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Climate Hustle

CO2 is not the only driver of climate

Posted on 25 October 2009 by John Cook

Climate scientists tend to go on a bit about CO2. However, as readers often point out, CO2 is not the only driver of climate. There are a myriad of other radiative forcings that affect the planet's energy imbalance. Volcanoes, solar variations, clouds, methane, aerosols - these all change the way energy enters and/or leaves our climate. So why the focus on CO2? Is it because scientists are all hysterical treehuggers determined to run peoples' lives with a one world government? Or is there a rational, scientific reason for this CO2 preoccupation? Let's find out which...

When I first started investigating global warming science, I attempted to discern the cause by a process of elimination. I studied all possible causes and ruled out any that couldn't be causing all the warming. As my understanding grew, I came to realise this was an inappropriate approach. Understanding what drives climate does not occur by a process of elimination. It's happens by a process of integration. There are many influences of climate and they all need to be considered together to gain the full picture.

For clarity, let me note a few definitions. Radiative forcing is loosely defined as the change in net energy flow at the top of the atmosphere. In this post, we're talking about the radiative forcing from 1750 to 2005. Values are taken from Chapter 2 of the IPCC AR4 which in turn took all their values from peer reviewed papers - apologies that I was too lazy to cite all the original sources. Positive radiative forcing has a warming effect (so obviously, negative radiative forcing has a cooling effect).

  • Surface Albedo has changed due to activity such as deforestation. This increases the Earth's albedo - the planet's surface is more reflective. Consequently, more sunlight is reflected directly back into space, giving a cooling effect of -0.2 Wm-2.
  • Ozone affects the climate in two ways. The depletion of stratospheric ozone is estimated to have had a cooling effect of -0.05 Wm-2. Increasing tropospheric ozone has had a warming effect of +0.35 Wm-2.
  • Solar variations affect climate in various ways. The change in incoming Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) has a direct radiative forcing. There is an indirect effect from UV light which modifies the stratosphere. The radiative forcing from solar variations since pre-industrial times is estimated at +0.12 Wm-2. Note that the radiative forcing from solar variations may be amplified by a possible link between galactic cosmic rays and clouds. However, considering the sun has shown a slight cooling trend over the last 30 years, an amplified forcing from solar variations would mean a greater cooling effect on global temperatures during the modern warming trend over the last 35 years.
  • Volcanoes send sulfate aerosols into the stratosphere. These reflect sunlight, cooling the earth. A strong volcanic eruption can have a radiative forcing effect of up to -3 Wm-2. However, the effect of volcanic activity is transitory - over several years, the aerosols wash out of the atmosphere and any long term forcing is removed.
  • Aerosols have two effects on climate. They have a direct cooling effect by reflecting sunlight - this is calculated from observations to be -0.5 Wm-2. They also have an indirect effect by affecting the formation of clouds which in turn affect the Earth's albedo. The trend in cloud cover is one of increasing albedo which means a cooling effect of -0.7 Wm-2.
  • Stratospheric Water Vapour has increased due to oxidation of methane and had a slight warming effect of +0.07 Wm-2.
  • Linear Contrails from aviation have a slight warming effect of +0.01 Wm-2.
  • Nitrous Oxide reached a concentration of 319ppb in 2005. As a greenhouse gas, this contributes warming of  +0.16 Wm-2.
  • Halocarbons (eg - CFC's) were used extensively in refrigeration and other industrial processes before they were found to cause stratospheric ozone depletion. As a greenhouse gas, they cause warming of +0.337 Wm-2.
  • Methane is actually a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. Pre-industrial methane levels, determined from ice core measurements, were around 715 parts per billion (ppb). Currently methane rates are at 1774 ppb (eg - 1.774 parts per million). The radiative forcing from methane is +0.48 Wm-2.
  • CO2 levels have increased from around 280 parts per million (ppm) in pre-industrial times to 384 ppm in 2009. The radiative forcing from CO2 is +1.66 Wm-2. CO2 forcing is also increasing at a rate greater than any decade since 1750.

Here's a visual summary of the various radiative forcings:

Figure 1: Global mean radiative. Anthropogenic RFs and the natural direct solar RF are shown. (IPCC AR4 Figure 2.20a)

Putting it all together, Figure 2 compares the warming from human caused greenhouse gases to the total radiative forcing from all human sources.

Figure 2: Probability distribution functions (PDFs) from combining anthropogenic radiative forcings. Three cases are shown: the total of all anthropogenic radiative forcings (block filled red curve); Long-lived greenhouse gases and ozone radiative forcings (dashed red curve); and aerosol direct and cloud albedo radiative forcings (dashed blue curve). Surface albedo, contrails and stratospheric water vapour RFs are included in the total curve but not in the others. Natural radiative forcings (solar and volcanic) are not included in these three PDFs. (IPCC AR4 Figure 2.20b)

Greenhouse gases and ozone contribute warming of +2.9 Wm-2. The majority of this is from CO2 (+1.66 Wm-2). This warming is offset by anthropogenic aerosols, reducing the total human caused warming to 1.6 Wm-2. So surprisingly, the warming from CO2 actually exceeds the final total radiative forcing. If ever asked how much CO2 contributes to global warming, you could say "all of it... and some!" But a more appropriate response would be to list the various contributors of forcing, both negative and positive, although this may cause the questioner's eyes to glaze over (and wish they'd never asked). Framing science is never easy.

The other important point to glean from Figure 2 is that we have a relatively high understanding of greenhouse gas radiative forcing. The probability density function (PDF) shows a much higher probability than the aerosols PDF, meaning the uncertainty associated with greenhouse gas forcing is much lower. This degree of confidence is also confirmed by experimental observations from both satellites and surface measurements which confirm the degree of enhanced greenhouse effect from rising greenhouse gases.

So bringing it all together, there are two reasons for the focus on CO2:

  1. CO2 is the most dominant radiative forcing
  2. CO2 radiative forcing is increasing faster than any other forcing

UPDATE: just read an interview with climate scientist Ken Caldeira which focuses on the issue of geoengineering. But one particular quote summed up the issues discussed above:

Question: They also write that you are convinced that human activity is responsible for “some” global warming. What does that mean?

Caldeira: I don’t think we can say with certainty whether we’re responsible for 90 percent of it or we might be responsible for 110 percent of it. But the vast majority of global warming, I believe, is due to human release of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

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Comments 1 to 50 out of 183:

  1. Hi John, in the previous post you linked to a good website for tracking current CO2 levels. Before that you linked to a website dedicated to solar cycle 24. Do you know if there's a one-stop-shop for tracking current levels or recent trends for more of the forcings?
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    Response: A one stop shop would be nice. I know Climate Charts & Graphs is moving in that direction, adding links to data sources and tutorials on how to analyse the data. NASA GISS offer all the forcing data online but it ends at 2005. If anyone knows of other useful links to forcing data, please post a comment.
  2. This is definitely more balanced in its approach and thus makes a good argument for focussing on CO2.


    1) Almost sounds like deforestation has a cooling effect. Hard to believe, especially if you happen to compare forests with asphalt parking lots and roads or even gravel.

    2) The article states:
    "The trend in cloud cover is one of increasing albedo which means a cooling effect of -0.7 Wm-2."

    Is this cloud cooling in addition to pre-industrial levels? If so, -0.7 Wm-2 represents an incremental change, whereas the statement, "The radiative forcing from CO2 is +1.66 Wm-2" gives the impression that this value represents the TOTAL forcing from CO2 (a value associated with pre industrial levels and otherwise).

    PS. I am not a CO2 lover. Personally I think there is a problem of CO2 toxicity just from looking at the numbers, regardless of warming effects.
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  3. Hi, a bit off thread, but just listened to BBC radio 4 - a piece by Clive James on scepticism.

    from about 7mins 40s to 9mins 40s on global warming. Unfortunately although he admits to knowing nothing about global warming, he seems to believe he is enough of an authority to conclude that there is no consensus, that the science is not settled and that there are only scientists either for, or against.

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  4. RSVP writes:

    The article states:
    "Is this cloud cooling in addition to pre-industrial levels? If so, -0.7 Wm-2 represents an incremental change, whereas the statement, 'The radiative forcing from CO2 is +1.66 Wm-2' gives the impression that this value represents the TOTAL forcing from CO2 (a value associated with pre industrial levels and otherwise)."

    *All* of the forcings listed are perturbations relative to pre-industrial levels. There's no sleight-of-hand going on here.
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    Echoing RSVP's sentiments regarding CO2 toxicity, see the above link (and others on the topic of ocean acidification, pteropods, etc). I believe this is another major reason to talk more about CO2 and reducing emissions.
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  6. So we have established (e.g. Thompson et al, Swanson and Tsonis, etc) that the rate of background warming is at most 0.1 degree C/decade – about half of that quoted by the IPCC. Solar variability accounts for some more of the total warming in the 20th century. About 50% of the total according to the Scaffeta 2006 paper previously referenced here. Up to 65% of warming in the 1980 to 2000 period according to Scafetta and Willson 2009.

    Scafetta N., R. C. Willson (2009), ACRIM-gap and TSI trend issue resolved using a surface magnetic flux TSI proxy model, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L05701, doi:10.1029/2008GL036307.

