Physicist: CO2 Molecules Retain Heat Just 0.0001 Of A Second, Thus CO2-Driven Warming ‘Not Possible’

Mainstream climate science claims CO2 molecules “slow down the rate of heat-loss from the surface” like a blanket does. And yet the rate at which a CO2 molecule retains or slows down heat loss is, at most, a negligible 0.0001 of a second. A CO2 concentration of 300 ppm versus 400 ppm will therefore have no detectable impact.

SkepticalScience, a blog spearheaded by climate science “consensus” advocate John Cook, is widely considered the explanatory guidebook for the anthropogenic global warming movement.

The blog claims CO2 molecules, with a representation of 4 parts in 10,000 in the atmosphere (400 parts per million, or ppm), collectively function like a blanket does in slowing down the rate at which the human body cools.

Image Source: SkepticalScience

The rate or time lapse involved in this “slowing” of heat loss is problematic to the paradigm that says CO2 drives global warming, however.

Professor Nasif Nahle has mathematically assessed the rate at which heat is retained by CO2 molecules; his work was endorsed by the Faculty of Physics of the University of Nuevo Leon (Mexico).

Nahle found the “mean free path” for a quantum wave to pass through the atmosphere before colliding with a CO2 molecule is about 33 meters (Nahle, 2011a). Such a wide chasm between molecular collisions would appear to undermine a visualization of CO2 functioning like a blanket does.

Even more saliently, Nahle determined that the rate at which CO2 molecules can retain heat at the surface may only last about 0.0001 of a second (Nahle, 2011b).

If heat-loss is slowed down at a rate of 0.0001 of a second by CO2 molecules, the atmospheric CO2 concentration – whether it’s 300 ppm or 400 ppm – effectively doesn’t matter. The time lapse differential would be immaterial for either concentration.

Consequently, Nahle concludes “carbon dioxide has not an effect on climate changes or warming periods on the Earth”.

Image Source: Nahle, 2011a

Image Source: Nahle, 2011b

26 responses to “Physicist: CO2 Molecules Retain Heat Just 0.0001 Of A Second, Thus CO2-Driven Warming ‘Not Possible’”

  1. Georg Thomas

    Empirical/testing refutation of CAGW (catastrophic anthropogenic global warming) is of the essence, of course.

    Very important empirical results have been produced that refute CAGW, amply recorded by NoTricksZone.

    However, there is another angle from which the subject needs to be approached: the chemistry and physics of CO2.

    I have criticised my fellow sceptics for not paying enough attention to the physics and chemistry of CO2, which holds the key to direct refutation of CAGW.

    I am not natural scientist enough to get involved in, let alone spearhead, such efforts, instead I am very slowly accumulating insights from that front – which actually seems to rely in large measure on long-standing knowledge. One wonders why these scientific findings did not act as deadly circuit breakers for CAGW.

    An excellent synopsis is available here:

    1. Yonason

      It used to be common knowledge that the ability of CO2 to raise temperature was extremely limited.

      Good think Tony is there to remind us.

    2. Thomas D Gillespie

      George Thomas: When you wonder – “why these scientific findings did not act as deadly circuit breakers for CAGW” you must recall that you are dealing with environmentalists who have a track record of using bad news about the Earth as a gravy train. Look at the the risk assessment process for environmental remediation. Billions of $$ poured in by EPA to
      Fed contractors to develop methods which had been developed by insurance and pharmaceutical companies decades before. Of contaminant transport in groundwater. Again, billions of $$$ to re-create what the petroleum industry had developed decades before. Of course those other industries found balanced results of good things and bad things – but environmental interests discovered only horrific things.

      Two quotes from the Club of Rome sum it all up: “The common enemy of humanity is man.” and then this one: “The Earth has cancerand the cancer is Man.”

  2. Stephen Richards

    I’ve been saying this for years. Quantum mechanics talks about radiation of the exact frequency of the quantum energy level of the material being absorped, raising the outer electron to the next energy level. That extra energy cannot be maintained and the molecule looses the energy immediately radiating a photon of the same energy. Molecules and atoms always seek to attain the ground state in the shortest possible time.

    There was a brilliant talk by the BBC guy Khalid I think his name was. He explained this in term of a block of appartements. It could have been an Horizon programme but a long time ago. I studied QM in the 1970s so much of that knowledge has left me but the principle of absorption and re-emission remains with me thanks to Horizon

    1. Adrian Roman

      In the case of IR radiation, it’s the vibro-rotation levels of the molecule that get involved, not the electronic levels.

