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Comments matching the search 2nd law:

    More than 100 comments found. Only the most recent 100 have been displayed.

  • Climate - the Movie: a hot mess of (c)old myths!

    jimsteele at 13:43 PM on 3 April, 2024

    ocean heat flux

    Eclectic, First the skin surface dynamics are essential. The skin surface is the only layer from which heat can leave the ocean.

    Second It is your narrative that grossly incomplete! You make a totally unsubstantiated assertion that without CO2 the oceans would freeze. You totally ignore solar heating. However the heat flux into the ocean primarily happens due to tropical solar heating in the eastern oceans, where La Nina like conditions reduce cloud cover and increase solar heating. The ocean sub surface can trap heat but the skin surface cannot.

  • CO2 lags temperature

    Charlie_Brown at 09:26 AM on 16 March, 2024

    RBurr @ 654

    1) CO2 lags temperature rise at the end of an ice age because CO2 evolves from ocean waters as the temperature rises. This is Henry’s Law. In that case, temperature rises first due to the Milankovitch Cycles. Note that ice age temperatures cool slowly and warm rapidly. Modern CO2 emissions are different because they come from burning fossil fuels. Therefore, temperature rises as a result of CO2. Cause and effect in both cases is clear in both cases, and different in both cases.
    2) The quantum mechanical mechanism on IR radiation that explains the greenhouse warming theory has been proven. It is based on fundamental principles of energy balance and radiant energy transfer and has been verified by massive amounts of data, cross-checks, and validation.
    3) The Earth’s energy “balance” is fundamental:
    Input = Output + Accumulation
    Output is reduced as greenhouse gases increase. Thus, energy accumulates.
    4) Your description of quantum mechanics does not make sense. Quantum mechanics is fundamental to the specific frequencies (i.e., wavelengths) that are absorbed and emitted by CO2, CH4, and H2O. There is a huge amount of energy carried by IR radiation. It is naturally emitted (not dissipated) and lost to outer space by IR. By the overall global energy balance at steady state:
    Input solar = Reflected solar + Emitted IR
    Accumulation is zero at steady state, as before CO2 emissions of the industrial revolution.
    5) The hot object in this case is the sun at about 5800 Kelvin. That is more than hot enough to warm the earth. The temperature profile is 5800 K of the sun to 288 K (60F) of the Earth 217 K of the lower stratosphere to 2 K of outer space. Increasing CO2 reduces the energy loss to space at specific wavelengths (e.g., approx. 13-17 microns). The absorptance/emittance lines in that range increase, meaning that energy is emitted from a cold 217 K instead of a warm 288 K. This upsets the energy balance. The balance is restored by accumulating energy until the surface temperature increases enough to make up the reduction by CO2. Nothing about this violates either the 1st or 2nd law of thermodynamics. Some mistake the 2nd law by describing the energy balance being at steady state, but the steady state was upset by increasing GHG.
    6) Neither the Milankovitch Cycles nor the Schwabe Cycles (sunspots) explain the cause of modern global warming. The long-term Milankovitch Cycles have not been in a period of significant change for the last 12,000 years after warming from the last ice age. Measured radiosity data from the sun show that short-term Schwabe Cycles have not changed significantly either and do not explain modern warming.


  • CO2 lags temperature

    Bob Loblaw at 01:16 AM on 16 March, 2024

    Ah, RBurr's comment at 654 is indeed an odd duck. While demanding "proof", he is badly short on providing any "proof" for his wild assertions. He alludes to "new research" (Where? By who? What publication?), but then just asserts a bunch of old misconceptions.

    RBurr's assertions on "quantum mechanics" can be roughly lumped into a denial of the conservation of energy, a gross misunderstanding of the concept of temperature (individual molecules don't have temperature, and temperature is not a property of radiation), with a mix of "violates the second law" bunk.

    There are other threads here at SkS where such topics can be discussed (and have been, at length).

    A little learning is a dangerous thing;
    drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
    there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
    and drinking largely sobers us again.

    Alexander Pope, An essay on Criticism
    English poet & satirist (1688 - 1744)

  • 2023 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #44

    MA Rodger at 21:23 PM on 8 November, 2023

    This Hansen et al (2023) paper was pre-published back in January and did result in a bit of discussion here at SkS. And there was supposed to be a second paper specifically on SLR.

    Hansen et al rattle through a pile of stuff, some of which I would agree has merit and some which I find difficult to accept, some very difficult. The high ECS is one of the very difficult ones. (Perhaps the point that the big part of the difference between high ECS values and the IPCC's most likely value ECS=3ºC, [something the IPCC tend not to identify preferring a range of values as in AR6 Fig1.16]: the difference is due to warming that follows the forcing by a century or more. That time-lag is one of the reasons the ECS estimates are not better nailed down and still has its 'fat tail' . It also would give mankind a fighting chance of dodging it.)

    SLR is certainly a big subject of concern. It is a long-term problem, multi-century. The equilibrium position for a +1.5ºC is perhaps 3m and the threat of setting Greenland into unstoppable meltdown at higher levels of warming would triple that. I do tend to get irked by the SLR by 2100 being the sole subject of discussion.

    Of course, predictions of that 2100 SLR being massive (5m) is one of Hansen's foibles. The worry is, I think, specific to Antarctica and it is a genuine worry. But to achieve 5m by 2100 would need massive numbers of icebergs bobbing around in the southern oceans and result in global cooling. And there is also the awkward point for climatologists that increased snowfall over Greenland/Antarctica could provide a significant reversal of SLR.

    The final issue raised by Hansen et al (2023) is the impact of the reduction of aerosols from our falling SO2 emissions. Quantifying the impact of SO2 emissions is not entirely global a thing, so emissions in, say, China may induce more cooling than, say, Europe. But that said, global SO2 emissions data I identify tends to be way out-of-date. The most recent is this one from a Green Peace publication. This shows the reduction in SO2 is well in hand over the last decade. And the CERES data showing EEI does show a drop in albedo (yellow trace in the 2nd graphic) through that period. My own view of these CERES numbers is that they include a lot of bog-standard AGW-feedback-at-work.

    SO2 emissions 2005-19

    CERES TOA fluxes

    There is also the last 5 months of crazy global temperatures (so post-dating Hansen et al's pre-publication). I don't see these as being sign of things to come. I'd suggest it is casued by the January 2022 Hunga Tonga eruption which threw both SO2 and H2O into the stratosphere, the cooling SO2 dropping out leaving the warming H2O to do its thing before eventually it too dropping out.

    And the in-the-pipeline thing. Climatology is/has-been saying we need to halve CO2 emissions b 2030, and following the point of net zero in mid century we enter a century-plus of net-negative CO2 emissions. That would see all emissions 2008 to year-of-net-zero removed by human hand and stored away safely. So that is on top of the natural draw-down of CO2 into the oceans. And if we don't do that, it will not be from ignorance of the situation.

  • 2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory

    topquark at 01:41 AM on 21 September, 2023

    Likeitwarm: "The green plate does not transfer any thermal energy to the source because the source is equal to or warmer than the second plate. Heat only flows in one direction, hot to cold, and is irreversible."

    Indeed. And in the green plate example, the energy flow from blue plate to green plate is 266.7, and the energy flow from the green plate to the blue plate is 133.35. The heat flow is the difference: 133.35 from the hotter (261.9K) blue plate to the cooler (220.2K) green plate. So heat flows from hot to cold as it should.

    "Heat flow is the difference in temperature between two objects": No, heat flow is the net energy flow, which should always go from hot to cold, and does in the green plate example.

    "Energy (radiation) can flow in any direction but will be essentially rejected by a warmer object": This is an imaginary principle. Black bodies absorb *all* photons, even from cooler objects. This does not break the 2nd law, because the energy flow from the warmer object back to the cooler one will always be greater.

    I'm curious: what do you think the solution to the green plate example is? (temperature of both plates) I don't think you can come up with an answer that doesn't break the laws of physics.

  • The Dynamics of The Green Plate Effect

    Bob Loblaw at 10:58 AM on 30 June, 2023

    The bucket analogy does relate to the greenhouse effect in terms of reducing the rate of loss, which requires an adjustment of the bucket level. The reason the bucket reaches a new equilibrium is that as the water level rises, the pressure increases (a linear function of the height of water above the hole), and that increased pressure succeeds in forcing enough water through the smaller hole. We need to remember that there is a pressure term that drives the flow.

    The increased pressure in the bucket is an analogy to the increased surface temperature creating a larger temperature difference between the surface and the ubiquitous 255K emitting IR to space in the greenhouse effect.

    On the other hand, the Green Plate effect is intended as a specific counterargument to the "cold object can't cause a warm object to heat up" myth. It does not need any reference to the greenhouse effect at all to demonstrate that this "cold object/warm object" myth about the 2nd law is wrong.

    If the "cold object/warm object violates 2nd law" argument was correct, then the argument would have to show an error in the Green Plate scenario. If any hard-core denier want to continue with that argument here, they are going to have to do it without any reference to the greenhouse effect. If they can't "disprove" the Green Plate effect, then there is no way that they will be able to apply the [lack of] logic to the more complex greenhouse effect.

  • Cranky Uncle: a game building resilience against climate misinformation

    Rob Honeycutt at 02:31 AM on 19 June, 2023

    a) Has modern medicine reduced infant mortality rates in the past 150 years? Of course.

    b) Is that a clear proxy for "human suffering." No. You can have low infant mortality and great human suffering.

    c) Is CO2 a necessary byproduct of human advancements? No. Access to energy likely is and thusfar that access to energy has been supplied by fossil fuel sources. But today renewable energy is cheaper and cleaner and will replace those FF sources over the coming decades.

    d) Will the human population return to 1B? It likely could and probably should, as that is probably what this planet can reasonably sustain over the future millennia.

    There are estimations I've seen suggesting the natural decline in the human population into the 22nd century could be rapid as more of world's people attain first world status. We already see this effect occurring in many first world nations. It's most obvious in Japan due to it's strict immigration laws. The US would have a falling population if not for immigration. China's population is now starting to fall as well. 

  • 2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory

    Charlie_Brown at 10:03 AM on 15 June, 2023

    Likeitwarm @1568
    I am happy to help answer questions, as long as I am being taken seriously and not just being taken for a ride. @1533 and @1534, you asked for a simple answer. I provided answers in @1535 and @1536. Perhaps you didn’t understand them, but since you repeated the same question in @1544 by saying that you “just could not believe a trace gas of .04% of the atmosphere could have such an effect, especially with the history of CO2 volumes and estimated historic atmospheric temperatures not jiving with each other.” Without saying what it was about my answer that you didn’t understand, but conclude that you don’t believe CO2 can have such an effect and then jump to an incorrect distraction that CO2 and temperature do not jive, you rejected my answer. I find that to be disingenuous.

    If you are sincere, we could try again at this simple answer. Even at 0.04%, there are sufficient CO2 molecules in the cold upper atmosphere between 11 and 20 kilometers to create an emitting layer. Because it is cold, radiant energy emission to space is reduced. By the global energy balance, reduced energy lost to space means increased energy captured in the global system. There is no math for you to do, but you do have to trust that scientists do understand Beer’s Law and are capable of doing the math for you. Phillipe Chantreau @1572 made an excellent post regarding just some of the background hard science of radiant energy transfer. There are many more posts of excellent research throughout this site, although it does take some digging to find them. Please do as you suggest and do some homework, including on the topic of economics of costs for damage and abatement. It’s all there.

    Trust in good science should have been earned by years of research and detailed calculations. There are a few so-called scientists out there who have published bad information, like the Gerlich & Tscheuschner paper that started this whole thread on the 2nd law of thermodynamics. This site is all about rebutting the bad information. See my post @1528 about this myth started by G&T. Or maybe you did that before posting @1529. So go back and read @1535 and @1536 again. Then, if you are still confused, maybe I can help clarify a specific concept before you jump to conclusions.

    By the way, consider conservation of energy, not conservation of photons. A CO2 molecule absorbs a photon. Its energy state increases. Since it was in thermal equilibrium with adjacent molecules of any gas, it may lose the extra energy by collision. But then the adjacent molecules are at an increased energy state, so they may give the energy back by collision. Or the CO2 molecule may emit a photon to shed the extra energy. By Kirchoff’s law, absorptance = emittance at thermal equilibrium. Any disturbance in the energy balance upsets thermal equilibrium. Finally, note that it is the energy lost to space that can be determined by the global energy balance. It is problematic and not productive to worry about all of the collisions, absorptions, and reemissions as energy works its way through the atmosphere. That will only get you lost. Similarly, that is why it is not production to worry about convection and the water cycle. All of that just moves energy around in the atmosphere and sets of the atmosphere’s temperature profile. It is the atmospheric temperature profile that sets up radiant energy transfer.

  • 2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory

    Charlie_Brown at 02:23 AM on 8 June, 2023

    Likeitwarm @1533
    You are correct that CO2 does not hold onto the radiant energy that it absorbs. By Kirchoff’s law, absorptance = emittance. But Kirchoff’s law has a caveat – at thermal equilibrium, which involves the collisions between molecules. However, your description about the importance of water vapor is not correct. The radiant energy mechanism for water vapor is similar to CO2, but the energy emitted to space is greater because it is emitted at warmer temperatures of the troposphere. By Beer’s law, the low concentration of CO2 is sufficient to create a cold emitting layer in the tropopause. Your discussion of emissivity gets lost in descriptions of cooling, getting hotter, and oxygen and nitrogen being the real greenhouse gases. I suggest that you review the “Intermediate” rebuttal of the 2nd law myth. It has a very good description of the radiant energy mechanism of global warming.

  • 2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory

    Charlie_Brown at 02:01 AM on 8 June, 2023

    Likeitwarm @1529
    It’s easy to understand how one could be confused by this myth. It takes some serious study to sort through all of the distractions that are posed by Gerlich & Tscheuschner’s paper and discussed in over 1500 posts in this thread, especially since the little understood 2nd law of thermodynamics is invoked incorrectly as one of the main distractions.

    As I mentioned @1528, the 1st law of thermodynamics - conservation of energy – is applied.
    Input = Output + Accumulation

    For the global system of the surface and atmosphere, conservation of energy is:
    Solar in = Solar reflected + Radiant Energy Out from greenhouse gases + Radiant Energy Out from Earth’s surface + Accumulation

    When input = output, the energy is balanced and accumulation = zero. As EddieEvans @1530 mentions, it’s all about changes to the energy balance. The blanket analogy is an example of affecting the energy balance, although it does not describe the mechanism of radiant energy.
    Increasing greenhouse gas concentrations reduce radiant energy loss to space from the cold upper atmosphere. That upsets the global energy balance. Warming occurs until the energy loss to space, including radiant energy from the surface at specific wavelengths that are transparent to greenhouse gases, increases and the energy balance is restored.

    The 2nd law of thermodynamics describes limitations on how energy can be used in forms of heat and work. The problem with the myth is that it is based on an incorrect description of global warming. G&T’s paper describes modern global warming theory as “radiatively equilibrated”. It claims that the atmosphere acts as a perpetual heat pump that transfers heat from the cold stratosphere to the warm surface. G&T introduce distraction with a long discussion about the technical distinction between heat and energy, and a very long misrepresentation of global warming theory. However, since the energy balance is upset by increasing greenhouse gas concentrations, it is not equilibrated. Neither is global warming perpetual. The external energy source is the sun. Additional warming will stop when greenhouse gas concentrations stop rising and the equilibrium energy balance is restored at an elevated surface temperature.

  • 2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory

    EddieEvans at 07:58 AM on 7 June, 2023

    scaddenp at 07:01 AM on 7 June 2023
    2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory

    I've forgotten  how to use this board and answer. I'm not clear on what you don't understand. The blanket analogy is a common metaphor because the Earth's heat is being trapped by greenhouse gases, not unlike Venus.

    I understand that the Earth warms and cools, primarily, by the Malankovich Cycles and trapped greenhouse gases. Is someone saying otherwise, and if so, how do they explain worldwide glacier melt and sea level rise?

  • 2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory

    Charlie_Brown at 09:12 AM on 13 May, 2023

    Wading through over 1,500 comments covering 12 years is a difficult and daunting task. So is reading almost 100 pages of Gerlich & Tscheuschner’s paper. There is so much misinformation and misunderstanding filled with distractions, red herrings, and wild geese, all mixed in with the good information, that it is hard to distill and address the fundamental problem. One hardly knows where to begin. But the core misunderstanding, equilibrium, is revealed in the quote from the abstract of G&T’s paper as shown above in the statement of the myth, as well as in Figure 32 of their paper.

    Increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations causes global warming by reducing radiant energy loss to space. The global energy balance is upset, and the planet warms until the balance is restored. The myth about the 2nd law is based upon an incorrect description of the global energy balance. As GHG increases, the atmospheric system, including the surface of the Earth, is not “radiatively equilibrated” until after warming occurs. Global warming is in accordance with both the 2nd law and the 1st law of thermodynamics - conservation of energy - as the atmosphere changes.
    Input = Output + Accumulation

  • At a glance - The greenhouse effect and the 2nd law of thermodynamics

    Charlie_Brown at 01:46 AM on 10 May, 2023

    Thank you, Philippe.

    I want to make two edits to emphasize a key point about the external energy of the sun and to clarify G&T's assumption about being radiatively balanced.  Try this.

    Insert after “… requires adding external energy, electricity, to make it work. The sun is the external source of energy to increase or to maintain the Earth’s temperature given the external energy loss to cold outer space. There is no violation of the 2nd law.

    Replace: “… incorrect description of global warming. They assume that the radiant energy input from the sun is equal to the radiant heat loss to space and the system is “radiatively balanced”. That would be true for the greenhouse effect before the industrial revolution but increasing greenhouse gases (GHG) upsets the balance and causes global warming..”

    With: “... incorrect description of global warming as well as the Earth as a cyclic device in perpetuum. They ignore the energy flows from external hot reservoir of the sun and to the cold reservoir of space by stating that the heat transfer between the Earth’s surface and the stratosphere is “radiatively balanced.”"

  • At a glance - The greenhouse effect and the 2nd law of thermodynamics

    Charlie_Brown at 03:30 AM on 9 May, 2023

    My next attempt.  I hope this is getting better.  I changed the first part quite a bit to emphasize that the key problem with G&T, often overlooked, is their assumption that the input solar and output IR radiation are balanced (see Fig 32).  I think these are worthwhile revisions.  The structure seems fact-myth-fallacy-fact because I wanted to begin by separating the 1st & 2nd laws, but bring back the 1st law facts to seal the deal.  Please feel free to edit and use the input as you deem suitable.


    The 1st law of thermodynamics is conservation of energy. The 2nd law describes limitations on how energy can be used in forms of heat and work. It is difficult to express without introducing the concept of entropy - a state of disorder that is hard to understand. Instead, the 2nd law can be expressed practically in the form of statements and corollaries. One translation of the Clausius statement is: “It is impossible to operate a cyclic device in such a manner that the sole effect external to the device is the transfer of heat from one heat reservoir to another at a higher temperature” (Wark, Thermodynamics, 4th ed., 1983). A key phrase is “sole effect external to the device.” A cyclic device can be a heat engine and the classic example is a refrigerator that requires adding external energy, electricity, to make it work. Gerlich & Tscheuschner’s paper describes modern global warming theory as a perpetual heat engine that transfers heat from the cold stratosphere and the warm surface. That would violate the 2nd law, but that is an incorrect description of global warming. They assume that the radiant energy input from the sun is equal to the radiant heat loss to space and the system is “radiatively balanced”. That would be true for the greenhouse effect before the industrial revolution but increasing greenhouse gases (GHG) upsets the balance and causes global warming.
    Some take the myth even further to claim that thermal radiation cannot transfer energy from a cold body to a warmer one. Gerlich & Tscheuschner steer the discussion into distraction by emphasizing the technical distinction between heat and energy. Consider two walls facing each other. All objects above absolute zero radiate energy. The warm wall radiates more energy toward the cold wall, but the cold wall still radiates some energy toward the warm wall. The debate amounts to whether it is energy or heat that moves towards the warm wall.

    Conservation of energy for any defined system is:
    Input = Output + Accumulation
    The global system can be defined as from the Earth’s surface to the top of the atmosphere. The input to the global system is the sun. The surface temperature is regulated by balancing heat input from the sun with heat loss from the top of the atmosphere toward space. When balanced, accumulation is zero. There are three output energy pathways: 1) Infrared (IR) radiation from the surface at wavelengths that are transmitted directly to outer space (the transparent range). 2) IR radiation from GHG in the colder atmosphere at wavelengths that are emitted by GHG, and 3) solar energy reflected by clouds and the surface. As the concentration of CO2 increases, energy output to space (path 2) is reduced. This upsets the global energy balance. Energy accumulates and the surface temperature rises. As the surface temperature rises, energy output from the surface through the transparent range (path 1) increases until the balance is restored. This is how global warming works.

  • At a glance - The greenhouse effect and the 2nd law of thermodynamics

    Charlie_Brown at 08:09 AM on 7 May, 2023

    Here is my next attempt for the At-A-Glance section.  It is 356 words.  I will start by copying the "Myth" from the top of the main page.  That saves trying to paraphrase it in the discussion.  