    Activists are misrepresenting science to pursue a dangerous social vision. I have heard an Australian suggestion that a board of environmental scientists should be put in charge of product availability. My first reaction to such nonsense is very rude. Undermining the global economy and free markets in this way will condemn billions to death, disease and poverty. A statement that is not going to be discussed further by me here – but one that will be defended if needs be.

    Speaking as one who has actually installed solar power in a third world village – it is currently a bloody expensive way of running a few lights and a DVD. No amount of feel good hand wringing will change that.

    Chris references 2 hydrological studies to support his claim that Africa would be better off with less economic opportunity and less carbon dioxide. He not only does a disservice to economics but to science – one which will do great damage to science itself. The certainty that Chris finds in 2 papers of marginal value to hydrological science is meant to justify a socialist future for the planet.

    One is concerned with Midwest US hydrology – runoff hasn’t changed in volume but the time of snowmelt has changed with higher surface temperatures and an earlier spring. Nothing to do with Africa – rainfall in the US is influenced by the ENSO, PDO, the Pacific North American pattern and the Artic Oscillation.

    The Artic Oscillation is likely to lead to drier ‘weather over at least another decade in Alaska, Scotland, Serbia and Scandinavia, as well as wetter conditions in the western United States and the Mediterranean. In the negative phase, frigid winter air extends further into the middle of North America than it would during the positive phase of the oscillation. This keeps much of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains cooler than normal, but leaves Greenland and Newfoundland warmer than usual.’

    The AMO turned positive in the mid 1990’s - ‘the AMO is related to the past occurrence of major droughts in the Midwest and the Southwest US. When the AMO is in its warm phase, these droughts tend to be more frequent and/or severe (prolonged?). Two of the most severe droughts of the 20th century occurred during the positive AMO between 1925 and 1965: The Dustbowl of the 1930s and the 1950s drought.’

    With a cool Pacific mode happening at the same time - a positive AMO suggests widespread drier US conditions over a decade or more.

    So – a transition to cooler and drier in the US from warmer and wetter – perhaps dust bowl conditions developing – but nothing attributable to global warming in the current state of regional hydrological prognostication.

    Dai et al – use a ‘bucket model’ to extend the US Palmer Drought Index globally. The ‘bucket’ has a couple of factors – rainfall, evapotranspiration and runoff. All of these are either poorly characterised (poor data and limited record), highly variable, dependent on the state of catchments (wet/dry, period from least rainfall, vegetation cover, relief, etc). All it says is that parts of Africa have been drier in recent decades.

    Global hydrology is driven by the oceans – the atmosphere has very little heat capacity and a ‘memory’ of atmospheric conditions that persists for as little as a few weeks.

    African rainfall is driven by Indian Ocean – Southern Africa by SST in the south western Indian Ocean, central Africa by SST in the Indian Ocean equatorial zone and northern parts of Africa by ENSO. Southern Africa, southern parts of Australia and South America are influenced by the state of the Southern Oscillation Mode (Southern Polar Vortex).

    There was a shift in the 1970’s to more frequent and intense El Niño conditions in the Pacific. There was a shift also to more positive SAM index values. The shift in SAM has been attributed to ozone depletion. Ozone is possibly involved. Warming and cooling of atmospheric ozone in response to changes in solar UV – changes the volume of downwelling atmosphere. This feeds into the polar vortices – changing the location of stormtracks – and Ekkmann transport from higher latitudes to lower. A higher atmospheric temperature works in the same way as ozone depletion but decadal changes to the polar vortices involves a strong natural component. Determining just how strong will require another couple of decades of data.

    The Southern Annular Mode positive trend peaked in the late 1990’s. ENSO switched to a cool La Niña mode in 2000. The Indian Ocean Dipole has been positive in recent years – with good recent rainfall in the Sahel and central Africa generally - but is currently evolving into a negative phase. A negative IOD involves warm water in the eastern Indian Ocean – and brings rainfall to central and Southern Australia and Indonesia.

    The ENSO modes drive large changes in global hydrology. The warm mode brings wetter weather to America, northern Africa, India and China. The cool mode brings reduced global rainfall but increased rainfall in Australia, Asia, South Africa and South America.

    Australian hydrology is a case in point. Various declines in regional rainfalls for 10 to 30 years are cited. However, to attribute variation over even 30 years to solely global warming is spectacular nonsense. Australian hydrologists repeatedly insist that there is multidecadal variation to account for - but this does not suit the activist agenda.

    In Australia, we have a much longer and reliable hydrological record. Average rainfall over 100 years of data has not changed. 1902 remains the driest year on the hydrological record. It is raining again in the north and south – and with a negative IOD this summer – in central Australia.

    The citing of a couple of studies without any hydrological context at all is very misleading and does a great disservice to science and to the community.
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    Response: If you respond to someone's comment, please post your response in the same thread (so if someone could let me know which thread this is responding to, I'll move this comment over).
  7. What does past climate tell us?
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    Response: You guys are always one step ahead of me - I'm actually currently working on a post that looks at past climate change in light of all the different forcings that affect climate. With luck, will finish it later tonight depending on how strong is my need for sleep - note the time that my last 3 posts were added.
  8. I hope you guys would entertain a few simple observations/questions from a die-hard "skeptic" layman.

    I use woodfortrees to plot Hadley variance-adjusted global mean from 1980 to now. There is the clear warming trend from 1910 to 1940. Man did no start spewing significant CO2 until 1940, right? Why is the theorized CO2 caused temp rise from 1975 to 2009 so much different from the temp rise from 1910 to 1940. The slope looks the same?

    Sure, I concede the world is likely at the highest temperature for at least 600 years and maybe even a couple thousand years. Here is the Englands CET, apparently the longest running temperature measurement. Besides the fact that the temp(I assume that is yearly ave CET) is highest now since CET began, why is the slope of the recent 30 yrs so much different from other 30 yr periods? Look at 1688 to 1720. We know temperature has changed these past two centuries, sometimes quite dramatically and suddenly. Where is the CO2 signature? I know you can drown me in scientific stuff, but to me this recent temp rise, 30 yrs only, doesn't pass the "smell" test.

    I have read about the unprecedented artic ice loss and temperature change etc etc. But so much of this whole thing started in the mid 70's right when the PDO shifted. Alaska Climate Research Center shows it happened all in a 1-2 year span.

    And after the big PDO change, even though emissions have risen enormously, temp's have not changed in Alaska. They are flat!

    Are you going to tell me that this CO2 created heat built up in the ocean and was all "released" in 1977 and then again with El Nino of 1998?

    Then I read the historical pieces. Did anyone read Brian Fagan's - The Little Ice Age and The Great Warming. Fagan emphatically states in the preface he believes in AGW, the writes hundreds of pages using thousands of pages to basically prove that the climate has changed dramatically the past 1,000 years. Another one on the great consensus ride, even though his writing proves otherwise! In fact, every single word proves otherwise.

    What is "optimum? Was the Medievil Warming period similar in temp to our period from 1940 to 1975, since we are told we are warmer today! Fagan certainly writes that it seemed to be MUCH warmer, at least in Europe where there are historical records. Was the Little Ice Age of the mid-1800\'s the \"optimum\"?

    I am TOLD that the Artic Ice loss is unprecedented. Then I read this historical account below?

    The physics which is discussed here is beyond me and anyone w/o deep training, but the mumbo jumbo just does not pass the smell test of \"common sense\".

    Although, I applaud this web site and the attitude of the posters here. Because another thing that does not pass the smell test of common sense is the superior attitude of the warmers. Just compare how the Warmers write compare to the Skeptics. I\'m quite proud to be a Skeptic!
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    Response: I'll try to answer your questions without drowning you in science:
    So to summate, how do we know humans are causing global warming? CO2 is causing an energy imbalance - less infrared energy is escaping out to space. Past climate change tells us how sensitive climate is to an energy imbalance (more commonly refered to as radiative forcing) so we can work out how climate will react to the CO2 radiative forcing. And an energy imbalance is being observed by satellite and ocean heat measurements.

    A concise overview can be read in Empirical evidence that humans are causing global warming.
  9. So we have established that the background warming trend is 0.1 degree C/decade (eg Thompson et al, Swanson and Tsonis, etc) - about half of the IPCC assumed anthropogenic warming trend. On this basis you would ask us to accept without question the IPCC radiative forcing table?

    For a start -the climate forcing table above is missing an important column – the LOSU or level of scientific understanding.

    Forcing LOSU
    Long lived greenhouse gases     High
    Ozone     Med
    Land Use/Black Carbon     Med to Low
    Direct Aerosol     Med to Low
    Cloud Albedo     Low
    Linear Contrails     Low
    Solar Irradiance     Low

    1. The greenhouse gas forcing include feedback from increasing temperature – mostly water vapour. Other forcings are direct effects without feedbacks. A priori – the forcings are not directly comparable.
    2. Ozone forcing is related to emissions of ozone forming chemicals – nitrous oxides, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons. The IPCC assumes more ozone currently in the atmosphere due to these chemicals? Given the uncertainties of ozone depletion and formation - the assigned LOSU is optimistic.
    3. Land use, ice extent, etc. – should be incorporated into a measurement of total Earth Albedo.
    4. Direct aerosol/black carbon (in the atmosphere) balance has been estimated recently at 60% of the net IPCC aerosol forcing – see Gunnar Myhre below.
    5. Earth albedo – of which clouds are a large part – decreased by about 2% (4 W/m2) between 1984 and 1998 – and increased by 1% (2 W/m2) from 1999 to date. See Project Earthshine. Clouds are seen as a feedback by the IPCC – rather than as climate forcing. This is probably not a safe assumption.
    6. Linear contrails – global dimming from contrails was probably never a big item.
    7. Solar Irradiance – Scafetta and Willson 2009 – recalculate solar trends from the inadequate satellite record. Up to 65% of warming from 1980 to 2000 due to solar irradiance changes.