      In the CO2 case, there are three vibrational modes:
      – bending
      – asymmetric stretching
      – symmetric stretching
      Only the first two really matter, because CO2 (because of its symmetry, it’s linear and the two oxygen atoms are symmetric to the central carbon) is a non-polar molecule, so the symmetric stretching does not move charge around to be able to radiate.

      As for rotations, they need to be involved because the photon has helicity.
      There are only two rotation modes for CO2 and they are degenerate (again, the symmetry & linearity of the molecule gets involved in this).

      As a consequence, the IR spectrum of CO2 is very poor, making it a very weak ‘greenhouse’ gas.

      H2O beats the hell out of it, being a polar, non linear molecule.
      And I mean, H2O would beat it even if the quantities would be equal. They are not. CO2 is 400 ppm in the atmosphere, H2O gets up to 2% or so.

  3. John F. Hultquist

    This is a new result (measured, estimate) but the concept is not new. Reviewers will comment on, and others may try to replicate.

    Similar ideas were around in 2008 when I got an internet connection fast enough to start reading online.

  4. BobW in NC

    Outstanding and definitively puts and end to AGW. The only information what would solidify this finding would be comparable data on water, b/c water vapor is the principle GHG at 95% of all GHGs, whereas CO2 constitutes only 4%, according to an article in WUWT.


  5. Yonason

    Here’s a link I don’t use often, but looks like it fits in well with the article.

    Also, I didn’t see a link for the Nahle home page, so here that is for easy reference.

  6. Bruce Higgs

    CO2 is a symmetrical linear molecule with double bonded oxygen atoms to the carbon. As heat (infrared) absorption occurs through dipole change asymmetric stretching and wagging modes of the oxygen atoms are very limited. This is evident when you look at the infrared spectrum of CO2, and if you compare this to H2O the heat absorption is minuscule. Also low absorption in UV/Vis spectra.
    Yes water is the greenhouse gas, but that would be a difficult story to explain to the world as it tends to condense at cooler elevations, form clouds and come back to the earth after gaining sufficient droplet size.

  7. Rod

    So CO2 absorbs energy and radiates it only at 15um. Its other finger frequencies occur at temperatures that don’t exist in the atmosphere. Wiens law gives a formula which I’ve applied that says 15um radiation comes from a body at -80C. Please let me know If I’ve miscalculated.

    A Photon from a molecule at -80 is low energy, too low to possibly heat any warmer molecule. Molecules in liquids and solids need even more energy to boost their electrons into higher orbits.

    The amount of Radiation in the atmosphere has little to do with its temperature, so its wrong to say heat is trapped. The top of Everest has a massive amount of radiative energy flying around but last time I checked its pretty cold up there.

    If this is true, how does CO2 cause any warming or cooling?

    1. Georg Thomas
  8. mothcatcher

    Kenneth –
    Is the time during which the heat is actually held by the CO2 molecule of critical relevance? My understanding is that the re-emitted photon is scattered in random, therefore all directions, and it is this that is responsible for the ‘slowing down’ effect of the heat loss due to the GHG. Quantizing the argument doesn’t, as far as I can see, alter that – or does it?

    Please correct me if I have misunderstood.

    Also would like to know if Nahle has done the same excercise for water vapour or methane.

  9. mothcatcher

    The important datum is the length of the mean free path, not the time spent at the obstacle. ???

  10. SebastianH

    That’s not how the greenhouse effect works. It’s not about storing energy in the molecules and delaying their path to space, it’s about absorbing radiation of a certain wavelength from the surface and re-radiating it in every direction.

    Nahle found the “mean free path” for a quantum wave to pass through the atmosphere before colliding with a CO2 molecule is about 33 meters (Nahle, 2011a). Such a wide chasm between molecular collisions would appear to undermine a visualization of CO2 functioning like a blanket does.

    Why would it undermine that? Every “wave” will eventually collide and interact with a CO2 molecule and the re-radiation will interact with other molecules again.

    I don’t see how anyone could get the ideas presented here and imagine that nonsense like this could “definitively put[s] and end to AGW”.

  11. bonbon

    As water is the “Greenhous Gas”, and impossible to model, it’s easier to go taut CO2… Imagine modeling GCR and water aerosols! Spectra are easy!

    But in the background someone is not so easily fooled :

    CERN is now running CLOUDy, and advanced version of CLOUD, on aerosols/ice and ionizing radiation :

    This time I hope they do not model aerosols and cloud-condensation-nuclei, and really do an experiment.
    No doubt Svensmark will check this.