    "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)

    The Clausius statement of the 2nd law of thermodynamics is: “It is impossible to operate a cyclic device in such a manner that the sole effect external to the device is the transfer of heat from one heat reservoir to another at a higher temperature” (Wark, Thermodynamics, 4th ed., 1983). The myth claims that back radiation or downward infrared (IR) radiation emitted by greenhouse gases (GHG) is the mechanism that increases the temperature of the Earth’s surface. Since that would not be possible according to the 2nd law, the myth concludes that global warming is false. However, the myth overlooks the fact that the sun is the external energy source that drives global warming and outer space is the external cold reservoir. The sole external effect is transferring heat from the hot sun to cold outer space. If heat loss to space is reduced, the planet will get warmer. Some take the myth even further to claim that thermal radiation cannot transfer energy from a cold body to a warmer one. Consider two walls facing each other and that all objects above absolute zero radiate energy. The warm wall radiates more energy toward the cold wall, but the cold wall will still radiate some energy toward the warm wall.

    The 1st law of thermodynamics is conservation of energy – input = output + accumulation. The global system can be defined as from the Earth’s surface to the top of the atmosphere. The input to the global system is the sun. The surface temperature is regulated by balancing heat input from the sun with heat loss from the top of the atmosphere toward space. There are three output energy pathways: 1) infrared (IR) radiation at wavelengths that are transmitted from the surface directly to outer space (the transparent range). 2) IR radiation at wavelengths that are emitted by GHG in the cold atmosphere, and 3) solar energy reflected by clouds and the surface. As the concentration of GHG increases, energy output to space (path 2) is reduced. This upsets the global energy balance. Energy accumulates and the surface temperature rises. As the surface temperature rises, energy output from the surface through the transparent range (path 1) increases until the balance is restored. This is how global warming works.

  • At a glance - The greenhouse effect and the 2nd law of thermodynamics

    nigelj at 06:43 AM on 6 May, 2023

    Just my two cents worth on communications style. I believe this website is well written overall and would be reasonably intelligible to the general public. It avoids complex jargon and when it uses jargon there are definitions. It has beginner and advanced sections in the myths. This is a great feature.

    In comparison is too technical.

    It's a very hard balance to strike. The thing is its only possible to simplify science to a certain extent before it starts to become meaningless. And science is hard and some people will never understand.

    Of course its always possible to refine and improve things. I'm just saying that theres probably not a whole lot more that can be done to communicate the science better. The real problem is people who don't want to understand or receive the message, or who don't see climate change as an urgent threat. Just writing the science differently won't solve those particular problems.

    I thought Charlie Browns original comment on radiation physics and the second law @17 was rather good, and sounded technically correct and would be reasonably intelligible to a lay person. People do undertand numbers and probably have some understanding of the terms used enough to get the right message. I liked its brevity so you wouldnt want it to get too much longer.

    I think with a little bit of refining the comment would be 100%. 

    The only real criticism I would have Is your final statement was "Nothing about this radiant energy flow violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics" It might have helped to briefly explain why and define the law. It left me sort of hanging, for want of a better word. I understood why but others may not have put two and two together.

  • At a glance - The greenhouse effect and the 2nd law of thermodynamics

    Charlie_Brown at 02:56 AM on 6 May, 2023

    Excellent comment, Bob.  Far too many words are spent on misunderstanding technical distinctions.  Concepts need to be conveyed succinctly at understandable levels.  That requires knowing just what is being misunderstood.  Input from a non-technical person is helpful.  To understand the point of view of denialists, I have been working my way through the comments on the main aarticle for this thread.  I now understand Philippe's comment @8 above, (@1112 in the main thread.  I just saw your reference to Manabe & Wetherald @1134 which you provided to me a little while ago.  I am thinking of having another go at drafting something as input for at-a-glance. I am hopeful that I can distill and limit the 2nd law myth into something managable.  It's a tall order, but maybe my 2-cents would help.

  • At a glance - The greenhouse effect and the 2nd law of thermodynamics

    Bob Loblaw at 23:59 PM on 5 May, 2023

    I think you guys are illustrating the difficulty of specialized terminology versus common usage. In day-to-day conversation, "heat" and 'energy" are almost interchangeable, but the difference is important at a technical level.

    For conduction, you are still looking at bulk properties what talking about heat flow from warm to cold. Temperature only has meaning as the average kinetic energy level of a large number of molecules. Individual molecules will be transferring energy from one to another via collision, and individual collisions can transfer energy in any physical direction. It will always be from the higher energy molecule to the lower energy molecule, but that is not dictated by the bulk properties of "hot" versus "cold". It's only when you get to the average of a large number of collisions that you can say "heat/energy goes from warm to cold"

    So, even "conduction" is a net transfer result. For radiation, if you have two plates facing each other with a vacuum between, the net radiative transfer will be from the hot plate to the cold plate - but there will be photons travelling in both directions. The photons emitted from the cold plate have no knowledge of the existence of the hot plate and its emitted energy. What individual photons do is not limited to matching the net result of many photons - just as individual molecular collisions are not limited to matching the net result of conduction.

    The "heated by..." phrasing is also ambiguous in common usage. People can imaging being "heated by" an electric blanket that is warmer than they are. A regular blanket that is cooler than the person? "Heated by" make a little less sense, but "kept warm by" is perfectly reasonable. The use of "heated by" instead of "kept warm by" isn't enough to say that a regular blanket violates the laws of thermodynamics, though.

    Likewise for IR radiation and the greenhouse effect. The surface is "heated by" back-radiation? Maybe a bit sloppy in terminology? How about "kept warmer by.."? But to make sense, you really have to get into the overall energy balance and some mathematical descriptions. The main article for this thread includes a link to an excellent post by Eli Rabbet on The Green Plate Effect. It has a loooong comments thread, but in it you can see some of the die-hard denialists at work. The extreme cases are people that claim that downward-directed IR from the atmosphere to the surface simply does not exist - usually with some "2nd Law" faulty logic involved.

    As I mentioned earlier, countering a "2nd law" argument depends hugely on exactly what flavour of "2nd law" the person is claiming. The only common element is that the person making the claim has misunderstood something - what they call "2nd law" is not actually the real 2nd law..

  • At a glance - The greenhouse effect and the 2nd law of thermodynamics

    Charlie_Brown at 00:16 AM on 1 May, 2023

    I would like to have a go at this.

    All molecules above absolute zero vibrate and radiate energy. With each bend and stretch, the molecular internal energy state changes, which emits radiant energy. The amount and wavelength of the emitted energy depends on the temperature and the molecular structure. The sun emits energy at about 5,800 degrees Kelvin (6,000 C, 11,000 F) and a small fraction is intercepted by the Earth. Due to the high temperature, very little solar energy is emitted at wavelengths above about 5 microns. The Earth’ surface emits radiant energy at infrared wavelengths above 5 microns based the average surface temperature of about 288 Kelvin (15 C, 59 F). Part of that infrared energy between about 14 and 16 microns (the 15-micron band) is absorbed and re-emitted by CO2 in the atmosphere until it reaches an altitude of about 15,000 meters (25,000 feet) where it is emitted at a temperature of about 217 Kelvin (-56 C, -69 F) toward space, which is at absolute zero. As CO2 increases, the edges of the 15-micron band strengthen and energy loss to space is reduced. Nothing about this radiant energy flow violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

  • At a glance - The greenhouse effect and the 2nd law of thermodynamics

    Bob Loblaw at 23:53 PM on 28 April, 2023

    nigelj @10:

    I'd be curious about the three versions of the 2nd law "violations" that you found. What were the key differences between them?

    I'd agree that the "energy can't flow from cold to hot" is probably the most common.

  • At a glance - The greenhouse effect and the 2nd law of thermodynamics

    Bob Loblaw at 10:43 AM on 28 April, 2023

    The tricky part about rebutting a "greenhouse effect violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics" myth is that there are so many possibilities and variations of such a myth. It's kind of like trying to get someone to say what they mean by "saturated" when they start spouting the "CO2 is saturated" myth.

    The specific version on the full rebuttal page is related to a specific statement from Gerhard Gerlich, and arguments made in a paper by Gerlich and Tscheuschner.

    When you hear someone exclaiming "2nd law of thermodynamics!", you really need to find out exactly what they think the 2nd law means before you can point out the errors (although the Gerlich and Tscheuschner flavour is pretty common).

    The 2nd law is a favourite "argument" amongst the Creation Science/Intelligent Design crowd, too - evolution "violates the 2nd law". (The argument is just as wrong there.) Back in the olden days of Usenet (before the Web and blog comments), I remember a Creation Science fan emailing me (Usenet exposed people's email addresses) with a 2nd law argument.

    After several rounds of email pointing out his errors in understanding the 2nd law, he came up with this strange argument of " the flow of information content" that he claimed had a similarity to the 2nd law of thermodynamics, so evolution violated his "2nd law of information content" and that mean it also violated the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Really bizarre stuff. (He never responded to my last email, where I said that calling it "the 2nd law of thermodynamics" was a lie, and why was he lying in the name of the Lord?)

    I've always suspected that the appeal of the "greenhouse effect violates the 2nd law" myth may partly be due to its familiarity as a false argument against evolution. If you believe that evolution is Bad Science, and find the 2nd law argument convincing, it's easy to accept it as an argument against the greenhouse effect when you're already convinced that climate science has it all wrong.

    As John Mason points out, there is no real shortcut to explaining what the 2nd law (and 1st and 3rd) actually means, which makes it more difficult to debunk any (or every) bogus 2nd law argument.

  • At a glance - The greenhouse effect and the 2nd law of thermodynamics

    wilddouglascounty at 23:52 PM on 26 April, 2023

    I took a gander at the 2010 TonyWildish original version of this and think that the revision you are offering here is a bit too dumbed down. Wildish and the related comments goes into the details of the dynamics of heat loss a bit more in-depth than your new version, while the new version focuses more on the paper that has been the source of disinformation on this topic, then says it is wrong without discussing enough the important physical details of heat loss/retention that make it wrong. I think the revision needs a bit more of those details; otherwise it's just a "they are wrong" argument without enough "why's" to really get to the heart of their mistakes.

    And by the way, please consider this to be my "form" that you asked feedback to be submitted by, since I didn't. I presume you look at the posted comments as well...

  • 2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory

    Bob Loblaw at 01:38 AM on 26 April, 2023

    Also note that this conversation is getting of the proper topic, which is the 2nd Law myth.

  • 2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory

    Gootmud at 00:43 AM on 26 April, 2023

    Seems to me the main paradox between AGW and the 2nd law of thermo is not about radiation transfer but about attribution.  The greenhouse effect says higher average CO2 over decades causes higher average temperatures. But how does a 2°C temperature rise over a century cause a 20°C heat wave for a week in Toronto? Humans have gotten a bit taller over the past century, but no one would consider that a satisfactory explanation of a village where everyone is 8 feet tall.

    As summer arrives in the northen hemisphere, we're due for another season of news stories that claim such causality without asking whether it makes any sense.  Was CO2 especially dense in Toronto that week?

    One can obviously handwave that Earth is a heat engine not constrained by the 2nd law, or that climate is a chaotic system that does weird things we can't explain, but that undermines the claims we can attribute the heat wave to anything in particular.  Or one can point to computer simulations where similar weird things happen, but that just relocates the paradox from Toronto to SimToronto.

  • There's no tropospheric hot spot

    MA Rodger at 19:23 PM on 23 August, 2022

    Cedders @33,

    And having had a read of that PDF...

    Cedders @33,
    Having examined the PDF (16 pages not 24), it is quite evident that it is a pile of utter nonsense, a "welcome to the lunatic asylum" message and not anything in any way scientifically-based.

    The author is Piers Corbyn, a well-kown denialist and an elder brother of Jeremy Corbyn (a long-serving left-wing Labour MP who bizarrely gained the heady position of Leader of the Labour Party for 4½ years).

    Piers Corbyn is described in Wikithing as "an English weather forecaster, businessman, anti-vaxxer and conspiracy theorist"  and does feature here at SkS being (1) Cited within a spot of denialism of 2015 in the Daily Express tabloid/comic,  (2) The main source of a pile of climate nonsense of 2013 from the then Mayor of London Alexander Boris von Pfiffle Johnson, a man now renowned throughout the known world for not being particularly truthful,  (3) Listed here at SkS as a denialsit with zero peer-reviewed writings. 

    The 16 page thesis linked up-thread @33 is a 2019 thesis presented to the Reading University Debating Journal and sitting at the top of a list of 24 such theses posted 2018-19, top of the list because it is the most recent (the journal lasted less than a year), a list which addresses such important topics as 'Why Self-Service Checkouts are the Invention of the Devil' and 'The Great University of Reading Catering Con: Man Shall Not Live off Sandwiches Alone' and an anonymous piece 'Why I Support the Conservatives: The Most Successful Party in British History'.

    The Piers Corbyn thesis begins by citing David Legates' dismissal of the 97% AGW consensus before dismissing that because "it is about facts; and no Global-Warming Inquisition is going to prevent me exposing their nonsensical theories."

    Corbyn then kicks off by asserting anthropogenic CO2 comprises 4% of atmospheric CO2 (thus confusing FF carbon with naturally-cycled carbon) and that CO2 is not the main controller of global temperature (here presenting a graphic which confuses the US temperature with global temperature - shown below in this comment).
    A further assertion is then presented, that CO2 is the result of warming oceans with six references/notes provided in support which seem to all point back to crazy denialist Murry Salby.

    So, a la Salby, the present rise in CO2 is claimed to result from the good old Medieval Warm Period. A graphic is presented comparing a denialist 1,000y temperature record (based on the schematic FAR Fig 7c) with the much-confirmed scientifically-based Hockey Stick graph.
    This brings us to the halfway page of Corbyn's denialist rant.

    The thesis continues with pageful of misunderstanding of how the GH-effect works, ending with accusations that this misunderstood 'theory' breaks the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics (or it does if you misinterpret the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics).
    Happily, this misunderstanding is considered to be not supported by "better scientists" who consider the lapse rate. And this indeed is a 'better' consideration. But here Corbyn perhaps confuses the tropical 'hot spot' (which is caused by increased tropical rainfall transporting more latent up into the troposphere) with some CO2 effect. (The 'hot spot' results from a warmer tropics and not per se any enhanced GH-effect.) And he fails to address the reasons why there is difficulty detecting this tropical 'hot spot'. Indeed he brands it as a 'coldspot' that he seems to say is caused by "more CO2 & other GHGs" which cause a diurnal fluctuation in the IR "heat-exit height" to become greater and, due to the 4th-power in the SB equation, this causes cooling. Whether such a phenomenon extends beyond the tropics (thus globally more-than negating the 'hot spot') is not properly explained but, due to the lapse rate this phenomenon can apparently also negate "the original expected surface warming."

    A first graphic box is presented with three unsubstantiated bullet points explaining "Why CO2 theory does not work" alongside two similar "apart from"s.
    A second graphic box also titled "Why CO2 theory does not work" states:-

    In the real atmosphere there are day/night temperature fluctuations (eg in upper atmosphere). They are larger with more CO₂ because CO₂ (infra red absorber / emitter) gains & loses heat easier than N₂ & O₂ and so enables all the air to adjust quicker.

    This is a fundamentally different explanation from the previous fluctuation in IR "heat-exit height" explanation described earlier, and it is still wrong.
    (A packet of air with X concentrations of CO2 will both emit and absorb an IR photons of quantity P. With absorb=emit, it is thus in equilibrium. Add CO2 so the concentration is doubled to 2X, and the emitting photons will double to 2P and the absorbed photons will also double to 2P so absorb=emit and the same equilibrium is maintained. The main result is that twice the level if IR emission has half the pathlength before absorption so at any point the IR flux remains unchanged. And CO2 does not "gain & lose heat easier than N₂ & O₂" when it remains thermally coupled to the N₂ & O₂. )
    The remainder of this second graphic box on PDF page 9 is a little too confused to rebut with any confidence. A diurnal range of "about 5 or 6 deg" is given which is apparently a temperature range yet whatever “deg” means (presumably Kelvin), the bulk of the troposphere has a far smaller diurnal range than even 5ºF. The mechanism for the enhanced cooling from the "heat-exit height" is presented as due to a fluctuating temperature losing more heat (by radiating IR) than a constant temperature (which is true). A rather dodgy-looking equation is followed by the note "Detail subject under research" but no reference is given and three-years-on there is no sign of such "research."
    And a third graphic box is shown on the next page also titled "Why CO2 theory does not work," this third such graphic mainly presenting a pair of images from Australian denialist David M. W. Evans who has his own SkS page of climate misinformation.

    The thesis then turns to the proposition that it is not CO2 but solar forces that "rules climate temperature" with the dotted line on the graphic below described as such a ruling influence. It apparently shows how the "9.3yr lunar-nodal crossing & the full 22yr solar magnetic cycle" allegedly shift the jet stream and "many circulation patterns." The graphic's 60-yr periodicity is less than convincing,being fitted to US rather than global temperature which, when extended beyond the 1895-2008 period shows itself to be simple curve-fitting (eg the Berkeley Earth US temperature record 1820-2020 does not show it, even to a blind man). The graphic was presented by Corbyn at the Heartland Institute's 2009 conflab in NY in which Corbyn [audio] insists other findings demonstrate “something is going on” but why it is this graphic being reused in this 2019 thesis is not clear – perhaps the forecast of world temperature dropping to 1970s levels by 2030 is too evident on other slides he used in that Heartland presentation.
    To support his thesis Corbyn mentions an alleged cover-up by the likes of the BBC in reporting only global warming when the 'true' data shows cooling, the reported support for all this Piers Corbyn craziness from oil companies who shy away only because they want to use AGW to "make higher profits" and how these AGW-inspired mitigation agendas are already directly responsible for needlessly killing "millions" annually.
    The thesis ends with a challenge:-

    It is for this reason that I, Piers Corbyn, challenge whoever is willing in Reading University or other appropriate institutions to a debate on the failed Global warming scam vs evidence-based science.

    So I interpret the thesis as a "welcome to the lunatic asylum" message from Piers Corbyn.
    Piers Corbyn graphic

  • 2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory

    Bob Loblaw at 01:27 AM on 28 July, 2022

    The comments in that Beer's Law post also provide a lot of relevant discussion, Frankamungus. I suggest that you post further questions on that thread, unless you have questions specifically related to the 2nd Law (this post).

  • From the eMail Bag: the Beer-Lambert Law and CO2 Concentrations

    CD at 07:54 AM on 1 January, 2022

    @6 Bob Loblaw

    Ok, perhaps saying the Beer-Lambert Law was not applicable was a bit strong. But my point is that relying on it, and it alone, gives the wrong answer for the amount of radiation that is transmitted through the gas. More importantly it underestimates the transmission for large thicknesses of gas as my original comment (@5) states, and so underestimates the impact of any large increases in the CO2 concentration.

    As for the idea that my "concept of transmission" leads to a transmissivity > 1, the equations 88.8 and 88.14 set out here clear demonstrate otherwise. It is also true from the equations set out in the link that the reflected radiation flux Id is always less than that upward IR flux Iu at all altitudes x.

    Finally, before claiming that energy transfers from CO2 to non-GHG molecules (and back again) invalidate my analysis, I suggest you look again at the principle of detailed balance. In thermal equilibrium, what goes in must come out, otherwise you start to violate the 1st & 2nd laws of thermodynamics. Yes there are complicating factors such as convection and direct heating of the atmosphere from the Sun, but these are secondary issues.

    I am aware that the atmosphere is a complicated body, but that does not mean it cannot be largely understood by considering idealized models in the first instance. That is how modellers approach the problem. The Beer-Lambert Law is one such idealized model.

  • Book Review: Saving Us by Katharine Hayhoe

    David Hawk at 01:47 AM on 23 September, 2021

    Very nicely presented "Wilddouglascounty."  I hope many read it. You are more optimistic than I can be; thus thank you for your sign of hope. I need such. I'll make it through the day.

    My take tends to be with the flaws in being human, and the laws of a natural order that human fight with. Yes, I'm a bit skeptical about "scientific method," as was one of my mentors who authored the 1962 book of that title. He moved on to systems sciences, as did I, thus I encountered climate change in 1975 via reading the 1856 work of Eunice Foote.

    In my courses, whatever they might have been titled, I covered two subjects. 1) Ethics: Fastian Negotiations always selling the soul, thus leading to end-state tragedy, and 2) Human economics and business always avoiding laws of thermodynamics, especially that funny 2nd one. 

    For the first I usually rely on Marlowe, Goethe, and Mann. For the second I rely on Einstein, Hawking and Sagan, where I considered Carl a friend.  In 2007 in this regard a debate was held with China's leadership council, prior to their selection of Xi as President. I recommended they give up on Confucian thought (too similar to Plato) and return to Lao Tzu wisdom (similar to Socrates).  They seems to really understand what such could mean to managing climate change, before they didn't a few years later.  A similar debate would not have been held in Washington, unless about a dozen lobbiest approved the script. (I can give you a list, ha..ha.. )

    I have a book coming out in Europe this winter on the above..."Short-term Gain, Long-term Pain."  Its about Faust, Industrialization, and life during the human end state.  Therein I cover 2,500 years of the idea of management as the problem, including the management of science. My focus ends with the inherent limitation in the first three letters of management. If so, we might try femagement for a bit? Their science is very promising. For politics they listen to their husbands, but are now moving on from that limitation.  See you on the other side, I hope. 

    In 2015, when is was obvious that America was moving to a Trump version of leadership, I began a foundation in China to prepare girls for managing humans during masculine created climate change.  An English version of its site is at 

  • CO2 effect is saturated

    Bob Loblaw at 10:33 AM on 25 July, 2021


    Possibly, but Ingrahammark7's statement also resembles the kind of thing you'd hear from the group that think there is absolutely no greenhouse effect, no backradiation, violates the 2nd, law, etc., and pressure is the only factor.

    Ingrahammark7's understanding of basic physics hasn't been very good so far.

