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Bombshell Science Study Validates ‘Slaying’ of Greenhouse Gas Theory

Written by John O’Sullivan & Joseph E Postma

New peer-reviewed paper on the greenhouse gas theory is causing tremors among scientists who claim carbon dioxide controls climate. The new paper gives a robust mathematical proof backing a controversial book debunking the ‘settled science’ greenhouse gas effect (GHE).

So, did climate scientists get the cause and effect of carbon dioxide wrong?  Yes, say authors Nikolov and Zeller (both PhDs) whose detailed examination shows that atmospheric pressure and the temperature gradient created by it determines near-surface-air temperature – not carbon dioxide.

The two reputed scientists vindicate what were once deemed ‘crackpot’ claims in ‘Slaying the Sky Dragon: Death of the Greenhouse Gas Theory’ (2010). The ‘Slayers’ book was a world’s first by a team of international researchers including renowned Canadian climatologist, D Tim Ball. Dismissed widely at the time because it argued our atmosphere works nothing at all like a greenhouse, its key findings, that atmospheric pressure and the temperature gradient created by it determines near-surface-air temperature, is now proven mathematically by Drs Nikolov and Zeller (Physics and Meteorology).

Nikolov and Zeller’s paper is causing excitement because it offers compelling fresh impetus for a paradigm shift away from carbon-focused climate alarm, a common thesis linking both teams of scientists. Both sets of findings independently confirm that the key claim in the greenhouse gas theory – that carbon dioxide adds, delays or traps heat via downwelling longwave (LW) radiation – is false. Nikolov and Zeller state:

“…the down-welling LW radiation appears to be globally a product of the air temperature rather than a driver of the surface warming. In other words, on a planetary scale, the so-called back radiation is a consequence of the atmospheric thermal effect rather than a cause for it.”

For more than a generation government climate ‘experts’ had the whole thing back to front. Prominent American climate scientist, Dr. Judith Curry commented:

“Dr. Nikolov has neatly and convincingly explained what others (e.g. ‘The Slayers’) have been broadly asserting for some time… I applaud the efforts to help rectify physical inconsistencies in the current GHE concept.”

Speaking to the Washington Post the two former U.S. government scientists told of the alienation and frustration of producing work that so hotly challenged consensus groupthink. “Not conforming to accepted theories or mainstream beliefs, poses a challenge in today’s world of academic political correctness,” Nikolov said. “This is not just our experience, and it is not just happening in climate science.”

Defenders of the GHE include Dr. Roy Spencer and blogger Anthony Watts (WUWT), both are long-time ‘anti – Slayers’ (see here) and decried all previous work undermining the climate consensus. Watts trashed Nikolov and Zeller’s previous GHE paper in 2012 and banned all pro-Slayer commentary from his site. Only climatologist Dr. Tim Ball (co-founder of the ‘Slayers’) gets any column inches at WUWT – on condition he doesn’t mention the GHE. Such anti-science censorship, probably couched in jealousy, served to stunt wider awareness of this new anti-GHE science.

But Astrophysicist and prominent ‘Slayers’ scientist, Joseph E Postma warmly welcomed the new work:

Among other things, this is what the Slayers have said as well, long ago: the thermal energy in the atmosphere and the atmosphere’s radiation is a consequence of its temperature, not its cause!”

The Nikolov and Zeller paper New Insights on the Physical Nature of the Atmospheric Greenhouse Effect Deduced from an Empirical Planetary Temperature Model is more mathematically grounded than most ‘Slayers’ work though does contain some of the ‘flat earth physics’ the ‘Slayers’ exposed as false. In the ‘Slayers’ book, co-author and Sweden’s most-cited mathematician Professor Claes Johnson explained the importance of the Euler/Navier-Stokes equations for a compressible gas subject to gravitation (see the Computational Thermodynamics and his chapter ‘Climate Thermodynamics’ in Slaying the Sky Dragon).