    Is any of this undoubted scientific fact? I recommend remembering the LOSU and taking it all with a grain of salt.

    The net warming, and the individual components, are known to differ considerably from the IPCC 2007 table – and to be the subject of much uncertainty and revision. You repeat these estimates as gospel without even the relevant LOSU column.

    Consistency Between Satellite-Derived and Modeled Estimates of the Direct Aerosol Effect
    Gunnar Myhre

    In the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report, the direct aerosol effect is reported to have a radiative forcing estimate of –0.5 Watt per square meter (W m–2), offsetting the warming from CO2 by almost one-third. The uncertainty, however, ranges from –0.9 to –0.1 W m–2, which is largely due to differences between estimates from global aerosol models and observation-based estimates, with the latter tending to have stronger (more negative) radiative forcing. This study demonstrates consistency between a global aerosol model and adjustment to an observation-based method, producing a global and annual mean radiative forcing that is weaker than –0.5 W m–2, with a best estimate of –0.3 W m–2. The physical explanation for the earlier discrepancy is that the relative increase in anthropogenic black carbon (absorbing aerosols) is much larger than the overall increase in the anthropogenic abundance of aerosols.

    Science 10 July 2009:
    Vol. 325. no. 5937, pp. 187 - 190
    DOI: 10.1126/science.1174461
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    Response: The scientific understanding is addressed (albeit briefly) in Figure 2 and subsequent discussion - all the "accumulated uncertainty" is included in the probability distribution function in Figure 2.

    Note - all radiative forcings are subject to feedbacks, there's nothing special about CO2.

    Re Scafetta and Willson's contention that the sun is warming, this is a dubious contention considering the multiple lines of independent evidence indicating the sun is showing a cooling trend.

    Re Swanson and Tsonis, a topic for an upcoming post...

    Lastly, I've deleted any references in your comment to activists and political agendas - they add nothing to the scientific discussion. Next time, I'll be deleting the entire comment.
  10. There are 2 components of sea level rise – and this is on topic – as it is critical to the claim that oceans are still accumulating heat and that there is currently a positive radiative imbalance. The components include a mass component due to melting of snow, ice and permafrost and a ‘steric’ component due to ocean warming.

    Total sea level rise is a modest 1 mm for the period 2003 to 2008. All of this is a result of mass increase as a result of short term increases in freshwater input. Karen von Schukmann et al (2009) – assume that the mass increase over 2003 to 2008 is negligible.

    With the ARIVO product a global average of the freshwater change in the upper 2000m depth can be established for the first years of Argo. Freshwater corresponds to changes in mean salinity that can be due to E-P, river runoff and ice melting. Mass changes due to the import of freshwater from continents are not included. The global average of freshwater content anomalies is dominated by interannual changes. The 6-year trend from 2003 to 2008 is very small (Fig. 11b). During 2003, positive freshwater content can be observed which changes sign in 2004 and 2005. In the years 2006 and 2007, an increase in freshwater content reoccurs.

    Globally averaged steric sea level shows a positive trend and the rate of changes from
    the years 2003 to 2008 can be estimated as 1.01+/- 0.13 mm/year (Fig. 11c).

    Schuckmann et al did not calculate total ocean heat content directly from ARGO ocean temperature records. They used salinity data (hence the importance of depth) to estimate mass input at bugger all – and assumed that steric sea rise accounted for the minor changes in sea level seen in the satellite altimetry record.

    All other methods show negligible changes in steric sea levels over the ARGO record.
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  11. I will include a discussion by Richard Willson from 2003 –

    Your ‘multiple lines of evidence’ on TSI are based of reconstruction of the satellite TSI measurement. Scafetta and Willson (2009) – suggest a new method of stitching the record together over the 2 years after the Columbia disaster.

    Yet you leap to the conclusion that it is ‘dubious’. If you can sort out the wheat from the chaff in the satellite TSI record, you’re a better man than I Gunga Din. I always remember the ‘low level of scientific understanding’ and act accordingly.

    ACRIM-gap and TSI trend issue resolved using a surface magnetic flux TSI proxy model

    Nicola Scafetta
    Physics Department, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA
    Richard C. Willson
    ACRIM, Coronado, California, USA

    ‘The ACRIM-gap (1989.5–1991.75) continuity dilemma for satellite TSI observations is resolved by bridging the satellite TSI monitoring gap between ACRIM1 and ACRIM2 results with TSI derived from Krivova et al.'s (2007) proxy model based on variations of the surface distribution of solar magnetic flux. ‘Mixed’ versions of ACRIM and PMOD TSI composites are constructed with their composites' original values except for the ACRIM gap, where Krivova modeled TSI is used to connect ACRIM1 and ACRIM2 results. Both ‘mixed’ composites demonstrate a significant TSI increase of 0.033 %/decade between the solar activity minima of 1986 and 1996, comparable to the 0.037 % found in the ACRIM composite. The finding supports the contention of Willson (1997) that the ERBS/ERBE results are flawed by uncorrected degradation during the ACRIM gap and refutes the Nimbus7/ERB ACRIM gap adjustment Fröhlich and Lean (1998) employed in constructing the PMOD.’

    There is really only one admission important in a discussion of S&T or Thompson et al – a background warming trend from all other factors of 0.1 degree C/decade. No prevarication, obfuscation or dissimulation is required.
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  12. To Ned.
    Thank you for the clarification. This helped me realize that radiative forcing as defined only refers to changes.
    As a skeptic, I suppose I have the duty to question the choice of this definition, since it masks the absolute values associated with each parameter.

    In an analogy:
    If an ordinary personal budget is represented with a bar chart that include groceries, utilities, mortgage, and other smaller fractions of living costs. While the mortgage payments may never change, this portion might represents 70% of the budget. If spending trends are represented as changes only, you might find huge fluctuations in say money spent on postage stamps. Should this raise a flag? You cannot know unless you compare this change to the absolute totals.

    And for the case in point, what about non radiative sources of global warming? Why are these swept under the rug?
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  13. RSVP writes: "Should this raise a flag?"

    No. What matters to us is the consistency of the climate in which we live. That is dependent on a relatively stable radiation balance for the earth system as a whole. If there is an imbalance in the radiative flux, the climate will warm (or cool). The extent of that temperature change depends on the magnitude of the radiative imbalance and the climate sensitivity (which essentially translates the imbalance from units of watts per m2 to units of degrees C).

    RSVP also writes: "And for the case in point, what about non radiative sources of global warming? Why are these swept under the rug?"

    What "non-radiative sources" of global warming? The only sources of heat (that I'm aware of) for the climate system are the sun and the earth's internal heat. The flux of heat from the earth's interior to the surface is negligible for our purposes. (If internal heating were a bigger influence than solar radiation on the earth's climate, then we'd have a uniform temperature year-round, and from the poles to the equator, with only a tiny seasonal and latitudinal variation).

    Of course, there is chemical energy stored up from the processing of radiative energy in the past. If the entire biosphere were to spontaneously decay, it would produce a small amount of direct heating (and of course a much bigger radiative forcing from the CO2 and CH4 released). Likewise, burning fossil fuels adds a tiny amount of heat to the system alongside the much greater radiative forcing.
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  14. John Cook, thanks for this post, and all your work on this blog. It really is fantastic to have such a science-centric resource available. I particularly appreciate your efforts to keep the tone plain, honest, and straightforward.
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  15. Here are THE MOST BASIC FACTS:

    - The Sun is the ONLY energy source (ignoring the Earth's Molten Core and Gravity).


    All the "arguments" that CO2 is a cause of Global Warming is pure fiction.

    Here are the MOST BASIC "TRUTHS" about CO2 as a cause of Global Warming.

    The Greenhouse Effect and AGW rely on Back Radiation from a Colder Atmosphere Heating a Warmer Earth.

    Established Laws of Science:

    - CO2 is NOT AN ENERGY SOURCE...AND IT CANNOT CREATE ENERGY since this would be a VIOLATION of the Law of Conservation Of Energy.

    - Yet, ALL the AGW "papers" have MORE ENERGY being Radiated by the Earth and Atmosphere than the Sun provides, this is CREATION OF ENERGY.

    - Atmospheric CO2 has an average temperature of -20 deg C and the Earth's surface has an average temperature of +15 deg C, so it is IMPOSSIBLE for CO2 to heat a warmer Earth without VIOLATING the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.

    - All the AGW "Science" VIOLATES these two basic Laws of Science.

    - There are ZERO Laws of Science that support AGW theory.


