New Paper Uses Physics Laws To
Disassemble Greenhouse Theory
Eight years ago, 2 physicists published a comprehensive 115-page scientific paper entitled “Falsification Of The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within The Frame Of Physics” in the International Journal of Modern Physics.
Buttressed by a reference list of over 200 scientific publications, the authors addressed the merits of commonly held greenhouse “conjectures” as they relate to the laws of physics.
“By showing that (a) there are no common physical laws between the warming phenomenon in glass houses and the fictitious atmospheric greenhouse effects, (b) there are no calculations to determine an average surface temperature of a planet, (c) the frequently mentioned difference of 33°C is a meaningless number calculated wrongly, (d) the formulas of cavity radiation are used inappropriately, (e) the assumption of a radiative balance is unphysical, (f) thermal conductivity and friction must not be set to zero, the atmospheric greenhouse conjecture is falsified.”
From pages 35 to 44, Gerlich and Tscheuschner critiqued 14 different “fictitious” manifestations of the greenhouse effect theory as they have appeared over the course of the last several decades.
In a newly-published scientific paper, meteorologist and physical chemist Dr. Martin Hertzberg (and two other chemists) provide a condensed update to the Gerlich and Tscheuschner appraisal of the theoretical greenhouse effect.
Hertzberg and colleagues also apply the standard laws of physics to critique 6 current theoretical explanations for the role of greenhouse gases (CO2) in presumably keeping the Earth 15°C warmer than it would otherwise be.
Included below is an abridged, less-technical version of the paper in an ostensibly user-friendly format.
It should be noted that the conclusions may be controversial even for skeptics of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) alarm. That’s because the vast majority of climate skeptics at least accept the basic tenets of the greenhouse effect theory. Instead, the existing skepticism focuses on the climate’s sensitivity to CO2 forcing in particular (low vs. high), not on whether the greenhouse effect as conventionally expressed is “real” or meets the standards applied by the laws of physics.
It is widely assumed that that the common understanding of how greenhouse gases operate in the climate system (the atmosphere and oceans) is both real and supported by scientific observation and physical tests. This paper, like Gerlich and Tscheuschner (2009), may challenge this assumption.
Role of greenhouse gases in climate change
This study examines the various definitions of the greenhouse effect for compatibility with the laws of physics.
A greenhouse is a glass/plastic enclosure, warmed by sunlight, facilitating plant growth. Several definitions argue that the effect in the atmosphere is analogous to a greenhouse. It is stated that sunlight transmitted into an enclosure through transparent glass warms the interior of the enclosure, increasing the Infra Red (IR) radiation. As glass is partly opaque to IR radiation, it cannot freely pass outward through the glass and is thus retained within the enclosure. Several definitions infer the radiation is being ‘trapped’ and it is argued that atmospheric gases such as CO2 are analogous to the glass pane action of a greenhouse and this serves to ‘trap’ IR radiation within the atmosphere and obstruct radiative cooling.
An early test of the ‘trapped’ radiation theory was conducted by R. W. Wood. He constructed two enclosures, one covered with a glass plate and the other covered with an IR transmitting rock salt plate. When adjusted so that both were exposed to the same solar input radiation, they both reached the same temperature of 55°C with ‘scarcely a difference of one degree between the temperatures of the two enclosures’. His experiment clearly showed that it was the presence of the enclosure itself that enabled the warming. Therefore, it is the heat generated by absorbed sunlight that becomes ‘trapped’. In the absence of an enclosure, the warmed air near the ground would rise by buoyancy and be replaced by cooler air from the surroundings thus cooling it. This natural convective cooling process is restricted and suppressed by the enclosure. It is the same process that generates a cooling afternoon sea breeze on a beach with cooler air from the ocean replacing rising warmer air over land. To argue that an open gaseous atmosphere confines in the way that the top and sides of a greenhouse enclosure does is not valid. To the contrary, a gaseous atmosphere is conducive to the convective cooling that occurs in the absence of an enclosure. It could be argued that CO2 along with the other gaseous components of the atmosphere in fact helps to cool the Earth’s surface.
Another common theme among the various descriptions of the effect is that the ‘greenhouse gases’ serve as a ‘blanket’ keeping the earth warm.
A simple experiment to test the validity of this argument is to appear naked outside on a cold evening and observe how long the blanket of ‘greenhouse gases’ in the atmosphere keeps you warm. Air warmed by body heat rises by buoyancy and is replaced by cooler air from the surroundings, causing rapid cooling down and shivering. An actual blanket is a flexible insulating enclosure that reduces the rate at which body heat is lost to the surroundings. Thus the atmosphere is more given to being an agent for cooling by way of natural convection.
A regular description of the ‘greenhouse gas’ heating mechanism is that referred to as ‘back radiation’. Atmospheric gases such as CO2, having a dipole moment, absorb some incoming solar radiation and some of the IR radiation the Earth’s surface radiates toward free space. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, ‘re-radiated energy in the IR portion of the spectrum is trapped within the atmosphere keeping the surface temperature warm’. This ‘trapping’ is assumed to occur as the surface radiates to the atmosphere and the atmosphere radiates back to the surface.
The radiation emitted from the warmer surface absorbed by the colder atmosphere is readily detected by orbiting satellites. However, back radiation from the colder atmosphere to the warmer surface heating the surface further violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
There are two problems with that amount of down-welling radiation: the atmosphere is not a blackbody with unit emissivity and equally, is not radiating toward a receptive absorber. Yet it is depicted as radiating heat downwards to the warmer Earth’s surface in direct violation of the Second Law.
