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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 126 to 150 out of 303:

  1. I believe the substance of my criticism of your position is in a later part of my comment #122, namely:
    It would seem to me that there is not much question as to which of the below alternatives is more likely: - that all this empirical evidence (global cryosphere mass balance decline, sea level rise, changing migration patterns, pest prevalence in increasingly higher latitudes, temperature anomalies, &c &c &c) isn't really pointing to global warming via the atmospheric greenhouse effect - that you and damorbel have managed to misunderstand thermodynamics
    [Emphasis in underlines mine in this comment, not in #122.] That is, the inconsistencies are more the purview of skeptics/contrarians attempting to appeal to thermodynamics than of the scientific evidence supporting the existence of the greenhouse effect. When reviewing this thread, as a non-scientist (I am a musician by training) I have found the posts of the likes of muoncounter, Phil, et al to be clearer and more compelling than the posts of yourself or h-j-m. In particular, your blanket analogy in #117 practically mirrors the analogy used in the original post, save that you draw what appears to be a bizarre conclusion from it.
  2. "Let me jut explain these two worlds which I will just name here and there." h-j-m - what is really going on, is that you have misunderstood physics and created an invalid worldview which means you would incorrectly predict the outcome of experiments. The best approach is learn what it really correct and how they are reconciled (sit down with a text book). Making real world decisions (like voting on measures to deal with climate change) on the basis of an incorrect understanding is a bad thing.
  3. Re #126 Composer99, you wrote:- "your blanket analogy in #117 " Composer99, it isn't an analogy. A blanket is one sort of insulator. Anything that interferes with heat transfer can be an insulator of greater or lesser effectiveness. Your doubts about my competence in thermodynamics would be so much more admirable if you knew about insulation.
  4. "Anything that interferes with heat transfer can be an insulator of greater or lesser effectiveness." Indeed.
  5. Damorbel @128, "Your doubts about my competence in thermodynamics" Actually, your failure to grasp a scientific theory (not hypothesis) that has been around for over 150 years seriously questions your competence in thermodynamics. Have you actually read Roy Spencer's posts on this matter which I and others have directed you to? Talking of Spencer, have you read Spencer Weart's book, The Discovery of Global Warming? I'm thinking not. But then again, why would you-- you clearly believe that you know better than Arrhenius, Fourier, Tyndall and many, many other eminent scientists who get it. Maybe you are a D-K victim after all. Given that you cannot wrap your head around this fundamental theory underlying physics of AGW, I hope not to see you arguing points on any other page. Why argue other points related to climate science and AGW if you cannot grasp the greenhouse effect? We get it, you think AGW is not real, and your behavior here has demonstrated that no one is going to be able to convince you otherwise, so please (pretty please) stop wasting everyone's time.
  6. Composer99, as I picked on the matter of insulation (blanket analogy) first (starting with post #15) I feel obliged to reply to your take on it. You wrote (post # 126) "In particular, your blanket analogy in #117 practically mirrors the analogy used in the original post, save that you draw what appears to be a bizarre conclusion from it." which was in reply to a posting by damorbel. As I share his opinion in this matter let me try to make things more clear. Our conclusion is simple, however effective any insulation is, it can not cause the isolated body to warm unless there is a source of heat inside the insulation. Does this contradict what is said in the lead article? Let's see. It states: "If you put the blanket on a tailors dummy, which does not generate heat, it will have no effect. The dummy will not spontaneously get warmer. That's obvious too!" I fail to spot any contradiction, do you?
  7. h-j-m, Your conclusion is indeed simple, and wrong. The solar energy is the heat source. It passes through the atmosphere in one form (visible & ultraviolet light), get absorbed by the planet and re-emitted in another form (infrared light) that the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere insulate against.
  8. Our conclusion is simple, however effective any insulation is, it can not cause the isolated body to warm unless there is a source of heat inside the insulation. There is no claim that the Greenhouse Effect warms the Earth, only that it slows the Earths emission of heat into space, this was explained to you by Riccardo @107, but you seem to have ignored this. In this sense the GHE does behave exactly like clothes or a blanket around a human body. The human body gets its energy through metabolising food, circumnavigating the insulation. The Earth gets its energy from the sun, also circumnavigating the GHE insulation because the frequencies of EM radiation from the sun do not match the emitted ones from Earth which do, sadly, lie in the CO2 absorption bands.