  • Michael Moore's 'Planet of the Humans' documentary peddles dangerous climate denial

    Philippe Chantreau at 13:11 PM on 3 May, 2020

    Not to be pedantic Ubrew but the 1st law is: "You have to play." 2nd: "You can't win." 3rd "You can't break even."

  • Michael Moore's 'Planet of the Humans' documentary peddles dangerous climate denial

    ubrew12 at 10:40 AM on 3 May, 2020

    1st law of thermodynamics "You can't win".  2nd law "You can't even break even"

    Ubrew's correlaries: 1st law "Every bit of energy you use comes from your environment"  2nd law: "Yeah, it hurts your environment"

    Jeff Gibbs movie belabors something we all knew: we lean on our environment for everything we produce.  Unhappily for Gibbs, there isn't a smidgen of non-fossil energy that claims otherwise.

    I'm deeply moved by what fossil fuel burning is going to do to the coral reefs, the rainforests, and the polar bears.  But I'm a climate activist for what it's about to do to us mere humans.  For starters, its going to destroy many of our most cherished historical cities.  Against this, should we really dismiss 'Plan B' because it has 'sinned' against our environment?  Since I used a toilet today, go ahead and dismiss me as well, by that standard.

  • 2019 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #6

    scaddenp at 06:06 AM on 11 February, 2019

    Well I think Green New Deal actually typifies a lot of what is wrong with US politics, speaking as arm chair observer living in NZ. Under "it is the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal" you would applaud the first 4 points as aspirational goals dealing with problems that need to be addressed. No issue.

    The fifth point would be a short precise of what right-wing would call the "the liberal agenda" and frankly would doom it. Now I dont disagree with many of those points but getting a green deal on the earlier points is going to need votes from some of those who would see this item as a serious red flag. Worse, it just plays into the hands of those promoting the idea that climate change is a manufactured crisis pushed by a nefarious conspiracy of international illuminati to undermine capitalism and "freedoms". They would see the Green New Deal as a trojan horse and possibly with some justification.

    There are also points there I think are fundimentally unobtainable and/or undesirable. A changing social landscape is a given. You cannot necessarily fix "deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities". When a mine is exhausted it closes. Mechanised agriculture needs less labour. It would be like trying to mandate a continuation of blacksmiths and lively stables.

    "achieve maximal energy efficiency, water efficiency, safety, affordability, comfort, and durability"

    Come on, that is a frustration matrix - might as well try to legislate on 2nd law of thermodynamics. Try "optimal" instead of "maximal".

    It looks to me like a bunch of good ideas have been torpedoed by ideologues by providing a target-rich document to those who will oppose it. I would be amazed if this could be sold to american people and worse still it may poison the ground for more sensible future proposals.

    Idealogues are the bane of politics no matter what the colour. Now is the time for pragmatistics like no other.

  • 2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory

    Philippe Chantreau at 03:32 AM on 7 January, 2019

    AFT, anyone who thinks seriously about it undertands that thermodynamics are not violated. This argument is just part of larger campaign undertaken by some actors because they know where the morally defensible position is and that people will in their majority adopt the morally right position if there is no doubt about it.

    The depth of the denial is compounded by numerous factors. Some scientists, like G&T, are unscrupulous enough to write such nonsense. The general population is science illiterate and innumerate enough to buy into it. The ambient attitude that anyone is free to have whatever opinion they choose is stretched to the point that it implies said opinion has validity. The overall anti elite and anti intellectual sentiment has been cultivated by crooks purely for the fostering of their financial interest.

    There is little to gain by arguing with those who go for the 2nd law argument; they are ready to cling to any straw, no matter how feeble and likely won't be convinced by any level of reasoning or evidence. Look how long this thread is. Waddle in it if you want, it's saddening. Almost 1500 post devoted to the least valid "skeptic" argument of all. It says something.

  • Comprehensive study: carbon taxes won't hamper the economy

    indy222 at 15:21 PM on 27 August, 2018

    To Scaddenp; the point of Garrett's work vs the SRES scenarios, is that the SRES scenarios show fantasic economic growth and no consequences in CO2 harming the economy. No appreciation of what people do with savings, with efficiency gains. I call it "checkers thinking" vs "chess thinking" or "reflexivity" if you like George Soros' formulation of the concept. "Checkers thinking" assumes that if you improve the efficiency of some process, that the savings in energy is a pure gain and is not re-spent elsewhere. That's not what history shows. There's no appreciation in the SRES scenarios of how Draconian must be the constraints on global freedoms and desires in order to actually make happen the curves they simply cobble together as "representative". If we're to remain true to human civilization and human nature as it actually is, then realize that savings will be spent, or worse - leveraged with debt and THEN spent, so we're spending the present and future generations resources to fund what we spend it on. All spending makes "order" out of "disorder" which then must be continually supported with future energy to preserve against the 2nd law of Thermodynamics. Economic growth must be powered and that power must begin 87% as FF energy, and then try to decarbonize from there, but decarbonizing itself will take much energy to accomplish - FF energy. We're in a difficult place, to have to support 7.5 billion who have currently been supported by constantly increasing CO2 emissions, in some other non-CO2 generating way. It's not just me, now, that is recognizing the absurdity of these rosy scenarios. A new entry here is the work of Dunlop, Spratt, and Schellnhuber

  • CO2 limits won't cool the planet

    Aaron Davis at 07:50 AM on 25 December, 2017 you for the quick response. Please repeat the link to "Waste Heat" 

    Regarding insulating layers during the day.  Your comment messes with my understanding of the 2nd law of thermodynamics.  My understanding is that heat flows from hot to cold, not the other way, so unless the incomming radiation from the sun (5000+ oC) is less than the surface (maybe a lava flow would be an example) then I dont see how reducing insulating layers during the day rejects more heat to space.  In general 9am to 3pm the earth absorbes radiant energy. The other 15 hours the earth rejects energy.  More energy would be rejected if water vapor and cloud cover were removed at night.  More energy would be absorbed if they were removed during the day. 

    "the 2nd law of thermodynamics - heat flows spontaneously from a hot to a cold body" 

  • 2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #49

    One Planet Only Forever at 15:59 PM on 12 December, 2017

    I agree that 'Legal System competition results' should not be seen as valid ethical or moral assessments. The laws or constitution may be poorly written. And even well written ones can be open to unanticipated interpretation (such as the 2nd Amendment/Clarification/Correction of the USA Constitution, or the common current misunderstanding of what 'pursuit of happiness' is all about - at the time that term was written it was generally understood to be pursuit of the basic needs of a decent life, not 'whatever a person wants to believe or desires'). And the legal judgments made could also be politically rather than Good Objective motivated (the USA Supreme Court producing fairly predictable split-decisions indicates that even the highest levels of the law could be politically biased).

    As a Professional Engineer I am well aware of the challenges of specifying 'Rules/Requirements - Standards of what is acceptable' that will be interpreted as intended by everyone in any and all current and future situations. Stating the Public Interest Good Objective of the Rule/Standard can help get the desired 'interpretation and application'.
    The Good Objective of Engineering Standards is to protect the general population and other life from the potential harmful consequences of pursuers of personal benefit, particularly pursuers of profit who would try to get away with benefiting from quicker, cheaper and more damaging actions. In many cases National Standards get weakened to 'compete' with other lesser National Standards (or Private Interests try to get the Standards written to benefit from unjustified limits on competition from alternatives). And the development of International Standards is not guaranteed to be a solution when Private Interests get a say in their development. Many International Standards are not the highest justified standard that has been established by any nation. They often become a lower, or even the lowest, standard that has been developed, and include fudge wording that 'allows' a Nation to require a higher standard if it wishes. Any nations with higher standards then have their higher standards challenged by parties wanting the benefit of the 'Lower International Standard'. This can result in a spiral of competition to get away with the worst behaviour to get a bigger competitive advantage (most likely why the likes of Trump like the idea of getting out of the Paris Agreement).

    Someone with a Private Interest will always try to claim that their Private Interest does not 'break any rule (as they interpret them)'. And when those Private Interests are able to influence the making or enforcement/judgment of the 'Rules' they will deliberately weaken/distort the Rules in favour of their Private Interest in spite of being able to understand that their Private Interests are impediments to achieving Public Interest Good Objectives (or will actually be harmful to others which is worse than just being barriers to the development of lasting improvements for everyone).

    The resulting reasonable understanding is that the highest level Public Interest Good Objective is increasing understanding and awareness and applying that knowledge to develop lasting improvements for all life/humanity, including the future generations. And that is what the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) present. The SDGs are open to improvement for Good Reason. But the SDGs have a very robust reasoned basis, so they are not likely to change significantly (just like climate science is not likely to change significantly).

    Correcting everything that has developed to be consistent with achieving the SDGs is what is required. And that will include using the SDGs as the basis for evaluating the acceptability/legitimacy of any Winner/Leader anywhere on this planet. That is just Common Sense that needs to become the Common Understanding.

    This is not my opinion. This is my understanding based on many things including:
    - John Stuart Mill's warning in “On Liberty”. “If society lets a considerable number of its members grow up mere children, incapable of being acted on by rational consideration of distant motives, society has itself to blame for the consequences.”
    - And the critique stated in the 1987 UN Report “Our Common Future”. “25. Many present efforts to guard and maintain human progress, to meet human needs, and to realize human ambitions are simply unsustainable - in both the rich and poor nations. They draw too heavily, too quickly, on already overdrawn environmental resource accounts to be affordable far into the future without bankrupting those accounts. They may show profit on the balance sheets of our generation, but our children will inherit the losses. We borrow environmental capital from future generations with no intention or prospect of repaying. They may damn us for our spendthrift ways, but they can never collect on our debt to them. We act as we do because we can get away with it: future generations do not vote; they have no political or financial power; they cannot challenge our decisions. 26. But the results of the present profligacy are rapidly closing the options for future generations. Most of today's decision makers will be dead before the planet feels; the heavier effects of acid precipitation, global warming, ozone depletion, or widespread desertification and species loss. Most of the young voters of today will still be alive. In the Commission's hearings it was the young, those who have the most to lose, who were the harshest critics of the planet's present management.”

    So I understand and share the concern about having faith/belief in any System that can be seen to not be Guided/Ruled by a Good Objective that is understandably in the Global Public Interest. No sub-group (regional, tribal or business group), is justified in pursuing an Interest that compromises the development of lasting improvements for all of humanity on this amazing planet, including all of the future generations. In fact, no sub-group of life on this planet is justified in pursuing an Interest that compromises the development of lasting improvements for a robust diversity of all life on this amazing planet.

    A significant developing risk to the USA with its current Winner/Leaders is collective action by more responsible leaders to selectively effectively penalize the irresponsible Winner/Leaders in the USA for failing to behave more responsibly. Global penalty tools are often not very precise. Collateral damage to undeserving victims is often the result of attempts to 'motivate the harmful less responsible Private Interest people to change their minds'. This is probably why many major corporate leaders have stated their opposition to the understandably irresponsible actions of the Trump Administration, Senate and House Leadership regarding climate science.

    These 'justifiably concerned children' pushing legal action regarding climate action based on climate science can do the irresponsible Winner/Leaders in the USA a big favour if their lawsuits significantly increase pressure on those irresponsible Winner/Leaders, motivating them to actually behave more responsibly, more considerately, less harmfully (and less self-destructively).

  • Analysis: WRI data suggests emissions have already ‘peaked’ in 49 countries

    One Planet Only Forever at 02:42 AM on 26 November, 2017


    To begin, I did not say the Conservatives 'will choose to fade away'. What I said, and meant, was that unless the Conservatives become a less significant factor in Global Leadership there is no real hope of make lasting improvements for the future of humanity.

    And I should have said the 'Collective of current day Unite the Right groups who claim to be Conservative' (rather than using the term Conservative), need to become irrelevant.

    The Global Public Interest is advancing humanity through the development of 'lasting' improvements for a robust diversity of humanity, the future of humanity. And all sub-sets of humanity need to govern their regional or tribal behaviour in line with achieving that Public Interest, ensuring their regional or tribal Private Interests do not compromise the Global Pubic Interest.

    Unite the Right groups can clearly be seen to be collections of a diversity of Private Interests that are contrary to the Public Interest. As that awarenss and understanding grows fewer people will be willing to stay in that United group that votes to support each other's understandably unaccepable interests.

    It is inevitable that the Unite the Right groups will see reduced popularity. The extremists among that group like ISIS and Team Trump are making it more difficult for people to excuse what is understandably the pursuit of unacceptable and ultimately unsustainable regional or tribal Private Interests that compromise the Public Interest of the future of humanity.

    As I mentioned in my earlier comment, Alberta is likely one of the last places on the planet where the Unite the Right will fade away. But the United Right in Alberta have less than 50% popularity. That shows that even in a very Religious part of Canada with so much easy money to be made if they can get away with behaving less acceptably, the collective of Religious Fundamentalists, Callous Greedy and those who Tribally just vote 'Conservative' because that is what they always did are less than 50% of the population.

    As for voting, I think that Ranked Transferable votes are the Right way to vote in multi-party systems to ensure the First Past 50% support is the Winner. The United Right who call themselves Conservative are unlikely to be anyones 2nd choice. When they won Minority Power at the Federal level in Canada in 2006 they could not Lead because they were so different form all te other parties, except the Quebec Seperatist Party. They called for new elections several times until the flawed FPP system gave them the narrow win of Majority rule. They lost in the next election.

    As for the realities of public opinions created by massive misleading marketing campaigns favoring the compromise of Public Interests for Private Interests in Alberta, I understand that changing the public understanding is the political challenge faced by any responsible Government in Alberta (maximizing the misunderstanding in the population is the objective of Unite the Right types especially when they Win Government Leadrship. The Unite the Right Leadership in Saskatchewan that has walked away from the job because the unsustainable delusions they created were recently shattered is proof of that.

    A ranked ballot vote would reduce the chances of the United Right winning unfettered power in Alberta (or anywhere else). What are your thoughts regarding a Ranked Transferable Ballot?

  • Increasing CO2 has little to no effect

    Lampacres at 03:02 AM on 23 November, 2017

    There’s no such thing as the radiative greenhouse effect. I accept it’s a rather bold statement, so let me explain why;

    Do you agree that the heat flow equation (for plane parallel) is: Q = sigma * (T1^4 – T2^4) ?

    The net difference between the radiative ENERGY which is emitted from both surfaces will result in HEAT being transferred to the surface of the cooler object and this will result in the TEMPERATURE of the cooler surface increasing. It may also result in the TEMPERATURE of the warmer surface decreasing (if the warmer object does not have it’s own power source). Either way, HEAT will continue to be transferred to the cooler object until thermodynamic equilibrium is achieved, when Q =0. At this point no further HEAT is transferred, although both surfaces continue to emit ENERGY. The TEMPERATURE of both surfaces will thereafter remain constant.

    When confronted with this statement of truth, many climate experts will revert to the “restricted emissions” argument where the back radiation from the shell inhibits the warmer object from emitting it’s internal ENERGY thus causing the warmer object to HEAT itself and thus cause an increase in TEMPERATURE of the warmer surface.

    If this is your claim, show me the part in the HEAT FLOW equation where it states that the primary object, T1, stops emitting because it is prevented from doing so by the secondary object, T2?

    The heat flow equation states that T1 emits fully, at: sigma * T1^4, all of the time; it never has its energy “stopped up” inside of itself. And, the ENERGY from the 2nd body (if it's cooler than the 1st body) can’t act as HEAT. The 2nd body does not stop the 1st one from emitting. The 2nd body never sends back more ENERGY to the first than the first sends to the 2nd, hence the 2nd can never HEAT the 1st.

    Photons don’t act like electrons. Photons are bosons. Bosons stack upon themselves and can share the same space. They are waves, not particles. Normal matter is particulate and can NOT stack upon itself…if you try to shove matter together it takes up more space. Much confusion is caused by a misunderstanding between particulate material and photon waves. The waves from the secondary (cooler) object don’t suddenly become part of “the commitment” from the primary (warmer) object…photon waves don’t add up like that. If you take two equal waves and pass them through each other, at some point in the phase overlap the amplitude of the combined wave will double…and also at some point during the overlap the two waves will cancel each other out. But the effect is on the amplitude. The effect is not on the frequency. You would need a change in the frequency in order to increase temperature, but when identical waves combine they do not change their frequency. This is why the waves from the secondary object only resonate and scatter…they can’t do anything to the frequency of the existing vibrations in the primary object.

    That’s the plane parallel scenario dealt with.

    Now to move to a steel shell around a sphere where the sphere has it’s own internal power source.

    If you agree that only net ENERGY can cause HEAT transfer, and providing that you also agree that the only object which experiences HEAT (and thus experiences a TEMPERATURE increase) is that object where, on it’s surface, Powerin > Powerout i.e. if the power received by an object is greater than the power emitted by that object, then the [positive] difference will be manifested as HEAT upon the surface of that object, and this HEAT will increase the TEMPERATURE of that object, then we can proceed as this the essence of the 2nd LoT.

    The model that we are now considering is slightly more complicated than the plane parallel model because of the distance between the outside of the sphere (say having radius 1m) and the inside surface of the shell (say having radius 2m): the surface areas of the two objects are not identical. I therefore suggest that it is more convenient to use power densities (with units of W/m2) rather than absolute power values, so we can say HEAT will be transferred across the [single] boundary between the two objects when PowerDensityin > PowerDensityout and that HEAT will be experienced only by that object where the net difference is positive.

    When the temperature of the sphere is Tsphere then, at the surface of the sphere, the PowerDensitysphere = sigma * Tsphere4

    When the temperature of the shell is Tshell then, at the surface of the shell, the PowerDensityshell = sigma * Tshell4

    Let's consider what happens at each surface;

    At the surface of the shell, all of the sphere's emissions are received by the shell. However, due the inverse square law, the PowerDensity of the sphere's own emissions are dissipated over the larger area of the shell (and on the dimensions provided we conveniently know that the surface area of the shell is four times that of the sphere). Nevertheless, if at the surface of the shell PowerDensityin > PowerDensityout then the shell will receive HEAT.

    At the surface of the sphere, due to the angle of view from the surface of the shell, not all of the shell's emissions are received by the sphere (some will radiate onto another part of the shell's own surface, again without transferring HEAT). Only if Rshell = Rsphere , will 100% of the shell's PowerDensity leaving the inside surface of the shell be received by the surface of the sphere. Nevertheless, if at the surface of the sphere, PowerDensityin > PowerDensityout then the sphere will receive HEAT.

    Hopefully, we can still agree on all of the above, because it's still 2nd LoT. If we do agree, then;

    If Tsphere is greater (warmer) than Tshell then HEAT may (depending upon the respective PowerDensity values at the inside surface of the shell) be transferred to the shell (and no HEAT will be transferred to the sphere). Conversely, if Tshell is greater (warmer) than Tsphere then HEAT may (depending upon the two respective PowerDensity values at the surface of the sphere) be transferred to the sphere (and no HEAT will be transferred to the shell).

    For a sphere with no internal power source of it's own, the concept of introducing a shell around the sphere actually does decrease the rate of cooling experienced by the sphere (than it would otherwise do as is dissipates it's ever decreasing ENERGY into a 0K environment) but unless the shell was warmer than the sphere at the point the shell was introduced, the sphere will never get hotter.

    For a sphere with it's own internal power source, the concept of introducing a shell around the sphere does not change the rate at which the sphere dissipates it's ENERGY to satisfy it’s Stefan-Boltzmann commitment i.e. the temperature of the shell does not impair the sphere from radiating it's ENERGY and so the TEMPERATURE of the sphere does not increase (unless the shell was warmer than the sphere at the point it was introduced - but even then, the increase in TEMPERATURE would be transient).

    The (false) argument that the introduction of the shell around the sphere prevents the sphere from radiating it's due power density of: sigma * T4 (and so gets warmer from it's own heat) appears to be derived from the erroneous belief that the net energy difference is calculated as the difference between PowerDensityin - minus zero (being the amount it would have received had the shell not been present). This can be shown to be a fallacy if we let the radius of the shell be diminished to it's minimum value i.e. the radius of the shell is reduced to be that of the sphere. In this scenario, the "restricted emissions" argument says that at thermal equilibrium, the PowerDensityshell = PowerDensitysphere and because the shell radiates this on both surfaces, the surface of the sphere also receives PowerDensityshell as HEAT. If this were indeed true, the Sphere would have it's own constant power source of Psphere plus that which receives from the shell (PowerDensityin minus zero), which is Pshell (which is also Psphere) i.e. this is 2*P. But the original model only generates 1 * P. The incorrect "restricted emissions" logic has resulted in the creation of energy (by a factor of two, no less) - something that the 1st LoT says is not possible.

    If you now substitute the sphere with internal power source for the Earth and it’s constant ENERGY from our sun and substitute the steel shell for greenhouse gases at the top of the atmosphere then you will now see that the whole radiative Greenhouse effect story has been mathematically busted – the Earth’s surface does not get hotter from back-radiation from the atmosphere.

  • These are the best arguments from the 3% of climate scientist 'skeptics.' Really.

    Inti at 03:20 AM on 28 September, 2017

    How does Roy Spencer reconcile raising his first point (trace gas) in the White paper with his blog article "Skeptical Arguments that Don’t Hold Water" from 2014?