    - There are numerous measurements of Back Radiation and they ALL confirm that the Back Radiation from the Colder Atmosphere does not reach a Warmer Earth....let alone HEAT a Warmer Earth.

    - These measurements include ALL the direct Measurements of Back Radiation done by the AGW'er "Scientists" that use IR detectors cooled far below the -20 deg C average atmosphere temperature.

    - The Greenhouse Effect and AGW are FALSIFIED by established Laws of Science and actual Measurements.
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    Response: The atmosphere doesn't create energy. Greenhouse gases absorb outgoing infrared energy, preventing some of it from escaping out to space. The absorbed infrared energy is then reemitted in all directions, some of it heading back to Earth where it warms the surface. It's not an argument or a theory that CO2 causes global warming. It's an experimentally observed physical reality.
  16. “Radiation is heat transfer by the emission of electromagnetic waves which carry energy away from the emitting object.”

    P = e*BC*A(T^4 – Tc^4)

    Where P = net radiated power (Watts), e = emissivity, BC = Stefan’s constant, A = area, T = temperature of radiator and Tc =
    temperature of the surroundings or another body.

    ..when rearranged gives

    P/A = e*BC*T^4 – e*BC*Tc^4 (Watts/m^2)

    This is an obvious subtraction of two Electromagnetic Fields

    It also complies with the Vector subtraction of Electromagnetic Fields which are Vectors.

    The resultant Electromagnetic Field will have a magnitude of P/A and have a direction of propagation in the direction of the larger field.

    There is absolutely no energy flow from cold to hot, complying with the 2nd Law.

    In fact, All the Instruments used to measure the so called "Greenhouse Effect" prove that it does not exist!

    They use IR detectors that have been COOLED far below the -20 deg C atmosphere temperature to make the direct measurement POSSIBLE.

    Just like the 2nd Law clearly states!!
    Example: The AIRS instrument.

    The AIRS Instrument:
    Notice the amount of "Cooling" modules?
    They are used to cool the IR detectors in the Focal Plane Assembly.

    Cryogenic Cooling Systems
    -Dewar Assembly
    -Cryocooler Assembly
    -Radiators and Earth Shield Assembly
    Dewar Assembly
    "The focal plane assembly operates at 58 K for high sensitivity and is packaged in a permanent vacuum dewar which mates directly to the 155 K grating spectrometer."

    58K = -215 deg C !!
    Cryocooler Assembly
    "Low vibration, long life focal plane operation near 58 K is critical to the success of AIRS.."
    Radiators and Earth Shield Assembly
    "It extends around the spectrometer and operates in the 171-190 K temperature range. The second stage radiator provides extended cooling to 145-160K."
    "The AIRS Earth Shield Assembly provides shielding of the cold radiator surfaces to earth radiation."

    145K = -128 deg C, 160K = -113 deg C !!!
    Focal Plane Assembly
    "The PV modules consist of 1, 2 or 4 bi-linear arrays of back-side-illuminated HgCdTe detectors,..."
    "The AIRS FPA is unique in its hybrid PV/PC approach and required special care in the routing, shielding and grounding of very low noise (nV) PC signals in the presence of high level (V) PV signals. A total of 526 leads interconnect to the motherboard assembly using a series of 10 high-density, thin-film flex cables specifically designed for cryogenic operation."
    TES Instrument Specifications

    "Individual detector array spectral coverage (cm-1) 1A (1900-3050), 1B (820-1150), 2A (1100-1950), 2B (650-900) All mercury cadmium telluride photo voltaic at 65 K "
    65K = -208 deg C!
    In the end, all "Greenhouse Effect" measurements are FALSIFIED!

    The TRUTH is contained in the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics:

    “Second Law of Thermodynamics: It is not possible for heat to flow from a colder body to a warmer body without any work having been done to accomplish this flow. Energy will not flow spontaneously from a low temperature object to a higher temperature object.”

    All the measurements PROVE that IT IS NOT POSSIBLE for heat to flow from a colder body to a warmer body without any work having been done to accomplish this flow.
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  17. Re: Energy Creation by the Atmosphere

    Tutorial on the Greenhouse Effect- University of Arizona
    “In this case, the Earth still gains 240 Watts/meter2 from the sun. It still loses 240 Watts/meter2 to space. However, because the atmosphere is opaque to infrared
    light, the surface cannot radiate directly to space as it can on a planet without greenhouse gases. Instead, this radiation to space comes from the atmosphere.
    However, atmospheres radiate both up and down (just like a fire radiates heat in all directions). So although the atmosphere radiates 240 Watts/meter2 to space, it also radiates 240 Watts/meter2 toward the ground! Therefore, the surface receives more energy than it would without an atmosphere: it gets 240 Watts/meter2 from sunlight and it gets another 240 Watts/meter2 from the atmosphere — for a total of 480 Watts/meter2 in this simple model.”

    The Greenhouse Effect
    “Absorption of longwave radiation by the atmosphere causes additional heat energy to be added to the Earth’s atmospheric system. The now warmer atmospheric greenhouse gas molecules begin radiating longwave energy in all directions. Over 90% of this emission of longwave energy is directed back to the Earth’s surface where it once again is absorbed by the surface. The heating of the ground by the longwave radiation causes the ground surface to once again radiate, repeating the cycle described above, again and again, until no more
    longwave is available for absorption.”

    Both examples violate the 2nd Law because there is heat energy flowing from a colder atmosphere to a warmer Earth.

    The above Greenhouse Effect links describe a Perpetual Motion Machine, actually a Perpetual Motion Machine in a Positive Feedback Loop.

    The ultimate outcome is an infinite “creation” of energy and a violation of the Law of Conservation of Energy.

    The Sun is the ONLY energy source, the Earth and atmosphere are NOT energy sources.

    With reference to Kiehl and Trenberth's Earth's Energy Budget Diagram:

    The diagram shows that the in-coming Solar Energy at the top of the atmosphere is 342 w/m^2.
    The reflected Solar radiation is 107 w/m^2. This leaves 235 w/m^2 to heat the Earth and atmosphere.

    235 w/m^2 is ALL THE ENERGY AVAILABLE !!! and only 168 w/m^2 is AVAILABLE TO HEAT THE EARTH'S SURFACE !!

    The out-going Longwave Radiation at the top of the atmosphere is also 235 w/m^2 is also 235 w/m^2, so there is no violation of the Law of Conservation of Energy at the top of the atmosphere.

    However, this is mis-leading because below the top of the atmosphere there are numerous violations of the Law of Conservation of Energy.

    - The Earth's Surface Radiation (390 w/m^2) exceeds 235 w/m^2 and 168 w/m^2.
    - The Back Radiation from the atmosphere (324 w/m^2) exceeds 235 w/m^2 and 168 w/m^2.

    The diagram shows the total Solar Energy absorbed by the Earth's surface as 168 w/m^2.
    Trenberth clearly shows the colder Atmosphere Back Radiation of 324 w/m^2 being ABSORBED by the warmer Earth's surface.

    Anytime a body absorbes heat energy it's temperature has to increase, the warmer Earth's surface was warmed by the colder atmosphere.

    A CLEAR Violation of the 2nd Law.

    Remember, The Sun (THE ONLY ENERGY SOURCE) only provides 168 w/m^2 of energy that is absorbed by the Earth's surface.

    Is the Earth an Energy source?...NO IT IS NOT!

    Is the Atmosphere an Energy source?....NO IT IS NOT!


    Trenberth shows the Atmosphere Back Radiation absorbed by the Earth's surface is 324 w/m^2.

    Is 324 greater than 168?

    Conservation of Energy
    "Energy can neither be created nor destroyed"

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  18. More on Back Radiation and Measurements that Dis-Prove the Greenhouse Effect

    The Kiehl and Trenberth's Earth's Energy Budget Diagram shows:
    - The Solar Energy absorbed by the Earth's surface is 168 w/m^2 + reflected by the Earth's surface 30 w/m^2 = 198 w/m^2
    - The Back Radiation from the colder atmosphere that is absorbed by the warmer Earth's surface is 324 w/m^2

    The Back Radiation exceeds Solar Energy and BACK RADIATION IS AVAILABLE DAY AND NIGHT.

    Solar Ovens are Parabolic Mirrors that can concentrate Solar Energy and IR Back Radiation at a focal point.

    If Back Radiation actually reached the Earth, Solar Ovens would produce heating at night !!!

    Here is an experiment done at Brigham Young Unversity that PROVES that Back-Radiation CANNOT heat the Earth.
    Solar Cookers and Other Cooking Alternatives

    "The second area of solar cookers I looked at was their potential use for cooling. I tested to see how effective they are at cooling both at night and during the day. During both times, the solar cooker needs to be aimed away from buildings, and trees.
    These objects have thermal radiation and will reduce the cooling effects. At night the solar cooker needs to also be aimed straight up towards the cold sky. During the day the solar cooker needs to be turned so that it does not face the Sun and also points towards the sky.

    For both time periods cooling should be possible because all bodies emit thermal radiation by virtue of their temperature. So the heat should be radiated outward.

    Cooling should occur because of the second law of thermodynamics which states that heat will flow naturally from a hot object to a cold object.

