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Discussion > GHG Theory step by step

Evidence of the invalidity on the "greenhouse effect" can easily be found, at this time of year. As air temps hover just above freezing, cars may be seen with sides dripping with condensation, while the horizontal surfaces are covered with frost. The sides obviously do not lose their heat effectively by radiation, the energy being bounced back & forth with other surfaces nearby; the roof, however, can radiate to space quite freely, with nothing but the water in any clouds present to inhibit it.

Okay, not an observation made in a laboratory, so obviously not acceptable to some. The best scientists do note that anywhere could be called a laboratory.

One minor point, Mr Clarke: in your reply to point 4 (Dec 2 at 8:15 p.m.), you say, "not as rapid." Could you verify and explain that? As the finest rate we can calculate from proxies is per century, why are you saying that the century rate we have had, of less than 1K, is more rabid than the generally accepted past average of about 1K per century?

Dec 4, 2017 at 8:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

Radical Rodent, typo? Or maybe not.
Global Warming has not been rapid, Climate Scientists have become increasingly rabid as a result. See Mann's Hockey Stick and his subsequent responses for details.

Dec 4, 2017 at 9:39 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

9. Model predictions are driving policymaking but they are running hot compared with observations.


Dec 3, 2017 at 8:16 PM | Phil Clarke

Do you have a reliable source of information?

Dec 4, 2017 at 12:37 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Unlike the graphs prepared by John Christy, there's enough labelling these to enable anyone to check the data.

I quite like the KNMI Climate Explorer.

Dec 4, 2017 at 1:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Phil Clarke, was this issue resolved?

Geert Jan van Oldenborgh says:

8 Feb 2013 at 11:59 AM

For upper-ocean heat content, you can download the values for our 17-member ECHAM5 ensemble (same as in CMIP3) at That should give you an estimate of the natural variability and the difference with your GISS model a rough idea of model spread. (See Katsman & van Oldenborgh GRL 2011 for our analysis).

[Response: I’ll make a comparison figure, but are there no volcanoes in the ESSENCE runs? That has a big impact on OHC anomalies… – gavin]

Dec 4, 2017 at 3:48 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Radical Rodent

The ground, and car roofs, will cool after sunset with or without the greenhouse effect. However the ground would cool faster without the back radiation from the GHE.

It should be possible to calculate nocturnal cooling rates with and without GHE and compare them with observation. I'll use K rather than C.

First the amount of outgoing radiation. At 288K the surface radiates 390W/M^2. At 273K it would be

390×(273/288)^4 = 307.

At 288K back radiation is 320W/M^2. At 273K it would be

320×307/390 = 252

Without the greenhouse effect net outward radiation is 307W/M^2.

With the GHG net outward radiation is 307- 252 = 53W/^M^2.


Second the link between radiation and rate of cooling. From a worked example in some old notes, outward nocturnal radiation of 117W/M^2 cools a soil surface by 4.2K/hr.

At a cooling rate of 1C/hr the surface would radiate

117×1/4.2 = 29W/M^2


Thirdly the cooling rates.

With GHE the cooling rate is

53/29 = 1.8K/hour.

Without GHE the cooling rate is

307/29 =10.6K/hour.

I don't know about your home, Radical rodent, but in Northern Ireland frosty nights cool at rates much closer to 1.8K/hour than 10.6K/hour. In NI at least, the GHE would appear to be working.

Dec 4, 2017 at 7:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Does back radiation work at night?

Dec 4, 2017 at 8:53 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda


You get back radiation when IR from the surface is absorbed by GHG molecules in the atmosphere and reradiated in all directions.

You get less surface radiation at night because of the lower temperatures and proportionally less back radiation, but the mechanism works at night as it does by day.

Dec 4, 2017 at 10:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Can anyone confirm how many volcanoes are bubbling away? Did Climate Scientists just guestimate the number, and if so, what was the number programmed into the models?

Dec 4, 2017 at 11:39 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Sea level can be adjusted to suit models

Dec 5, 2017 at 12:03 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

However the ground would cool faster without the back radiation from the GHE.
Would it? Where is the evidence? Or is this just an assumption?

Where do you get your figures from for your calculations? Does not the surface, itself, have any effect on the energy radiated? Surely, a dark surface radiates more effectively than a light one? Does the texture of the surface have any effect? Does the presence, or absence, of water have any effect? What about air movement over the surface – could it be cooling, or slowing the cooling of the surface? Or are you just summoning up some magical generalisation of what you think might be going on, and presenting it in sufficiently scientific terms to make it believable?