    Spencer is pleading with fellow deniers not to embarrass themselves with these claims. The first 7 of his of 10 examples are various attempts to deny that CO2 causes warming:

    1. There is no greenhouse effect.
    2. The greenhouse effect violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics.
    3. CO2 can’t cause warming because co2 emits IR as fast as it absorbs.
    4. CO2 cools, not warms, the atmosphere.
    5. Adding co2 to the atmosphere has no effect because the CO2 absorption bands are already 100% opaque.
    6. Lower atmospheric warmth is due to the lapse rate/adiabatic compression.
    7. Warming causes co2 to rise, not the other way around

    Yet surely by posing the old "trace gas" nonsense he is making exactly the claim that "there is no greenhouse effect"?

    Am I missing something, or is Spencer?

  • New study finds that climate change costs will hit Trump country hardest

    scaddenp at 07:52 AM on 8 September, 2017

    The word I think is "exergy" not "exenergy". In North America, I believe it is more common to call this term "available work". And no, it is not net exergy out. You can think of it as the "quality" of the energy. My favourite picture for understanding it, is think of waterfall. At top of the waterfall you have a lot of potential energy which you could usefully convert into electricity etc. At the bottom of the waterfall, you have same about of energy manifested in heating the pool slightly and a bit sound wave energy. Your ability to get useful work from this however is sharply diminished. You can express this in terms of loss of exergy. Exergy is a 2nd law tool, bound to the change in entropy.

    Because exergy is not conserved, it provides a much better way to study energy efficiency than 1st law method. I use it in thermal power station analysis. The overall efficiency consideration in say a coal station is the "heat rate" - the ratio of power out to fuel in . However, this is no simple relationship between overall efficiency and efficiency of individual components. Another way to do the calculation however is to calculate the exergetic loss from fuel into electricity out. The beauty of this analysis is that sum of exergetic losses of each component (boiler, heaters, turbine etc) is the total exergetic loss. If efficiency drops, you can quickly see which component has had an increase in exergy losses and diagnose the problem.

    And yes, pumped hydro is pumping water back up to the hydro. Note that in systems with a large amount of hydro, (eg NZ), you can use hydro as "battery", without the pumping. When other forms of generation are cheap (wind blowing strong or lots of sun), then hydros stop generating and reservoirs fill. Come night or calm, then hydros switch in.

  • It's the sun

    NoctambulantJoycean at 01:40 AM on 3 July, 2017

    John Christy recently used a cumulative total solar irradiance (TSI) index to argue that the Sun, not CO2, caused most of the recent global warming. This cumulative-TSI-based approach is flawed, though explaining why is beyond the scope of this post. I instead want to point out how Christy contradicted himself in his defense of his claim.

    In the 1st edition of his hotspot blogpost/"report", Christy claims that 150mb is the tropical upper troposphere:
    "On the Existence of a “Tropical Hot Spot" & The Validity of EPA’s CO2 Endangerment Finding" (page pages 23, 25, and 59)

    But in the 2nd edition of his blogpost/"report", he claims that 150mb is the tropical stratosphere:
    "On the Existence of a “Tropical Hot Spot” & The Validity of EPA’s CO2 Endangerment Finding, Abridged Research Report, Second Edition" (pages 24, 25, and 70)

    So in the transition from the 1st to the 2nd edition, Christy re-labelled upper tropospheric temperature as stratospheric temperature, with the effect of making it look like the stratosphere warmed. He did this despite the fact that the stratosphere actually cooled (as shown in a source Christy cited in his "report"; see the Sherwood paper cited on page 23 of the "report's" first edition). Christy's re-labeling is convenient for his position, because Christy's solar warming hypothesis implies stratospheric warming. Furthermore, CO2-induced global warming would result in stratospheric cooling, and Christy's "report" is committed to saying that CO2 has had no significant impact on temperature records.

    So Christy's self-contradiction on atmospheric temperature, allowed him to claim that CO2 had no significant effect on temperature and that the Sun caused most of the recent global warming. I'm surprised that Christy would cite such a distorted blogpost/"report" to the US Congress:
    "U.S. House Committee on Science, Space & Technology, 29 Mar 2017, Testimony of John R. Christy" (pages 10 and 11).

  • 2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #23

    chriskoz at 11:49 AM on 17 June, 2017

    Tom Curtis@30, Eclectic@31,

    (sorry for late reply, my workweek was busy)

    My skepticism about large scale projects concentrating the renewable power into high energy, together with long distance transmition infrastructure is high, utopian cost. The process of concentrating many small, intermittent, low energy sources into a reliable and sizeable commercial supply (of an order 100s MW) is by itself very difficult without buffering storage of adequate capacity and time. In case of solar source, that time is at least a daily cycle. Then, on top of that, the lengths of the interstate transmition increase as the sources in entire regions/states stop producing completely due to meteorological conditions (such as a recent freak overnight storm in SA) and the entire load must be transfered from other state. The transmition costs owithin such model grows exponentially with its size. You don't need to be an expert in technology to understand, in a philosofical sense, that concentrating a number of small energy sources (higher enthropy) into a single high energy (lower entropy) "super-grid" is a process going against a natural entropy flow, whereas existing electricity distribution models go with a natural entropy flow. So the cost of a new model implementation must be much higher.

    IMO, much more realistic is a distributed model where electricity is consummed as close to the source as possible, with high capacity storage and some transmition that balances intermittence within a given region only, e.g. when broken clouds or local storm overshadows PV panels in a given suburb. Anything on a scale of Desertec project rfered to by Tom is unfeasible.

    With regards to Desertec, in was conceived in 2007-8, and the Tom's link is dated June 22nd, 2009: a time when its plans were very operational. Fast forward just 5 years till 2013, and Desertec abandons Sahara dream due to its utopian costs. Now, were in 2017, and no comparable alternative project is beeing considered (it should be given AGW solution becomes most urgent) so the idea is pretty much dead. Some say, as noticed by Nigel elsewhere, there were huge political obstacles with host nations. But I even disregard those obstacles (biggesr obstacle in general is outright science denial by white nations' politicians) and think technical obstacles may heve been decisive.

    High-voltage direct current transmission technology has its disadvantages, and above all its limits. Disadvantages include difficulty in AC/DC conversion and higher cost of safety and maintenance. In particular High-voltage DC circuit breaker is expensive and difficult to build. Those problems limit the practical length and power capacity of existing HVDC lines to 1000km/couple GW. To have the entire Europe's electric power (400GW) delivered from 2000-3000km Sahara increases the scale of the enterprise by 1000times. And don't forget that energy losses in trnsmission increase with a square of power. Even the Ohm law becomes the hard limit on such scale.

    For example, 400GW delivered by say 1MV line means 400kA current. Standard 2cm aluminum wire has resistance of 50 microOhm/m. But say a thicker (harder to deploy and support) 5cm cable, resistance 10microOhm/m be used. The power loss by Ohm alone is I2*R = 400kA*400kA*10microOhm = 160,000M*10microW = absurd 1,600,000W per each metre of cable. Of course no one is going to use just one cable, but even if you repeat the above calculation for 10 cables, each carrying its share of 40kA, you end up with enormous power loss of 40*40*10 = 16,000W per metre each. To be realistic you need to have say 100 lines, 4GW each, which is 4kA per line, with Ohm losses just 4*4*10 = 160W per metre. That's just the hard physical limit. There are other limits like corona discharge, arcing on insulators or dialectric leakage in case of underwater cable, that also add to the heat production and stress on the cable material itself.

    From my calculations above, it'll clear that concentrating and long distance transmitting the renewable energy is an expensive business that quickly becomes too expensive and scaling it even higher to the point of Desertec level becomes utopia.

  • CO2 effect is saturated

    Tom Curtis at 04:37 AM on 12 March, 2017

    bogfetto @433:

    "Give me a source supporting a claim that heat is transferred from the freezing fluid to the hotter surface. In what other situations do you experience heat coming from low temperature fluids?"

    In the theory of the greenhouse effect, all heat (ie, net energy flow) is from:

    1)  The Sun to the Earth's atmosphere and surface, with the vast majority going to the surface;

    2)  From the Earth's surface to the atmosphere and to space, with the majority going to the atmosphere; and

    3)  From the atmosphere to space.

    In each case, the net energy flow is from a warmer to a colder object.  If you do not think this is the case, you simply do not understand the theory.  Period.  This is so important that I would put it in all caps were that not forbidden by the comments policy.

    And if you do not understand the theory, learn to understand it before you pretend to criticize it!

    You will certainly doubt my claim about the direction of energy flow in the greenhouse theory.  Very well.  Here is the Earth's energy budget as determined by NASA:

    It shows energy flows from the Sun, to and from the surface, to and from the atmosphere, and to space.  Sum the energy flow across any boundary between the Earth and the Atmosphere, and the Atmosphere and Space and you will find the incoming and outgoing energy are approximately equal, with only a 0.6 W/m^2 net imbalance.  Sum the energy flows between any warmer and colder object, and you ill find more energy flows from the warmer to the colder object than the reverse.

    Attn moderators:  I have no strong interest in playing whack-a-mole on these issues again with somebody who cannot bother actually learning the theory they purport to criticize.  Would you please restrict bogfetto's responses to just this issue until such time that he acknowledges the simple truth, or proves he is incapable of doing so by excessive repetition.  At your discretion, I will shift the discussion to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics thread, where it is far more on topic.

  • Increasing CO2 has little to no effect

    Tom Curtis at 10:02 AM on 25 February, 2017

    The second piece of block text by Rudmop @238 is a response to my response to his first posting of his ideas on another thread.  Briefly, my criticisms were that:

    1) "The strength of the greenhouse effect of a given gas is a direct function of the difference in power radiated to space by that gas and the power radiated by the surface, and intercepted from going to space by that gas. As the power radiated to space is an inverse function of the temperature of the gas at the mean altitude of radiation to space, the vertical distribution of the concentration of relevant gases is a fundamental property without which no valid determination of relative greenhouse effect of different gases can be made."

    2) "The energy trapping capability of each molecule is not simply a function of the sum of the energies at the absorption peaks in the spectra. It is also a function of the relative energy radiated at those wavelengths from the surface"

    3) "You have not explained, and nor can I see what relevance rates of diffusion have on the result. In particular, concentration levels of CO2 (in particular) and to a lesser extent H2O are fairly stable so that rates of change in the concentration in still air (diffusion) have no bearing on spatial patterns of concentration, which you do not allow for in your equation in any event."

    I note that Rudmop has changed his formula to take into account my second point.  

    He rejects my first point saying:

    "Carbon dioxide molecules at this altitude, provided the density separation does not result in a near extinction, will actually be radiators of heat. At this altitude, there are more possible vector directions that point to space, than point back to the surface. So as excited carbon dioxide molecules spontaneously radiate photons, there will be a more favorable amount of heat loss than heat gain by the climate. These higher altitude molecules cannot hold on to any trapped energy for an indefinite amount of time. Nothing can do that. Everything radiates its heat to the colder gradient as a necessity of the 2nd law of thermodynamics. CO2 at the TOA is not going to collect more heat than it radiates."

    What Rudmop neglects in this response is that emissivity equals absorptivity.  It follows that if a given thickness of atmosphere has more radiation at a given wavelength impacting upon it then it will radiate due to its temperature, it will absorb more radiation than it emits.  As the CO2 in the upper troposphere is colder than that in the lower troposphere, or at the surface, it will absorb more radiation than it emits, and therefore the upward IR radiation from that layer will be less than the upward IR radiation entering that layer.

    The notion that a CO2 molecule "... cannot hold on to any trapped energy for an indefinite amount of time", while accurate, is irrelevant.  Even at 85 km altitude (US standard atmosphere), an excited CO2 (or H2O) molecule will, on average, experience 380,000 (a million) collisions before it would typically have spontaneiously returned to a base energy state by emitting a photon.  Within the troposphere the figure is closer to 5 billion collisions.  Therefore absorbed radiation is rapidly transmitted to the rest of the atmosphere as heat, and stored by the whole atmospheric layer.  The emissions from that layer, in turn, are almost exclusively from CO2 (or other greenhouse gases) that have entered an excited state due to collissions from with other molecules.  That is why the emission fits the profile of thermal radiation (within the radiating wavelengths).  And because the radiation is thermal, it is controlled by the temperature of the layer, not the rate of absorption of photons from lower layers in the atmosphere.

    With regard to my third point, Rudmop now clarrifies by saying:

    "As the greenhouse gas molecules trap heat, they must be able to transfer their heat to other molecules by making random collisions with the other molecules. The speed and efficiency at which they can do this will determine their “strength” as a greenhouse gas. Water vapor is lighter and moves more quickly than Carbon dioxide, if both are at the same temperature."

    In fact, the relevant ratio here is the rate of natural reemission molecules in an excited state to the rate of collision.  As noted above, that does not rise above about 1 in a 380,000 below the thermosphere, either for CO2 or H2O.  Allowing that CO2 radiates before collisions 2.5 times as frequently as H2O, that only raises its non-thermal radiation to 0.0003% of the total (compared to 0.0001% for H2O) even in the upper mesosphere.  In short, the difference is negligible for all practical purposes.  

  • Increasing CO2 has little to no effect

    Rudmop at 17:49 PM on 24 February, 2017

    The following is a brief presentation of my model for calculating the daily heating contribution of carbon dioxide. There are 3 features of the model:
    1) Concentration Coefficient: (ppmv) of CO2 compared to (ppmv) water vapor. Using the Ideal Gas Law, the dry composition of N2, O2, Ar and CO2, the local temperature, pressure and absolute humidity values this ratio varies. On average it is 0.05
    2) Heat Absorption Coefficient: the absorption spectrum of carbon dioxide compared to the absorption spectrum of water vapor. This includes all heat radiated from the surface of the earth and heat radiated during the exothermic phase changes of water, including solidification, condensation, and deposition. These wavelengths include 19.9, 2.9 and 2.6 micrometers respectively. Both carbon dioxide and water vapor have peak absorption wavelengths near these wavelengths, as well the blackbody radiation given off by the earth has a very minute amount of this of both the 2.9 and 2.6 micrometer wavelengths. Recalculating the total absorption spectrum peaks and the energy under the curve for these peaks, I arrived at a total absorption energy of 3.0 x 10^-19 J/molecule of carbon dioxide in an excited state and 1.1 x 10^-18 J/molecule of water in an excited state. The Heat Absorption Coefficient becomes 0.27 for carbon dioxide compared to water.
    3) Diffusion of Heat Coefficient: the rate that carbon dioxide transfers its heat compare to the rate that water vapor transfers its heat. Using Graham’s Law of effusion and the molar masses of Carbon dioxide and water, this coefficient is 0.64. As the greenhouse gas molecules trap heat, they must be able to transfer their heat to other molecules by making random collisions with the other molecules. The speed and efficiency at which they can do this will determine their “strength” as a greenhouse gas. Water vapor is lighter and moves more quickly than Carbon dioxide, if both are at the same temperature.
    4) The total coefficient for the capacity of carbon dioxide to absorb and transfer heat compared to water is then 0.05 x 0.27 x 0.64 = .0086
    When we look at the difference between the global average temperature and the blackbody temperature we arrive at 32.8 degrees C. So on an average humidity day, between 50 N. Latitude and 50 S. Latitude, the difference between the blackbody high, low, and average and the daily high, low and average will be 32.8 degrees C. Carbon Dioxide will account for .0086 x 32.8 degrees or .28 deg. C. This experiment is occurring daily, and it is an alternative to calculating the differences in Top of Atmosphere (TOA) and surface IR radiance. The issue with calculating this difference is that water vapor is continually undergoing exothermic phase changes that give off near IR and mid IR in the absorption ranges for both water vapor and carbon dioxide. Near the surface, the water vapor and carbon dioxide molecules will absorb and re-emit these frequencies. The problem is that liquid water droplets in clouds can absorb the 15 micrometer waves and thus stop the wave from traveling from the surface to the TOA. It would be very difficult to measure the radiance of this and calculate how what CO2 absorbed and what water droplets in the clouds absorbed or surface water absorbed as down welling radiation is absorbed by the surface water.

    The argument that CO2 is more concentrated at higher altitudes cannot be used to support more heat being trapped here. There will be very upwelling in the little peak wavelengths that carbon dioxide absorbs, and almost no downwelling peak wavelengths. Carbon dioxide molecules at this altitude, provided the density separation does not result in a near extinction, will actually be radiators of heat. At this altitude, there are more possible vector directions that point to space, than point back to the surface. So as excited carbon dioxide molecules spontaneously radiate photons, there will be a more favorable amount of heat loss than heat gain by the climate. These higher altitude molecules cannot hold on to any trapped energy for an indefinite amount of time. Nothing can do that. Everything radiates its heat to the colder gradient as a necessity of the 2nd law of thermodynamics. CO2 at the TOA is not going to collect more heat than it radiates.
    In summary, water is more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, by a factor of nearly 120 to one. The reason is that there are more molecules of water vapor to collide with the other 992,000 ppmv of non-greenhouse gases, and they can absorb more heat than CO2, and they can move faster than CO2 in order to transfer their heat to the other non-greenhouse molecules. It is painfully obvious that water vapor is most significant greenhouse molecule. Besides that, water must give off heat when it freezes, or condenses or undergoes deposition. When we get massive snowstorms, or rain storms or large areas of Arctic winter time freezing, then we must get rid of heat from the environment. If the rate of condensation in a cloud is equal to the rate of evaporation, then the droplets of water will never get large enough to fall from the sky; Hail stones would not fall from the sky in the summer if heat was not escaping the climate. Waves at the surface of the ocean break and create droplets of mist that come back down and rejoin with the ocean. It took energy to break the hydrogen bonds in order to create the mist. When the mist returns to the surface of the water, it reforms hydrogen bonds and photon of ER are given of in the 79 micrometer range. There is nothing to capture these photons and so the earth cools that way. Water is the great climate regulator and CO2 is responsible for a small fraction of the heating. Experiments measuring downwelling against upwelling of the peak wavelengths of carbon dioxide are not able to distinguish where the wavelengths were absorbed. Liquid water also absorbs these peak 15 micrometer waves that CO2 absorbs. Therefore we cannot attribute the absence of these 15 micrometer waves as a result of CO2 blocking the upwelling radiation totally out. Liquid water blocks some. A better way to measure the effects that CO2 has on trapping heat, is to measure use the final coefficient as described in my model.

  • 2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory

    Tom Curtis at 13:25 PM on 19 February, 2017

    Further to tm @ 1482

    "It should read…. "Heat CANNOT flow spontaneously from a material at lower temperature to a material at higher temperature." The Laws of Thermodynamics are LAWS not theory."

    The term "heat" is used ambiguously.  Some people use it to mean the thermal energy.  Used with that meaning, it is unambiguously the case that thermal energy (in the form of IR radiation) can flow from a colder body to a warmer body, although more must flow in the reverse direction.

    The other (possibly more scientifically accurate) meaning is "net thermal energy flow", under which meaning it is unambigously the case that "net thermal energy flow" must be from the warmer body to the colder body (something that can be deduced from the preceding paragraph).  

    Needless to say, the sentence you find offensive uses the first, and more common in popular usage, meaning.

    Under either definition, the 2nd Law of thermodynamics is no bar to the Greenhouse Effect which predicts that net energy flow will be from the Sun to the surface, and then surface outwards.  This can be clearly seen in the standard model used to teach the mathematics of the Greenhouse effect:

    You will notice that the downward IR radiation at each level is less than the upward IR radiation from the level below, so that the net energy flow is upward.  You will also notice that, as the model shows an equilibrium condition, the net IR energy flow between each level is an upward flow equal to the downwar flow from solar radiation.  However, to maintain this condition (which conforms with all energy conservation laws), the ground level upward flux must be (in this example), four times the incoming flux from the solar radiation, implying a very strong greenhouse warming.  It is only able to do this in compliance with the laws of thermodynamics because of the downward IR flux from the layer above.

    Note: this is just a toy model used to illustrate imortant concepts, and introduce a very basic level of the maths involved.  It is in no way meant to represent a real situation.  In real situations, atmospheres do not conveniently divide themselves into layers like that, and convection is a crucial element.  However, in real life the Earth's surface is warmer than can be accounted for by solar radiation and the the Earth's albedo alone, and the net energy flow upwards from all sources matches the downward energy flow from the incoming solar radiation at all levels (although not all levels are shown below):

    That is, there is a greenhouse effect, but it is in complete confirmation with the laws of thermodynamics (which is no surprise given that it was predicted by some of the key figures in determining those laws.)

  • Water vapor is the most powerful greenhouse gas

    Tom Curtis at 16:06 PM on 11 August, 2016

    old sage @234 presents an incoherent, simplified model that he claims refutes the greenhouse effect.  While it could be dealt with as a 2nd law of thermodynamics argument, it is simpler to simply note that:

    1)  Contrary to old sages claim, the immediate response to placing his half mirrored shell is to increasing incoming photons by 50% (not twice as he claims).  The number of photons increases to double only once equilibrium is achieved and nothing in his model indicates that equilibrium will be achieved instantaneiously.  He merely assumes it.

    2)  Unless and untill he refutes the very well established (for over a century) Stefan Boltzmann Law that equates the radiation from a body with its temperature, "the balance will be maintained as before and no temperature difference arises" is simply false.  Indeed, given the Stefan Boltzmann law and related results it cannot be the case.

    3)  Between the time of the placement of the half mirrored shell and temperature rising sufficiently to accomplish equilibrium, there is a positive energy imbalance at the surface in his model.  That positive energy balance provides the additional energy needed to raise the surface temperature.  Once equilibrium is achieved, there is no further change in temperature as there is no energy imbalance to drive the change.

    So, all that is necessary for old sage's model to justify his conclusions from it is that a physical law that is both confirmed by literally hundreds of thousands of laboratory and field observations, and derivable from quantum mechanics be false (and hence that quantum mechanics also be false), and that equilibrium be achieved instanteiously given any perturbation.  Given that, old sage's conclusions from his model are pushing well into the anti-science level achieved by geocentrists and flat earthers.

  • Venus doesn't have a runaway greenhouse effect

    Glenn Tamblyn at 14:47 PM on 20 June, 2016

    Michael Sweet

    Two points. Your first one about heat transfer from cold to hot is referring to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. And this can be a bit confusing. Firstly, the 2nd Law refers to Net heat flow, based on all the energy flows between a hot and cold point. More importantly, the 2nd Law applies to a closed system. It does not apply to an open system. So if we think of the system and ask what the boundaries are, they need to preclude flows from outside the boundary. The atmosphere isn't that, there are flows from the surface, flows in from the Sun, flows out to deep space, and even miniscule flows in from other stars and deep space.

    Next, there are huge differences between the ocean and the atmosphere. Firstly, water is essentially imcompressible. So although pressure can increase hugely at depth very little actual compression occurs. So the density of parcels of water in the ocean doesn't vary by much; so much so that even changes in the salinity of sea water is a significant contributor to relativedensity change. And it is density differences that drives vertical convective movement.

    The atmosphere on the other hand has huge density changes with altitude, with pressure. As a consequence, vertical movement is much easier, and any tendency to stratification is easily disrupted. Also the impact of coriolis forces is more profound. Since air velocities are much higher than ocean current velocities, change in location happens much faster, both horizontally and vertically. So more Coriolis force generated turbulence and vorticity effects. Next with its much lower density air is more easily able to move vertically since it takes much less energy to move a parcel of air vertically than the same size parcel of water. Horizontal air movements can more easily trigger vertical air movements , not just horizontal movements that infill the volume previously occupied. So turbulence and mixing can happen more easily.

    So vertical movement is much easier. In the case of bottom heating which is how most heat flows into the Earths atmosphere, convection due to heating is easy to understand. However, even with top heating, which is more like what happens on Venus, mixing can still generate vertical movement. And some of the light from the Sun does penetrate to reasonable depth in Venus, enough to create some bottom driven convection.

    Also, wind speeds on Venus are higher than on Earth, up to 700 km/hr in the mid levels. More speed, more turbulence.

    So as long as there is anything that can generate reasonable vertical movements, in an optically thick, adiabatic situation, the Lapse Rate engine keeps running.

  • Heat from the Earth’s interior does not control climate

    Tom Curtis at 07:07 AM on 3 April, 2016

    KR @69, it always stuns me when climate change deniers makes statements such as:

    "All the above is true and accepted by all, but embarrassingly, what has been
    forgotten is that radiation is but one method of transferring energy, the other two
    being conduction and convection, and it is principally using these processes that
    Earth heats its atmosphere."

    (From pjcarsons Chapter 1B, emphasis in original)

    That was a fair criticism of climate science prior to 1964.  In 1964, however, Manabe and Strickland published their landmark paper, Thermal Equilibrium of the Atmosphere with a Convective Adjustment.  We are less than a fortnight from the 52nd anniversary of the acceptance of that paper, and 3 month from the 52nd anniversary of its publication - so to say that climate science has "forgotten is that radiation is but one method of transferring energy" is to forget nearly all the history of climate science.  Manabe and Strickland used a specified, convection induced lapse rate, but certainly by 1981 models were determining the lapse rate by analyzing the combined radiative and convective energy flux.  Modern models also include latent heat, and have for decades.  All of that science is just scrubbed from the record for deniers, at best, because they are two lazy to read the actual science.

    From the earliest such analysis it was shown that the effect of convection was to cool the atmosphere relative to the temperature it would have been with radiative heat transfers alone:


    Thus while convection dominates in determing the thermal structure of the lower atmosphere (troposphere), it is untrue to say that "conduction and convection" are the principle means of heating the atmosphere.  

    PJCarson goes on to say:

    "Radiation does transfer energy by far the quickest – equilibrium is achieved in tiny fractions of a second – compared to convection and conduction which vary considerably depending on the circumstances. "

    Contrary to pjcarsons supposition convective equilibrium is achieved much more rapidly (within hours) than radiative equilibrium, which as can be seen above takes almost a year to achieve equilibrium.  That is why convection dominates the troposphere's thermal structure. 

    Of course, fundamentally, the greenhouse effect does not depend on how the thermal gradient in the atmosphere is established, only that it exist.

    In the end, that pjcarson and his like get the minor details wrong is immaterial.  The fundamental claim is what is extraordinary.  It is comparable to criticizing Newton's theory of gravity for not taking into account the inverse square law.

  • Oceans are cooling

    Cedders at 18:09 PM on 11 March, 2016

    A more recent sceptical argument is that, while the ocean appears to show the energy imbalance, the rate of warming is negligible.  See for instance which alleges that the error from network of buoys is greater than thought (I didn't find that line convincing, but the temp graphs get recylced). 

    Judith Curry writes "with the 2nd law of thermodynamics, it is not easy to get much of that heat back to surface... since the 1960s, the warming of that layer [0-2000m] was 0.06 °C... can anyone figure out why 0.06C is a big deal for the climate". 

    Cheng, Zhu and Abraham find warming of 0.0061 °C/yr in 0-700m, close to models, but one naive question might be why this is less than half the rate of surface warming, and less than 1 °C in a century.  Does this slowness mean the oceans will moderate or delay the surface warming more than thought?  Is there a simple model to explain this?  I wonder if this deserves its own article. 

  • Earth is warming 50x faster than when it comes out of an ice age

    noa at 22:50 PM on 29 February, 2016

    He might be refering to this graph from AVISO Data. If you look only at the data from Jason-2 you get a SLR rate of 4.31 mm/yr. Of course this is a very short time span, so I do not thin it has any significance as of yet.

  • Joseph E. Postma and the Greenhouse Effect

    Tom Curtis at 16:17 PM on 3 February, 2016

    JPostma @148 (2nd point):

    In the PDF you show the following diagram, commenting:

    "A 5-layer de Saussure IPCC greenhouse device would result in a back-surface energy flux of 6,000 W/m2, which is 5700K or 2970C or 5660F via the Stefan-Boltzmann Law. This seems to be a very practically useful result as it indicates that a primary radiant heating source (1000 W/m2 of solar energy in this case) can be concentrated or amplified to temperatures far warmer than the equivalent temperature of the primary initial radiant heat source itself. Indeed, in theory it would work better than even a magnifying glass or focusing mirror and would not be limited by the effective temperature of the source spectrum since there is no limitation in these mechanics on the thermal properties of the primary heat source. The device de Saussure used was said to have multiple panes of glass, and so the effect predicted by the modern IPCC greenhouse effect should have been readily apparent."

    What is obvious from this is that you completely fail to recognize that no glass has perfect transmittance of visible light, and thatn no box is perfectly insulated.  You are like some creationist pseudoscientist criticizing Newton's three laws of motions as false because (as it happens) in the real world there is friction, air resistance and uneven forces, all of which lead to divergence between experimental and predicted results in the simple models that ignore those complications.

    How much of a problem these factors can actually be is seen by looking at the transmitance of modern, 1/4 inch clear glass:



    Note that while the diagram shows the example for an angle of incidence of 30 degrees, at 0 degrees (ie, perpendicular to the glass) the transmittance is not appreciably better.

    Using a spreadsheet I modelled a 5 pane de Saussure Hotbox with 2% reflectance and 2% absorption.  The result showed a backplate temperature of 532 K (258oC), with radiances given in the table below:

    Layer SW Down SW Absorbed SW Up SW Up SW Down
    5 980 20 179 801 801
    4 941 19 140 1582 1582
    3 904 18 103 2344 2344
    2 868 17 67 3088 3088
    1 834 17 33 3815 3815
    0 0 801 0 4525 0

    (* Note that for convenience of calculation, I ignored reflected shortwave radiation going upward.  Any inaccuracy of the calculation thereby introduce is more than compensated by the very low values of reflectance and transmittance relative to the actual case.)

    That still ignores heat losses, the two primary sources of which will be heat loss from the backplate zone (as the hottest region of the box) and from the top pane (due to ambient airflow cooling the glass).  Introducing just a 50 W/m^2 heat loss for just the second factor drops the backplate temperature to 423 K (150oC), with radiances as follows:

    Level SW Down SW Absorbed SW Up SW Up SW Down
    5 980 20 179 350 350
    4 941 19 140 681 681
    3 904 18 103 993 993
    2 868 17 67 1287 1287
    1 834 17 33 1563 1563
    0 0 801 0 1823 0

    Note carefully that these results were obtained with reflectances just 29% of, and absorptions just 12% of the actual case with commercial glass.  Further, the glass available in 1767 to de Saussure and in 1830 to Herschell would have been much worse than even standard glass available today.

    From this analysis it is obvious that adding additonal panes of glass will suffer from a severe case of diminishing returns.  With commercial grade glass, it is likely that only the first two or three panels will appreciably improve performance.

    It also begs the question as to what sort of "scientist" attempts analysis of experimental results by treating them as ideal cases when there are very well known inefficiencies in the actual processes?  IMO only pseudoscientists are so intellectually vacuous.

    If you are at all honest, you will redo your analyses including transmittance, reflectance and absorption figures for modern glass, and including reasonable estimates of heat loss other than by radiance.  Alternatively you will admit your entire analysis has been specious from the get-go.

  • It hasn't warmed since 1998

    Tom Curtis at 00:32 AM on 18 December, 2015

    MarDivPhoto @376 objects to the description "denialist".  For the record, he introduced it twice before it was used by anybody else, and the single person that used it did not apply it to him.   It appears that his condition for staying for the debate he started is that we not only not call him a "denier" or "denialist", but that we pretend that nowhere in the blogosphere are there people suitably so called - not even in the 2nd law of thermodynamics thread.  If somebody cannot even admit that a common sort of behaviour can occur, it means, rather straightforwardly that they are in denial.  In this case it is not hard to see why.  As shown by me @378, 380 and 344 above, and by other commentors, MDP's arguments are radically disconnected from science.  Indeed, they are disconnected in such a way that the label "denier" seems well deserved as applied to them in particular.  It is no wonder then, that he launched his gish gallop then scurried away with his tail between his legs.  He must know in his heart he has no hope of defending his absurd claims.  

  • Scientists warned the US president about global warming 50 years ago today

    ingersol at 05:19 AM on 8 November, 2015

    I have been having fun with overlaying Broecker's grah on the instumental record.  I stripped everything but the meteoological record and the combined projection from Broecker.  I found a combined instrumental record graph.   Calibrated the axes and used Broecker's meteorological record for verticle alignment.  I get a different result from Dana's creation with Broecker being closer to the brink than he realized.  See what you think.

  • CO2 lags temperature

    tatelyle at 19:00 PM on 6 October, 2015

    >>Can you please reference your "obvious answer"?

    Seriously? Are we not allowed to think for ourselves?
    Can you see a flaw in my logic or argument?



    >> Hansen & Sato 2012 by contrast calculate albedo
    >>and GHG forcings to be approximately equal.

    Yes, but Hansen has made a very basic error in this paper, that should have been picked up in peer review. Why was it not?

    Hansen claims an equivalence between albedo feedback and sea level, and this is the basis for his albedo feedback calculation. So Hansen has smeared the albedo feedbacks out across the whole globe, much as Tom tried to do in post 489. But as I demonstrated in posts 490 and 493, the Interglacial initiation or trigger is SOLELY a function of increased northern hemisphere (NH) Milankovitch insolation, and so the feedbacks that assist this initiation are likely to be NH feedbacks as well. The southern hemisphere (SH) has nothing to do with the Interglacial warming process, as the Ice Age record in post 479 clearly demonstrates. Increased insolation in the SH never triggers an Interglacial, only the NH can do that.

    So Hansen's smearing of albedo feedbacks across the entire globe is incorrect, and we can therefore double his 'insolation equivalent' calculation from the outset. So Hansen's 4 wm2 figure for albedo feedbacks suddenly becomes 8 wm2. But as I pointed out previously, the albedo trigger effect is mainly a local ice sheet condition in the higher latitudes, rather than a hemispherical response, mainly caused by surface dust and dirt, so there is no point adding the entire NH into this initial calculation. Ambient temperature is not the key to ice-sheet melting, direct insolation onto the ice sheet is, as was patently obvious on the Himalayan glaciers. But if that is so, then we can restrict the albedo feedback to the ice sheets themselves, and therefore multiply the albedo forcing-feedback by 5 (the area above 55º N). And this results in a true albedo feedback-forcing of 40 wm2 (about half the Milankovitch forcing value, over the complete Interglacial warming). Which is exactly what I said in post 491, but we have approached this new calculation from a different direction - Hansen's erroneous paper.



    >>Furthermore it is not obvious how albedo
    >>can create a NH-SH teleconnection

    Because of the hemispherical heat transport process, as in the following (simplistic) diagram, with tropical heat being exported to the poles. NH ice sheet melting will cause a large net increase in net energy absorption, not only on the NH ice sheet itself but also at the retreating margins. Each annual km of ice retreat at the terminus (that is about the rate of ice retreat), will have its albedo changed from about 60% to about 30% with sandy soils, and then to about 15% as plants reestablish themselves. I make that a 4 x 10(12) watts increase in absorption at 50ºN, each year. That is a large increase in the whole-earth energy radiation budget, that will be transported to the SH pole as easily as to the NH pole.

    And once the world has begun to warm, there may then be some minor assistance to the process from CO2 and CH4. Correct me if I am wrong but my back of a fag-packet calculation for a 5,000 year ice retreat gives 4 x 10(12) w increase for albedo changes at 50ºN, annually, while CO2 influences averaged over 5,000 years are only 4 x 10(11) w. So CO2 on its own, without CH4 or H2O, is order of magnitude less in influence.



  • Models are unreliable

    Tom Curtis at 09:30 AM on 30 May, 2015

    Postkey @931, you should always cleary indicate when words are not yours by the use of quotation marks.  In particular, it is very bad form to quote a block of text from somebody else (as you did from point 1 onwards) without indicating it comes from somebody else, and providing the source in a convenient manner (such as a link).  For everybody else, from point 1 onwards, PostKey is quoting Alec M from the discussion he previously linked to.

    With regard to Alec M's alegations, although Carl Sagan did a lot of work on Venus' climate, Mars' climate, the climate of the early Earth, and the potential effect of volcanism and nuclear weapons on Earth's climate, he did not publish significantly on the greenhouse effect on Earth.  The fundamental theory of the greenhouse effect as currently understood was worked out by Manabe and Strickler in 1964.  As can be seen in Fig 1 of Manabe and Strickler, they clearly distinguish between lapse rates induced by radiation, and those induced by gravity (that being the point of the paper) - a fundamental feature of all climate models since.  So Alec M's "mistake 3" is pure bunk.  By claiming it as a mistake he demonstrates either complete dishonesty or complete ignorance of the history of climate physics.

    With regard to "mistake 2", one of the features of climate models is that introducing a difussing element, such as SO2 or clouds, will cool the region below the element and increase it above it.  The increase in temperature above the diffusive layer would be impossible if the clouds were treated as forward scattering only.  So again, Alex M is revealed as a liar or completely uninformed.

    The surface excitance (aka black body radiation) was and is measured in the real world with instruments that are very substantially warmer than absolute zero.  Initially it was measured as the radiation emitted from cavities with instruments that were at or near room temperature.  As it was measured with such warm instruments, and the fundamental formula's worked out from such measurements, it is patently false that the surface excitance is "potential energy flux in a vacuum to a radiation sink at 0 deg K".  Indeed, the only thing a radiation sink of 0 deg K would introduce would be a complete absence of external radiation, so that the net radiation equals the surface excitance.  As climate models account for downwelling radiation at the surface in addition to upwelling radiation, no mistake is being made and Alex M is again revealed as a fraud.

    With regard to his fourth point, I do not know enough to comment in detail.  Given that, however, the name gives it away.  A parametrization is a formula used as an approximation of real physical processes which are too small for the resolution of the model.  As such it may lump together a number of physical processes, and no assumption is made that it is not.  Parametrizations are examined in great detail for accuracy in the scientific literature.  So, neither Sagan nor any other climate scientist will have made the mistake of assuming a parametrization is a real physical process.  More importantly, unlike Alex M's unreferenced, unexplained claim, the parametrization he rejects has a long history of theoretical and emperical justification.

    Alex M claims "My PhD was in Applied Physics and I was top of year in a World Top 10 Institution."  If he had done any PhD not simply purchased on the internet, he would know scientists are expected to back their claims with published research.  He would also know they are expected to properly cite the opinions of those they attempt to use as authorities, or to rebut.  His chosen method of "publishing" in comments at the telegraph without any citations, links or other means to support his claims shows his opinions are based on rejecting scientific standards.  They are in fact a tacit acknowledgement that if his opinions were examined with the same scientific rigour Sagan examined his with, they would fail the test.  Knowing he will be unable to convince scientists, he instead attempts to convince the scientifically uninformed.  His only use of science in so doing is to use obscure scientific terms to give credence to his unsupported claims.  Until such time as he both shows the computer code from GCM's which purportedly make the mistakes he claims, and further shows the empirical evidence that it is a mistake the proper response to such clowns is laughter.

  • Models are unreliable

    PhilippeChantreau at 23:27 PM on 29 May, 2015

    Postkey, how shallI say this? The quote you gave is a pile of idiotic nonsense. The radiative physics of the greenhouse effect do not violate the laws of thermodynamics. They predict how much infra red radiation must reach the surface, and that can be measured. It has been measured and is the subject of numerous science papers. It is measured in real time at a variety of locations. It has been measured in the Arctic during the winter, which precludes any other IR source than the atmosphere. The person you quote may not be an egineer, because they normally know better. Saying one "comes from engineering" is rather vague. 

    There is no perpetual motion machine in the atmosphere, those who try to argue such idiocy do not understand the physics. SkS has entire threads about the subject. Search the site.

    The conspiracy theory mentioning Sagan's name is complete bullocks, as he never had anything to do with the climate part of NASA. Without being more specific, it is not possible to answer about Sagan's alleged "mistakes." Considering how incompetent that telegraph person seems to be, the "mistakes"  accusations are likely based on incomprehension of physics. I would caution you that trying to engage someone like this will likely be a complete waste of time. You can see indications of that through the 2nd law thread on SkS.

  • New measurements confirm extra heating from our carbon dioxide

    KR at 01:56 AM on 24 March, 2015

    Yep. The denialati were yelping about this paper last month (archived link). With the usual nonsense references to Salby, volcanos, "it's the sun", 2nd law of thermodynamics, etc...

  • NASA climate study warns of unprecedented North American drought

    One Planet Only Forever at 07:00 AM on 17 February, 2015

    A few things:

    1. In the 2nd para, the 2nd and 3rd sentences should start with "It increases ...".

    2. In addition to the current drought in California, the rate of removal of water from the California aquifers to grow all those vegetables they provide to the market, amog other things, has exceeded the rate that the aquifers were replenished in non-drought years.

    3. "Business-as-usual" should be changed to "Business as the made-up global trade arrangements have inappropriately directed development through the past 30 years." That description avoids the misrepresentation that the way things currently are is somehow justified. There is nothing "usual" about the actions promoted and developed through the past 30 years. The past 30 years have been a grand experiment to enrich a few to the detriment of others, especially to the detriment of the future of humanity (Global GDP has grown far faster than the global population yet large numbers of tragically viciously miserably poor people still live brutal short lives). The fatal flaws in the made-up world trade arrangements encourage, prolong and defend unsustainable and damaging activities that enrich and empower the most callous among the population. "Clearly Unacceptable Global Business Activity" would be another way to define what is currently going on that needs to change.

  • 2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory

    Tom Curtis at 08:32 AM on 18 August, 2014

    DSL, I don't know about burrying it, but a strong case for locking this thread can be made, and would be supported by every SkS commentator.  Notifications of any errors in future edits could be made by email, and if somebody realy thinks they have a strong case for violation of the 2nd law, they can email a copy of a blog post as well, which can be published with or without reply should they be able to convince an "editor" and "two referrees" from the SkS team that that should be worthwhile.

    Surely everything that is worth saying on this thread has already been said repeatedly.

  • 2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory

    Tom Curtis at 08:28 AM on 18 August, 2014

    MattJ @1468-70:

    1)  We have established that Clausius' first statement of the 2nd Law, as translated into English was:

    "[The] general deportment of heat [is that it] everywhere exhibits the tendency to annul differences of temperature, and therefore to pass from a warmer body to a cold one."

    That was glossed by Clausius as:

     "Heat cannot of itself pass from a colder to a warmer body"

    The original purported quotation sourced from wikipedia and appearing in the OP is:

    "Heat generally cannot flow spontaneously from a material at lower temperature to a material at higher temperature."

    It mashes the two together, taking glossing "general deportment of heat"  from the body of the text as generally, and glossing "of itself" in the footnote as "spontaneiously".  Both glosses are transparently reasonable, ie, they fairly present the information content of the phrases they gloss.  Presented as a summary of Clausius' first statement of the principle (rather than a direct quotation), it is therefore wholly unobjectionable.  If you have a problem with the use of the word "generally", take it up with Clausius.

    2)  As already noted, I would prefer the use of either of the two more considered forms of Clausius statement, and as direct quotations.  The word "generally" does not appear in either, so that should satisfy you.

    3)  As shown in my post @1444, the heat transfer processes between surface and atmosphere are not changed by the absence or presence of sunlight in the short term.  Therefore they do not involve one of the changes which are irreversible except by supplying the heat deficit from warm to cold of which Clausius was talking about in the footnotes.

    It is compensated by the direct flow of a greater quantity of heat from the warmer surface to the cooler atmosphere.  That is the other case of "compensation" that Clausius discusses and does not involve the Sun in any way except in replenishing the heat thus lost by the surface.  Discussing the Sun as compensating the supposed reverse flow of heat merely confuses the issue for not such net reverse flow occurs, and hence no such compensatory role is called for.  (As stated initially, this case is quite different to that of refrigerators, where a compensatory change in pressure of the coolant is required.)

  • 2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory

    Tom Curtis at 01:20 AM on 17 August, 2014

    Dikran @1465, following up I have found the major revision of the wikipedia page on thermodynamics which eliminated the form of the statement quoted in the OP above, and replaced it with another version, which has since in turn been replaced.  The original replacement took place on Oct 11th, 2010, with prior versions of the article having the quote in the OP.  Evidently, therefore, the OP took its quote from the wikipedia page to which it linked.  If it is a misquote, it is then entirely inadvertent as regards SkS.  The original version on wikipedia may also explain the frequent occurence of that version on the web.

    With regards to books, google books shows just five books containing that version of the quote.  Of those, it shows the relevant contents of just three recent (2011 to 2013) textbooks, the former on "The Energy Problem", and the seond on thermodynamics, and the third being Farmer and Cook (2013).  The earlier books are one from 2010 by Lawrence Soloman discussing "The Deniers", and one from 1992 by Richard Lindzen.  Unfortunately without the text it is not possible to determine whether Lindzen attributes the version of the 2nd Law to Clausius, or whether he presents it as a quote.

    Of the five, the most interesting is Stein and Powers (2011), which attributes the quote to "Rudolf Clausius' paper in 1850" (p27).  In fact Clausius' talk to the Academy of Berlin in 150 was published in two parts in Pogendorff's Annalen, the first starting on page 368, and the second on page 500.  These were translated in 1851, and included as the first memoir in the first edition of the "Mechanical Theory of Heat".

    The closest formulation I can find in Clausius 1850 occurs on page 45 of the English first edition of "Mechanical Theory", and page 503 in the Annalen.  In English it reads:

    "Hence by repeating both alternating processes, without expenditure of force or other alteration whatever, any quantity of heat might be transmitted from a cold body to a warm one; and this contradicts the general deportment of heat, which everywhere exhibits the tendency to annul differences of temperature, and therefore to pass from a warmer body to a cold one."

    The relevant principle is, of course, stated in the second part of the sentence.  While the quote given in the OP is a good, if abbreviate, paraphrase of that sentence, it is also clearly not direct quotation.  Interestingly, in the "Mechanical Theory" a footnote dates 1864 again glosses the principle stated in the body of the text as "... heat cannot of itself pass from a colder to a warmer body".  That, or the alternative formulation, ie, that "A passage of heat from a colder to a hotter body cannot take place without compensation" have the strongest claim to represent Clausius' true formulation of the 2nd law (ie, the one he was happiest with on reflection).

    Moving on: With misquotation, as with plagiarism, academic misconduct can exist in the absence of intent.   That is why there are fairly strict academic rules about methods of quotation, which are always relaxed outside of strict academic contexts (and apparently always in the physical sciences).  The strict rules are there to prevent inadvertent misquotation.  One of those rules is that when you quote somebody indirectly by quoting somebody else quoting them you clearly indicate that so that any error can be attributed to the source that made the error.  If you do not so attribute, you are considered as guilty of any error as if you yourself had made it.

    In this case, however, clearly SkS misquoted here inadvertently by copying somebody elses "error".  Further, they linked to their source and in a way that made it transperent that it was their source.  At least, it made it transperent until the text of wikipedia was edited.   Consequently no fault lies with the authors of the OP.  Of course, that does not mean the text should not be updated with a correct quotation of an original source (or possibly rewritten in light of the other interesting material uncovered by this excercise.

  • 2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory

    Tom Curtis at 14:39 PM on 16 August, 2014

    Dikran @1461, thankyou.  In the second edition, Clausius attributes the formulation of the footnote in the first edition to himself (p78), and repeats much of the explanation from that footnote.  In particular, he mentions the passage of heat from the colder to the hotter body, which is not prohibited, provided that a greater amount of heat flows in the opposite direction.  His wording is:

    "It is true that by such a process (as we have seen by going through the original cycle in the reverse direction) heat may be carried over from colder into a hotter body:  our principle however declares that simultaneiously with this passage of heat from a colder to a hotter body there must either take place an opposite passage of heat from a hotter to a colder body, or else some change or other which has the special property that it is not reversible , except under the condition that it occasions, whether directly or indirectly, such an opposite passage of heat."

    He concludes by formulating the 2nd law as:

    "A passage of heat from a colder to a hotter body cannot take place without compensation."

    That means in editing the OP to correct the misquotation, the author may use the above formulation, or that from the footnote which is now acknowledged by Clausius as his own.  They need only include a link to the source either instead of or in addition to the link to wikipedia. 

    I need only add that the formulation given in the OP is certainly a good paraphrase of the last formulation quoted from Clausius.  Therefore there is nothing wrong with it except for the point that paraphrases should not be presented as quotations.

  • 2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory

    Tom Curtis at 13:57 PM on 16 August, 2014

    Dikran @1453, while I still disagree that it is a cause of confusion, I do have to agree with Matt that the form of the 2nd law given in the article is not a quotation of Clausius, and is portrayed as such.  If it was a paraphrase, it should not have been enclosed in inverted commas and should not have been indented (but may be higlighted in italics).  By including quotation marks and indentation, the OP (whether intentional or not) has marked the statement as a quotation of Clausius, or (as it is in English) a fairly literal translation of Clausius.  Further, if it is intended as a translation, it should be identical to the translation of the apparent source given for the quote, ie, the wikipedia article linked in the sentence introducing the quote.

    As it happens, I have found a reproduction of the original Clausius article in german.  From that it can be clearly seen that footnote was not included in that article, and hence it cannot be attributed to Clausius.  On the other hand, Clausius did read and approve the proofs (footnote on page vii of the English translation).  Therefore Clausius not only endorsed the translation of the principle given in that book, and quoted by wikipedia, but he also endorsed the explanation of the second law as given in that footnote.  (He may even have written it, but we do not have proof of that and hence cannot attribute it to him.)

    Turning to the actual words of Clausius,they were:

    "es kann nie Wärme aus einem kälteren in einem wämeren Körper übergehen, wenn nicht gleichzeitig eine ander damit zussamenhängende Aenderung eintritt."

    Google translate renders that as:

    "it can never pass heat from a colder to a wämeren body, if not at the same time one other so zussamenhängende change occurs"

    From that it appears that the rendition from the English version, and as given by wikipedia is fairly literal:

    "Heat can never pass from a colder to a warmer body without some other change, connected therewith, occurring at the same time."

    Given that, and the implied endorsement of the translation mentioned above, I think it is unreasonable to not take them as his words.  The "quotation" in the original post, however, cannot be taken as anything but a loose paraphrase of those words, or a paraphrase of the English gloss from the footnote (which being originally published in English, requires no translation).

    Given all this, the OP should be editted either to include the form of Clausius words as given in the English translation as quoted in wikipedia, or the text should be modified to indicate the law as actually given is a paraphrase, or the author's own phrasing of the law.

    I do not consider this a minor matter as misquotation is academic misconduct, and therefore something SkS should never do except by accident, and in the later case the error should be corrected as soon as possible.

  • 2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory

    Phil at 07:56 AM on 16 August, 2014

    MattJ @1450

    If, as you say, he had only used the word 'spontaneously', you would be correct. But he also put in the word 'generally', making it useless as a physical law.

    Unfortunately the word "generally" is there to cover Spontaneous endothermic reactions, These are reactions driven by a large increase in entropy, which can overcome a loss of enthalpy (and hence heat), and ensure that the change in Gibb free energy is still negative. This, of course, is to modify Clausius's words to cover the modern understanding of the second law of thermodynamics, which is only rigourously expressed mathematically (as Tom did @1441).

    Thus Clausius's formulation of the 2nd law is actually incomplete as we now understand it. The author of the OP could either quote him directly and expose himself to the criticism that it was incomplete, or add the word "generally" to deal (albeit rather vaguely) with our current understanding.

    I would also point out that you are (now) misrepresenting post 955, which does not object to the word "generally".

  • 2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory

    MattJ at 06:13 AM on 16 August, 2014

    Re #1444

    Thanks, Tom, for your long and thoughtful reply. You did clarify several points well. But that integral is hard to do for a climate system, isn't it? That is why I am groping for a simpler way to explain it. Using a completely different form of the 2nd law and observing entropy increasing in each step of the process still seems the best way to go rather than take the article's approach.

    Then to the skeptic who still object, "but you have heat going from cooler to hotter", we can say, "but entropy did increase, so there is no violation".

    The problem with this approach is that it requires explaining to the layman what entropy is and how to track it and estimate it. Then there is still the problem that the idea that the second law says only and exactly "heat never travels from colder to hotter" is quite entrenched in the minds of many. I have encountered many, for example, who seem to have engineering thermodynamics backgrounds who still have this entrenched.

  • 2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory

    Dikran Marsupial at 05:38 AM on 16 August, 2014

    MattJ wrote "At no time did I say the 2nd Law is actually violated. ", no, but you were claiming that there must be "some other change" that prevents the violation.  This is not the case, as the translation of Clausius' text book explains very clearly (the interchange is "compensated").  That was the point I was getting to with the thought example that you consistently avoided engaging with.

  • 2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory

    MattJ at 05:32 AM on 16 August, 2014

    #1436 "MattJ is saying that photons do really pass from B to A but in so doing the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is violated and this phenomenon thus requires explanation."

    This is what I find distressing about SkS: many people here get on their high horses in defense of science — yet show they cannot even read well enough to do it. At no time did I say the 2nd Law is actually violated. On the contrary: I explained many times that I see only an appearance of violation, and that I know from the derivation of Kirchoff's and Stefan-Boltzmann radiation laws that it is not violated.

    Why, I repeated this so many times that a moderator accused me of "excessive repetition". But what else am I to do with responses that either misread what I wrote or ignore what I already said?

  • 2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory

    Phil at 19:21 PM on 15 August, 2014


    Finally, concerning Phil's point. Yes, it was mentioned, but only later, and the author did not even seem to notice that he was contradicting himself,

    I'm sorry, but I cannot understand this point;  the OP correctly formulates the 2nd Law using the word "spontaneously" to indicate that exceptions to the flow of heat require "work". It does so in the 3rd paragraph, not "only later". I would suggest that you actually re-read the OP.

    I would re-iterate the my point,  that you seem to be having great trouble distinguished heat from energy flows. Dikran tried to help you with this, but you refused to let him, Tom is having another attempt; but fundamentally your remarks show that you know less about the physics of the greenhouse effect than you think you do.

  • 2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory

    Tom Curtis at 15:32 PM on 15 August, 2014

    MattJ @1443, the formula for the Clausius inequality is:


    That only applies to cyclical processes, and is integrated over the cycle.  You will notice the variant integration symbol used to indicate that fact.


    The formula, ΔS ≥ ∫δQ/T, which I gave above is for any closed system, and uses a conventional integration.  That is, it sums over all energy transfers in the region under consideration, and for the time under consideration.

    The Fasullo and Trenberth diagram provides us with total average energy flows per unit time.  From that we can integrate over area and time if we want to, but the result will be the same as simply summing over the power flows in showing that the 2nd law is not violated by the exchange of energy between surface and atmosphere.

    Importantly for this discussion, this is shown without bringing in extraneous factors like the energy input from the Sun, or the energy outflow to space.  In fact, we can model a genuinely closed surface/atmosphere system and the principles involved in the energy exchanges will be the same.  The actual values integrated will not be, for the energy flows will change over time as the surface and atmosphere equalize in temperature.  Such a process would involve every means of energy exchange that actually exists in the atmosphere, including back radiation, and would result in a net increase in entropy.  Further, the surface would cool over time while the atmosphere warms over time.  It follows that back radiation does not violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics, and that neither does it warm the surface.

    We can extend this model by opening it to space, and compare to situations, ie, one with an atmosphere containing greenhouse gases, and one without.  If we do so we can show that the surface in the case with the atmosphere will cool slower than the surface without an atmosphere.  However, it will still cool so there will be no question of any violation of the 2nd law of thermodynamics or the atmosphere warming the surface.

    Finally, we can add in the Sun and find an equilibrium situation.  In that case, the surface equilibrium will be warmer with the atmosphere than without.  That, however, is because the slower rate of cooling for a given surface temperature with an atmosphere requires a warmer surface temperature for the outgoing radiation to match in energy the incoming energy from the Sun.  Thus, in this case, it is true to say that the surface is warmer than it would have been without the greenhouse gases, but it is the Sun that warms the surface, not atmosphere.  

    We might say colloquially that the greenhouse gases warmed the surface, just as we might say colloquially that a blanket warms us at night.  In both cases, however, it is strictly inaccurate.  A blanket will not "warm" a cold stone, and greenhouse gases will not "warm" in the absense of the incoming solar radiation because they do not warm at all, they merely slow the loss of heat.

    You comment:

    "But more important: when you say, "the cold atmosphere does not warm the warmer ocean" what do you think happens to the IR photons from CO2 high in the cold stratosphere when they meet the surface of the earth or of the ocean?"

    No.  I do not mistake the net flow of heat with the individual flows of energy.  Nor am I unaware that in the superior formulation of statistical thermdynamics the 2nd law holds only on average, and that the shorter the time interval the higher the probability that it is violated for that short term.  Thus, there are IR photons from the atmosphere that strike the ocean and transfer energy, but there are more IR photons from the ocean that do the reverse so that the the net heat flow is from ocean to atmosphere (and hence it is the ocean warming the atmosphere rather than the reverse).


    "[The] increasing wavelength of each of these stages of radiative transfer each shows an increase in entropy, so that entropy is non-decreasing, as the second law requires. It is even still non-decreasing in the case of cold stratosphereic CO2 adding heat energy to the thin but warmer surface layer on the ocean."

    The wavelength of IR radiation exchanged between atmosphere and surface is approximately the same for any specific atmospheric component, but the difference in wavelength between incoming SW radiation and outgoing IR radiation does indeed show the process to involve an increase in entropy, and to not violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics.


  • 2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory

    Robert Murphy at 11:03 AM on 15 August, 2014

    That is, sure, once one understands that backwave radiation occurs resulting in IR being absorbed and turned into heat, yes, the hottest point is the sun itself, and all the other surfaces heat moves to are colder than that.

    And there's your answer as to why the greenhouse effect doesn't violate the 2nd Law, Matt.  You have to include the Sun's continuing contribution of energy.  If you don't everything else seems to violate the 2nd Law. 

  • 2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory

    Tom Curtis at 10:15 AM on 15 August, 2014

    MattJ @1440:

    "Let me try to put that another way: sure in the overall system, all the heat comes from the sun with the heat/temperature of the earth depending on both how quickly heat comes in and how quickly it goes out, so that slowing the rate of outflow raises the temperature. But to explain how this happens involves explaining how the hotter ocean surface can be heated by the cooler atmosphere, an apparent violation of the Second Law: this article 'explains' it only be getting the Second Law wrong, so that it really hasn't explained anything relevant."

    But the cold atmosphere does not warm the warmer ocean, and nor is their any apparent violation of the second law.  The second law, stated mathematically is that for a closed system:

    ΔS ≥ ∫δQ/T

    where S is the entropy, δQ is the incremental transfer of heat, and T is the temperature.

    Therefore to determine the entropy change we need to integrate over all incremental heat transfers.  In the case of the relationship between atmosphere and surface under the greenhouse effect, we need to integrate over all energy transfers between atmosphere and surface.  From the Fasullo and Trenberth, we have this summary of those transfers:

    Summing over all such transfers, we find that 356+80+17 =  453 W/M^2 is transfered from the surface to the atmosphere, while only 333 W/m^2 is transfered trom the atmosphere to the surface.  Integrated over all energy transfers from between surface and atmosphere, that is a net transfer of +120 W/m^2 from the warmer surface to the cooler atmosphere.  That transfer involves in increase in entropy proportional to the inverse of the reduction of temperature involved, ie, proportional ratio of surface to atmospheric temperatures.

    There is only an "appearance" of a violation of the 2nd law because people insist on considering the back radiation in complete isolation, ie, not as part of a system of transfers including those from the surface to the atmosphere.  If you intergrate all such transfers, as is required by the 2nd law, there is transparently no violation of the 2nd law involved.

  • 2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory

    Phil at 06:18 AM on 15 August, 2014

    MattJ's original request:

    Far better would be to use Clausius's own translation of his statement of the law: "Heat can never pass from a colder to a warmer body without some other change, connected therewith, occurring at the same time."

    is adequetly met by the word "spontaneously" in the OP version.


    but I would like to believe that a lot of the thrashing in the discussions attached to it could have been avoided if Skeptical Science would edit the article to make the correction

    In this I think you are naive; G&T's misformulation was too attractive for climate change deniers to resist, and they have continued to try and make it stick no matter how the 2nd Law was formulated.

    My own observation on the ensuing exchanges is that MattJ appears terribly confused about the distinction between energy and heat transfer; he should get that straight first.

  • 2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory

    MA Rodger at 05:11 AM on 15 August, 2014

    Dikran Marsupial @1434.


    You might find the comment @1435 a bit odd as you are, I think, confused by the comment @1433. The implication you make from the beginning of the final paragraph is contrary to the less ambiguous statements later in that paragraph. "...I already made it clear that I do undestand that the energy transfer you refer to is real. But simply acknowledging that it takes place does not address the issue: how can it take place without violating the Second Law?"
    MattJ is saying that photons do really pass from B to A but in so doing the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is violated and this phenomenon thus requires explanation.

    Goodness!! It appears the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is breached!!!

  • 2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory

    MattJ at 17:44 PM on 14 August, 2014


    No, I am not missing that point. I am addressing the point you implicitly get wrong when you say (in #1428) that "the second law of thermodynamics holds whether there is 'some other change' or not".

    The clause "whether there is 'some other change' or not" is invalid. The Second Law holds, period. But the Second Law does not say that heat, whether 'net' or not (it does not make the distinction) can never flow from colder to hotter.

    It does no good to quote the Second Law incorrectly, and then say, "it does not contravene the second law of thermodynamics". As long as you allow the "imaginary second law" to maintain a hold on the reader's mind, especially on the 'skeptical' reader, he will still keep coming back to the imaginary form and say, "but, but, heat cannot flow from cooler to hotter", even after you explain to him that you are really talking about "net transfer of heat from the warmer surface to the cooler atmosphere", since you are still requiring radiating CO2 molecules in a -20C stratosphere to heat up an ocean layer that is on average above +20C (these numbers are off the top of my head and approximate, but you get the idea: the source of the radiation is much colder than the warmed sea surface: it is still a violation of the "imaginary second law", but not of the law as Clausius really stated it).

    But if you understand that the second law forbids heat transfer from colder to hotter only as the sole result of a thermodynamic process, then the "imaginary second law" loses its hold, since now the skeptic has to show there is no other result before he can claim "it violates the second law". He can't do that, since the laws of heat radiation invoked to explain backradiation warming of the ocean are derived in accordance with Clausius's statement of the 2nd law.

  • Joseph E. Postma and the Greenhouse Effect

    Tom Curtis at 11:07 AM on 19 July, 2014

    One thing I wanted to draw attention to earlier in the discussion, but never got around to, is that Postma appears to believe in the greenhouse effect.  In his post @33, he writes in response to Composer99:

    ""Several of your other comments suggest you are ignorant of, or unwilling to consider, the Stefan-Boltzmann law, from which the average Earth temperature sans atmospheric greenhouse effect is derived."

    Of course, that law is discussed at length in my papers and has even made its appearance here, in worded form. I am sorry if you missed that. Indeed, it sets the effective temperature of the Earth - but this is not to be thought of as appearing at the ground surface, but somewhere in the middle of the atmosphere."

    (Postma's quote of Composer99 italicized.  Emphasis added.)

    This may not be sufficiently clear, but in his 2nd summary statement in the paper I have been previously quoting, he writes:

    "Even as the climate models show, an increase in cloud height causes an increase in temperature at the surface. This is not due to a backradiation GHE but due to the lapse rate of the atmosphere combined with the average surface of equilibrium being risen further off of the surface."

    In fact, that is the exact mechanism of the greenhouse effect.  Greenhouse gases absorbe IR radiation from the ground, and re-emit it at a higher altitude, thus raising into the atmosphere the level which effectively radiates to space the same energy as is absorbed from the Sun.  That in turn sets the surface temperature, for tropospheric and surface temperatures are coupled by the lapse rate.  I have explained this in more detail (and hopefully greater clarity elsewhere).

    Postma may not accept the greenhouse on this effect, claiming he only admits the effects of clouds as raising the "surface of equilibrium".  If so, his theory is incoherent in that clouds are not sufficient to the task.  Specifically, the equilibrium calculation excludes all energy reflected from the Earth, and so the altitude at which it is reflected has no bearing.

    If he accepts that the IR radiation from greenhouse gases also contributes to setting the "surface of equilibrium", he is in the position of actually accepting the greenhouse effect, but rejecting its consequences (and it by name) because of his misunderstandings of a simplified model used only for teaching.

  • Joseph E. Postma and the Greenhouse Effect

    DSL at 23:45 PM on 18 July, 2014

    The Prescient Photon Theory, much in evidence on the 2nd Law thread.

