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All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

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The greenhouse effect and the 2nd law of thermodynamics

What the science says...

Select a level... Basic Intermediate

The 2nd law of thermodynamics is consistent with the greenhouse effect which is directly observed.

Climate Myth...

2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory

 

"The atmospheric greenhouse effect, an idea that many authors trace back to the traditional works of Fourier 1824, Tyndall 1861, and Arrhenius 1896, and which is still supported in global climatology, essentially describes a fictitious mechanism, in which a planetary atmosphere acts as a heat pump driven by an environment that is radiatively interacting with but radiatively equilibrated to the atmospheric system. According to the second law of thermodynamics such a planetary machine can never exist." (Gerhard Gerlich)

 

At a glance

Although this topic may have a highly technical feel to it, thermodynamics is a big part of all our everyday lives. So while you are reading, do remember that there are glossary entries available for all thinly underlined terms - just hover your mouse cursor over them for the entry to appear.

Thermodynamics is the branch of physics that describes how energy interacts within systems. That interaction determines, for example, how we stay cosy or freeze to death. You wear less clothing in very hot weather and layer-up or add extra blankets to your bed when it's cold because such things control how energy interacts with your own body and therefore your degree of comfort and, in extreme cases, safety.

The human body and its surroundings and energy transfer between them make up one such system with which we are all familiar. But let's go a lot bigger here and think about heat energy and its transfer between the Sun, Earth's land/ocean surfaces, the atmosphere and the cosmos.

Sunshine hits the top of our atmosphere and some of it makes it down to the surface, where it heats up the ground and the oceans alike. These in turn give off heat in the form of invisible but warming infra-red radiation. But you can see the effects of that radiation - think of the heat-shimmer you see over a tarmac road-surface on a hot sunny day.

A proportion of that radiation goes back up through the atmosphere and escapes to space. But another proportion of it is absorbed by greenhouse gas molecules, such as water vapour, carbon dioxide and methane.  Heating up themselves, those molecules then re-emit that heat energy in all directions including downwards. Due to the greenhouse effect, the total loss of that outgoing radiation is avoided and the cooling of Earth's surface is thereby inhibited. Without that extra blanket, Earth's average temperature would be more than thirty degrees Celsius cooler than is currently the case.

That's all in accordance with the laws of Thermodynamics. The First Law of Thermodynamics states that the total energy of an isolated system is constant - while energy can be transformed from one form to another it can be neither created nor destroyed. The Second Law does not state that the only flow of energy is from hot to cold - but instead that the net sum of the energy flows will be from hot to cold. That qualifier term, 'net', is the important one here. The Earth alone is not a "closed system", but is part of a constant, net energy flow from the Sun, to Earth and back out to space. Greenhouse gases simply inhibit part of that net flow, by returning some of the outgoing energy back towards Earth's surface.

The myth that the greenhouse effect is contrary to the second law of thermodynamics is mostly based on a very long 2009 paper by two German scientists (not climate scientists), Gerlich and Tscheuschner (G&T). In its title, the paper claimed to take down the theory that heat being trapped by our atmosphere keeps us warm. That's a huge claim to make – akin to stating there is no gravity.

The G&T paper has been the subject of many detailed rebuttals over the years since its publication. That's because one thing that makes the scientific community sit up and take notice is when something making big claims is published but which is so blatantly incorrect. To fully deal with every mistake contained in the paper, this rebuttal would have to be thousands of words long. A shorter riposte, posted in a discussion on the topic at the Quora website, was as follows: “...I might add that if G&T were correct they used dozens of rambling pages to prove that blankets can’t keep you warm at night."

If the Second Law of Thermodynamics is true - something we can safely assume – then, “blankets can’t keep you warm at night”, must be false. And - as you'll know from your own experiences - that is of course the case!

Please use this form to provide feedback about this new "At a glance" section. Read a more technical version below or dig deeper via the tabs above!


Further details

Among the junk-science themes promoted by climate science deniers is the claim that the explanation for global warming contradicts the second law of thermodynamics. Does it? Of course not (Halpern et al. 2010), but let's explore. Firstly, we need to know how thermal energy transfer works with particular regard to Earth's atmosphere. Then, we need to know what the second law of thermodynamics is, and how it applies to global warming.

Thermal energy is transferred through systems in five main ways: conduction, convection, advection, latent heat and, last but not least, radiation. We'll take them one by one.

Conduction is important in some solids – think of how a cold metal spoon placed in a pot of boiling water can become too hot to touch. In many fluids and gases, conduction is much less important. There are a few exceptions, such as mercury, a metal whose melting point is so low it exists as a liquid above -38 degrees Celsius, making it a handy temperature-marker in thermometers. But air's thermal conductivity is so low we can more or less count it out from this discussion.

Convection

Convection

Figure 1: Severe thunderstorm developing over the Welsh countryside one evening in August 2020. This excellent example of convection had strong enough updraughts to produce hail up to 2.5 cm in diameter. (Source: John Mason)

Hot air rises – that's why hot air balloons work, because warm air is less dense than its colder surroundings, making the artificially heated air in the balloon more buoyant and thereby creating a convective current. The same principle applies in nature: convection is the upward transfer of heat in a fluid or a gas. 

Convection is highly important in Earth's atmosphere and especially in its lower part, where most of our weather goes on. On a nice day, convection may be noticed as birds soar and spiral upwards on thermals, gaining height with the help of that rising warm air-current. On other days, mass-ascent of warm, moist air can result in any type of convective weather from showers to severe thunderstorms with their attendant hazards. In the most extreme examples like supercells, that convective ascent or updraught can reach speeds getting on for a hundred miles per hour. Such powerful convective currents can keep hailstones held high in the storm-cloud for long enough to grow to golfball size or larger.

Advection

Advection is the quasi-horizontal transport of a fluid or gas with its attendant properties. Here are a couple of examples. In the Northern Hemisphere, southerly winds bring mild to warm air from the tropics northwards. During the rapid transition from a cold spell to a warm southerly over Europe in early December 2022, the temperatures over parts of the UK leapt from around -10C to +14C in one weekend, due to warm air advection. Advection can also lead to certain specific phenomena such as sea-fogs – when warm air inland is transported over the surrounding cold seas, causing rapid condensation of water vapour near the air-sea interface.

Advection

Figure 2: Advection fog completely obscures Cardigan Bay, off the west coast of Wales, on an April afternoon in 2015, Air warmed over the land was advected seawards, where its moisture promptly condensed over the much colder sea surface.

Latent heat

Latent heat is the thermal energy released or absorbed during a substance's transition from solid to liquid, liquid to vapour or vice-versa. To fuse, or melt, a solid or to boil a liquid, it is necessary to add thermal energy to a system, whereas when a vapour condenses or a liquid freezes, energy is released. The amount of energy involved varies from one substance to another: to melt iron you need a furnace but with an ice cube you only need to leave it at room-temperature for a while. Such variations from one substance to another are expressed as specific latent heats of fusion or vapourisation, measured in amount of energy (KiloJoules) per kilogram. In the case of Earth's atmosphere, the only substance of major importance with regard to latent heat is water, because at the range of temperatures present, it's the only component that is both abundant and constantly transitioning between solid, liquid and vapour phases.

Radiation

Radiation is the transfer of energy as electromagnetic rays, emitted by any heated surface. Electromagnetic radiation runs from long-wave - radio waves, microwaves, infra-red (IR), through the visible-light spectrum, down to short-wave – ultra-violet (UV), x-rays and gamma-rays. Although you cannot see IR radiation, you can feel it warming you when you sit by a fire. Indeed, the visible part of the spectrum used to be called “luminous heat” and the invisible IR radiation “non-luminous heat”, back in the 1800s when such things were slowly being figured-out.

Sunshine is an example of radiation. Unlike conduction and convection, radiation has the distinction of being able to travel from its source straight through the vacuum of space. Thus, Solar radiation travels through that vacuum for some 150 million kilometres, to reach our planet at a near-constant rate. Some Solar radiation, especially short-wave UV light, is absorbed by our atmosphere. Some is reflected straight back to space by cloud-tops. The rest makes it all the way down to the ground, where it is reflected from lighter surfaces or absorbed by darker ones. That's why black tarmac road surfaces can heat up until they melt on a bright summer's day.

Radiation

Figure 3: Heat haze above a warmed road-surface, Lincoln Way in San Francisco, California. May 2007. Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Energy balance

What has all of the above got to do with global warming? Well, through its radiation-flux, the Sun heats the atmosphere, the surfaces of land and oceans. The surfaces heated by solar radiation in turn emit infrared radiation, some of which can escape directly into space, but some of which is absorbed by the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, mostly carbon dioxide, water vapour, and methane. Greenhouse gases not only slow down the loss of energy from the surface, but also re-radiate that energy, some of which is directed back down towards the surface, increasing the surface temperature and increasing how much energy is radiated from the surface. Overall, this process leads to a state where the surface is warmer than it would be in the absence of an atmosphere with greenhouse gases. On average, the amount of energy radiated back into space matches the amount of energy being received from the Sun, but there's a slight imbalance that we'll come to.

If this system was severely out of balance either way, the planet would have either frozen or overheated millions of years ago. Instead the planet's climate is (or at least was) stable, broadly speaking. Its temperatures generally stay within bounds that allow life to thrive. It's all about energy balance. Figure 4 shows the numbers.

Energy Budget AR6 WGI Figure 7_2

Figure 4: Schematic representation of the global mean energy budget of the Earth (upper panel), and its equivalent without considerations of cloud effects (lower panel). Numbers indicate best estimates for the magnitudes of the globally averaged energy balance components in W m–2 together with their uncertainty ranges in parentheses (5–95% confidence range), representing climate conditions at the beginning of the 21st century. Figure adapted for IPCC AR6 WG1 Chapter 7, from Wild et al. (2015).

While the flow in and out of our atmosphere from or to space is essentially the same, the atmosphere is inhibiting the cooling of the Earth, storing that energy mostly near its surface. If it were simply a case of sunshine straight in, infra-red straight back out, which would occur if the atmosphere was transparent to infra-red (it isn't) – or indeed if there was no atmosphere, Earth would have a similar temperature-range to the essentially airless Moon. On the Lunar equator, daytime heating can raise the temperature to a searing 120OC, but unimpeded radiative cooling means that at night, it gets down to around -130OC. No atmosphere as such, no greenhouse effect.

Clearly, the concentrations of greenhouse gases determine their energy storage capacity and therefore the greenhouse effect's strength. This is particularly the case for those gases that are non-condensing at atmospheric temperatures. Of those non-condensing gases, carbon dioxide is the most important. Because it only exists as vapour, the main way it is removed is as a weak solution of carbonic acid in rainwater – indeed the old name for carbon dioxide was 'carbonic acid gas'. That means once it's up there, it has a long 'atmospheric residency', meaning it takes a long time to be removed. 

Earth’s temperature can be stable over long periods of time, but to make that possible, incoming energy and outgoing energy have to be exactly the same, in a state of balance known as ‘radiative equilibrium’. That equilibrium can be disturbed by changing the forcing caused by any components of the system. Thus, for example, as the concentration of carbon dioxide has fluctuated over geological time, mostly on gradual time-scales but in some cases abruptly, so has the planet's energy storage capacity. Such fluctuations have in turn determined Earth's climate state, Hothouse or Icehouse – the latter defined as having Polar ice-caps present, of whatever size. Currently, Earth’s energy budget imbalance averages out at just under +1 watt per square metre - that’s global warming. 

That's all in accordance with the laws of Thermodynamics. The First Law of Thermodynamics states that the total energy of an isolated system is constant - while energy can be transformed from one component to another it can be neither created nor destroyed. Self-evidently, the "isolated" part of the law must require that the sun and the cosmos be included. They are both components of the system: without the Sun as the prime energy generator, Earth would be frozen and lifeless; with the Sun but without Earth's emitted energy dispersing out into space, the planet would cook, Just thinking about Earth's surface and atmosphere in isolation is to ignore two of this system's most important components.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics does not state that the only flow of energy is from hot to cold - but instead that the net sum of the energy flows will be from hot to cold. To reiterate, the qualifier term, 'net', is the important one here. In the case of the Earth-Sun system, it is again necessary to consider all of the components and their interactions: the sunshine, the warmed surface giving off IR radiation into the cooler atmosphere, the greenhouse gases re-emitting that radiation in all directions and finally the radiation emitted from the top of our atmosphere, to disperse out into the cold depths of space. That energy is not destroyed – it just disperses in all directions into the cold vastness out there. Some of it even heads towards the Sun too - since infra-red radiation has no way of determining that it is heading towards a much hotter body than the Earth,

Earth’s energy budget makes sure that all portions of the system are accounted for and this is routinely done in climate models. No violations exist. Greenhouse gases return some of the energy back towards Earth's surface but the net flow is still out into space. John Tyndall, in a lecture to the Royal Institution in 1859, recognised this. He said:

Tyndall 1859

As long as carbon emissions continue to rise, so will that planetary energy imbalance. Therefore, the only way to take the situation back towards stability is to reduce those emissions.


Update June 2023:

For additional links to relevant blog posts, please look at the "Further Reading" box, below.

Last updated on 29 June 2023 by John Mason. View Archives

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Comments 726 to 750 out of 1393:

  1. Re #615 Tom Curtis you wrote:- "Do you also agree with me that this simple model does not violate any laws of thermodynamics? " Perhaps not. But what it doesn't do is model the atmosphere or RW1's model in #613 In #619 L.J. Ryan shows the flaw in your model - adding the same energy twice! It doesn't model the atmosphere because GHGs do not reflect light, they absorb and, to a certain extent, re-radiate it. When a photon is reflected its energy remains the same e.g. mirrors do not change the colour of light. When photons are absorbed they may cause re-radiation but this is not necessarily so, e.g. if a chemical change is induced by the absorption of a photon. If the absorbing material does re-radiate photons this may well occur at a much longer i.e. 'without limit' longer wavelength. What cannot happen (2nd Law again) is for a photon to be emitted at a shorter wavelength. More exactly, in a single photon process, a photon more energetic than the incoming photon cannot be emitted. But there are two (or more) photon events that result in the emission of single photons of higher energy than either of the input photons, but the total energy is still conserved. There is no law of conservation for photons, they start with an emission and end with an absorption, even if they travel light years between the two events. Re #616, les your box is just fine, it is what J J Fourier described - it just doesn't describe the atmosphere - as Fourier himself noticed 'the air is not held still in the atmosphere' Re #677 Tom Curtis your box has a major flaw; the energy source is outside the box but once inside it is reflected 100% this doesn't happen, the walls that reflect inside the box must also reflect 100% light coming from outside, there are no one-way mirrors in physics. Further, if you put a lamp inside with N Watts power and the walls were 100% reflecting (thus 100% insulating) the temperature would rise until something was destroyed! But consider, how would you get the N Watts power in? Heat conduction in metals in largely a function of electrons in the conduction band thus the wires would carry much of the heat inside back out to the generator (or battery) where the energy came from in the first place. The wires may get hot in the process but have you ever dealt with high power lights enclosed in a projector? Everything gets terrifyingly hot!
  2. Tom, before you waste too much time on damorbel, you might like to look at page 5,6 etc. Also, note my post here. It seems that damorbel is not willing to be persuaded by experimental evidence on those terms.
  3. Re 727 scaddenup you wrote:- "It seems that damorbel is not willing to be persuaded by experimental evidence on those terms." Having checked your link and scanned the thread, I am not at all sure which experimental evidence you claim 'does not persuade me'. I would appreciate your clarification.
  4. 726 damorbel: "your box is just fine, it is what J J Fourier described - it just doesn't describe the atmosphere - as Fourier himself noticed 'the air is not held still in the atmosphere'" Really, mate, I wasn't asking for your approval of the model! You know, a physicist doesn't need name-dropping to see what is and is not in a model. Clearly I did not include convection etc. It is redundant to point it out - unless your only aim is go take pot-shots at everything for no apparent constructive reason. I don't know. My point was to show how one would move from the model proposed to one closer to something describing radiation etc. Waving hands and naming theories didn't really help develop the model - so, no contribution from you on the physics front. Still, thanks for the remarks, however trivial.
  5. damorbel @720:
    "Yes indeed. And so did Gustav Kirchhoff writing in 1862. From that he concluded that the temperature of a body black or or otherwise, is not affected by its emissivity as long as it has no internal heat source (or heat sink) i.e. it is in thermal equilibrium. This is the basis of his argument that emissivity and absorptivity are the same for any given body."
    Kirchoff certainly relied on the fact that when to bodies are in thermodynamic equilibrium, altering their emissivity cannot change the temperature of either (for doing so would violate the 2nd law of dynamics). From this he then proved that emissivity = absorptivity at every wavelength for every thing. But the issue of an internal heat source or sink is extraneous to his discussion, and your definition of thermodynamic equilibrium as "not having an internal heat source or sink" is false. On the contrary, two bodies are in thermodynamic equilibrium with each other if an only if, when heat can pass freely between them, neither loses heat nor gains it. As noted in the definition below, when two bodies are in thermodynamic equilibrium, they are at the same temperature:
    thermal equilibrium The condition under which two substances in physical contact with each other exchange no heat energy. Two substances in thermal equilibrium are said to be at the same temperature.
    It follows that if they are not at equal temperature, they are not in thermodynamic equilibrium; and if not in thermodynamic equilibrium, Kirchoff's Law does not forbid a change in emissivity resulting in a change of temperature for one or the other. The Earth and the Sun are, of course, not at the same temperature. Therefore the special application of Kirchoff's Law you appeal to does not apply. I am, of course, very happy to concede that were the Earth heated to the same temperature as the Sun, the green house effect would not warm the surface (and likewise if the Sun was cooled to the same temperature as the Earth).
    The meaning of this is clear, the size of the albedo has no affect on the temperature of the Earth, the position of climatologists, that the Earth's equilibrium temperature is lowered by 33K from 288K to 255K has no scientific basis.
    Having rewritten the definition of thermodynamic equilibrium to give yourself the semblance of an argument, you now do the same with the theory you are contesting. Climatologists claim that the equilibrium temperature of the Earth would be approximately 278 degrees K without albedo or greenhouse effects. Because ice and clouds raise the Earth's albedo at wavelengths at which it absorbs light from the sun, but not at wavelengths where it itself radiates, that cools it by about 23 degrees. Because GHG lower the Earth's effective emissivity at wavelengths where it radiates but not at those where it receives light from the sun, that raises the Earth's effective temperature by about 33 degrees.
  6. LJRyan @723, actually I did not specify a rate. What I did specify was that, "In that case, after sufficient time for light to transit the box three times, and with a constant light source providing beam (A), then the box will have the following equalities." A single photon does not qualify as either a "beam" or a "constant light source". By reducing the case to that of a single photon, you are quite clearly trying to avoid discussing the model as specified. Any interested readers should note your evasion, and that you do not feel confident enough to discuss the case on its merits. That should come as no surprise - I certainly would not want to discuss my case on its merits if I held your purported beliefs.
    Response: [DB] It has been noted. :)
  7. LJRyan @724, again you are changing the details of the experiment to avoid refutation. I very carefully specified, "Suppose you have an electrical stove ...". The reason for that is very simple, while the colour of a gas flame is fairly constant with temperature, the colour of an electrical heating element above a certain temperature is not. Therefore, you can see on the electrical element as you cannot see on the gas flame the effects of changes of temperature. Reverting then, to the original specification, if you have a pot full of water on an electrical element which is on, and glowing a dull red; and then you remove the pot, the element will become warmer, and glow a brighter red as a result. Inverting the pot over the element will reduce convective heat transfer, but by so small an amount that the heat difference from simply removing the full pot is unlikely to be detectable by eye.
  8. First, my preceding post should be read as a response to 725, not 724. LJRyan @724, the "lid forcing" is due to reduced heat loss due to convection and latent heat transfer. There-fore-making the lid transparent to IR, a very small source of heat loss in the situation, will make virtually no difference. This does not change the fact that the addition of a cooler object resulted in greater heat in a warmer object that it would have had without the cooler object! Your attempts to distract us from this fact will not work, and nor will we forget that they represent a complete refutation of your claim in 715 the presence of a cooler object cannot result in increased warmth in a warmer object.
  9. Re #730 Tom Curtis you wrote:- "But the issue of an internal heat source or sink is extraneous to his discussion, and your definition of thermodynamic equilibrium as "not having an internal heat source or sink" is false." Sorry but I must point out that an object with an internal heat source can never be in thermal equilibrium because it will always have a temperature gradient of some sort inside it. Further you wrote (1):- "two bodies are in thermodynamic equilibrium with each other if an only if, when heat can pass freely between them" This is not a requirement. If 'heat can pass freely' they will reach the same temperature (the only condition for equilibrium) at the fastest rate possible. And (2):- "As noted in the definition below, when two bodies are in thermodynamic equilibrium, they are at the same temperature" Which appears to contradict (1)and agree with (2) Emissivity is an intrinsic property of the material, it is not a direct function of its temperature. Emissivity can only change if the basic structure changes e.g. diamond has an emissivity different from graphite. You wrote:- "The Earth and the Sun are, of course, not at the same temperature. Therefore the special application of Kirchoff's Law you appeal to does not apply" The Earth absorbs the energy from the Sun that is not reflected by the albedo 'a' , this absorbed heat is radiated by the Earth with an emissivity e = 1 - a (a is the albedo) that is Kirchhoff's law. The law applies because the average temperature of the planet is not changing, it is in equilibrium with the radiation from the Sun. You wrote:- "I am... happy to concede that were the Earth heated to the same temperature as the Sun, the green house effect would not warm the surface" At the Earth, the Sun's radiation density is reduced according to the inverse square law, but the photons it intercepts still have the same energy as when they were emitted, it is just that they are spread over a larger area. If they are re-concentrated e.g. focussed by a mirror, the resultant image can, if it is only losing heat by radiation, reach the same temperature as the Sun. (It can't do this at the Earth's surface because the atmosphere absorbs some of the Sun's energy).
  10. Damorbel @726: Response to 613: As very clearly shown in 676, the radiant energy transfers are isomorphic with the radiant energy transfers in the third model of 676. The third model is an actual example of the GHE. Because of the isomorphism of energy transfers, it follows that the model of 613 is a model of the third model of 613, and hence a model of the greenhouse effect. It is good to see you endorsing LJRyan's answer at 619, however. He claims there that A=B. It follows that as C + D = B (by definition of half mirrored) and C = D (by definition of half mirrored) that C =/= B and hence C =/= A. But C = A by definition of equilibrium. So on LJR (and your) analysis of the box, C both equals and does not equal A. A contradiction that clearly proves your analysis to be false. Re your response to 677, that the lid of the box could not in fact be developed in life (as I mentioned) is irrelevant in what is after all an ideal thought experiment. A work around in real life could easily be developed using a laser. Why then are you concentrating on trivia?
  11. scaddenp @727, it is quite obvious from the way they discuss the topic that neither LJRyan nor Damorbel are interested in resolving the issues being contested here. Rather their intent appears to be to prolong discussion to create the appearance of rational dispute. It is a sham, of course, because their responses to arguments are neither rational, nor responsive. Instead there strategy appears to be merely to deflect and distract from core issues. This raises three issues. First, are they amongst the PR consultants which are known to be paid by some firms to create a haze of spurious disputation around sites that explain the truth about global warming? Second, how should site administrators respond to such evidently troll like behaviour given that they know that at least some such behaviour is paid for verbiage rather than reflecting genuine opinions? And third, as participators at a site, should we ignore their responses given that we recognise that their disputation is strategic rather than genuine? My answer to the third question is that it is better to not leave their responses unanswered, at least until they have exposed themselves as the empty shams they undeniably are.
  12. 736 - Tom Curtis "First, are they amongst the PR consultants which are known to be paid by some firms to create a haze of spurious disputation around sites that explain the truth about global warming?" Come on, get serious - no one would pay good money for contributions like those, surely!
  13. Tom Curtis, you and the others here are doing sterling work but I wonder to what end. This has become like a thread that involves Poptech : circular and pointless. As you say, it is creating an illusion of some sort of debate, which is incomprehensible to the vast majority of people who understand that the greenhouse effect does not break any physical laws. Perhaps it is time to ask and demand answers to certain basic, and on-topic questions, from the so-called skeptics, with anything else being deleted as off-topic and time-wasting ? They would scream censorship, no doubt, but I believe the rest of us would welcome the decline in time-wasting nonsense - as I'm sure you would welcome the ability to concentrate on other matters !
  14. les @737, in PR it is often quantity, not quality that counts. What is more, damorbel and LJRyan seem to repeatedly make claims that anyone who knows the theory behind the GHE or Thermodynamics can clearly see to be false, but which are plausible enough to pass muster with those having only a casual acquaintance with either. They are exactly the sort of contributions likely generate uncertainty in the uninformed.
  15. JMurphy, that might be a suitable solution. Fortunately, though, it is out of my hands to determine if a more robust response is appropriate.
  16. LJRyan #715: "To proclaim star sourced energy can be increase itself by it's own reflection and/or re-radiation is a violation of the 1st law." Presumably parabolic mirrors don't exist in your reality.
    Response: [DB] Or perhaps he meant this law...
  17. JMurphy@738 "Tom Curtis, you and the others here are doing sterling work but I wonder to what end." I would like to second this Tom but let you know that it is not pointless. Not being a physicist myself I have found your explanations very easy to follow and enlightening. The lack of understanding displayed by our resident skeptics is as damaging to their cause as their math.
  18. Tom Curtis 731 You said: " "In that case, after sufficient time for light to transit the box three times, and with a constant light source providing beam (A), then the box will have the following equalities." A single photon does not qualify as either a "beam" or a "constant light source". By reducing the case to that of a single photon, you are quite clearly trying to avoid discussing the model as specified. Any interested readers should note your evasion, and that you do not feel confident enough to discuss the case on its merits. That should come as no surprise - I certainly would not want to discuss my case on its merits if I held your purported beliefs. " Establishing constraints is not avoiding the discussion. Since a "beam" is not scientifically defined, and furthermore "light source providing beam" suggests visible light, I'm trying to establish a specific minimum for your box to work as supposed. If I specify, as you suggested (698) 1 photon per second, A single photon will transverse the box and/or absorbed and re-radiated countless times within a second...so why no increase in energy? I will ask again. Is there a minimum energy for your box? Any interested readers should note your evasion, and that you do not feel confident enough to discuss the case on its merits.
  19. Tom Curtis 732 733 The nonsense of your electric stove analogy is profound. To imply a lid over a pot of near boiling water demonstrates atmosphere forcing, or to refute heat energy flows spontaneously from hot to cold is obfuscation at that least and outright igno....well you seem very intelligent, just wrong. You came to realize however, "the "lid forcing" is due to reduced heat loss due to convection and latent heat transfer. There-fore-making the lid transparent to IR, a very small source of heat loss in the situation, will make virtually no difference." And the lid temperature is NOT relevant The larger pot inverted over the burner, bright red or dull red, should get hotter via re-radiation. Should get much hotter via re-radiation IF GHG theory physics is correct. Or since the burner represents a constant source of light (maybe a beam) shouldn't the pot contain 4x the light entering the pot. Can a pot be a box? Any interested readers should reference the thread starting @676 Any interested readers should also note your evasion, and that you do not feel confident enough to discuss the case on its merits.
  20. CBDunkerson 741, moderator No CB, I believe light can be focused and directed. Are you suggesting the cold atmosphere is a parabolic dish...reflecting focused LW to the earths surface? Way to stay objective moderator.
    Response: [DB] As one who has experienced this thread in all its 700+ comment glory, keeping one's objectivity mandates a sense of humor. Like keeping an open mind also mandates one to not let one's brains fall out. If you've taken offense at my sense of humor, I apologize.
  21. LJ, can't you see that the mechanism is the same? In both cases we have electromagnetic radiation being redirected and resulting in the area of accumulation receiving more energy than if the EMR had not been redirected there. The greenhouse effect works by redirecting 'infrared light' just as a parabolic mirror works by redirecting 'visible light'... in both cases you have concentrated a greater amount of electromagnetic radiation in a given area and thus produced a higher temperature. Your claim that this violates the 1st law of thermodynamics is thus obviously false. No 'extra' energy is being created... already existing energy is being concentrated within an area and thereby causing higher temperatures in that area. Ditto with the nonsense about the 2nd law of thermodynamics... the EMR flows just fine from the cold surface of the mirror to the much hotter focal point. If the greenhouse effect violates either of these laws of thermodynamics then so do parabolic mirrors... yet both keep on working despite illogical beliefs that they cannot.
  22. #743: "If I specify ... 1 photon per second, A single photon will transverse the box and/or absorbed and re-radiated countless times within a second...so why no increase in energy?" Are you suggesting that successive absorption and re-emission of photons at the same frequency increases energy? In what way? If you have this figured out, congratulations, you better get a plane ticket to Stockholm.
  23. muoncounter 747 "Are you suggesting that successive absorption and re-emission of photons at the same frequency increases energy?" That's my point...it can't. Go back and read the entire thread.
  24. CBDunkerson746 "can't you see that the mechanism is the same? In both cases we have electromagnetic radiation being redirected and resulting in the area of accumulation receiving more energy than if the EMR had not been redirected there. The greenhouse effect works by redirecting 'infrared light' just as a parabolic mirror works by redirecting 'visible light'... in both cases you have concentrated a greater amount of electromagnetic radiation in a given area and thus produced a higher temperature." The atmosphere acts like a parabolic dish...you don't really believe that...do you? Hey CB, read up on solar cookers...when not cooking can be turned away from the sun, and COOL the focused contents. How can this happen...how, with intensified hot radiation form the dish atmosphere? Hint: the sky is cooler.
  25. LJ: "The atmosphere acts like a parabolic dish...you don't really believe that...do you?" In that both cause an area to be warmer due to redirected electromagnetic energy it isn't a matter of belief, but rather observed reality. "Hey CB, read up on solar cookers...when not cooking can be turned away from the sun, and COOL the focused contents. How can this happen...how, with intensified hot radiation form the dish atmosphere?" Congratulations... I cannot discern an argument coherent enough to refute.

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