    The sky and upper atmosphere will be at a lower temperature then the cooking vessel. The average high-atmosphere temperature is approximately -20 °C.
    So the heat should be radiated from the cooking vessel to the atmosphere."
    This link shows that heating of the Earth's surface cannot occur from the colder atmosphere.

    In fact, the article shows how to COOL items placed in the Solar Oven at NIGHT AND DAY!

    All you have to do is point the Oven away from the Sun during the Day and the Oven will transfer heat from the WARM object in the Oven to the COOLER atmosphere!

    It can even be used to produce ICE when the ambient air temp is +6 deg C!

    "If at night the temperature was within 6 °C or 10°F of freezing, nighttime cooling could be used to create ice. Previous tests at BYU (in the autumn and with less water) achieved ice formation by 8 a.m. when the minimum ambient night-time temperature was about 48 °F."

    And, this also confirms the validity of 2nd Law of Thermodynamics....heat energy CANNOT flow from Cold to Warm objects.

    AGW theory and the Greenhouse Effect has been proven to violate the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics and the Law of Conservation of Energy.

    Actual measurements confirm this.
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  19. As a layperson who reads your articles and comments with great interest may I make the following, probably very naïve, comments:

    1. There appears to be consensus that the main greenhouse gases are water vapour, methane and CO2.

    2. With reference to an article ‘Cyclones Spurt Water Into Stratosphere, Feeding Global Warming’ posted on Science Daily (21.04.2009), Romps and Kuang of Harvard’s Department of Arts and Sciences quoted data that suggests that water vapour has increased by 50 % during the last 50 years, commenting that “Scientists are currently unsure why this increase has occurred..”.

    3. In your article ‘CO2 is not the only driver of climate’, you indicate that, based on ice core measurements, methane levels in the atmosphere has increased from “715 parts per billion (ppb”) to “1 774 ppb” between pre-industrial to current times which represents a staggering 148 % increase.

    4. In the same article the CO2 levels are claimed to have increased from “280 parts per million (ppm)” to “384 ppm” between pre-industrial to current times which only represents a 37 % increase.

    5. Although, based on the radiative forcing rates which are stated in your article as being +0.07 Wm², +0.48 Wm² and +1.66 Wm² for water vapour, methane and CO2 respectively, water vapour appears to have a more limited warming effect, one wonders why the 148% increase in methane, which is indicated as having a substantive 29 % of the radiative forcing rate of CO2, does not receive the same publicity in the media as CO2.

    6. In this regard, one has to be sceptical as to why so much emphasis is being placed on only reducing CO2, notably the burning of fossil fuels, especially as the increase of the latter is merely a consequence of the increasing human population with the associated democratically driven demand for greater equality with respect to living standards and quality of life.

    7. Peddling the myth that the process of climate change and global warming can be controlled by merely reducing CO2 emissions through the development and sale of so called ‘green products’ and the following of so called ‘green practices’ diverts attention away addressing other factors, such as methane levels and the influence of uncontrollable natural processes, and from confronting the substantive issue that the procreation of the human species at the current rate is unsustainable, especially in the face of climate change and the associated pressure on food and potable water supplies.

    8. It is rather ironic that we now have protocols for the reduction of most things, including CO2, except in respect of the human population. It is also rather suspicious and farcical as to why the trading of carbon credits has been permitted via financial institutions when the supposed goal is a net reduction in the level of CO2 not a supposed offset via some scheme located in the developing world that may not prove to be effective, sustainable or appropriately monitored and audited.

    9. Is this because the world’s decision makers privately admit that climate change is beyond human control and that the activities focused on reducing CO2 levels are merely designed to sustain complacency in order to maintain social order and the functioning of the world economic system which are predicated on the concept of a stable and controlled environment?
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  20. There's no violation of the second law, nor of conservation of energy. This is really basic stuff and it's disconcerting to see somebody wasting our host's time (and my time, for that matter) with that kind of nonsense.

    The earth's surface is warmed by solar shortwave radiation, and is cooled by emitting longwave IR radiation outward into space. With no atmosphere, or an atmosphere with no greenhouse gases, the surface would have an average temperature of around -18 C. The presence of CO2 and other greenhouse gases intercepts some of the emitted IR radiation in the atmosphere, warming the atmosphere. This warmer atmosphere then radiates both upward and downward.

    The downward IR component from the atmosphere is still smaller than the upward IR component from the surface, so there's no violation of the second law. But it's greater than zero, so it effectively reduces the net flux of longwave radiation from the surface to space. Thus, the surface and the atmosphere both warm. (In this case, the surface is about 33 degrees C warmer than it would be without a greenhouse effect).
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  21. MP writes: "2. With reference to an article ‘Cyclones Spurt Water Into Stratosphere, Feeding Global Warming’ posted on Science Daily (21.04.2009), Romps and Kuang of Harvard’s Department of Arts and Sciences quoted data that suggests that water vapour has increased by 50 % during the last 50 years, commenting that “Scientists are currently unsure why this increase has occurred..”."

    Others can address the rest of your points, but I wanted to get at this one (briefly). The article you mention is referring only to an increase in stratospheric water vapor. The vast majority of water vapor in the atmosphere is near the earth's surface. Here's a convenient summary:

    "The uneven distribution of water vapor is even more
    pronounced in the vertical dimension. Water vapor concentrations (expressed as the ratio of the volume occupied by water vapor to the total volume of air, most of which is nitrogen and oxygen) decrease rapidly with height, varying over four orders of magnitude, from a few percent near the surface to a few parts per million in the lower stratosphere. Nearly half the total water in the air resides below an altitude of about 1.5 km. Less than 5% is in the upper troposphere
    (above 5 km), and less than 1% is in the stratosphere,
    nominally above 12 km." (Dian J Seidel, "Water Vapor: Distribution and Trends",

    So a 50% increase in water vapor in the stratosphere is interesting, but corresponds to less than an 0.5% increase in the whole atmosphere.
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  22. Ned - Re: your post #20

    You said...
    "The downward IR component from the atmosphere is still smaller than the upward IR component from the surface, so there's no violation of the second law. But it's greater than zero, so it effectively reduces the net flux of longwave radiation from the surface to space. Thus, the surface and the atmosphere both warm. (In this case, the surface is about 33 degrees C warmer than it would be without a greenhouse effect)."

    ANY transfer of heat energy from cold to warm objects will VIOLATE the basic Laws of Science !!!

    I wonder why so many people, who have obviously heard of Laws of Science, will try to prove that they are somehow wrong.

    In case you don't know why they are called Laws of Science, it's because they have never been shown to be violated.

    Do you really think what you have posted is correct and therefore somehow disproves Laws of Science?

    Someone once posted this on another forum:

    "Consider a clear light bulb, turned off. You can see the filament because ambient room light is shining on it. When you turn the bulb on, light is still shining on the filament from the room, you just don't notice it because the filament radiates so much more than it recieves."

    Here was my response:

    Now, I will post these Laws of Science for use in analyzing what you have written:

    1. The Law of Conservation of Energy basically states that "Energy cannot be created or destroyed".

    2. The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics basically states that "Energy can only flow from Hot to Cold objects".

    3. The Stephan-Boltzmann Law basically shows that "Objects that absorb energy will increase in temperature and radiate all the energy it absorbed"
    OK, lets analyse:

    "Consider a clear light bulb, turned off. You can see the filament because ambient room light is shining on it."....CORRECT.

    "When you turn the bulb on, light is still shining on the filament from the room, you just don't notice it because the filament radiates so much more than it recieves."....WRONG

    It is wrong because it would violate the The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics AND The Law of Conservation of Energy.

    It violates the 2nd Law because the light energy from from the room comes from a colder body than the HOT filament.

    If the light from the room was absorbed by the filament it's temperature would have to increase and the filament would radiate more energy.(Stephan-Boltzmann Law).

    If the filament radiated more energy, the light in the room would increase and cause the filament temperature to increase even further.

    The filament would radiate more energy causing the light in the room to increase again, causing the filament to heat further, causing the light in the room to increase....etc.

    This violates the The Law of Conservation of Energy because energy has been created.

    In fact, the temperature of filament would increase to infinity and produce infinite energy.
    As you can see the Laws of Science are all connected. If you violate one Law you invariably violate other Laws of Science.

    Like I said....they are called Laws of Science because they have never been shown to be violated.
    Science Professionals accept Laws of Science as being "fundamental truths of Science" and they are used as "first principles" for evaluating the validity of any process.

    Perhaps your time could be better spent if you adopted a similar approach.
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  23. To Gord
    I thought I was a hard core skeptic until I read your comment. There seems to be one item that you are overlooking, otherwise you would be correct.

    Please consider the idea that there is a balance between the energy that comes from the Sun and that which is radiated from the Earth out to infinity. (Light reflecting from the Moon for instance is energy that is radiating away from the Moon. The same thing happens for the Earth.)

    Depending on the surface and atmospheric conditions, the amount of energy reflected can be higher or lower. Eventually, all of it is lost into space, however some conditions allow energy to be stored and thus hold temperatures higher or lower. To get a "feel" of this, imagine standing barefoot in the summer, midday in a mall parking lot. Then compare this to standing on a white painted cross walk in the same parking lot. There would be a noticeable difference.