  • Joseph E. Postma and the Greenhouse Effect

    Tom Curtis at 23:14 PM on 18 July, 2014

    MA Rodger @134, I find in the document that Postma approvingly quotes Doug Cotton's gloss on Claes Johnson's theory to the effect that:

    "The only (one way) heat transfer between, say, two parallel plates at different temperatures, corresponds to the energy in the radiation represented by the area between the two Planck curves. The Planck curve for the warmer body always envelopes that for the cooler body – i.e., the area under the cooler body's Planck curve is a subset of that for the warmer body. So each body radiates all the frequencies represented by the area under the Planck curve for the cooler body. However, the radiation represented by the area under the cooler body's curve, for both bodies, radiated in each direction, merely resonates in each body and is thus scattered. There is no associated heat transfer. This is how and why the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics works for radiation."


    "When a body receives incident radiation it "detects" those frequencies (and corresponding intensities) which it can itself radiate. This portion of the incident radiation (which will be all the radiation from a cooler body, or just some from a warmer body) resonates. The resonating process is the process whereby it can "detect" the temperature of the source. The resonating process amounts to immediate re-radiation of equivalent frequencies and intensities. There is no conversion of energy to thermal energy. We know this because if there were, some of that new thermal energy would temporarily warm the already warmer target (impossible by 2nd LoT) and that thermal energy could then escape by means other than radiation."

    (My emphasis)

    If this is what he believes (and it certainly appears to be), I was being far to generous in my interpretation of his responses to Dikran Marsupial.  This would mean that while he does believe "...any photons emitted by the colder object will carry less energy to the warmer object than the photons emitted by the warm object will carry to the cold object", he also believe the emissions from the warmer body are at least in part coordinated by the arrival of photons from the cooler body, such that the arrival of such a photon results in the immediate emission of a photon having the same energy (and hence frequency).  That is, the absorption and emission are simultaneious.

    Clearly that is a bizarre view, for arrival of photons of the same energy from a warmer body do not generate corresponding simulatenious emissions.  Therefore, this theory means that inanimate matter must know the temperature at time of emission of all bodies from which it receives radiation, including across billions of light years of space.  It also requires that normal thermal emissions be coordinate presciently to take into account the arrival of photons from cooler bodies (but not warmer) to avoid radiating more than the appropriate thermal radiation.  Finally, the full (and only) justification for this bizarre view amounts to the flat denial of statistical thermodynamics.   In the end, the theory is justified only by the willful ignorance of over 100 years of the physics of thermodynamics.

  • Joseph E. Postma and the Greenhouse Effect

    Tom Curtis at 11:57 AM on 17 July, 2014

    JPostma @51 writes in response to my post @50:

    "   "sufficient to emit greater energy at source than is recieve         by incident radiation on the device"

    That violates the first law of thermodynamics, and though I've refrained from engaging in the type of ad-hominem attack continually thrown my way, a statement like this really does expose scientific incompetency and a clutching of straws. I do apologize for having to make that remark, but alas, it couldn't be passed over in kindness, this time. Those preeminent experimentalists did not indeed interpret that their apparatus was magically producing more energy than received, ostensibly finding an exception to the 1st Law of thermodynamics. They would have laughed at that. What they found is that they could get sunlight to induce its maximum temperature on a plane, a temperature which is well above +100C. It is not an unexpected result."

    (Initial quote italicized for clarity.)

    I will concede that my thought was poorly expressed so that it could be misunderstood.  Allow me to clarrify.

    The de Saussure hot box consisted of an insulated box painted black in the interior, above which were mounted two or more glass panels to allow in sunlight but trap heat (both convective or radiant):

    It should be noted that the addition of more than one glass panel in no way improves the traping of heat escape by convection.  One panel is sufficient to stop the mixing of the gasses from inside and outside the box, and hence to stop the convective transfer of heat from inside to outside the box.  It does, however, improve the traping of heat both by radiant transfer and by conduction through the glass.  In doing so, it brings the hotbox model closer to a model of the atmospheric greenhouse effect, in that no energy escapes to space by either conduction or convection.

    Using de Saussure hot boxes, de Saussure measured temperatures as high as 383 K, and John Herschel measured temperatures as high as 388.5 K, in the interior most comparment of the device.  The did so in regions where (due to latitude) peak surface insolation was almost certainly less than 1100 W/m^2, and probably less than 1000 W/m^2.  However, the black body radiation for 383 K radiates 1220 W/m^2, while at 388.5 K it radiates 1291.7 W/m^2.  That is, at the "source" (ie, the interior of the innermost compartment of the device), the energy radiated by black body radiation was at least 100 W/m^2 (9%) greater than the "incident radiation on the device" (ie, the solar energy falling on uppermost panel of glass).

    Postma does not like the result, so he disputes the written record (and in de Saussure's case, publicly demonstrated in London and Paris) of two of the foremost experimental scientists of their day as "anecdotal".  Consequently I refer to a recent test of a single panel hot box (solar cooker) in Jordan:

    The "black coated, fixed" cooker is the one most analogous to a de Saussure hot box.  As can be seen, the average peak temperature over three days measurements achieved in the water in the black kettle within the box was 341.4 K.  The equivalent black body radiation was 770.2 W/m^2.  In contrast, the peak insolation recorded on any day during the experiment was was 717.4 W/m^2, and the insolation at the 14th hour (ie, the time of peak temperature) was just 364.5 W/m^2, less than half of the black body energy of the water.  Without water to act as thermal ballast, the interior temperature of the hot box would have peaked earlier and time, and been greater than that recorded.

    The obvious conclusion is that the interior temperatures in de Saussure hot boxes can easily be high enough that the interior black body emission from the inner most compartment exceeds in energy that of the incident sunlight.  Postma says that this is impossible.  Indeed, it is essential to his claims that this is impossible.  It cannot be explained by the prevention of convection, and nor (given the high thermal conductivity of glass) can it be explained by insulation against conduction through the glass.  That means any explanation of the increased temperature must include a greenhouse effect.

    To illustrate this point, consider two hot box designs:

    The first hot box is sealed by a panel that is transparent to both visible and IR light, but impermiable to air.  Because it is impermiable to air, it prevents any mixing of external with internal air, and hence any escape of heat by convection.  Because it is transparent to IR light, it neither absorbs nor radiates IR light.  Therefore any IR radiation leaving the box must come from the floor of the box, as illustrated in (1) above.

    The second hot box is sealed by a panel that is transparent to visible light, but absorbs IR light perfectly (emissivity = 1 for IR).  Because it absorbs all IR radiation that falls on it, any IR radiaton from the floor of the box is absorbed by it.  Because absorptivity equals emissivity, that means that energy is then reradiated, with half of it going up, and half of it going down, back into the box, as illustrated in (2) above.

    Now enter the laws of thermodynamics.  In particular, in this context the first law states that for any horizontal line drawn through a "box" above (horizontal plane for actual 3 D boxes), the energy going up equals the energy going down.  That is, 1U = 1D, 2u = 2D, 2u = 2d, and 2U = 2D + 2d = 2 x 2D.  (Note: 1U is energy flux U for box 1, etc.  It is not 1 x U.)  

    Further, the second law of thermodynamics states that for each such horizontal line, the entropy of the energy going up will not be less than the entropy of the energy going down.  Entropy, however, is the energy divided by the temperature.  The temperature of the light for black body radiation is just the temperature of the black body that emitted it.  Where it combines the light from two distinct black bodies, the entropy will be the energy weighted average of the entropies of the two black bodies.

    So, let's assume that 1D = 2D equals 1100 W/m^2.  Let us also assume the boxes are cubes with dimensions of 1 meter per side.  Then the temperature of the base of box 1 equals 373.2 K (~100 C), and the entropy of 1U = 1100/373.2 = 2.95 J/K.  In constrast, the black body emitting 1D was the Sun, with a surface temperature of approximately 5,750 K.  Consequently the entropy of 1D is 0.2 J/K, and as required the entropy of all downward energy at a given distance above the bottom of the box is less than the entropy of all upward energy at the same distance.  Indeed, the temperature of the bottom of the box would have to reach 5,750 K for that to not be the case - something it cannot do because of the first law of thermodynamics.

    In the second box, the temperature of the panel is also 373.2 K, and hence the entropy of 2u is 2.95 J/K.  The temperature of the base of box 2, however, rises to 443.8 K (~170 C).  The upward power from that base (2U) equals 2200 W/m^2.  The entropy of that energy is, therefore, 4.96 J/K.  That is comfortably greater than that of both 2D and 2d(=2u), and certainly greater than their combined entropy of 1.57 J/K.  Therefore the 2nd law of thermodynamics cannot forbid a situation such as illustrated in box 2, and the first law requires that the temperature of the floor of the box be 1.19 times greater than the temperature of the panel.

    (Postma, and others of similar belief, appear to confuse themselves by using imprecise statements of the 2nd law, to the effect that no body can be gain heat from a cooler body.  Heat, however, is net energy transfer.  In box 2, the floor of the box (443.8 K) gains heat from the Sun (5,750 K).  It then transfers heat to the panel (373.2 K).  There is energy flow from the panel to the floor, but the energy flow from the floor to the panel, so the net energy flow (heat flow) is from the floor to the panel.  This means that the floor is heated by the Sun, not the panel; but the floor is heated more by the Sun than it would be without the panel.  There are no entropy considerations preventing this unless the floor approaches temperatures near to that of the Sun's surface.)

    The important thing to note, however, is that mere prevention of convection cannot heat the floor more than sufficient to have a black body radiation equal in power to the incident radiation.  Neither can prevention of conduction where radiant heat can escape, as in the examples above, conduction is considered to be zero in both boxes.  Adding conduction can cool the floor temperature, but it cannot increase it in either case.  Therefore floor temperatures greater than the black body temperature for the power of incident solar radiation is proof that a greenhouse effect is in operation.  And just such temperatures have been observed historically by de Saussure and John Herschel, and more recently in testing of solar ovens.

  • Joseph E. Postma and the Greenhouse Effect

    Tom Curtis at 16:34 PM on 16 July, 2014

    JPostma @46:


    "But with less than unit emissivity, of course you can get a higher temperature than the insolation."

    If you mean emissivity across all bands of the spectrum, then no you cannot.  For more interesting, however, is the case were you mean near perfect emissivity in visible light, but very low emissivity for IR radiation.  In that case, yes you can get higher temperatures than insolation - but the principle by which you do so is that of the greenhouse effect.  It turns out that you believe the greenhouse effect after all.  At least, you believe it when the context is sufficiently obscure that people will probably not notice the inconsistency of your view with your main thesis.


    "Still, on a good day, insolation can be much higher than 1000 W/m^2."

    Show me the evidence!

    Remember that to account for the phenomenon, you have to show insolation 20% higher than 1000 W/m^2.  To see how difficult that is, here are the cloud free hourly insolations at Albequque on the summer solistice (ie, when the Sun is closest to overhead at noon):

    Note that the best values are found with 2-axis tracking, ie, with a mechanism that keeps the collector pointed directly at the Sun through the entire day.  Further, note that the Albaquque is at 35 degrees North, which compares to the 34 degrees south of Cape Town where John Herschel made his observations.


    "These results are much too anecdotal and the factors which result in a final temperature equilibrium too unknown..."

    First, written reporst by de Saussure and John Hershel (both eminent experimental scientists of their day) do not count as "anecdotal evidence".  

    Second, as to unknown factors, you are happy to quote botantical greenhouses as evidence despite a far greater number of unknown factors, including a known factor that they maximize glass surface area, and hence cooling by conduction through the glass surface, without any qualms.  Your sudden concern for precission is very one sided.  

    Third, the facts about de Saussure's hot boxs were quoted in direct refutation of your claim that such hot boxes could not increase warmth above that of incident sunlight.  In fact, they can, and demonstrably can.  Regardless of the specific mechanism, your claim is shown to be false.  The true claim is that such mechanisms (and no mechanism) can raise temperatures above the temperature of the energy source, ie, the Sun.  But as nobody claims the greenhouse effect can, or does heat the Earth's surface to a temperature equivalent to that of the Sun's surface, that is irrelevant to the discussion. 


    "As it is, aside from the red-herring of solar concentrators (i.e. magnifying glasses, focusing mirrors, etc), there are no numbers which have been presented which show higher-than-insolation temperatures being acheived by passive means."

     First, solar concentrators are not a red herring.  If you think so, you have misunderstood the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

    Second, observations by two of the preeminent experimental scientists of their time have shown temperatures in solar hot boxes sufficient to emit greater energy at source than is recieve by incident radiation on the device.  That is only possible because that temperature is less than the temperature of the incident photons, and because the energy leaving the device equals the energy entering the device.  But it is possible, and has been observed, regardless of how much you want to ignore the data.

  • Joseph E. Postma and the Greenhouse Effect

    JPostma at 13:20 PM on 16 July, 2014

    "Later, William Herschell designed a de Saussure hotbox that achieved a temperature of 240 Farenheit in South Africa, a temperature generating black body radiation of 1294 W/m^2 of thermal radiation. That is significantly greater than the 1000 W/m^2 solar insolation at ground level (ie, after absorption and scattering as it passes through the atmosphere). (De Saussure's 110 centigrade represents a black body radiation of 1222 W/m^2.)"

    But with less than unit emissivity, of course you can get a higher temperature than the insolation.  Still, on a good day, insolation can be much higher than 1000 W/m^2.   These results are much too anecdotal and the factors which result in a final temperature equilibrium too unknown, such as emissivity, the albedo of the collecting box, what the actual insolation was, etc.  The results as they are are extremely close to simple direct heating with hot-air trapping.


    "Because the individual photons from sunlight come from the Sun's surface, in principle it would be possible to heat a surface to the temperature of the Sun's surface with no violation of the 2nd law. In practise, we can never achieve perfect efficiency and so that is not possible. Never the less, solar concentrators can achieve temperatures in excess of 3,200 centigrade despite being subject to the same thermodynamic limits."

    That is done by concentrating the incoming solar input from a large collecting area and focussing it into a much smaller absorption area.  Nothing to do with the greenhouse effect or backradiation/radiation trapping.


    " the temperature rises to the point at which the incident heat is exactly balanced by the dissipated heat"

    The incident heat is of course given only by the sun.  This is why in those experiments you reference, a higher temperature than the solar input was not actually really observed.

    Indeed, an empirical test should be done on these matters, accounting for all variables.  As it is, aside from the red-herring of solar concentrators (i.e. magnifying glasses, focusing mirrors, etc), there are no numbers which have been presented which show higher-than-insolation temperatures being acheived by passive means.


    "Never-the-less, the known facts for de Saussure's hotboxes show with very high probability that the radiant insulation is the most important factor were multiple panels prevent carrying heat of by conduction through a single glass panel."

    Indeed, the glass lids prevent the convection of hot air and replacement of cool air from elsewhere.

  • Joseph E. Postma and the Greenhouse Effect

    Tom Curtis at 12:04 PM on 16 July, 2014

    JPostma @40, the botanist's greenhouse is not the "original greenhouse" to which analogy was made with regard to the greenhouse effect.  Rather, in the very first postulation of a greenhouse effect, by Jean-Baptiste Fourier in 1827, an analogy was drawn with Horace Bénédicte de Saussure's hotboxes:

    "It is difficult to know just to what extent the atmosphere affects the mean temperature of the globe, and here the guidance of rigorous mathematical theory ceases. One is indebted to the celebrated explorer M. de Saussure for an experiment which appears to be well suited to clarifying this question. The experiment consists of exposing a vessel covered by one or more sheets of highly
    transparent glass (placed at some distance from each other) to the rays of the Sun. The interior of the vessel is covered with an thick layer of blackened cork, suited to absorb and retain the heat. The heated air is contained in all parts of the apparatus, either in the interior of the box or in each gap between two plates of glass. Thermometers placed in this vessel and in the spaces between
    the plates register the degree of heat acquired in these cavities. This instrument was exposed to the Sun at or near noontime, and it has been observed, in various experiments, that the thermometer in the vessel raises to 70o, 80o, 100o, 110o or even higher (octogesimal division). Thermometers placed within the gaps between the sheets of glass indicate a much lower degree of heat acquired, decreasing steadily from the bottom of the box up to the top gap."

    (My emphasis)

    The fact that the temperature increase became greater with additional panels of glass refutes the simplistic notion that the effect is entirely the consequence of preventing heated air being carried of by the wind.  Nor is it likely due to the insulating properties of the glass, as glass is a good thermal conductor.

    Later, William Herschell designed a de Saussure hotbox that achieved a temperature of 240 Farenheit in South Africa, a temperature generating black body radiation of 1294 W/m^2 of thermal radiation.  That is significantly greater than the 1000 W/m^2 solar insolation at ground level (ie, after absorption and scattering as it passes through the atmosphere).  (De Saussure's 110 centigrade represents a black body radiation of 1222 W/m^2.)

    There are in fact thermodynamic limits to how warm the greenhouse effect (or other methods of retarding energy loss) can make warm an object.  That limit is set, however, by the balance of energy in to energy out (first law of thermodynamics); and by the entropy of individual photons (second law of thermodynamics).  Because the individual photons from sunlight come from the Sun's surface, in principle it would be possible to heat a surface to the temperature of the Sun's surface with no violation of the 2nd law.  In practise, we can never achieve perfect efficiency and so that is not possible.  Never the less, solar concentrators can achieve temperatures in excess of 3,200 centigrade despite being subject to the same thermodynamic limits.

    Returning to de Saussure's hotboxes, Fourier noted:

    "The theory of this instrument is easy to formulate. It suffices to remark that: (1) the heat acquired is concentrated, because it is not dissipated immediately by exchange of air with the surroundings; (2) the heat emanated by the Sun has properties different from those of dark heat. The rays of this star are for the most part transmitted through the glass without attenuation and reach the
    bottom of the box. They heat the air and the surfaces which contain it: the heat communicated in this way ceases to be luminous, and takes on the properties of dark radiant heat. In this state, the heat cannot freely traverse the layers of glass which cover the vessel; it accumulates more and more in the cavity enclosed by materials which conduct heat poorly, and the temperature rises to the point
    at which the incident heat is exactly balanced by the dissipated heat." 

    So, from the first analogy, the two methods by which the hotboxes (and greenhouses) work are clearly noted; and no claim is made as to which is the stronger.  That Fourier's care in explanation was lost by later popularizers has no bearing on the physics involved.

    It would in fact be interesting to properly test the actual existence of the greenhouse effect in a de Saussure hotbox more rigourously than has been done previously.  That would involve constructing two hotboxes, one using glass for the panels, and one using another material, equally transparent to the visible, transparent to IR, and equally conductive of heat.  That is because a major form of heat loss in hotboxes (particularly of single panels) is from conduction to the external air from the glass pane (glass being a good conductor).  It is not clear whether the superior conductivity of glass relative to acrylic allows the escape of more heat than is retained by the IR opaqueness of glass, and whether it does or not may well depend on conditions.  To avoid this issue, the hotboxes need to be placed in a vacuum so that radiation is the only method by which heat can escape.  You also need to screen both boxes from the source of radiant heat with a panel of glass to ensure that both have the same radiant energy absorbed at the bottom of the box.  I am unaware of any attempt to test the theory that is rigourous to that extent.  Never-the-less, the known facts for de Saussure's hotboxes show with very high probability that the radiant insulation is the most important factor were multiple panels prevent carrying heat of by conduction through a single glass panel.

  • Today’s Solar Power ‘Revolution’: Powerful Insights from Energy Experts

    From Peru at 14:03 PM on 6 July, 2014

    I recently found a review paper that states:

    "Even renewable energies produce local heat, although they provide a greater thermal reduction benefit by avoiding CO2 emissions.

    Photovoltaic solar panels are mainly black or dark with very low albedo and high emissivity, typically:

    • absorbing about 85% of the incoming light,
    • 15% of this is converted into electricity,
    • the remainder 70% of the energy is turned into heat.

    Millstein [see reference 93 in linked article] found that the large-scale adoption of desert PV, with only 16% albedo reduction, lead to significant local temperature increases (+0.4 ºC) and regional changes in wind patterns"


    Tingzhen Ming , Renaudde_Richter , Wei Liu , Sylvain Caillol

    "Fighting global warming by climate engineering: Is the Earth radiation management and the solar radiation management any option for fighting climate change?"

    Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 31 (2014)

    As good as solar and other renewables are, can we be sure that are actually 100% climate neutral? They don't emit CO2, but emit waste heat and change the land surface albedo. Maybe big solar farms will need be built with big mirrors incorporated, to compensate for the warming due to the lowered albedo.

    Waste heat on the other hand, is much more difficult to handle. The 2nd law of thermodynamics make impossible to recycle all of it into useful work (energy) so some amount of waste heat is unavoidable. At least "waste heat forcing" is one to two order of magnitude lower than greenhouse forcing, so at current energy growth rates there are still a few centuries before the impact is significant.

    A few centuries, however, is still extremely rapid for geological standards. I imagine a situation a few centuries in the future, when, after avoiding greenhouse global warming, the problem returns, this time with waste heat instead of greenhouse gases emissions.

    Then, since the root cause of warming is energy consumption, the only option left will be stopping the growth of energy consumption, and if necessary, even reverse it. This could mean either:

    1. decouple energy and economic growth completely. I don't know if this is physically possible
    2. switching to a steady-state economy, where the growth of GDP should tend to zero.

    What do you think?

  • Global warming theory isn't falsifiable

    Tom Curtis at 10:58 AM on 11 May, 2014

    mbarrett @59:

    "I don't think its pointless. In fact, the lack of expertise of, well, everyone who is not an expert, is entirely the point, (remember the objective of this website)."