  12. drumphish

    A lot of fuss and bother over carbon dioxide, carbon emissions, all because humans use and consume fossil fuels.

    Without fossil fuels, the population would be far less and the hunt for sperm whales would continue unabated, strictly regulated, you’ll be using candles, not light bulbs. Whale oil will be too expensive. Angry whales will stove whaling ships non-stop. It will be an extinction rebellion all right, whales will extract their pound of flesh, stove the Essex, you know, hey.

    Like a blizzard, it will be a war of all against all. Mad elephants will attack. har

    The Green New Raw Deal is exactly what it is, whatever that is. Just another white elephant is all it really is. Another mess for somebody else to clean, nothing more.

    You’ll be sucker punched, AOC style. lol

    Much cooler temps for October, maybe November will be warmer.

  13. pochas94

    The Beer-Lambert law is familiar to anyone working with a spectroscope. It is the classic way to conceptualize radiation.

    A = elc
    A = optical attenuation
    e = attenuation coefficient
    l = path length
    c = concentration

    For CO2 absorption is essentially complete within 10 meters above ground, but any near-surface warming will be mixed into the rest of the atmosphere by convection which acts to recover the lapse rate, and there are compensating negative radiative effects at very high altitudes. Net effect, approximately zero.

  14. Petit_Barde

    Some thoughts to complement Dr Nahle’s article :

    The “blancket” fairy tail is junk science :

    – a blancket helps you stay warm because it blocks convection. The air trapped inside the blancket can’t convect and is a very poor thermal conductor. Thus the blancket isolates the body from the cold outside. The only energy transfer from a body and the outside is then by thermal conduction (poor by design) and weak radiation and this is why a human can survive when it’s -40°C outside.

    The atmosphere acts at the exact opposite :
    – the atmosphere allows convection (and evaporation) and these energy transfer processes are faster (more effective) than radiative transfer alone and this is why the atmopshere is way more effective for cooling than simple radiative transfer. The atmosphere does not act as a blancket, but is actually the exact opposite.

    With respect to the radiative energy balance of the atmosphere :

    Radiative energy transfer :
    – The radiative energy transfer between two bodies (1 and 2) is the net balance between the radiative flux from body 1 towards body 2 minus the radiative flux from body 2 towards body 1.

    According to the Earth energy budget from Kiehl & Trenberth 1997 themselves, (similar data in energy budget has been published by the NASA 2009, etc.) the radiative energy transfer between the earth and the atmosphere is upward and is about 7.6% of the incoming energy from the Sun (342 W/m²).
    On the other hand, the radiative energy transfer between the atmosphere and the space is 48.2% of the same 342W/m².

    These 48.2% radiated into space by the atmosphere (excluding clouds) come from :
    – the radiative energy transfer from the Earth to the atmosphere : 7.6%,
    – the heat incoming from the Sun absorbed by the atmosphere : 19.6%,
    – the convection and evaporation : 29.8%
    – minus the radiative transfer from clouds into space : -8.8%

    So, the main radiative action of the atmosphere on the Earth is to cool it since the atmosphere radiates much more energy into space than it absorbs from the Earth’s surface and thanks to active gases in the infrared spectrum (mainly WV and CO2), convection and evaporation, the atmosphere is rather effective in this cooling process.

    So much for the blancket analogy.

    Kiehl & Trenberth 1997 :

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  18. Nick Schroeder

    A blanket obeys Q = U A dT. No LWIR involved.

    The GreenHouse Effect Anti-Theory

    By reflecting away 30% of the incoming solar energy the atmosphere/albedo makes the earth cooler than it would be without the atmosphere much like that reflective panel behind a car’s windshield.
    Greenhouse theory has it wrong.

    The non-radiative processes of a contiguous participating media, i.e. atmospheric molecules, render ideal black body LWIR from the surface impossible. The 396 W/m^2 upwelling from the surface is a “what if” theoretical calculation without physical reality. (refer to: TFK_bams09)
    Greenhouse theory has it wrong.

    Without the 396 W/m^2 upwelling there is no 333 W/m^2 GHG energy up/down/”back” loop to “warm” the earth. (refer to: TFK_bams09)
    Greenhouse theory has it wrong.

    Man caused climate change is negated by these three points. Hysterical speculations over sea levels, ice caps, glaciers, extreme weather, etc. are irrelevant noise.

    Zero greenhouse effect, Zero CO2 global warming and Zero man caused climate change.