    Extrapolate that notion to variability that can occur to the entire Earth's surface topography and atmosphere. Big changes in the topography and atmosphere could conceivably make (over the course of time) the steady state temperature of the Earth to change. And yes, if the Sun suddenly turned itself off, the Earth would cool down rather quickly. At that point, both skeptics and non-skeptics would finally see eye to eye about how much difference CO2 makes.
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  24. re #22

    You're mixing up heat and radiation Gord, and so you're silly attempt to disprove basic planetary thermodynamics is based on a semantic mangling.

    A body radiates electromagnetic radiation (largely in the UV/vis/IR region of the EM spectrum) according to its temperature. That occurs independently of the temperature of any other object in its vicinity.

    So a cooler body will radiate energy towards a warmer body. Obviously, heat which can be defined as the nett flow of thermal energy, can only pass spontaneously from a warmer to a cooler body, and not in the other direction.

    The pertinent point is that a body radiating thermal energy in the path of a hotter body will slow down the rate of loss of heat from the warmer body, even if it is cooler. This obviously doesn't violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

    Going back to the earth surface/atmosphere. The surface loses thermal energy by radiation of longwave IR towards space. The atmosphere, a cooler body, reradiates some of this energy back to earth slowing the net flow of thermal energy from the suface to space. This obviously doesn't disobey the 2nd law of thermodynamics since heat which is the nett flow of thermal energy, flows from the warmer (earth surface) to cooler (atmosphere) body. As one makes the atmosphere warmer, by increasing its absorption of long wave IR (by increasing the greenhouse gas concentration), so the rate of radiative heat loss from the surface is decreased. The surface (and atmosphere) must warm to "pump up" the temperature such that thermal energy is dissipated at the same rate as solar energy impacts at the top of the atmosphere...thus equilibrium is re-established in a greenhouse-warmed earth...
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  25. Ned,
    It seems like the point Gord is making could be resolved by describing energy "coming back to the surface from CO2" as reflected or retained through a standing wave.

    A mirror reflecting heat does not warm. In this case, something more like a one way mirror. No?
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  26. RSVP....

    Storage of energy is done by the Oceans.
    The storage of energy is a result of heat transfer by conduction to colder water.
    The Oceans, because of their Thermal Time Constant, will take about 800 years to fully reflect the surface temperatures.
    The mean Ocean temperature at the equator is about +29 deg C, and the average temp (at a 40 deg lat.) is about +19 deg C.

    See the Sea Surface Temperature (Mean)(2nd row first graph) for the Ocean temperature at the equator.
    (If you take the area under the curve with AutoCad the average temp occurs at a 40 deg latitude and the temperature is 18.7 deg C.)

    ALL the energy released by the Oceans to the atmosphere is by conduction, convection and radiation.
    The energy released is determined by the OCEAN TEMPERATURES!

    The atmosphere is no different except that the ATMOSPHERE has only STORED ENOUGH ENERGY TO HEAT IT TO AN AVERAGE OF -20 DEG C !

    The Oceans can heat the atmosphere but the atmosphere CANNOT heat the VERY MUCH WARMER Oceans or a Warmer Land Mass!

    The colder atmosphere does not "trap" heat energy and it CANNOT heat a warmer Earth.

    The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics basically states that "Energy can only flow from Hot to Cold objects".

    AGW theory relies on heat flowing from a colder atmosphere (-20 deg C average) to a warmer Earth (+15 deg C) and heating it.

    This is an obvious violation of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.
    Only the Oceans can store heat energy.
    The current Ocean temperature was caused by the Medieval Warm period.

    This is just like putting a large pot of water (Ocean) on a stove burner (Sun).
    As the water temperature rises it will heat the air (atmosphere) above the pot.

    The hot water heated by the SUN heated the atmosphere...the atmosphere DID NOT heat the water!
    You have to get Cause and Effect right!
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  27. Chris -

    Chris said...
    "You're mixing up heat and radiation Gord, and so you're silly attempt to disprove basic planetary thermodynamics is based on a semantic mangling.
    A body radiates electromagnetic radiation (largely in the UV/vis/IR region of the EM spectrum) according to its temperature. That occurs independently of the temperature of any other object in its vicinity."

    Each object will radiate according to it's temperature. (Stefan-Boltzmann Law).
    Electromagnetic Fields produced by EACH object will INTERACT. (Heat Transfer Physics)

    Thus we get the Equation:

    P/A = e*BC*T^4 – e*BC*Tc^4 (Watts/m^2)

    This is an obvious subtraction of two Electromagnetic Fields !!!

    It also complies with the Vector subtraction of Electromagnetic Fields which are Vectors !!!

    The resultant Electromagnetic Field will have a magnitude of P/A and have a direction of propagation in the direction of the larger field.


    There is absolutely no energy flow from cold to hot, complying with the 2nd Law.
    There is NO "NET" transfer with some heat energy flowing from cold to hot!

    The 2nd Law says "IT IS NOT POSSIBLE for heat to flow from a colder body to a warmer body without any work having been done to accomplish this flow."

    If ANY heat energy flowed from Cold to Hot it would result in a VIOLATION of the Law of Conservation of Energy !!!

    (see my Clear Light Bulb example in my post #22)
    (see my "Greenhouse Effect" links example in my post #17)
    This "cartoon" illustrates the "physics" behind heat flow from cold to hot.

    The only difference is that CO2 is not "reflective" it is a good absorber of IR but the Radiation back to the Chicken would be the same .
    The principle is still the same and more importantly, the Result would be the same.

    Free Energy Oven
    Based on the latest Climate Modeling Technology developed at NASA

    "Interior has a mirror finish which reflects black body radiated heat back to the chicken, increasing its temperature.
    Warmer chicken will then re-radiate more infrared energy to the reflecting surfaces with additional heating occurring in a rapid cascade effect.
    Chicken must be above absolute zero when initially started.
    (Warning: observe temperature rise carefully and remove when internal temperature reaches 185 degrees).
    No power required.
    UN IPCC approved.
    Chicken not included."

    The source of heat energy only has to be above "absolute zero", the infinite energy CREATED will come about because of energy flowing from cold to hot.
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  28. re #27

    Again, your attempt to "dsprove" planetary thermodynamics by a form of Aristotelian syllogism is based on a semantic mangling of "heat" and "radiation", Gord (see my post just above).

    You're right that the atmosphere doesn't heat the water (you don't even need shouty capital letters to transmit that truism). However the atmosphere does suppress the radiative loss of energy from the oceans to space. So the rate of loss of thermal energy is suppressed by a warmer atmosphere. The oceans are warmer than they would otherwise have been without the "thermal blanket" (!) of the atmosphere radiating downwards.

    However you can be happy and proud that this very basic truism certainly doesn't disobey the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. Despite the suppression of the radiative loss of thermal energy from the oceans by the atmosphere, the nett flow of radiation (i.e. heat) is from the oceans to the atmosphere.

    Everyone is happy Gord! The natural world really does make sense.....
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  29. To Gord
    According to the blank statement, "Energy can only flow from Hot to Cold objects".

    How then can a radio signal (energy) in my nice warm kitchen pick up a radio signal from the transmitter antenna of a freezing mountain peak?

    The question is rhetorical in order to illustrate that things are not always that simple, and blank statements may be a little incomplete in their descriptions. (In this case, neither antenna is the source or the load in the system, but only act as pathways for channeling energy.)
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  30. Gord, I'm not going to waste my time reading your long and overly capitalized posts. Scanning a couple of them I think I got the gist and I recommend you go to any number of places and find your claims debunked. Or ask yourself: "when cold at night and pulling a blanket over myself, I get warmer -- but the blanket never gets as warm as my body, so how can this be?"
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  31. RSVP writes: "Ned,
    It seems like the point Gord is making could be resolved by describing energy "coming back to the surface from CO2" as reflected or retained through a standing wave.

    A mirror reflecting heat does not warm. In this case, something more like a one way mirror. No?"

    No, with all due respect there's no way to salvage anything meaningful from Gord's inappropriate attempt to use thermodynamics. It's really just plain wrong.

    Your idea ("describing energy 'coming back to the surface from CO2' as reflected or retained through a standing wave") is well-intentioned but also not very useful. Nothing is being reflected here, and there's no "standing wave". Longwave IR emitted by the surface is partially absorbed by the atmosphere. This warms the atmosphere, which in turn emits more IR in both the upward and downward directions. The radiation emitted upwards escapes to space, keeping the planet in radiative balance. The radiation emitted downward contributes (slightly) to warming the surface.
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  32. RSVP -

    The answer to your question is that the Radio Transmitter produces a LARGER Electromagnetic Field than your warm kitchen.

    Review my Post# 18 when I reported the results of the Parbolic Mirror Solar Ovens used to transfer heat energy from the warmer water at it's focal point to a colder atmosphere.

    The Parbolic Mirror is used as a TRANSMITTING ANTENNA just like Parabolic Dishes are used to RECEIVE satellite signals from a Satellite in cold space or TRANSMIT signals to the Satellite.

    Parabolic reflector

    A parabolic reflector (or dish or mirror) is a reflective device used to collect or project energy such as light, sound, or radio waves. Its shape is that of a circular paraboloid, that is, the surface generated by a parabola revolving around its axis. The parabolic reflector transforms an incoming plane wave traveling along the axis into a spherical wave
    converging toward the focus.

    Conversely, a spherical wave generated by a point source placed in the focus is transformed into a plane wave propagating as a collimated beam along the axis.

    Parabolic reflectors are used to collect energy from a distant source (for example sound waves or incoming star light) and bring it to a common focal point[1], thus correcting spherical aberration found in simpler spherical reflectors. Since the principles of reflection are reversible, parabolic reflectors can also be used to project energy of a source at
    its focus outward in a parallel beam[2], used in devices such as spotlights and car headlights.

    The most common modern applications of the parabolic reflector are in satellite dishes, reflecting telescopes, radio telescopes, parabolic microphones, and many lighting devices such as spotlights, car headlights, PAR Cans and LED housings."

    Electromagnetic radiation
    "Electromagnetic radiation (sometimes abbreviated EMR) takes the form of self-propagating waves in a vacuum or in matter. EM radiation has an electric and magnetic field component which oscillate in phase perpendicular to each other and to the direction of energy propagation. Electromagnetic radiation is classified into types according to the frequency of the
    wave, these types include (in order of increasing frequency): radio waves, microwaves, terahertz radiation, infrared radiation, visible light, ultraviolet radiation, X-rays and gamma
    rays. Of these, radio waves have the longest wavelengths and Gamma rays have the shortest."
    "Electric and magnetic fields do obey the properties of superposition, so fields due to particular particles or time-varying electric or magnetic fields contribute to the fields due to other causes. (As these fields are vector fields, all magnetic and electric field vectors add together according to vector addition"
    "Power Density and Radiated Power

    The Poynting Vector P is defined as:

    P(vector) = (1/2) E(vector) X H(vector)

    which is a power density with units of W/m2.
    Figure 4.1.3 The w/m2 Varies with Position on the Surface of a Sphere

    "n = unit normal directed outward from the surface."

    "We now continue to calculate the total radiated power from an antenna. It is the number of watts
    per square meter that happens to be at a given point and the direction of the vector is the
    direction of the power flow."
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  33. Steve...

    What really happens WITH BLANKETS:

    Radiation emitted by a human body
    "The total surface area of an adult is about 2 m², and the mid- and far-infrared emissivity of skin and most clothing is near unity, as it is for most nonmetallic surfaces.Skin temperature is about 33 deg C, but clothing reduces the surface temperature to about 28 deg C when the ambient temperature is 20 deg C. Hence, the net radiative heat loss is about Pnet = 100 W."

    So putting a colder blanket (20 deg C) on a warm Body (33 deg C) REDUCES the Body surface temp to 28 deg C!!

    Gee, looks like heat flowed from the WARMER Body to HEAT the blanket up!

    Just like the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics says...(Heat flows from warm objects to colder objects)!
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  34. Ned....

    Let’s test your claim that Heat can flow from Cold to Hot with a simple heat transfer calculation.

    Example: Two bodies of different temperature

    1) Assume the emissivity e = 1 for each of the two bodies and their thermal time constant is 0 (instantaneous).

    2) Boltzmans Constant (BC)= 5.67 X 10^-8

    3) Assume the Warmer body has a temp of T = 100 deg K. and is kept at this temperature by a constant energy source emitting 5.67 watts/m^2.
    The warmer body will also radiate an electromagnetic field of BC *(100^4)= 5.67 Watts/m^2

    4) Assume the Cooler body has a temp of Tc = 50 deg K
    It will radiate an electromagnetic field of BC *(50^4)= 0.35 Watts/m^2

    Now the resultant field between the two bodies is 5.67 – 0.35 = 5.32 Watts/m^2.

    The direction of the field is towards the cooler body.

    Notice that none of the radiation from the cooler body reached the warmer body and the warmer body remains at 100 deg. K.

    This conforms with the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics since the warmer body is not “heated” by the colder body.

    Now, the colder body is receiving 5.32 Watts/m^2 from the resultant field, which it will absorb and increase in temperature.

    Once the colder body absorbs the 5.32 Watts/m^2 it will radiate the 5.32 Watts/m^2 PLUS the 0.35 Watts/m^2 it was already radiating = 5.67 Watts/m^2.

    So this means the colder body has warmed to 100 deg K and the two bodies are at the same temperature….and equilibrim is achieved.

    Now that both bodies are at 100 deg K and each will radiate 5.67 Watts/m^2.

    The resultant field between them is 5.67 – 5.67 = 0 Watts/m^2 so there is there is no energy transfer between them and they will remain at 100 deg. K.

    If the energy source is removed, both bodies will now cool at the same rate.

    If the energy source is increased, both bodies will now warm at the same rate.
    Now let’s see YOUR calculations with energy flowing from the colder body to the hotter body.

    Do the calculations until thermal equilibrium is achieved.

    Remember that there is ONLY one energy source emitting 5.67 watts/m^2 and the Law of Conservation of Energy says “Energy cannot be created or destroyed”.

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  35. Ned - re: your post #32

    Ned said...
    "Your idea ("describing energy 'coming back to the surface from CO2' as reflected or retained through a standing wave") is well-intentioned but also not very useful. Nothing is being reflected here, and there's no "standing wave"."


    Blackbody Radiation
    "Blackbody radiation" or "cavity radiation" refers to an object or system which absorbs all radiation incident upon it and re-radiates energy which is characteristic of this radiating system only, not dependent upon the type of radiation which is incident upon it."
    The radiated energy can be considered to be produced by standing wave or resonant modes of the cavity which is radiating."
    Do you even realize that common 'interference' patterns produced by interacting EM waves is entirely explained by use of vector analysis and superposition?
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  36. Very good Gord, now explain what happens next after the blanket is applied! The body loses heat slower! Wow. Who knew?
    For your next trick, calculate the temperature of the Earth from its size and its interception of solar radiation. Then compare that to the empirically measured temperature. Oh, what do you know -- that's already done for you on the wikipedia page you referenced. Maybe you should try to explain the discrepancy.
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  37. Chris - re:your post #25

    Chris said...
    "The pertinent point is that a body radiating thermal energy in the path of a hotter body will slow down the rate of loss of heat from the warmer body, even if it is cooler."

    Radiating thermal energy is accomplished by Propagating Electromagnetic Fields.
    Electromagnetic Fields are Vector Fields and they travel at the speed of light.

    The warmer Earth radiates 390 w/m^2 and heats up the atmosphere to -20 deg C.
    The atmosphere radiates 324 w/m^2 in all directions.

    Between the Earth and Atmosphere the resultant EM field is (390-324) 66 w/m^2 in an upward direction.

    Past the atmosphere the Resultant EM field is 66 w/m^2 PLUS 324 w/m^2 for a total of 390 w/m^2 in an upward direction to cold space.

    ALL the 390 w/m^2 radiated by the Earth is radiated to cold space.
    There is no "slow down the rate of loss of heat".
    Chris said...
    "The surface (and atmosphere) must warm to "pump up" the temperature such that thermal energy is dissipated at the same rate as solar energy impacts at the top of the atmosphere...thus equilibrium is re-established in a greenhouse-warmed earth... "

    The Solar Energy available to heat the Earth is just 168 w/m^2.....that's ALL the Energy Available.

    The Earth can't "pump up" it's energy to 390 w/m^2 and the Atmosphere can't "pump up" it's energy to 324 w/m^2 !!

    Your "Pumping Up" is called "Creation Of Energy"....A violation of The Law of Conservation of Energy!
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  38. Thanks be to Gord!
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  39. Post #37

    Yes, the Blanket traps warm air between the body and DOES NOT INCREASE THE TEMPERATURE OF THE BODY!

    The body DROPPED in temperature from +33 deg C to +28 deg C !...because the Body supplied energy to heat the blanket up!

    Just like the 2nd Law says will happen.

    The Atmosphere as a Blanket is foolish because the Blanket is -20 deg C !

    Wrap that blanket around your +33 deg C body and see how much it heats you up!

    Likewise, wrap a -20 deg Atmospheric Blanket around a -18 deg C Earth and just like the human body DROPPED in temperature from +33 deg C to +28 deg C, the Earth's temperature will DROP !.....not increase in temperature by 33 deg C to a whopping +15 deg C!

    It's called a violation of the 2nd Law and it requires Creation of Energy...a violation of The Law of Conservation of Energy!
    Please explain how atmospheric CO2 (the atmosphere has a -20 deg C average temp) can cause the Earth's temperature of -18 deg C (caused by the SUN, the ONLY ENERGY SOURCE) to heat up by a whopping 33 deg C to +15 deg C?

    Please supply your explaination along with the Laws of Science that support your answer.

    Good Luck!
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  40. #38

    Not really Gord.

    The fact that the earth's temperature rises under the influence of an enhanced greenhouse effect requires neither a violation of the 2nd law (since the radiation of the atmosphere slows down the rate of energy dissipation from the surface without requiring a flow of heat from a cold atmosphere to a warmer surface), nor the "creation of energy".

    The temporary slow down in the dissipation of thermal energy from the surface results in the accumulation of energy in the climate system (atmosphere, surface, oceans), until the elements of the system warm up sufficiently to re-establish equilibrium between solar radiation and dissipated radiation to space.

    So energy accumulates. Let's not pretend that you can overturn the laws of physics by dodgy logic and semantic confusion Gord!

    You like analogies, so here's one:

    Water flows down from a mountain stream to fill a reservoir, further flow from which occurs from an opening in the dam below the surface of the water. The flow of the stream is constant and an equilibrium situation is reached where inflow and outflow through a narrow cross section pipe is balanced and the reservoir level is constant.

    Now we reduce the cross sectional area of the outflow even further. The volume of water in the reservoir increases somewhat until a pressure is reached such that a new equilibrium is achieved, with inflow balanced by outflow. Where did that extra water come from? Was it "created"accumulated. It accumulated until a sufficient pressure was reached that the outflow again became equal to the inflow.
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  41. Chris - re:your post #41

    Chris, see my post #27

    The Oceans can store energy.
    They have stored enough energy to heat them up to about +29 deg C, and the average temp (at a 40 deg lat.) is about +19 deg C.

    The Atmosphere has only stored enough energy to heat it up to -20 deg C!

    That's IT!

    You can't "accumulate" MORE Energy than what is available !

    It's not "dodgy logic" is a FACT!...AND A LAW OF SCIENCE!
    Re: your mountain stream.

    The water coming down the Mountain Stream is ALL the water you have!

    You can Reduce the flow of water...that's all.

    What "extra water" are you talking about?
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  42. The extra water in the reservoir, Gord, which accumulates when the cross section of the outflow pipe is reduced. This water wasn't created. It accumulated.

    Rather like the accumulation of thermal energy in the climate system (oceans, surface, atmosphere) under the influence of positive radiative imbalance. Just as the flux of the mountain stream is "ALL the water you have", so the solar radiation is the flux of all the energy you have. However under an imbalance (radiative in the case of the greenhouse effect; frictional in the case of the reduced cross-section of the outflow, combined with water surface tension), there is a temporary drop in the flow out of the system (climate system, or reservoir in the case of the anology) and a build up of thermal energy (in the climate system) or water mass (in the reservoir), until a "pressure" (thermal or real pressure!) is achieved that allows a rebalancing of the in and outflows.

    It's not rocket science's extremely basic physics. I really don't think you're going to sell any notions here about overturning laws of thermodynamics! Physical laws cannot be countered by semantic mangling and syllogisms...
    0 0
  43. incidentally, I don't think the oceans have stored enough energy to heat them to "about +29 oC". The average ocean temperature is surely more like a few degrees (perhapas 4 oC on average).
    0 0
  44. Chris - re:#43

    Look Chris, the fact is that you can't get more energy out of system than is put in.

    You can only transform potential energy to Kinetic energy and vice-versa.

    A capactitor in a battery powered electric circuit can store energy but it can't store more energy than what the battery provides...EVER!

    Another example is A swinging Pendulum.

    Assume Friction, air pressure etc = 0
    1) The pendulum is initally at rest.
    2) The pendulum is raised to a height h.
    3) The pendulum now has a potential energy PE = mgh (where m = mass, g = acceleration due to gravity and h = height)
    4) The pendulum is released and some Potential Energy (PE) is converted to Kinetic Energy (KE) and the pendulum starts moving.
    5) The pendulum will complete it's swing and be at height h again. It's Potential Energy it started out with = the Potential Energy it finished with and energy has been conserved.
    6) But, as the pendulum swings, at each and every point of its swing energy is conserved. PE + KE = mgh.

    Do you see what I mean?
    There cannot be a violation of conservation of energy AT ANY POINT during it's swing!

    The analogy with the Energy Budget diagrams is pretty obvious.

    The Solar Radiation IN = Radiation OUT at the TOA is equivalent to the iniital h = final h which complies with Conservation of Energy.

    But, what the Energy Budget diagrams show is a complete violation of conservation of energy between these two points!

    The ONLY energy available for the pendulum comes from lifting it to height h.
    This produces PE = mgh of energy and that is ALL the energy available.

    As the pendulum swings it is converting PE to KE thus reducing PE, but PE + KE = mgh ALWAYS applies.

    It is IMPOSSIBLE for PE or KE to EXCEED mgh!

    In the case of the in-coming Solar energy at the TOA = 342 w/m^2 this is the ONLY energy available just like mgh is for the pendulum.
    Nothing below the TOA can EVER EXCEED 342 w/m^2.

    Now, as the 342 w/m^2 propagates toward the Earth, it loses some energy due to atmospheric absorbtion (67 w/m^2) leaving 275 w/m^2 available for use.
    This is just like the pendulum converting some of it's energy to KE leaving mgh - KE available for use.

    The 275 w/m^2 is further reduced because 107 w/m^2 is reflected leaving 168 w/m^2 to be absorbed by the Earth's surface.

    That's ALL the energy that was left, yet the Earth radiates 390 w/m^2 !

    This is even MORE energy than the 342 w/m^2....the ONLY energy available at the start!

    In fact it is 1.14 times the energy we started with.

    In the pendulum analogy it would be like saying PE + KE = 1.14 X mgh, an obvious violation of the Law of Conservation of Energy!
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  45. re #42

    There's a certain illogic in your assertions about the inability of the climate system to accumulate energy Gord. After all you seem comfortable with the fact that the oceans are rather cosy (at least at the surface at low latitudes). They seem to have a considerably higher temperature (more thermal energy), than they should have based on the earths blackbody temperature under the influence of the solar radiation. The solar flux should give the earth a temperature around 255K.

    So where has this massive amount of excess thermal energy come from that keeps us so cosy? After all energy can't be created (that would be a violation of the Law of Conservation of Energy!!!!!!).

    How can that be Gord? Why is our world so cosy? According to your sales patter it can't have accumulated! So what's going on there?
    0 0
  46. Chris - re: your post #44

    You said...
    "incidentally, I don't think the oceans have stored enough energy to heat them to "about +29 oC". The average ocean temperature is surely more like a few degrees (perhapas 4 oC on average)."

    Think again.

    See the Sea Surface Temperature (Mean)(2nd row first graph) for the Ocean temperature at the equator.
    The mean Sea Surface Temperature IS 29 deg C at the Equator.
    (If you take the area under the curve with AutoCad the average temp occurs at a 40 deg latitude and the temperature is 18.7 deg C.)
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  47. O.K Gord, but if you mean "sea surface temperature at the equator", you really shouldn't say: "The Oceans can store energy.
    They have stored enough energy to heat them up to about +29 deg C."

    Because the oceans have certainly not stored enough energy to heat them to 29 oC! In any case, you still haven't answered the question of where that thermal energy has come from that has accumulated in the oceans...
    0 0
  48. re #45,

    come on Gord...why not drop the sales patter and just address the rather simple observations (radiative imbalance, accumulation of energy; mountain streams and reservoirs and accumlation of water).

    You've shown that it's easy to create the impression of confusion by using a pseudophysics approach combined with false logic. We're quite impressed with your abilities there in fact, and if I had one of those "clappy" smiley things you get on some blogs, I'd use it here.

    However, it's not helpful when talking about simple observations of the effects of perturbations of equilibria with respect to fluxes (radiative; water flows; or biochemical reactions for that matter) to launch into the physics of pendulums (or is it pendula - which sounds rather rude!).

    You obviously know enough physics to be able to misuse it with alacrity. Very good. But you simply are not going to overturn physical reality with syllogisms...

    Still, you have managed to hijack an interesting thread, and perhaps that's your aim...
    0 0
  49. Gord #40,
    I asked you to explain why the Earth's temperature is warmer than calculated when ignoring the greenhouse effect. It's your turn to answer (and show your work), not mine. You might also want to explain the difference between temperatures of Venus and Earth while you're at it, and the difference between Mercury and Venus too.

    If you don't like the blanket analogy, go here:
    But I like the blanket analogy because it shows that increased insulation works to slow the loss of heat from something hot (even though the insulation is cooler than the hot thing).
    0 0
  50. Chris - re: your post #46

    Here is how the AGW'ers calculate the -18 deg C Earth temperature.

    - This site uses 5778K for the temperature of the Sun.

    - The equation relating the Earth temp and Sun temp (with the Earth as a disk) is:

    TE = TS (((1-a)^0.5 * Rs)/(2*D))^0.5
    Where TE is blackbody temp of the Earth in K
    TS is the surface temp of the SUN in K = 5778
    Rs is radius of the Sun = 6.96X10^8
    D is distance between the Sun and Earth in m = 1.496X10^11
    a is albedo of the Earth = 0.3

    Gives TE = 254.90 K or -18.25 deg C
    If you treat the Earth as a sphere for the Solar Flux you get this equation:

    TE = TS ( ( (1-a)^0.5 * Rs)/D) ) )^0.5)

    This will give the temp for Max Solar energy at the Earth's equator...not an average Earth temp.

    Where TE is blackbody temp of the Earth in K
    TS is the surface temp of the SUN in K = 5778
    Rs is radius of the Sun = 6.96X10^8
    D is distance between the Sun and Earth in m = 1.496X10^11
    a is albedo of the Earth = 0.3

    Result: TE = 360.49 K or 87.34 deg C!!

    That's the energy that the Ocean can store at the equator and distribute over the Earth by conduction.
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