The flow of heat is always from the hotter surface to the colder surface as required by the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Nowhere in the radiation field between the two surfaces is the flux of radiant energy equal to that which either surface would emit if they were facing a complete void. Thus, the simple use of the Stefan-Boltzmann term, δT4 to characterize the emission from a source of radiation in the manner that depends only on the temperature of the source without considering the temperature of the surroundings receiving the radiation, is a misapplication of the equation and the notion that a colder source can transfer radiant energy to a warmer object is a misapplication of the Stefan-Boltzmann equation and a violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
It would therefore be clear that the application of the Stefan-Boltzmann term to simply characterize radiant energy being transferred from an object to its surroundings without reference to the conditions of the surroundings in radiative contact with that object is a misapplication of the equation.
It would be incorrect to talk in terms of radiation exchanging, since transfer occurs only from warmer to cooler matter, from higher energy level to lower energy level.
A proposed new definition of the greenhouse theory to overcome the objections raised against warming by back radiation argues that IR absorbing ‘greenhouse gases’ hinder radiative transport from the Earth’s surface upwards and aid to keep the surface warm and warmer than it would otherwise be in the absence of those gases.
The definition ignores the fact that those gases themselves emit radiation to free space adding to radiation loss from the system. Radiation loss to free space from the earth’s surface and its atmosphere is essentially the same with or without presence of absorbing gases for the following reasons: the cooling by radiation to free space is a one-step process; in the presence of an atmosphere, it is a two-step process with the same loss, with or without, the absorbing and emitting gaseous atmosphere. When talking about radiation, it is absorbed radiation or emitted radiation that is being considered.
In many of the various definitions, attempt is made to prove that ‘greenhouse gases’ in the atmosphere keep the Earth warm, warmer than it would otherwise be in the absence of an atmosphere as conveyed by the following [enviropedia.org] quote:
“This process (radiation trapping) makes the temperature rise in the atmosphere just as it does in the greenhouse. This is the Earth’s natural greenhouse effect and keeps the Earth 33°C warmer than it would (otherwise) be without an atmosphere, at an average of 15°C.”
Logically that argues that if the Earth had no atmosphere, its average temperature would be -18°C rather than its current temperature of 15°C. Such a temperature is based on calculated ones, that is ‘otherwise’ ones. The calculations arise from several mistaken assumptions. The most obvious one diminishes the solar radiation input by 37% from the Earth’s cloud albedo while simultaneously taking no account of any lessening of the IR radiation emitted to free space by the same blocking clouds. Equally, all IR radiating entities on the surface are assumed to be blackbodies with unit emissivity. The calculation that yields the -18°C temperature is obviously mistaken. The question is considered and covered in detail in the ‘Cold Earth Fallacy’.
Further argument used to illustrate the greenhouse effect of CO2 is the atmosphere of Venus, which is almost entirely [965,000 ppm] CO2. Based upon its distance to the Sun relative to that of the Earth, and using the Earth’s average temperature, Venus surface temperature should be about 280°C. Yet the measured value is about 465°C. This difference is attributed to the strong greenhouse effect of its higher CO2 concentration. The difference is more correctly attributable to Venus’ high surface pressure and the adiabatic compression of the atmosphere adjacent to its surface. Venus’ surface temperature would be just as warm if its atmosphere consisted of any gas whose compressibility was the same as that of CO2. The temperatures in the Mohave Desert and the Dead Sea are higher than the temperatures of surrounding areas at sea level. That is not a greenhouse effect but is caused by adiabatic compression of the higher pressures at their elevations below sea level.
All atmospheric gases that are believed to be ‘greenhouse gases’ absorb IR radiation emitted from the Earth’s surface. Their absorption spectra are well known and it is relatively easy to calculate the radiation flux, those gases absorb from the Earth’s IR emission.
The problem arises when those radiation fluxes are translated into a resultant temperature rise while ignoring the fact that atmospheric gas is being simultaneously cooled by radiating to the unlimited sink of free space.
In one of science’s first ‘thought experiments’ Pierre Prevost (1751–1839) conjectured that a hot body absorbed less radiation from a cold body than the reverse, and that both would eventually reach the same temperature. Thus, the theory of radiant exchanges came into being, a view that predated the more thorough understanding of the Laws of Thermodynamics that came later. Yet it is noted that aspects of Prevost’s 200-year-old theory continue to be applied in regard to ‘net flow’ of heat – a concept that radiation flows both downhill and uphill. The latter flow is a violation of the Second Law, which informs us that a hot body can absorb no radiation from a cold body to make it warmer still.
Radiative greenhouse supporters have theorized a blackbody as an all-absorbing entity, capable of absorbing and retaining its own radiation to elevate its temperature and have used radiant exchanges in support of their arguments.
[S]o far no way has been found to be able to readily transpose or correlate experiments conducted in the contained, static, isothermal and isobaric conditions of a laboratory to the great vastness of earth’s atmosphere.
The various stated definitions of the greenhouse effect have been subjected to the rigorous scrutiny and application of the fundamental laws of physics and thermodynamics. They were found to be unreal, and unless some new definition can be put forward that satisfies and complies with those laws, it can only be concluded that the concept of a ‘greenhouse gas’ or a ‘greenhouse effect’ has not been demonstrated and is thus without merit.