  9. Re: damorbel (125)
    "Clausius was not an ignoramus, he was almost certainly aware of refrigerators since a patent for a refrigerator was granted to Jacob Perkins in 1834, when Clausius was 12."
    Hey, that Clausius guy traveled in rarified circles: hobnobbing with Perkins (who lived in England) while Clausius was growing up in Germany. Or did he read about it in Europe Today? Fascinating, the stuff I learn here... The Yooper
  10. Re #130 Albatross I have have a copy or have read most of the books, articles etc. etc. you refer to, I possess many more. You may have noticed that I have confined my arguments to the subject of this thread which effectively claims that GHGs in the upper troposphere can induce about 33K temperature rise above the 255K said by climatologists to be the equilibrium temperature of Earth without GHGs. This is the position of the IPCC, it is in all their assessment reports which are search-able as PDF files on my computer. What is not identified in the IPCC reports is the temperature of the upper troposphere, it is very cold about -50C at 50km altitude, about -20C at 4km. There is no way the CO2, H2O vapour and whatever other GHGs you find 'up there' will raise the temperature at 0km by anywhere from 23C to 33C. What happens is the GHGs (at -20 to -50C) absorb some of the radiation from the warmer surface (-10C to 25C) on average and a small amount of heat is added to the atmosphere in addition to the vast amount transferred by the evaporation/rainfall heat transfer cycle. All of the heat in the atmosphere is radiated to deep space by the GHGs. Some of the heat in the Earth does not get into the atmosphere because it is radiated directly to deep space. Because heat transfer can only go from a hot place to a cold one, no heat at all can be transferred from the troposphere to the surface because the troposphere is always colder than the surface and, since no heat can be transferred in this direction, there can be no warming effect; it would be like getting a ball to roll up hill completely unaided. The reason the air at altitude is colder than at the surface is fairly simple. Think of a ball thrown vertically, gravity reduces its velocity, this means its kinetic energy =1/2mv^2(KE) is reduced. There is no real difference between the thrown ball and an air molecule except the temperature of a gas is proportional to the KE of its molecules, so in the troposphere the temperature of the air drops linearly with height at 6,5C/km because the KE is transformed into potential energy (PE) = mass x gravity x height (mgh). PE is seen to increase linearly with height which means that the KE/Temperature decreases linearly with height (as observed).
  11. Re #134 Daniel Bailey, you wrote:- "Clausius guy traveled in rarified circles" Just like Bill, he just wouldn't come home.
  12. Agreed CO2 intercepts some of the LWIR from the Earth, but it can only re-radiate just less than 1/2 back to the Earth which, for most of the time is warmer and therefore cannot make use of, or be affected by those low-energy photons.The effect of this gas,at 0.028% of the atmosphere is negligible. Water vapour is the greenhouse gas, except that it doesn't work like a greenhouse. The Earth is the watery planet and its climate can be fully accounted for by the density of the atmosphere and H20 and its three states. C02, were it not an essential component of life which is a special feature of the Blue Planet, could be ignored.I want my children and my children's children to have the same lifestyle as I've had.Sure there may or may not be peak oil. So what. If as many dollars had been put into battery research as have been squandered in this climate stuff, we might have been that bit further down the road to the hydrocarbonless society.
  13. RE# 137 AWoL The effect of this gas,at 0.028% of the atmosphere is negligible. Please offer a citation in peer reviewed literature that claims this is the case. For if it is you would need to explain to the reader how Satellite measurements of outgoing longwave radiation are incorrect.
  14. Damorbel, "What is not identified in the IPCC reports is the temperature of the upper troposphere, it is very cold about -50C at 50km altitude, about -20C at 4km." I'm not going to argue with you. Maybe it was a typo or maybe it was a very revealing slip-- but the troposphere doesn't extend to 50 km. The mid troposphere is typically deemed to be around 500 mb or around 5.5 km where temps. are typically near -20 C. Temperatures are -55 C or so between 11 km and 20 km. At 50 km you are in the stratopause where temps are a balmy -5 C or so. Surely you read that in the many books that you claim to have read. Maybe the wise rabbet can explain all this to you.
  15. Bibliovermis and Phil, Are you really saying that incoming radiation from the sun is not effected by greenhouse gases? Want to bet?
  16. All, Here is an online MODTRAN applet maintained by Dr. Archer. Have fun.
  17. #125: "The death knell of the GHG hypothesis really is the effect of gravity on the atmosphere." Had you disclosed that you were a devotee of that idea sooner, this wouldn't have gone on this long. Rabbett took it down back in May. Are you a student of Jelbring? If so, why didn't you say so -- at least that was a published reference. "Svensmark's cloud hypothesis has far greater traction" Another idea shot down in flames. #135: "no real difference between the thrown ball and an air molecule" Ah, the heat at the surface is due to all that liberated gravitational potential energy, just like a ball that fell to the ground... Except the air molecules in question have not fallen from the top of the atmosphere. Or did you mean that since PV=nRT, the higher surface pressure results in higher temperature? Someone kicked that around here not that long ago, but I don't have the thread handy. So we must choose: Perhaps Clausius knew of a patent issued for an evaporative refrigerator (which depended on reducing the 'caloric' content of fluids -- it's online) and was thus motivated to include the words 'sole result' in thermodynamic theory. And Damorbel is the only one who knows this... but that renders the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics kind of trivial. Or perhaps 'sole result' refers to net energy transfer, elevating the work of Clausius to that of the key discoveries of science. Just like the words net force occupy the central place in Newton's 2nd Law, elevating that to the level of Law. #123: "I try to explain, if I am not understood I try to work out why" Here's a suggestion: Try to listen to what other people are saying and digest what they are asking. Then avoid repeating the same explanation without offering any substantiation.
  18. Re #139 Albatross Yes a typo, -50C at 10km, more strength to my argument, it puts -60C to -80C between the the bottom and top of the troposphere, where then is this GHG warming effect coming from? Your link to Rabbet is very informative, of high altitude GHG emissions (CO2 etc), he says:- "Below that level, energy emitted by a greenhouse gas molecule is soon absorbed by another relatively nearby one. Thus the energy simply cannot be radiated to space to balance the incoming solar energy." which satisfies all observations of molecular absorption and emission. But don't you notice that this kills off the 'back radiation' nonsense? There are plenty of gases, the so-called greenhouse gases, that emit and absorb radiation; Rabbet is acknowledging that adjacent GHG molecules will absorb GHG emitted photons. To a non-climatologist this means that the thermal equilibrium of a gas is not disturbed by the phenomenon of molecular emission/absorption; a climatologist does not notice the absorption part of the phenomenon and claims that the emitted photons are not absorbed in the atmosphere but somehow, contrary to the 2nd law of thermodynamics, bunch together to form a radiative flux downwards to Earth's surface. Thank you for the link. This phenomenon was explained by Einstein in his 1917 paper on emission and absorption, Rabbet is the first person I have come across who recognises this reality in popular literature. Re #142 muoncounter, you also link to Rabbet and further to Jelbring on how heat is distributed in a gravitationally retained atmosphere. In your link to Rabbet you will find a further link to Steve Goddard's thread on the matter of atmospheres, gravitation and temperatures, there are currently over 400 postings and they make interesting reading. Given the vigorous discussion, your claim that "Rabbett took it down" is just absurd. Would you care to say what Rabbet wrote that convinced you? I am not interested who writes something, I need to know the argument used. Please tell me which part of Rabbet's post convinced you, I would like to check it out. The same with Jelbring.