    You should learn, and remember Werner Heisenberg's definition of an expert:

    "An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes that can be made in his subject, and how to avoid them."

    There are two corrollaries:

    1)  Mistakes made by experts tend to be interesting, in the sense that you have to learn something new (expand the emperical content of the theory) to refute them; and (more relevant to this discussion)

    2)  Non-experts do not know all the basic mistakes in a theory, and will tend to repeat them.

    Arrogant non-experts repeat them ad nauseum.

    You can see the efforts of (often arrogant) non-experts trying to "falsify" climate science by repeating basic mistakes, often mistakes refuted decades, and in some cases centuries ago, in most of the comment threads on SkS.  An informative introduction to the arrogance of non-experts can be found by reading the comments in the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics thread.

    In any event, there is a clear disparity between experts and non-experts.  The criticisms of non-experts will almost inevitably be uninteresting - mere repetitions of mistakes that have been refuted beforehand.  Because they are not experts, they do not know any better.  In order to effectively criticize the theory you have to be able to distinguish between the interesting criticisms (those which are not mere repetitions of past mistakes), and the uninteresting repetition of basic mistakes - and to do that you need to be familiar enough with the literature to know of those past occurences of the basic mistakes and the papers that responded to those past mistakes, and refuted them.

    In contrast, when responding to basic mistakes, you do not need to know what was wrong with all basic mistakes, but only that to which you are responding.  Likewise, to understand the basic concepts of the theory, you do not need to be expert.  You should, however, recognize that understanding the basic concepts (which takes a few hours study) does not provide the platform for criticizing the theory that comes from many years of intensive study as found in experts.

    As an anology, I understand the basic principles of carburetion.  That does not mean I am able to effectively criticize the design of any modern carburettor or fuel injection system.  I would be a fool to think my limited knowledge gave me that ability.  But that in know way means I am unable to show the errors by bigger fools who think carburettors would be improved by placing an impermiable membrain across the barrel, or by removing the jets.  Sadly, most inexpert criticisms of climate science show little more sophistication or cogency than those the analogy (I again refer you to the 2nd law of thermodynamics thread if you don't believe me).

    For some strange reason, most people are willing to respect expert knowledge in nearly all topics.  But they seem to think that expert knowledge ceases to exist if the topic is relevant to public policy.  They seem to think that just because the refutation of their particular objection was not included in a basic presentation of climate science (or just as often, included but simply not understood by them), that therefore the refutation does not exist and that they have refuted with a few moments of uninformed thought the work of thousands of experts.  They are deluding themselves, and you do them no favour by pretending otherwise.

    This does not mean that they should not attempt to refute climate science.  In fact I encourage them to do so.  But to do so they must put in the effort to become genuinely expert.

  • Brandis confuses right to be heard with right to be taken seriously

    Composer99 at 23:28 PM on 6 May, 2014


    Dr Spencer is a signatory of the Cornwall Alliance "Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming", which states:

    We believe Earth and its ecosystems – created by God’s intelligent design and infinite power and sustained by His faithful providence – are robust, resilient, self-regulating, and self-correcting, admirably suited for human flourishing, and displaying His glory. Earth’s climate system is no exception. Recent global warming is one of many natural cycles of warming and cooling in geologic history.

    The Declaration also includes the statement:

    We deny that Earth and its ecosystems are the fragile and unstable products of chance, and particularly that Earth’s climate system is vulnerable to dangerous alteration because of minuscule changes in atmospheric chemistry. Recent warming was neither abnormally large nor abnormally rapid. There is no convincing scientific evidence that human contribution to greenhouse gases is causing dangerous global warming.

    So, yes, Dr Spencer is a perfect example of the connections (and parallels) between creationism and climate science denial. Which you, unsurprisingly, reflexively dismiss.

    (Incidentally, Dr Lindzen, one of the other atmospheric scientist "skeptics" has endorsed the Evangelical Declaration, although he is not a signatory.)

    To further Tom Curtis' examples, both creationists and climate deniers also make liberal use of the known techniques of denialism (as do anti-vaccine activists): fake or misleading experts, cherry-picking, logical fallacies, conspiratorial ideation, and impossible expectations/shifting goalposts (I am certain that someone has linked to the Skeptical Science article describing them in a thread you have participated in).

    Your platitudes about the virtue of skepticism notwithstanding, the simple fact is that if you read or listen or watch enough material produced by self-styled "skeptics" of climate science you find that they are (a) uncritically accepting of outrageously, obviously false claims (c.f. the Evangelical Declaration, claims about the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, any myth addressed on Skeptical Science, etc.) and (b) appear unable to accept even the most preponderant, clear-cut evidence that climate research reveals. That's not skepticism, plain and simple.

  • The Quantum Theory of Climate Denial

    Dave123 at 04:08 AM on 3 May, 2014

    Martin- I very nearly wrecked my keyboard snorting at your unintentioned howler about WUWT having a diversity of points of view.

    If I were to kidnap 100 random scientists from the next AAAS meeting, I would not find people who didn't understand the 2nd law of thermodynamics, who would dispute the possibility of obtaining a global average surface temperature measurement, measure the pH and temperature of the ocean, the incoming radition from the sun, that conservation of matter and energy apply to everything,  all subjetcs of a "diversity" of thinking from the crowd of amateurs, dismissives and envious at WUWT.  In other words there will a near universal understanding of the workings of the basic physical universe in a random grab sample from AAAS members.

    Your sense of entitlement is precious Martin, but not useful.

  • 2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #18A

    CBDunkerson at 20:52 PM on 2 May, 2014

    And in the latest news from the Bizzaro world: Roy Spencer has put out lists of 'good' and 'bad' arguments against global warming.

    Spoiler: The 'bad' arguments are those which make ridiculous errors about basic science (e.g. 'the greenhouse effect violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics'). The 'good' arguments are those which are grossly deceptive (e.g. 'no warming for 15 years') or blatantly false (e.g. 'climate modelers are lying and using groundless fudger factors to generate fake estimates of high warming').

  • Discussing global warming: why does this have to be so hard?

    ubrew12 at 10:41 AM on 13 February, 2014

    Abraham asks "why does this have to be so hard?"  I'm going to hazard a guess, take it as you wish.  Loosely translated, the 2nd law of thermodynamics applied to a system (such as, a human) surrounded by much larger Environments, says "Your Environments are bigger than you".  So it says you tend toward your Environments rather than the other way around.  But what is the Environment?  For Liberals, its Nature, for Conservatives, its humanity (i.e. the socioeconomic construction humanity has wrung from within Nature).  For us as humans, it's probably a bit of both.  Regarding the Conservative interpretation the phrase that applies is "there's the right way, the wrong way, and the Army way".  That means: you may have a strong opinion about Right and Wrong, but the way that is going to apply is the Army way.  You cannot ignore your socioeconomic Environment, even if it is poised to destroy Nature and with Nature, itself.  That's why its so hard.  The people you are asking to listen to the Natural Environment are fundamentally oriented to listen to their more immediate Socioeconomic Environment.  To them, you are a 'tree hugger': you hug the tree rather than the stock market.  It's your choice, but as we showed recently, the FED will make up whatever money it needs to support the stock market.  Of course this matters: trees have no such recourse.  The reason this is so hard, is that you're trying to convince people that the real environment still matters, is still powerful, and has the ability, as in days of old, to make your life miserable if ignored for long.  But they are increasingly trained to think that's not true, that humanity exists outside of Nature, and is the exception to it.  The reason this is so hard is that, in the short term, they are right.  Of course, in the long term, even Nature balances her books.

  • Corrections to Curry's Erroneous Comments on Ocean Heating

    MA Rodger at 22:20 PM on 4 February, 2014

    grindupBaker @14.
    Your -15ºC figure sounds about right for fresh water, so is probably okay for salt water as well. Ice changes its structure at about 200 bar so fresh water freezing would be coldest at about 2,000m, something below -20ºC.

    Such values for freezing remain entirely academic outside an 'ice cube' earth which would be when the ocean waters become a part of geology.

    chriskoz @13.
    I hope you agree that it is quite simple to establish that the deep ocean is cold because of the cold polar winter atmospheres. Once people know this reason for cold oceans they should be less inclined to say:-
    "Ha, ha. Idiot! If AGW causes deep ocean warming, so what? It's too cold down there. It can't come back and warm anything once its mixed in. Don't you know anything? Haven't you ever heard of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics?"
    This becomes silly because, evidently, the warmer deep ocean water is not too cold to provide warming in a polar winter, an environment that doesn't just cool water down, it freezes it solid.
    And that warmer deep ocean water doesn't even have to get back up to the Arctic/Antarctic to do so. If deep waters are warmer, they will be less dense than before. To cool the oceans, the cold polar waters drop into the depths because they are more dense. An increase in that relative density can only strengthen that ocan cooling process. By thus creating cooler oceans, the atmsphere will experience a warming. Or haven't you head of the 1st Law of Thermodynamics, ha ha.

    Of course this is ridiculously simplisitic. But it is being aimed at simpletons.

  • Corrections to Curry's Erroneous Comments on Ocean Heating

    MA Rodger at 20:25 PM on 2 February, 2014

    I reckon that invoking the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics within climatology is aboutas daft as invoking Newton's 3rd Law within road safety. I assume Judy Curry considers herself an 'expert' on thermodynamics becasue she understands it beter than the Skydragon Slayers, a bunch of grade-A air-heads who make a great deal of the 2nd Law & who Curry has crossed swords with in the past.

    Curry usually adds the 'if it's well mixed' caveat to her assertion which is strange because the deep ocean isn't well mixed. I understand this is mostly due to the isostatic pressure being the major factor in the ocean's density profile resulting in a lot of stratification. (Note that inlike the one here, a lot of 'density v depth' graphs ignore the isostatic element.)Ocean profiles.It is also strange that Curry, a strong believer in big natural variation, is here dismissing the role of the deep oceans in such variation.

    mgardner @7.

    The denialist argument that deep ocean warming is harmless - Beyond ENSO as per @8, I would suggest the best approach would be to ask that, given these folk are so well informed about how the oceans operate, could they explain why the oceans are so cold? The air above has an average temperature of about  14ºC and the rocks beneath sit on the planet's core with a temperature of 5,000ºC. So why are the oceans only 1ºC?

  • Corrections to Curry's Erroneous Comments on Ocean Heating

    chriskoz at 08:35 AM on 1 February, 2014


    Curry's nonsense statement involving 2nd law of thermodynamics appears to be the result of misunderstanding (or intentional misleading given her expertise) of the processes involved.

    "Heat" does not come from the ocean. It comes from the sun. The GHG influence is to retain the incoming sun heat (due to TOA radiative imbalance), not procude it. Where in the OA system said retained heat goes, depends on local variations in insolation, weather etc. Those variations exists now and will always be. And they are unpredictable (weather), i.e. the energy flows between parts of the system may go back and forth depending on the differing amounts of heat said parts recieve, eg. due to variations in isolations. 2nd law of thermodynamics does not aply here. It applies to an isolated system in terms of energy flow. OA system is not isolated in that respect as everybody enjoying bathing in sunshine knows.

    I'm sure Curry (climate scientist) understands the basics of OA system and 2nd law of thermodynamics better than I do (my degree is in unrelated discipline) so I think she applies said basic law of physics bogusly to intentionally mislead the listener. It is far less likely that she screws the science up because she does not understands it.

  • Corrections to Curry's Erroneous Comments on Ocean Heating

    Phil at 20:45 PM on 31 January, 2014

    Is it just me, or does anyone else think that Curry's comment about the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics make an unreasonable assumption about what is going on ?


    As I understand it, areas of the Planet such as the atmosphere, upper ocean, deep ocean etc. should, in a perfect(ly mixed) world increase in temperature uniformily (i.e. in step with each other). However kinetic processes can imped heat flows between these different areas, allowing localised heat gradients to temporarily occur. Presumably, eventually the gradient gets so steep that a tipping point occurs and the Planet shifts into another phase where another area of the Earth warms preferentially to the others.

    However the 2nd law of thermodynamics would only be relevant if we knew the rate at which the deep ocean was warming (or whatever area of the Earth was relevant at the time) was still below the "uniform" rate. If it wasn't then we would expect the 2nd law to "encourage" heat to be released.

    Curry's statement therefore implies to me that she knows the deep oceans are still "playing catchup". Is she justified in this ? Or am I misunderstanding something ?

  • New Research Confirms Global Warming Has Accelerated

    Bob Loblaw at 02:34 AM on 28 March, 2013

    barry @ 41:

    Averaging can hide a lot of sins, so your point about variable conditions is quite important.

    As a further complication, one must keep in mind that both atmospheric and oceanic energy transfer is dominated by turbulent mixing, not conduction. Although it is a reasonable simplification to think of the transfer of thermal energy in a conduction-like model - where flux is related to the temperature gradient using a turbulent transfer coefficient - it is quite possible to have time-averaged flux moving in the opposite direction to time-averaged temperature gradient.

    I'll start by only considering a one-dimensional case - the vertical (because that's the primary direction to think about when we're looking at ocean-atmophere fluxes). Instantaneous turbulent thermal transfer is the result of instantaneous vertical movement (of air or water), multiplied by the thermal energy content. Gradients are irrelevant - in this instantaneous case. To get the average flux over time, you need to average the instaneous variations in (motion x heat content). You can also get fluxes of other things the same way - by measuring humidity, CO2, or whatever. For atmospheric fluxes, measurements of this type are called "eddy correlation" or "eddy covariance", and you can actually buy systems off the shelf. By averaging over time, you can also get the average vertical velocity (which should be zero if you aren't in a plume) and average temperature - and gradients if you measure at more than one height.

    The catch with such measurements is that the turbulence that transfers the energy is not independent of the temperature gradients. The atmosphere changes in its stability - a strong vertical temperature gradient can either increase turbulence (if it is warmer below - warm air wants to rise) or decrease turbulence (cold air below - tends to resist upward movement). [Note: I've greatly simplified this explanation of stability - I can go into more detail.] You can have a long period of cold air at the surface with little turbulent mixing and little energy transfer, followed by a short period of a warm surface and lots of turbulence and energy transfer - ending with a time average of warm over cold, but a time average of upward energy transfer. Thus, by looking at time averages, it looks as if energy flow is going against the gradient. This is not a problem with the physics (no 2nd Law violations here!) - it is a problem with the simplified model of looking at time averages, and expecting turbulent transfer to look just like conduction.

    The same can happen with oceans, although the density changes with temperature and the stability considerations for turbulence are not the same. Oceans also add salinity, which affects density and motion.

    [And this is the sort of detail that Roger Pielke Sr. seems to be unable to understand... which is why I said earlier that he didn't seem to know what he was talking about]

  • 2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory

    philipm at 18:03 PM on 17 March, 2013

    I want to post here my admiration of the persistence of those who have kept up with almost 1000 posts rebutting a rather obviously flawed argument, that starts from failing to observe that you can’t apply the 2nd law of thermodynamics unless you have a closed system. There is a continuous influx of energy from the sun, so the ground and atmosphere aren’t a closed system. Case closed.

    If Gerlich really is physics professor at an apparently good university who has real students, they should demand a refund if this is the quality of his understanding.

    BTW there are a few dead links in the Notes:

  • Cherrypicking to Deny Continued Ocean and Global Warming

    scaddenp at 09:34 AM on 8 March, 2013

    'I am still under the impression that the above is not true." Correct. Kevin is wrong. He is effectively posulating that coductive heat transfer from atmosphere to warm the surface or ocean. This would be a violation of 2nd law. Instead, the GHG gases in the atmosphere increase the amount of LW radiation reaching the surface. (This is measurable). Kevin, I would strongly recommend looking at Science of Doom's excellent basics on this. Not getting this right is leading you into confusion.

  • Conspiracy Theorists Respond to Evidence They're Conspiracy Theorists With More Conspiracy Theories

    Philippe Chantreau at 17:10 PM on 7 March, 2013

    I think the real problem is that there may be a conspiracy to present conspiracy theorists as having  conspiratorial delusions in an attempt to invalidate their outings of conspiracies. They'll stop at nothing! I also realized recently that the tinfoil doesn't cut it, really. Fortunately, some large furniture store nearby also has nifty stainless steel bowls that nicely fit on my head. Stainless steel baby! Now I'm protected!! Seriously, Tom, John, and others. This is beyond grotesque. It's worse than the 2nd law thread stuff. It's worse than "Pluto is warming." It's really, truly,  not worth bothering with This is pig that will drag you down in the mud so low that no possible outcome is worth the effort. I know some of you love a challenge but gee...

  • Why SkS withdrew from the Bloggies

    Philippe Chantreau at 03:44 AM on 6 March, 2013

    Eklektikus, a few points that came to my mind while reading your post:

    Quantum theory is about the same age as climate science, does that make it any weaker?

    Any area of science, even the very well established or "older" ones have thousands of papers that say very little. These papers have their usefulness too. Medical science has innumerable papers saying very little, is also very complex and full of poorly understood mechanisms. Try to open a pharmacology guide and see what proportion of these molecules come with "mechanism of action unknown."

    Everything is a matter of degree. We're far from having a working model of the Human body. That doesn't prevent us from achieving some remarkable success. Yet I don't see "skepticism" about this science akin to what is seen with  climate science. When it does happen, it is marginal BS like the anti vaccine nonsense or the occasional fruitcake denying the link between HIV and AIDS. That is not to say that nobody has a skeptical attitude in medicine. People still question and re-examine knowledge all the time, but they do it with sincerity, research and hard work, not blanket ad-homs like we hear against climate scientists. 

    In fact, most everybody I work with has a healthy dose of skepticism, which, for instance, prevents them from using expensive new drugs instead of the older ones that work just as good.

    The politicization of climate science is exclusively a production of fake skeptics. Sure, there are activists pushing for CO2 regulations. These people have not politicized the science. They are elaborating what they see as political solutions to the problems that the science reveals. They may be sometimes, misguided, mistaken, have a distorted view, whatever. But they don't attack the science and scientists like fake skeptics do.

    The fake skeptics of climate science have a different take. They try to make the problem to sop being a problem by pretending it does not exist, it's not so bad, it's not something we can do anything about, it's fake because the evil scientists showing it's there are all in a cabal to extract money from us, etc, etc. If you really read "skeptic" blogs, you'll see endless ramblings that amount to just that. When one is truly skeptical about the science, you get a Mueller/BEST type of situation.

    I find it ironic that you ask about a coherent position. From fake skeptics we've seen everything and anything on the spectrum: "it's not happening", "it's happening but just a little" "it's not really happening, plus it has happened before anyway" "it's happening but it's not us" "it's happening and it's us but it's a good thing" and innumerable variations. For more specialized  incoherence, check out our home grown comedians on the 2nd law thread, Damorbel is the master. 

    You've seen the ridicule and incoherent nonsense that gets out of Watt's blog on a daily basis right? Thermodynamics confusion beyond belief, carbonic snow, averaging ratios without weighing, complete incomprehension of scientific papers to the point that the authors have to step in to clarify. Where is the value there ?How am I to take seriously someone who endorses this pile of manure as having high standards of "scientific robustness" like Pielke Sr. has done on SkS?

    The true critics of the science are not the ones whose names are all over the blogs. They are the people doing research and producing results. When was the last time Curry published something of interest? She finds it acceptable to let appear on her blog a post advocating the summary execution of climate scientists, because it's all in good fun. That's conributing to a debate, really? Roy Spencer had to have major errors in his program pointed to him by others, then still let some politically motivated commenters use the erroneous data to try to score points in the press. Talk about politicizing the science. He has produced some of the most grotesque ideas about the carbon cycle that have ever been uttered. Stuff so bad it's not even wrong. Where is the skepticism toward the so-called "critics" ? These people are not critics, they are fake skeptics. They do not provide any balance in a debate. Their contribution is not valuable, it is in fact adverse to true progress.

  • 2nd law of thermodynamics contradicts greenhouse theory

    scaddenp at 12:42 PM on 5 March, 2013

    There are numerous thought experiments on 2nd law argued in this thread. Here is an actual experiment for those who think the 2nd law is broken to chew on.

  • There is no such thing as climate change denial

    funglestrumpet at 00:34 AM on 17 February, 2013


    It is a shame that this article falls for the manipulation of public opinion that has been so successful in branding all conspiracy theorists as somehow lacking the intellect to see the mainstream or official line on a topic. This is especially so when one considers the discrepancy between the scientific consensus and public support for action on climate change. Something close to the hearts of all who post articles here and the vast majority of those who comment on them I assume.


    I have always tried to follow the science of any issue that I choose to take an opinion on. That is as true of my stance on climate change as it is on 9/11. When someone can show me that climate change is not going to be a major problem by reference to the science, I might change my opinion. But there is a lot of evidence to contradict before I do so. Until then, I will campaign for the need to act and act now, if not sooner.


    Similarly, (-snip-).


  • Dueling Scientists in The Oregonian, Settled by Nuccitelli et al. (2012)

    KR at 16:07 PM on 6 February, 2013

    Richard C (NZ) - "I'm simply inferring" == recasting statements into something else.

    None of the various quotes you are repeating state your strawman argument, only your (re)interpretation thereof into different statements entirely. GHG's cause the oceans to warm - not by "upstream pumping", but by slowing heat loss. Claiming 2nd law violations is simply semantic nonsense on your part.

    Repeating your fallicious argument does not improve it.


    Rob Painting - "Richard C is aware of the peer-reviewed literature on this subject...". I find myself not at all surprised. His continued repetition of strawman arguments does not support a reasonable discussion on his part. 

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