Dec 5, 2017 at 12:36 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Radical rodent

More rhetorical questions?

As a scientist well versed in the physics of radiation you should be able to answer all of them yourself.

As a courtesy to the non-scientists here, perhaps you could do so. I'm off to Eniskillen.

Dec 5, 2017 at 12:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

EM: sorry, bub, but it is you who made the statement, thus it should be you who provides the evidence…

p.s. apart from that I am not, and have never claimed to be, a scientist, it might be that not every scientist is well-versed in the physics of radiation (would a geneticist need to be? Or a zoologist?), so that is a curious assumption that you have made there, Entropic man. However, I do have the vanity to consider that I try to think in a scientific manner – FACTS are paramount; interpretation of facts should always be treated with suspicion.

By the way – enjoy your holiday.

Dec 5, 2017 at 2:20 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Does back radiation work at night?

Dec 4, 2017 at 8:53 PM | rhoda

Only if the sun is shining? It is Climate Science, so anything is possible in Computer Models.

Dec 5, 2017 at 5:08 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

At what watts would you expect GHG-mixed air to radiate at a normal night-time temperature? Does that wattage actually require to be re-emitting IR from the ground, or will the watts come from any warm GHG? The undisputed fact that some bits of the surface radiate a lot of heat away whereas some do not makes one think that the whole picture is being over-simplified for illustration purposes in the usual non-scientific fashion.

Dec 5, 2017 at 8:46 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

Radical rodent, rhoda

Thank you, Radical Rodent, for giving me the idea for the calculation. It gave me another chance for a back-of-the-envelope calculation to check the evidence.

I put it here as a courtesy to you, but I no longer care whether you believe it or not.

Dec 5, 2017 at 11:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

" I no longer care whether you believe it or not."

Nor should you. It isn't a matter of belief. Facts are facts. Proven observations are facts. Idle prognostications of disaster are not. Where we seem to be as far as the post title is concerned is somewhere in the middle.

Dec 5, 2017 at 11:43 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

Entropic Man, Planet Earth has stuck two fingers up at the Climate Science that you cherish. Planet Earth has a bit more experience than all of Climate Science.

Climate Sciene might have a chance of survival, if it considered the possibility that it might have got something wrong. What actually is the truth of Climate Science, before it develops as many myths as Popeye's Spinach?

Spinach farmers love the publicity and financial rewards of cultivating myths, and Climate Science is beginning to realise that the politicians and public have no desire to consume more Climate Science. It does not do exactly what it said on Popeye's Tin.

Dec 6, 2017 at 12:43 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Yeah… wot Rhoda sed…

By the way, my questions are not rhetorical; I would really like them answered. Where do you get the data you bandy about, willy-nilly? Have the formulae you offer us been suitably tested? Have you considered all the variables that could exist? Have you considered that there could be variables that you do not know about?

Whatever your answer to any of those questions, you should be prepared to be asked for evidence, logic or sources for them. I am happy to admit my ignorance, and I do have a desire to learn; you, however, appear to consider yourself a font of all knowledge climate, yet, when someone (e.g. moi) questions you on this, you get all antsy, as if the mere thought that you could be wrong is anathema to you. Sorry, but you are no longer in the classroom; you are dealing with adults, now, and adults want real data, not airy-fairy formulae based on figures of doubtful provenance. Sadly, you seem unable or unwilling to provide any such evidence. Whatever is provided very quickly fails scrutiny: a visit to Blackpool or Brighton or Cleethorpes to look at piers that were built when sea-levels were a foot lower makes you admire the foresight of the Victorian engineers; while there, admire the mussels on the pier legs, that survive being baked in the sun for hours, the thermal shock of immersion when the tide comes back in, yet they continue to thrive; explore the estuaries, where cockles and mussels are still alive, alive-o, in spite of a twice daily change of pH from caustic to slightly acidic (and twice the other way, making it a four times a day change). Further afield, a visit to the Greeks isles and you will find submerged ports on one side of an island and high-and-dry ports of the other side, showing you that it is not necessarily the surface of the sea that determines whether it is rising or not; a visit to Guam, where the coral reefs have been about 90% “bleached,” shows you the remarkable resilience of coral; a visit to the depths of the oceans to see crabs walking over molten sulphur and life abounding around super-hot smoking stacks, pumping out tonnes of odious, noxious substances, shows you that life does not operate in as thin an envelope of conditions as we are being led to believe; a look back in time at the year without a summer shows you that a year without a winter is far more preferable; a look at the remains of mammoths, that froze with undigested food in their stomachs shows you that conditions can change extraordinarily quickly, and the present rate of ~1K per century is NOT remarkable. Do yourself a favour, Entropic man, and get sceptical about your own theories and logic, and your sources of data; question yourself, such that you do not get such a barrage of questions from us.