  19. @damorbel: " a climatologist does not notice the absorption part of the phenomenon and claims that the emitted photons are not absorbed in the atmosphere but somehow, contrary to the 2nd law of thermodynamics, bunch together to form a radiative flux downwards to Earth's surface." ...except that's not *at all* what climatologists claim. To say they do is either to misunderstand the science, or to disingenuously misrepresent what climatologists believe. The point is not that all of the absorbed photons will go back down. The photon re-emission by GHG molecules happens in a random direction. The point, however, is that without this absorbtion/emission cycle, the heat would go directly into space. Now, it stays in the atmosphere longer, and some of it does make its way back to the surface. This is why temperatures have been going up, and it in no way violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics. It would be nice if you stopped repeating false information. Please consider it.
  20. @AWoL: "The effect of this gas,at 0.028% of the atmosphere is negligible." No, it isn't. See CO2 effect is weak and CO2 is not the only driver of climate. "I want my children and my children's children to have the same lifestyle as I've had." They won't if we don't take care of AGW. In fact, their lifestyle will positively suck. You seem to believe there's no money to be made in developing renewable energy and other green technolgies. Perhaps you should tell that to China, they're taking the leadership in these areas while the propaganda spread by Big Oil is causing the US miss the boat on these opportunities. Think about it.
  21. #143: "the so-called greenhouse gases, that emit and absorb radiation; Rabbet is acknowledging that adjacent GHG molecules will absorb GHG emitted photons." Your logic continues to spiral downwards. GHG molecules absorbing photons increases the temperature of the atmosphere -- and hence, warming. "and further to Jelbring" I have no particular interest in Jelbring; I assumed that was the source of your gravity=temperature gradient. If not Jelbring, perhaps you are a follower of Landscheidt, then? "you will find a further link to Steve Goddard's thread ... over 400 postings ... the vigorous discussion ... is just absurd." Any credibility you've tried so valiantly to establish here, now gone poof. As far as the number of postings on one of $G's threads being an indicator of substance, value or thought: Really? Here is what Dr. Roy Spencer posted on a similar thread in Watt$land: But it’s when that volume is exposed to outside influences — like IR radiation from the solar-heated surface of the Earth passing through that volume — that a temperature change can occur as a result of adding more CO2 to the volume. -- emphasis added Absurd is as absurd does.
  22. h-j-m: Rather than cryptic wager challenges, why not share a link or other citation to peer-reviewed literature showing the magnitude of greenhouse gas effects on incoming solar EM radiation?
  23. As several posters here accuse me of misunderstanding, misinterpret and general lack sufficient knowledge of physics and thermodynamics I will gladly admit all of that. Nevertheless, as posters doing so fail to provide any evidence in the end it just constitutes an ad hominem comment. Being aware of my poor knowledge I check facts before writing, double-check them while writing and triple-check them before posting. Now I will try to do it an other way. Is it true that matter absorbing incoming energy will result in either 1.a phase change (solid to liquid, liquid to gas, gas to plasma) and/or 2. taking up more volume and/or 3. emitting radiation? If we observe gases absorbing incoming energy at surface temperatures, is it true we will observe them gaining volume and emitting radiation (getting hotter)? If you answered no to at least one of the questions please tell my why, if not then please tell me what specifically makes green house gases so special.
  24. Composer99, for the simple reason that I have already done that in post #23. You can also cross-check with the link DSL provided in post #27.
  25. h-j-m: You mean the Wikipedia graph? That appears to be taken into account by the graph provided by others (from Science of Doom) several comments down: DSL/Ned (comments #26/27). I'm not sure I follow. Surely, if greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere can alter the flow of radiation coming in from the Sun, if that radiation is at the correct wavelenghts, then they can affect radiation coming up from the surface of the Earth, particularly since a very large part of that radiation occurs in the wavelengths most vulnerable to greenhouse gas effects. Leaving out the constant heating from the Sun, the net flow of heat energy, per the Second Law of Thermodynamics, should be from the Earth, through the atmosphere, into space. That is what we see. Greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere delay this flow of heat energy and (bringing incoming Solar radiation back into the picture) force the Earth to increase its surface temperature to bring it back into radiative equilibrium. Again, we see this in empirical observations.

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