    One popular geoengineering strategy proposed for countering imaginary global warming/climate change is through reducing net solar heating by increasing the earth’s albedo.

    This increase is accomplished by various physical methods, e.g. injecting reflective aerosols into the atmosphere, spraying water vapor into the air to enhance marine cloud brightening, spreading shiny glass spheres around the poles with the goal of more reflection thereby reducing the net amount of solar energy absorbed by the atmosphere and surface and cooling the earth.

    More albedo and the earth cools.

    Less albedo and the earth warms.

    No atmosphere means no water vapor or clouds, ice, snow, vegetation, oceans and near zero albedo and much like the moon the earth bakes in that 394 K, 121 C, 250 F solar wind.

    These geoengineering plans rely on the atmosphere cooling the earth thereby exposing the error of greenhouse theory which says the atmosphere warms the earth and with no atmosphere the earth becomes a -430 F frozen ball of ice.

    Zero greenhouse effect, Zero CO2 global warming and Zero man caused climate change.

    Space – the Hotter Frontier

    One of the heated issues underlying greenhouse theory is whether space is hot or cold.

    Greenhouse theory says that without an atmosphere the earth would be exposed to a near zero outer space and become a frozen ice ball at -430 F, 17 K.

    Geoengineering techniques that increase the albedo, the ISS’s ammonia refrigerant air conditioners, an air conditioner in the manned maneuvering unit, space suits including thermal underwear with chilled water tubing, UCLA Diviner lunar data and Kramm’s models (Univ of AK) all provide substantial evidence that outer space is relatively hot.

    But outer space is neither hot nor cold.

    By definition and application temperature is a relative measurement of the molecular kinetic energy in a substance, i.e. solid, liquid, gas. No molecules (vacuum), no temperature. No kinetic energy (absolute zero), no temperature. In the void & vacuum of outer space the terms temperature, hot, cold are meaningless, like dividing by zero, undefined. Same reason there is no sound in space – no molecules.

    However, any substance capable of molecular kinetic energy (ISS, space walker, satellite, moon, earth) placed in the path of the spherical expanding solar photon gas at the earth’s average orbital distance will be heated per the S-B equation to an equilibrium temperature of: 1,368 W/m^2 = 394 K, 121 C, 250 F.

    Like a blanket held up between a camper and campfire the atmosphere reduces the amount of solar energy heating the terrestrial system and cools the earth compared to no atmosphere.

    This intuitively obvious as well as calculated and measured scientific reality refutes the greenhouse theory.

    Zero greenhouse effect, Zero CO2 global warming and Zero man caused climate change.


    Since the earth is actually hotter without an atmosphere, radiative greenhouse effect goes straight into the historical trash bin of failed theories and all the handwavium, pseudo-science, thermodynamic nonsense pretending to explain it follows close behind.

    If my anti-theorem is incorrect why so and how so, bring science.
    If my anti-theorem is correct contemplate the consequences.

    Nick Schroeder, BSME CU ’78

  19. Svend Ferdinandsen

    According to Science of Doom the gasses in the atmosphere radiates (in the bands they can) based on their temperature. They radiate when heated by the absorbed radiation, they are not absorbing and in a moment radiating that energy again.
    Even without radiation input, the atmosphere (as it is) would radiate according to the composition and temperature.
    It is a fact of Kirschoff. If it absorbs it also radiates like all bodies black grey or otherwise. If it absorbs in distinct wavelenghts it also emmits there.

  20. Nick Schroeder

    The gases in the troposphere have measured temperatures on the order of -40 to -60 C, 233 K to 213 K, with S-B power fluxes of 167 W/m^2 and 116 W/m^2.

    RGHE theory says the GHGs downwell/”back” radiate 333 W/m^2 at an S-B temperature of 277 K, +4 C. (Trenberth 2011jcli24 & TFK_bams09)

    When theory does not match reality the theory is wrong.

    A surface cannot emit more than it absorbs, but it can emit less if non-radiative processes i.e. conduction/ convection, advection, latent are contributing. BB LWIR from the surface is not possible. Theoretical emissivity = 63/396 = .16. Physical emissivity = 63/160 = .397.

  21. Mark Wigmore

    There’s an error in Nahle 2011a. He uses the equation:
    l = m / (n σ)
    If you look up the references for that equation there is no mass:
    l = 1 / (n σ) (eq 3.36 in Dan Maoz: Astrophysics in a Nutshell)
    And what is a Quantum/wave anyway?

    Maoz extract here:

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