Such mathematical rigor is the springboard for the paradigm shift where a new robust model replaces the old one. Crucially, Nikolov and Zeller validate the ‘Slayers’’ thesis that CO2 cannot ‘trap heat’ in the atmosphere and cause temperatures to rise. As Postma continues:

“There’s no independent internal source of radiation in or from the atmosphere, therefore any such radiation from the atmosphere is a consequence, not a cause.”

The scientists drew comparisons with atmospheres of other planets in our solar system – all show a strong correlation between atmospheric pressure and their temperature gradient. As such,  it can be said one common control factor – air pressure and the temperature gradient – better explains climate. No CO2 factor needed!

Postma’s earlier papers explain the physics involved, while Nikolov and Zeller provide confirmatory mathematical proof. For non-mathematicians Postma’s papers are easier to follow. They are found at:

http://www.ilovemycarbondioxide.com/pdf/Understanding_the_Atmosphere_Effect.pdf (2011, pg 20):  “the gravitational compression of the gas of the atmosphere does qualitatively create a distribution of temperature.”

http://principia-scientific.org/publications/The_Model_Atmosphere.pdf (2011, pg 15): “An example of a quantitative logical test of the standard GHE postulate comes with analysis of the expected temperature distribution of a compressible gas in a gravitational field. The internal energy of a parcel of gas in a column of air is easily expressed as a sum of its thermal and gravitational potential energies..”

http://principia-scientific.org/publications/Absence_Measureable_Greenhouse_Effect.pdf (2012, pg 7 & 9): “Of course, the specific mechanism of the GHE is something else, which we will discuss ahead, but it should be clear that whatever the GHE mechanism is, it is not the temperature gradient Γ itself.”

For Postma and his colleagues at Principia Scientific International (PSI), the task was all about demonstrating that the radiative greenhouse gas effect is wrong. They say this is because there are basic alternative considerations which the consensus theory failed to include. Dozens more explanatory articles can be found at principia-scientific.org

Time to Drop ‘Greenhouse Gas’ Groupthink

Until the ‘Slayers’ emerged the climate debate was just a two-sided debate of ‘how much’ warming the trace gas CO2 added to earth’s climate. Discussion of a third option (no CO2 impact) was forbidden.

But in 2010 when ‘Slaying the Sky Dragon’ was published, it immediately became, in the words of a prominent skeptic, Lord Christopher Monckton, “the talk of the Cancun Climate Conference.’ Unable to get a fair hearing at that time these pioneer researchers were roundly dismissed as “crackpots.” Monckton and other prominent skeptics joined in the attacks, no one wanted to believe CO2 had no impact on climate.

Even Nikolov and Zeller are loathe to drop the discredited term ‘greenhouse gas effect’ – which the ‘Slayers’ are adamant is totally unphysical and misleading.

As PSI co-founder Hans Schreuder explains:

“This nonsensical and widespread belief that our atmosphere has something called a “greenhouse effect” has been the root of so much misunderstanding and confusion. Climate scientists got it back to front – they put the cart before the horse and committed the greatest error of modern science – they turned an effect into a cause.”

No Such Thing as ‘Greenhouse Effect’ Outside a Greenhouse

Postma, a ‘Slayer’ since 2011, has demonstrated in his papers there is no prior evidence that there need be something called a “greenhouse effect” present in an open atmosphere. He has a helpful video presentation here:


“It is all very well accounted for already by adiabatic pressure and the Ideal Gas Laws,” he explains.

Firstly, the ‘Slayers’ (now Principia Scientific International) began the discussion about the adiabatic effect causing the lower atmosphere to be higher in temperature. This is not a greenhouse effect of a real greenhouse and it is not about stopping convection – repeat, the adiabatic effect is NOT about stopping convection.

Secondly, a real greenhouse effect is what occurs in a real greenhouse, and this is not what the radiative greenhouse effect of climate alarm was nor is it about an adiabatic effect, and so it is illogical to use the term “greenhouse effect” 1) for things that it is not, 2) for multiple different things at the same time. The adiabatic effect is not about inhibiting convection. Therefore, to end the confusion, climate researchers need to abandon that non-applicable and deceptively applied term. That it persists serves a political, not a scientific purpose.

Mass Promotion of Greenhouse Gas Alarm Since 1988

Politics, unfortunately, is at the root of mass promotion of the ‘greenhouse gas theory.’ School children are taught it is long-settled science. But the truth is it was born from nothing more than the musings of Victorian scientists obsessed with the ‘calorific ether.’ What is not widely known is that for much of 20th Century mainstream science abandoned talk of CO2-driven climate. Indeed, from the 1950’s to the 1970’s, with fears of a coming ice age, scientists said it was the known cooling properties of dust particles and aerosols (from human emissions and volcanic activity) that had the biggest impact.

In 1988, during a period of warming temperatures, two important media events re-ignited the forgotten greenhouse hypothesis. They were the Royal Society speech by UK Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher and shortly after, the highly-publicized testimony of NASA’s James Hansen before the US Congress. Later came Al Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Truth’ which touted nine climate lies exposed in a pivotal UK court ruling, including the biggest whopper, that rises in CO2 lead rises in temperatures – the opposite is true. [1]

Group thinkers had the forces of government funds and a sensationalizing media to keep their alarmist message alive, so the fake debate was all about ‘how much’ CO2 would alter climate, never the null hypothesis. From 2007 Alan Siddons and Hans Schreuder – the original ‘Slayers’ – debunked this concept here, here, here and here by pointing out how blaming a benign trace gas that comprised only 0.04 percent of the atmosphere violates thermodynamic law.

Astrophysicist Postma explains:

“We quite directly showed that the near-surface air temperature must be warmer than any expected average temperature, with the reason being the gravitational field and atmospheric mass. There is no logical reason to call this a greenhouse effect since this mechanism is not how a real greenhouse operates. We called it the atmosphere effect instead since that at least refers to the actual object in question.”

Bottom line: there is no greenhouse effect in the atmosphere. Time to break the addiction and embrace the paradigm shift.

[1] Barnola, Barkov et al. ‘Historical Isotopic Temperature Record from the Vostok Ice Core,'(2003) http://cdiac.ornl.gov; Petit et all 1999 (CO2 lags temps by 1,000’s of years; Fischer et al 1999 (CO2 lag of 600± 400 years); Monnin et al 2001 at Dome Concordia, Antarctica (CO2 to temp lag of 800 ± 600 yrs); Mudelsee (2001) CO2 lags temps. by 1,300 years ± 1000; Caillon et al 2003  CO2 lags temps by  800 ± 200 years.

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Comments (10)

  • Avatar

    Ideal Gas Man


    Ed Bo obviously hasn’t read the NZ paper as it uses the the Volokin-ReLlez correction for the flat Earth (33 K result) by recalculating an integrated sphere (90 K result): https://springerplus.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/2193-1801-3-723
    using the spherical Earth in place of the ‘flat’ Earth was the magic key that lead to their discovery.


    • Avatar

      Ed Bo


      I have indeed read the N&Z paper, and the V&R paper they cite. Both papers I would reject if any of the undergraduates I teach had turned them in to me. They are that bad!

      As just one example, V&R state: “The Law of Energy Conservation dictates that a change in rotational speed may only affect the magnitude of the diurnal temperature amplitude at the surface but not the diurnal mean, i.e. rotation solely acts to redistribute the total available energy between daytime and nighttime hemispheres through the planet’s thermal inertia.”

      This simply shows that they understand neither the 1st Law (CoE) nor Holder’s Inequality at the most basic level. When the power emitted by the surface is proportional to a power of temperature greater than 1 (in this case, the 4th power), the more variation from the average temperature there is (for a given average temperature), the more total power emitted. For the case where the solar power input is constant over the long term (even if cycling in the short term), this means that the greater the variance in temperature over time, the lower the average temperature must be for CoE to be satisfied.

      The slower the moon rotates, the more the temperature varies, so the lower the average temperature must be. The moon rotates at 1/30 the rate of the earth (with respect to the sun).

      The lower the thermal capacitance (“inertia”) of the surface involved in the day/night thermal exchange, the more the temperature varies, so the lower the average temperature must be. The thermal capacitance of the fraction of a meter of dust on the surface of the moon that varies each diurnal cycle is tiny compared to that of the earth, which extends down several meters over most of the earth.

      Neither pair of authors understands these points at the most fundamental level. Instead they pat themselves on the back for taking into account the cosmic microwave background radiation — which amounts to a whopping 3 microwatts per square meter.

      And despite giving lip service to Holder’s inequality, N&Z do their whole analysis based on average temperatures and fluxes — what Joe keeps calling the “flat earth” fallacy!


        • Avatar

          Ed Bo


          Hi quokka, I have been following your fun. You’re doing a fine job dismantling his arguments all by yourself. I admire your patience, as many of his arguments aren’t even coherent enough to form good counterarguments against.

          You may want to press him for his calculations for the power fluxes on the back half of the bulb, the side not irradiated by the lamps. I haven’t seen him account for this yet. His experiment doesn’t have the spherical symmetry of, say, Willis’ “steel greenhouse”, which makes the math so much easier. I don’t think Rosco really understands the difference.


      • Avatar

        Ned Nikolov


        Dear Ed Bo,

        You need to read Volokin & ReLlez (2014) more carefully before making comments, and get the argument right as to why the spin rate has no effect on the global average temperature.

        1) V&R show that the global average temperature of an airless spherical body is highly sensitive to the parameter ηe (eta) in their Eq. 15. What is ηe? It is the “effective ground heat storage coefficient in a vacuum defined as a fraction of the absorbed shortwave flux conducted into the subsurface during daylight hour and subsequently released as heat at night”. V&R demonstrate that ηe depends on the thermal conductivity of the regolith. Thermal conductivity in turn is a function of the regolith chemical composition, particle sizes and the amount of gas (or fluid) held between the particles that transports heat via convection as opposed by conduction. In other words, the thermal conductivity of a substrate strongly depends on the gas density and atmospheric pressure found in spaces between the regolith particles. The thermal conductivity does NOT depend on a planet’s spin rate! Therefore, ηe is independent of spin rate as well. This is all discussed at length on pp. 14-17 in Volokin & ReLlez (2014);

        2) If the spin rate of a planet had indeed a measurable effect on the global average temperature as claimed by simple 1-D models, then the highly accurate regression Equation 10a in Nikolov & Zeller (2017) would have been IMPOSSIBLE provided that this equation does not consider spin rate at all. This is because the six planetary bodies participating in the regression analysis have rotation periods ranging from 1 day (for Earth) to 243 days (for Venus). In other words, the fact that planetary bodies with such diverse spin rates fall so tightly on a single pressure-temperature curve, which does not consider rotation periods (see Fig. 4 in the N&Z paper), indicates that the spin rate has NO EFFECT on global planetary temperatures in REALITY! The notion of an impact of rotation rate on global temperature is exclusively based on 1-dimensional thermo-physical models, but it is not supported by empirical evidence. This is one of those math-born myths we need to get rid of… Models are only a limited representation of reality, and whenever there is a discrepancy between a theoretical model and real observations, we need to reconsider the theory rather than dismiss the data. This is the standard scientific method!


        • Avatar

          Ed Bo



          Yikes! You have even less grasp of the underlying physical principles and mathematics than I thought!

          As to point 1, my argument does not rest AT ALL on any claim that thermal conductivity varies with spin rate. You are attacking a strawman here. But for a GIVEN set of thermal properties of the surface such as conductivity, as the spin rate increases, the amplitude of the day/night temperature difference lessens, as V&R acknowledge.

          What I do argue is that V&R are completely wrong to claim (and you are completely wrong to accept) that the magnitude of this day/night variation has no effect on the average (mean) temperature.

          A simplified example makes my point without too much math. For simplicity, we will use a single “daytime” and single “nighttime” temperature, but the principle is in no way dependent on that simplification.

          A planet with emissivity 1.0 and a uniform temperature of 255K will radiate a total power of:

          Q = 5.67E-8 * (255^4) * A = 240 * A watts

          where A is the area of the planet in m^2.

          If the planet instead is half at 205K (nighttime) and half at 305K (daytime), so with the same average temperature, it will radiate a total power of:

          Q = [5.67E-8 * (205^4) * A/2] + [5.67E-8 * (305^4) * A/2] = 100 * A/2 + 491 * A/2 = 295 * A watts

          If the planet is half at 155K (nighttime) and half at 355K (daytime), so again with the same average temperature, it will radiate a total power of:

          Q = [5.67E-8 * (155^4) * A/2] + [5.67E-8 * (355^4) * A/2] = 33 * A/2 + 901 * A/2 = 467 * A watts

          It should be a trivial exercise to see that with a constant power input — let’s say 240 * A watts, the larger the variance in temperature, the lower the average temperature must be for the planet to maintain steady state conditions.

          With a little math, we can compute that for the +/-50K case, the average temperature must be reduced to 240K, and for the +/-100K case, the average temperature must be reduced to 202K (similar to the moon’s average!)

          I would expect undergraduates in an introductory course to make such a mistake only once, and then understand it readily. For people calling themselves professional scientists to make and promulgate this error over many years is inexcusable!

          You ask how your regression equation could work if this effect were real. I turn the question around on you. How could an equation that ignores this HUGE (YUUUUGE?) physical effect have any validity?

          You still have not come close to understanding the most basic criticism of your work, namely that a regression equation with almost as many coefficients as data points can NEVER be demonstrated to be valid. Where are the “withheld” data points not used in the regression that can then be plugged in as a test? Oh right, there aren’t any! I could go on and on.

          The financial markets are littered with regression equations such as yours, which fit “perfectly” to existing data, yet have absolutely no ability to predict a “future” data point. You have done nothing to demonstrate that your equation is not in this class.


  • Avatar

    John O'Sullivan


    Ed, the paper is an important step in the right direction, for the reasons stated in the article. It isn’t perfect. We noted their 2012 paper at the time and made similar comments. ‘Flat earth’ physics is the root of the fictional 33 degrees of additional warming, an early 20th Century unphysical fudge factor that should be abandoned in this age of supercomputers.


    • Avatar

      Ed Bo


      John, the “flat earth” approximation is used in diagrams like K&T as a simplified conceptual illustration only. The supercomputers used for actual calculations do NOT use it — you can go into the code of some of them and see. Typically, they update every 15 minutes or so and calculate the instantaneous insolation for each gridded section of the globe using trigonometry.

      But N&Z use it in the core of their analysis, and those who decry its use in “cartoon” illustrations applaud in this case!

      Oh, and Judith Curry made NO such supporting quotation as what you put in the post. She is uniformly scathing in her criticisms of Slayers. The site you link as your reference for the quote says that it was a comment at WUWT, not even at Curry’s blog. You need to correct your post.


  • Avatar

    Ed Bo


    The whole N&Z paper is based on the “flat earth” assumption of average insolation and average global temperatures. Joe Postma has been arguing for years that this assumption is absurd and completely invalidates any analysis that uses it. But here he heartily approves of the N&Z paper. What gives?


    • Avatar

      Ned Nikolov


      Ed Bo, this is an absolutely incorrect statement! It shows that you have totally misunderstood our methods and results… To claim that the global average temperature of a planet is a meaningless quantity is to not understand the basic fact that temperature is LINEARLY related to the kinetic energy of a gas. Because of this linear relationship, an average temperature is a measure of the average kinetic energy content of an atmosphere at the level where that temperature is recorded. Temperature is a marker of the energy of a gas, and the atmospheric energy drives our climate system!


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