic cooling to him, so he can understand what happens to rising air. (HInt: pressure also decreases with height...)

    If billev was correct, then the stratosphere would be even colder than the troposphere. It isn't. If billev were to look at his entire U.S Standard Atmosphere, he would see that this is the case. Why is the stratosphere warmer? That pesky radiation absorption again (UV, this time).

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  20. Just in case billev still misses out on the roles radiation and convective mixing play in atmospheric temperature profiles, he might want to look at this old thread. In particular, the diagram I show that compares what the temperature profile would look likein a purely radiative equilibrium, contrasted with at atmosphere with convection.

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  21. And what you all are saying applies how to the periods of pause in temperature rise shown in the graphs of the history of air temperature change since 1880?

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  22. billev... Well, there are lots of reasons for the variations in global temperature. The most dominant one would the El Nino Southern Occilation (ENSO). Most of the accumulated heat is going into the world's oceans, and that heat goes through phases of gaining and releasing that energy into the atmosphere, and that affects the annual global temperature.

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  23. I would add two things.

    1/ The actual surface temperature year to year is strongly affected by internal variation. ie heat sloshing around in a wet, unevenly heated planet. ENSO is the dominant component of this. For this reason, climate is defined as 30 year average. Arguably, Ocean Heat Content is a better metric than surface because most of the heat goes into the ocean and the total energy varies less (the little wobbles are ocean/atmosphere exchange). However, we have only been able to measure this with confidence relatively recently.

    2/ Climate changes in response to net forcing. Changes GHGs are only one element (though the dominant one in recent history), but aerosols either man made or from volcanoes are also important (especially mid 20th century, and after really big tropical volcano eruptions). Changes in solar input and albedo are the other important inputs into calculation of forcings.

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  24. billev @21,
    You have up-thread set out your arguments for CO2 not being able to operate as a GHG (@7 - CO2 concentrations of 0.04% are too small to have any effect. @10 - Air does not insulate hot water pipes well enough. @13 - The atmosphere gets colder with altitude suggesting some form of heat loss with altitude.) and none of these have been accepted as valid here with reasons properly given in-thread for that lack of validity. As you fail to present counter arguments, it suggests you are happy with that lack of validity.

    This then must constitute what you refer to as being "what you all are saying," so in direct answer to your question @21 I would say that none of it "applies" or is relevant to the "periods of pause in temperature rise shown in the graphs of the history of air temperature change since 1880."
    Rather, the GHG effect resulting from atmospheric CO2 levels, which have been increasing over the period in question (1880-to-date), is the driving force behind the rise in temperature over the period. The pauses within the temperature record you ask about have other causes (as decribed @22 & @23).

    Is there any particular part of the 1880-to-date temperature record that you feel requires more specific consideration?

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  25. Billev,

    At 21 you ask about " the periods of pause in temperature rise".  In the upper right of the page on every page on SkS is the graph of the Escalator.  The Escalator shows that there are natural periods of lower rise interspersed in the overall rise in temperature. (I do not know how to attach the graph here).

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  26. I have based my submissions on the measurement of atmospheric CO2 level by the reporting station at Muana Loa, temperature at altitude measurement by the U.S. Weather Service and global annual air temperature meaurement and computation by NOAA.  All of the replies to my submissions contain no reference to any measurement to support their stated or implied claims for the role of atmospheric CO2 in the rise of global air temperature.

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  27. Ah, yes, the Black Knight defense.

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  28. billev - I can only assume that you havent bothered to read any of the references that people have provided to you. I provided direct measurement of the increase in irradiation from the increase in CO2. The change in irraditation is measured in instruments on the surface at stations all over the world. (eg see here). I cannot see how you can deny what is measured. Since GHGs block outgoing radiation, the change in irradiation can also be measured by satellites.  Eg see Chen 2007. Furthermore, the change in radiation measured, matches the calculated result of the change GHG is extraordinary degree. These measurements directly support the claims made.

    You seem to struggle with idea that 400ppm could have an effect. Perhaps you should consider how far a photon would travel on average (mean free path) through an atmosphere with 400ppm of CO2 before it hit a CO2 molecule? Write down your intuition, and then calculate it. I suspect the answer will surprize you.

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  29. billev:

    Your "argument", to use  term loosely, consists only of a series of vague "I don't believe it" positions, interspersed with "look! Squirrel!" diversions to another topic. If you could a ctually put togther a coherent statement of specifically what you expect to see as evidence, we might get somewhere.

    To start, if you don't belive that CO2 affects IR radiation at all, perhaps you should tell the people at Licor, which is one of many companies that use the known optical properties of CO2 to make IR-radiation-based instruments to measure CO2 concentrations in air. Commercial companies, making money by selling off-the-shelf instrumentation capable of making measurements because CO2 absorbs IR, even over very small path lengths of air. The same principles are used to measure water vapour, ozone, and many other gases.

    The physics of IR absoprtion of CO2 don't change just because they are used in climate models. There are people that can actually do the calculations. In Comment #20, I refer to an old comment that includes a direct reference to a paper published in 1964. Please try to catch up.

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  30. I see no correlation between the periods of pause in temperature rise and EL Nino activity.  What percent of IR radiated from the Earth' surface is absorbed within five feet of the Earth's surface?  How much does this effect temperature measurements made from four to five feet from the Earth's surface?

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  31. Billev @30 , 

    the whole lower troposphere is a soup of continually absorbed/radiated IR photonic energy.  Doesn't matter if you are talking about five feet, five thousand feet, or five inches altitude.

    Is there a point behind your question?  As a reader, I find it hard to distinguish whether you are trying to make some (obscure) point, or whether you are just completely failing to understand the the physics of the Greenhouse Effect.   Please, please explain what you are on about !

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  32. billev:

    You can't see something you refuse to look at. For the effects of El Nino on global temperatures, look no further than this paper. Once effects of El Nino volcanic aerosols, and solar variability are removed, very little year-to-year variation is left.

    Grant Foster and Stefan Rahmstorf (2011), Environmental Research Letters, Volume 6, Number 4, "Global temperature evolution 1979–2010"

    For a readable summary of the Foster and Rahmstorf paper, try here. The key graphic is the following:

    Adjusted global temperature

    As for chasing the squirrel of IR radiation affecting near-surface air temperature measurements, you really are scraping the bottom of the barrel. Air temperature in the lower tens of metres is vastly controlled by ground (or ocean) surface temperature, which is heated by the sun. Air temperature measurements are taken inside radiation shields, such as the Stevenson Screen. This not only eliminates IR effects, it pretty much removes errors related to solar radiation heating, which is a far more important issue. We've only known about these sort of issues since the mid-1800s.

    You're not catching up - you're falling even farther behind. Yesterday, it was 1964 information you were missing. Now it's 1864 information. As one of my colleagues says "he's so far behind he thinks he's in the lead".

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  33. But it is a soup comprised of miniatures that doesn't appear to have a significant effect on air temperature if you consider the air temperature measurements of the U.S. weather service.  As far as  atmospheric CO2's effect on the passage of IR I point to the fact that aircraft equipped with IR detection equipment are able to pinpoint the location of even single humans based on their IR signature.  That doesn't argue well for the the capability of atmospheric CO2 to significantly hinder the passage of IR.  This applies to my earlier question about atmospheric CO2's capability to effect IR passage between the Earth's surface and the level of standardized air temperature measuring devices around the World.    

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  34. This is getting tiresome. I find it astonishing that you continue to assert that you know more than scientists while at same time demonstrating your ignorance.

    IR detection of mammals from planes etc is hugely limited by the atmosphere. This is basic. Windows of IR that dont interact with GHGs are fundamental to such detectors. Try here for the basics. Does it occur to you that attenuation of IR by atmosphere is easy to measure and we have been doing so for over 100 years? The codes used by climate science to calcualate the transmission of radiation through the atmosphere were developed by USAF. Surely you would suspect that they keen for result to be accurate?

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  35. scadednp has it right: billev's "questions" are getting tiresome.

    Gases all absorb at very specific wavelengths. It's a fundamental aspect of spectroscopy. In comment 30, I pointed to a vendor's page on gas analyzers. By choosing the appropraite wavelength, different gases can be measured because they absorb at different wavelengths. Gases emit at different wavelengths, too - and this is how looking at distant planets can tell us their atmospheric composition.

    Whaever billev thinks his "questions" apply to, it's not reality.

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  36. billev @30 &33,

    I would agree with fellow commenters that you are demonstrating ignorance but perhaps we can rectify that situation.

    Your assertion @30 that you see "no correlation between the periods of pause in temperature rise and EL Nino activity" would be reasonable if you could find your way to making clear which "periods of pause in temperature rise" you are referring to. We know you will be using NOAA data (although that is not of any significance) and will be considering only post-1959 data. And pretty-much all of that period sees global temperature "pauses" resulting from ENSO or volcanic activity, as per the Foster & Rahmstorf (2011) adjustments described @32.

    The remainder of you comment @30 and the entirety of that @33 concerns IR transmission through the atmosphere. Your questions @30 are rather poorly framed. The amount of IR emitted by the surface that is absorbed within five feet will depend on the wavelength. In the 15 µm band absorbed by CO2 (which is a significant portion of the whole) 100% would be absorbed but then quickly re-emitted. Again it would be re-absorbed after a short distance. This in itself would make no significant difference to the temperature measurements or indeed the temperature as the energy does not hang about, it being very quickly re-emitted another small distance (up, down or sideways) where it will again be absorbed/re-emitted and on and on. The impact on temperature is trivial. (You will perhaps note that this is not the nub of the AGW mechanism.)

    @33 you reference the "U.S. weather service." @26 you also  mentioned this was a source of data you were referring to but I fear you are probably mis-citing the US Standard Atmopsphere (presumably the 1976 version) which is the work of NOAA, NASA & USAF. Can you provide your reference as in the circumstance it is good to be clear exactly what you are talking about.

    Your major point @33 is that the abilities of "aircraft equipped with IR detection equipment" somehow is not compatable with the existence of a a greenhouse effect. You may find the responses @34 &35 a bit too involved. Very simply put, IR 'thermography' uses shorter IR wavelengths than the 15 micron band that is absorbed by CO2 and gives us AGW, shorter wavelengths where the atmosphere is less opaque. (These wave bands are often called 'windows'.)

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  37. 36

    Good answer MA Rodger. Thank you. 

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  38. A picture is worth a thousand words. The reason IR detection can pick up a single human from an aircraft is, specifically, because they know what frequency NOT to tune the device. 

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  39. @Rob Honeycutt 38

    "A greenhouse gas is a gas that absorbs and emits radiant energy within the thermal infrared range."

    "Oxygen and nitrogen are not greenhouse gases, because they are transparent to infrared light. "

    Your diagram is indeed worth a thousand words. 

    I notice that O2 absorbs IR which was a bit of a surprise to me. Yet it is not a greenhouse gas. Can you, or anybody, explain? Thanks. 

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  40. JohnSeers @39 , perhaps you are looking at the diagram via a small screen.

    Mine shows the Oxygen as O3 .

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  41. John Seers @39,

    As Eclectic @40 says, the annotated IR absorption at 9 µm in the graphic @38 is ozone (O3) but there are still O2 absorption lines in the IR just short of the visible and so should be represented on that graphic. They are at 1.27 µm and 1.06 µm. However these would not make O2 an Earthly GHG as the IR emissions from planet Earth only span 70 µm  to 5 µm.

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  42. When you look at an O3 molecule you can see how it's going to have vibrational modes. I'm assuming that's what is necessary for absorption in IR frequencies.



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  43. Whoops, O3. Not a small screen - just bad eyesight!

    Thanks for the explanations Eclectic, MA Rodger and Rob Honeycutt.

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