Dec 6, 2017 at 1:17 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Radical rodent

You may have heard the Myth of Sisyphus

To quote Albert Camus

"The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor."

I have spent 46 pages bouncing data off your cognitive dissonance. I have concluded that this definately qualifies as "futile and hopeless labor."

Unlike Sysiphus I can choose to stop.

Dec 7, 2017 at 10:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Dec 7, 2017 at 10:38 AM | Entropic man

It still has not occurred to you, that you are the one relying on, and completely dependent on, defective science. It is known as Denial

Dec 7, 2017 at 10:57 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Interesting analogy you make EM. King Sisyphus was punished for his self-aggrandizing craftiness and deceitfulness . I'm sure you don't wish us to take it that far.

Dec 7, 2017 at 11:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterSupertroll

Golf Charlie

Yes, it has occured to me.

I was trained as a scientist, a process which include the philosophy of science from Bacon through Popper, Kuhn and Polyani.

I don't know what they do to engineers, but I had objective reasoning and analysis of data metaphorically beaten into me with a big stick.

I have applied those lessons since. On scientific matters I go by the weight of evidence and my own ability to check it.

Dec 7, 2017 at 11:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man


Fortunately, I am not Sisyphus.🙂

Radical rodent

IIRC you have direct experience of desert environments. You will have noticed that in very low humidity desert conditions nocturnal cooling takes place faster than under the more humid conditions of the UK.

My interpretation of this observation is that the GHE has two components which significantly affect nocturnal cooling under clear skies, the amount of water vapour and the amount of CO2.

All else being equal, when you remove the water vapour net outward radiation is countered only by CO2 and the cooling rate increases.

If you reject the GHE as the limiting effect on nocturnal cooling, you need a different explaination for the observation that nocturnal cooling takes place faster under low absolute humidity conditions. What would you suggest?

Dec 7, 2017 at 12:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterEntropic man

Entropic man: you do not have to venture as far as a desert to observe the phenomenon you describe; it can be seen almost anywhere on Earth (admittedly, I have no experience of Polar regions, so might be wrong, there): on a calm night, when the sky is cloudy, surface temperature fall is slight; when the sky is clear, surface temperature fall can be significant. To me, the determining factor is the amount of liquid water in the air; that those areas where the sky might appear clear, yet droplets might also exist show a slower loss of surface heat than those areas where the air is so dry that any water is most likely to be in vapour form does support that idea (i.e. water vapour is a useless greenhouse gas. As it has been shown in a laboratory that water vapour is a far greater absorber of the relevant energy than CO2, this then makes CO2 an even more useless greenhouse gas). Also, do note that the example that I have mentioned a few times in the past shows that it is the surface that cooled; the air temperature was still so far above freezing that warm-weather clothing could be worn without any cold discomfort. I have noticed similar in the UK, when there was frost on the ground, yet the air temperature less than 2 metres above was 5°C.

Yes, I have heard of Sisyphus, and understand his frustrations, as I try to inveigle out of you your sources of information and explanation of logic, to have you dodge and duck and weave in your refusals to answer. There is no dissonance in my cognition as I attempt to correct my ignorance; but, like Tanatalus, as I reach for the grapes of knowledge, they draw away from my outstretched fingers; as I stoop to drink of the truth, it sinks away from my feet. You offer so much, but, when questioned, can only respond with pompous condescension and insults, consigning the label, “rhetorical,” to genuine questions, thus justifying ignoring them, then you have the audacity to claim that you are applying objective reasoning and analysis. All the observations I made, a few posts above, raise serious questions about the whole AGW farrago, and can be observed by anyone, yet you choose not to do so, preferring, instead, to wrap yourself in arcane rituals in the comfort of your own entrenched beliefs.

As I said before, Entropic man, please start questioning your own logic, your own reasoning, and your own sources of data. Only when you get to be sceptical of yourself could you be considered to be scientific.

On scientific matters I go by the weight of evidence and my own ability to check it.
The feather-weight of evidence for AGW holds for you greater credence than the mountain-weight of evidence against it, yet you continue to have the temerity to call yourself “scientific.”

Dec 7, 2017 at 2:18 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent