Debate: ‘Greenhouse Gas theory is False’
Written by Pierre Latour & Jack Barrett
UPDATED SEPT 30, 2013: Pierre Latour, Vice Chairman of PSI, recently published his takedown of the so-called greenhouse gas ‘theory.’ An alleged key component of the so-called greenhouse effect (GHE) is the trace atmospheric gas carbon dioxide (0.04%) which has been blamed for causing global warming. But carbon dioxide (CO2) has been shown by PSI researchers to only act as a coolant in earth’s atmosphere. Either PSI members are fools or they will prove to be the instigators of perhaps the most important paradigm shift in science this century.
Latour’s essay triggered a lively response among defenders of the GHE faith unpersuaded of such claims. One such critic is Dr. Jack Barrett. Below we run Barrett’s critique and Latour’s reply. We hope Dr. Barrett and others will continue this lively and open debate, plus readers are also invited to post comments for wider consideration.
Pierre R Latour, PE, PhD Chemical Engineer, CLIFFTENT@hotmail.com, July 4, 2013
Rebuttal September 20, 2013
Barrett: This is not true.
Latour: Yes it is. Jack Barrett’s claim my article is “Not true” was not supported by his remarks and he actually agreed with much of it (7/22). He attempted to refute my explanations with mere counterclaims, no science anywhere. He did not find a single error. The consequence of his disapproval of intellectual skepticism is glaringly apparent from his adoption of the flawed GHGT, hook, line & sinker.
I wish to provide you with sound scientific and chemical engineering analysis of the faults with the Greenhouse Gas Theory, GHGT, proposed to drive Anthropogenic Global Warming and Climate Change, AGW & CC, especially as it pertains to CO2. I want to arm you for this huge, ongoing debate. I seek and receive no financial support from any government, business or organization; I finance my own work in retirement.
For the life of me I cannot get a solid, consistent grip on the underlying physics supporting the notion first proclaimed by James Hansen, Science, 1981, atmospheric CO2 has any quantitatively verified effect on Earth’s temperature. It is the duty of AGW & CC promoters to provide it, not skeptics like me. So I claim Barak Obama, Harry Reed, Nancy Pelosi and Al Gore have not explained the physics and quantified the effect to my satisfaction.
Barrett: Surely you would not expect political leaders to have the necessary knowledge and understanding to enable them to speak about physics? They are at the mercy of the scientists that do have that knowledge and understanding.
Latour: Yes I would. They talk about it all the time, without knowing what they are talking about. Your statement indicates you concur. Scientists are guilty too. Scientists seeking government research grants are at the mercy of their benefactors.
Like most politicians with only one wing, on the left, not right side, they make claims and charges with little or no relevant evidence to back it up. In American law courts these are called frivolous claims and dismissed (thrown out). When Progressives’ expensive schemes collapse due to foreseeable engineering consequences, their claim they are unintended consequences rings hollow. After repeating it for 50 years.
While it is not my job as skeptic, I will offer eight objections to their GHG Theory, each of which falsify it. It is their job to prove me wrong. I will present my assertions in simple terms with justifications; I have detailed chemical engineering mathematical analysis verified by experiment to support them.
1. GHGT science is settled, consensus is established, skeptics and deniers are crackpots. Wrong.
Barrett: The basic physics is settled and has been for many years. The modeling efforts are subject to errors and are not settled since they all disagree with each other.
Latour: Not to my satisfaction. The fact that modeling efforts are not settled proves it. Skeptical engineers have higher intellectual and scientific standards because we must apply science that works. You can never build a thermostat adjusting fossil fuel combustion with your GHGT model. Science is never settled permanently, only improved when something better is discovered. If it were settled, why does UN IPCC need to issue assessments and revisions to whole world every five years? Why don’t the GHGT researchers retire? If there is a math model for the physics of GHGT, where is it and why do climate modelers resort to statistical regressions instead? Calling skeptics and deniers “crackpots” is not an intellectual argument, it is name-calling. Sign of weakness. Skepticism is a noble intellectual position.
2. GHGT effect 15C – (-18C) = 33C is wrong.
Barrett: it’s correct, see later.
3. GHGT says atmosphere acts like a blanket. False.
Barrett: Blankets keep people warm, greenhouse gases keep the Earth warm, but their mechanisms are different.
Latour: Generally agree, but not quite. Blankets reduce the rate of heat transfer to/from surroundings by decreasing heat transfer coefficient. They keep you warm when it is cold and cool when it is hot. So you agree the analogy is invalid. Good. Now provide the GHGT mechanism, convection, conduction or radiation, and quantify how much CO2 keeps Earth warm.
4. CO2 is green plant food.
Latour: Thank you. We agree again.
5. GHGT neglects the effect of absorbing CO2 on incoming solar irradiance.
Barrett: It does not; the K/T budget shows the atmosphere absorbing 67 W m-2
Latour: I agree the K-T diagram shows what you say. I said CO2 and you said atmosphere. Atmosphere is only 400 ppmv CO2, so they are different. My statement stands. I said if CO2 absorbs incoming and emits in all directions, it would cool the surface. Since you did not take exception, I am glad we agree again. I suspect you do not know the difference between radiation intensity given by S-B Equation and radiant heat transfer from a hot body to cooler surroundings, given by the law of radiant energy transfer. Just because they have same units, w/m2 does not mean they are the same phenomenon. This is a source of your confusion.
6. Kiehl-Trenberth Energy Budget back radiation is false.
Barrett: It’s a very good summary of the flows of energy experienced by the Earth.
Latour: Just because you like it doesn’t make it true. Your comment does not refute mine, so mine stands.
- Thermostat adjusting fossil fuel combustion will never work.
- Modeling temperature data is worthless.
GHGT science is settled, consensus is established, skeptics and deniers are crackpots. Wrong.Claim is irrelevant to truthfulness of GHGT. Consensus for GHGT is very small, limited to UN IPCC and a few governments. Consensus it is false is stronger. There is nothing wrong with being skeptical or a denier, taught in universities since Athens, 420BC. Appeal to authority was overturned when Francis Bacon inaugurated the Age of Reason in 1600. Just because UN IPCC report editors say so does not make is so, in spite of EPA. They both have a conflict of financial interest. I get to think and speak for myself.
GHGT effect 15C – (-18C) = 33C is wrong. Correct value is 15.0C – 15.0C = 0C. Nothing to it. Hansen, Science, 28Aug1981, incorrectly assumed Earth radiates as a black body with emissivity = 1.0, took satellite readings of its average intensity, 239 w/m2 of surface, and deduced from Boltzmann equation, K = 100(P/5.67e)0.25, it radiates at -18C. K = 100(239/5.67(1.0))0.25 = 254.8K – 273.1 = -18.3C.
While measuring average annual thermal temperature day-night, pole-to-pole is difficult, there is consensus it is about 15C. So Hanson declared the difference, his now famous GHGT effect, GHGTE = 33C, a discrepancy due to his so called greenhouse gases H2O and CO2. While calculating or measuring Earth’s emissivity is difficult, it is certainly < 1, so radiating T > -18C and GHGTE < 33C.
Global Climate Model says emissivity of Earth surface – atmosphere system is about 0.612. If so, corresponding global T for 239 w/m2 average emitted to space would be K = 100(239/5.67*0.612)0.25 = 288.1 – 273.1 = 15.0C. GHGT = 0C. QED.
Barrett: The K/T energy budget has 390 W/m2 emitted by the surface, but only 235 W/m2 reaching space. 235/390 = 0.6 to give what you interpret as emissivity. The emissivity is the factor included in the Stefan-Boltzmann equation to allow for systems that are not perfect blackbodies. Ignoring the emissivity, the S/B equation gives an emission temperature of the Earth as 254 K. That is an approximation, but a reasonable one. Clouds, for instance, have emissivities around 0.98 and they represent 60% or so of the emissions to space.
Latour: This statement is correct. It does not contradict what I have written. Except I do not interpret emissivity that way; I use it as physics taught me.
GHGT says atmosphere acts like a blanket. False. Electric blankets do warm you, nonelectric blankets don’t. Blankets, jackets and clothing reduce the rate of heat transfer between your body and air by reducing heat transfer coefficient. That may make you feel better or worse, depending. The rate of heat transfer by conduction is q = UA(Th – Tc). Wool blanket heat transfer coefficient U < silk U. Confusion arises when GHGT defenders assert a blanket analogy that fails to specify whether q is constant or Th is constant. Human body releases energy of oxidation by IR radiation, thermal conduction/convection and perspiration. Normally Th = 37.0C, held constant by internal thermostat adjusting oxidation rate q, metabolism. So when you put on a blanket, U decreases and so does q. You may feel better if (Th – Tc) is large, but not if it is small or < 0. When that happens you take it off to keep q > 0.
Barrett: Analogies are always subject to criticisms that are transferred to the real phenomenon. It’s a well-known ploy of extreme sceptics. The real explanation of global warming is that an increased concentration of GHGs will make the emission levels higher and the emission of energy to space will be reduced. This means that the system will warm up until radiative balance with space is restored.
Latour: Some analogies are valid, some not. Analytical criticisms distinguish between them. The analogy of radiating atmospheric gases like H2O and CO2 to a greenhouse in the sky is a famous invalid analogy. Calling my critique of an invalid analogy “a well-known ploy of extreme skeptics” does not falsify my critique or validate the analogy; rather it suggests Barrett does not refute my claim.
For atmosphere to empty space U = 0 so q = 0 for any (Th – Tc). The blanket analogy is falsified.
CO2 is green plant food. GHGT does not account for plant photosynthesis chemical reaction, a cooling effect. The reaction consumes solar energy, CO2 and H2O to make O2 and sugar, starch, cellulose, carbohydrates and hydrocarbons. The rate of reaction increases with temperature, humidity and CO2 concentration, published in 1924. Most of it occurs by ocean algae, tropical jungles and Siberian forests. So as CO2 increases, photosynthesis absorption of solar radiation increases, cooling Earth. Biology counts as much as radiation physics.
Barrett: Yes, all that is true, photosynthesis removes CO2 from the atmosphere, but when the vegetation is eaten or rots the CO2 is returned to the atmosphere. See the graph:
These are the seasonal variations, but year-on-year there is the increase due to our fossil fuel burning activity.
Latour: We are in agreement once again. I am well aware of your diagram. Thanks.
Most commercial greenhouses, like Walt Disney World, inject CO2 to promote growth. Denying Earth’s living flora their food, CO2, choking and starving them, is a monstrous crime against them, dependent fauna, humanity, life as we know it and our Mother Earth. It should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law in the World Court, The Hague.
Barrett: True, more CO2 is good for plant growth, but all was well in 1850 when the level was 280 ppmv. Certainly the higher levels of today produce better growth and yields, but there is no possibility of starving the biosphere.
Latour: We are in agreement again. But there is always a possibility of starving the biosphere as any competent environmental scientist knows. Any reduction of [CO2] reduces the rate of photosynthesis reaction, first order chemical kinetics in [CO2], [H2O], sunshine intensity and exponential in T. Which proves Earth’s surface is not a black-body and doesn’t even meet the assumptions of Kirchhoff’s Law. Engineers don’t automatically assume absorptivity = emissivity = 1. Real radiating bodies are not necessarily black. GHGT does not even account for deforestation! You have a habit of stating the obvious and drawing erroneous conclusions.
GHGT neglects the effect of absorbing CO2 on incoming solar irradiance. I see some overlap between CO2 absorption spectrum left side and solar incident spectrum right side at 2.0 and 2.8 micrometers with 28% of CO2 absorbing power. So first 100 ppm does absorb some incoming and emit it back to space. That would divert radiant energy to and from surface, cooling surface a bit. The Earth system emits to space at same rate with slightly higher emissivity due to introduction of CO2, so it must radiate at a lower T. That’s cool. The second 100 ppm would divert less due to Lambert-Beer Law, and cool Earth a lesser amount. The fourth 100 ppm would have a much smaller cooling effect, law of diminishing returns. Determining the effect of CO2 on average absorptivity / emissivity of 100 km thick atmosphere takes some work to quantify those little bits. I am reconciled with nature for now.
Barrett: This is not correct. Some solar radiation is absorbed by the atmosphere, mainly by water vapour and a little by CO2 and it is all taken into account in the understanding of GW.
Latour: Claim without foundation. I wrote about CO2 and you about atmosphere, mainly H2O. Where does K-T diagram and GHGT show change in energy flows, absorptivities, emissivities and temperatures with change in [CO2]?
I think the whole 400 ppm today causes about T4 – T0 = – 0.5C or so. The next 100 ppm, 400 to 500 would cause an additional -0.01C. Always < 0C. Not enough to get excited about. No tipping points. All is calm, all is bright.
Barrett: You can think whatever you choose to do, but even simple models of the climate system give +1°C for the 300-600 ppmv doubling of CO2 and then double it for the water vapour feedback.
Latour: Thank you for allowing me to think. Do you mean simple models are accurate because they are simple? How did “they” arrive at that “double it” for water vapor feedback? Do you harbor any skepticism about that “double it” or just accept UN IPCC assessments as they decline? WSJ reports UN IPCC Assessment Oct 2013 will say doubling 400 to 800 will “probably” cause 1.65C, in 70 years at current rate of [CO2] increase. Your claim does not falsify my statement.
You want a simple explanation for the GHGT effect? There it is. One short paragraph, fits on a bar napkin.
Kiehl-Trenberth Energy Budget back radiation is false.
First it says nothing about CO2.
Barrett: It is an energy flow diagram.
Latour: We agree again. You can tell because it is labeled correctly. It says nothing about CO2, indeed.
More importantly, it depicts the basic mechanism of GHGT; back-radiation energy transfer from cold atmospheric CO2 absorbed by surface, the wide beige down arrow at far right, 333 w/m2. Which I proved should be zero, below. Which feeds the wide surface up arrow 396, which should be 396 – 333 = 63. If you add 17 + 80 = 160 and assume Earth surface accounting for photosynthesis has emissivity = 0.412, you find K = 100(160/5.67*0.412)0.25 = 287.7 – 273.1 = 14.6C in agreement with measurements. Atmosphere alone emissivity is about 0.83 and the surface plus atmosphere combo emissivity is 0.612.
Barrett: The Earth’s emissivity is about 0.92. You have not proved the absence of downward radiation. It can be measured. You seem to have the wrong opinion that the atmosphere – the thermal reservoir – can only radiate upwards.
Latour: How did you determine that 0.92 value? You are correct to say I did not prove the absence of downward radiation; I never claimed that. I did prove the absence of downward radiant energy transfer from cold CO2, absorbed by warmer surface and heating it further. Although a collection of CO2 molecules radiate with intensity in all directions, the heat transfer is indeed asymmetric in the direction of cooler surroundings, not warmer ones. So I do say atmosphere transfers radiant energy to cold space, not warm surface. Elementary physics. You can be forgiven from making this basic semantics error since it is so common among AGW promoters. You can see and measure intensity of down-welling radiation from cold clouds and CO2 above, just as you can see ice, but it does not follow that low intensity incident radiation is absorbed by higher intensity radiation matter heating it further. I note you did not prove the existence of that wide beige 333 w/m2 back-radiation arrow, either.
The GHGT does not follow the rate of radiant energy transfer law used commercially by chemical engineers: Q/σ = ET4 – at4. Heat transfers in only one direction, not simultaneously in two. (John H Perry, Ed, “Chemical Engineer’s Handbook”, Section 6, Hoyt C Hottel, Radiant-heat Transmission, pg 484, eqn (3), McGraw-Hill, 1950.
E = emissivity of radiating surface. Varies with its temperature, roughness and if a metal, degree of oxidation. Large variations are possible in a single material.
a = absorptivity of atmosphere. Depends on factors affecting emissivity and in addition on the quality of the incident radiation, measured by its distribution in the spectrum. One may assign two subscripts to a, the first to indicate the temperature of the receiver and the second that of the incident radiation.)
GHGT invented the back-radiation mechanism unknown to physics, transferring heat from a cold body to a warmer one, warming it further. In Nov 2011 I proved if it did, it would be a perpetual motion machine; just what promoters need to drive global warming in perpetuity. That violates of the Second Law of Thermodynamics quantified by famous engineer Sadi Carnot in 1824. I actually proved for a step change in GHGT back radiation, presumably due to increased CO2, the sequence converges to a new steady-state and a finite amount of energy is created (which is impossible). I actually derived the rate of creation from the physical properties:
Barrett: Utter rubbish! The resultant flows of radiant energy are 40 W m-1 from the surface to space, 350 – 324 = 26 W m-2 from the surface to the atmosphere and 195 W m-2 from the atmosphere to space. All measurable by satellites.
Latour: Ah ha. My suspicion in item 5 is confirmed! You do not know the difference between radiation intensity given by S-B Equation and radiant heat transfer from a hot body to cooler surroundings, given by the law of radiant energy transfer. Your “Utter rubbish” statement is not correct. Your statement just shows you know how to read the K-T diagram I provided.
All? How do satellites measure radiation intensity of surface? Or of surface to atmosphere? Or atmosphere to surface? Do they measure absorptivities, emissivities and temperatures as well? How do they average point properties? What about energy transfer rates? I accept they measure average intensity of whole globe, surface and atmosphere combo, day & night.
Es = (K*F0 + f0)(1 + K)k/(1 – kK).
K is the fraction of radiation from the first bar absorbed by the second colder bar, 0 < K < 1.
k is the fraction of re-radiation from the second bar absorbed by the first hotter bar, 0 <= k < 1.
Starting radiation rates are given: F0 > 0 and f0 => 0.
Since the denominator is 0 < (1 – kK) < 1, it follows that for any K > 0 and k > 0, the numerator term (1 + K)k > 0, and Es > 0.
Es = 0 if and only if the fraction of back-radiation k = 0.
Therefore GHGT is false because back-radiation = 0. This means you must change the famous GHGT K-T Global Energy Flows diagram right side beige arrow down from 333 to zero and up arrow from 396 to 63 w/m2 of Earth surface. Just use correct absorptivity’s and emissivity’s and it all fits known physics and observations.
Barrett: This is wrong. It is true that heat can only transfer from a hot body to a cold body if that is the only thing that is happening, like heat travelling down a metal rod when one end is heated. But, the climate system is complex and energy from cooler parts of the atmosphere can and do reach the surface. As part of the whole system the 2nd law is not violated. The resultant movement of energy is a flow towards the atmosphere and then to space as I would expect, but maybe you think this is wrong. It is an example of energy moving from a heated surface through a cooler atmosphere to a very cold space. In any case, the downward radiation can be measured and when you leave the house you can feel it. On colder days there is less of it and so on.
Latour: You are free to think so, but you didn’t refute my proof and your statement leads readers to conclude you don’t understand it. You might refute my proof by disagreeing with assumptions, finding a math error, or showing my conclusions do not follow from the math. You did none of those things. I understand energy can transfer by at least three mechanisms in complex systems; but never from cold to hot by a single mechanism of physics. Just because the atmosphere is complex does not prove back-radiation exists. I proved GHGT back-radiation does violate SLoT, which is one reason it is invalid. I agree with your “The resultant movement of energy is a flow towards the atmosphere and then to space as I would expect, but maybe you think this is wrong.” I do not think it is wrong. That statement refutes the existence of back-radiation. Thank you. We are in agreement again.
This was done to refute a well-known argument by GHGT partial skeptic, partial defender Dr Roy Spencer, “Yes Virginia, Cooler Objects Can Make Warmer Ones Even Warmer Still”.
Barrett: Your argument fails to refute the back radiation that exists. You seriously believe that a warm body such as the atmosphere only emits radiation upwards and does not emit radiation downwards and you are wrong. Any emitter of radiation emits it independently of where the radiation is directed.
Latour: So you say. Another unsubstantiated claim. I invite you to disprove it. No, I do not believe that and never said I did. Your last sentence is not correct. Radiation is a vector field, it has direction. Go out to feel sunshine and watch a laser light show. Your confusion lies in equating S-B emits with intensity with energy transfers at a rate. Radiant energy transfer rate between bodies does indeed depend on the nature and temperature of the receiver. I certainly do believe energy transfers from surface to atmosphere and from atmosphere to space; not the other way around. Just as I quoted from you above. That is how nature works.
Thermostat adjusting fossil fuel combustion will never work. A thermostat is a temperature controller adjusting energy input to a system, like a house, refrigerator and car. Earth’s atmosphere is a chemical process system. Chemical process control systems engineers like me (PhD, PE in Texas & California) design feedback control systems. Our profession has mathematical criteria for modeling and evaluating dynamic, multivariable control systems to insure measurability, observe-ability, controllability, stability and performance. I proved before Kyoto Protocol was promulgated in 1997 that Earth’s thermostat adjusting fossil fuel combustion was not measurable, not observable and not controllable. It will never work. No matter what NAS, EPA, Congress, President, Supreme Court, UN IPCC or majority of humanity believe. No matter how much money is spent on research. Because I know and can prove it. I can prove area of every circle radius R in the universe is Pi*R*R. Easy.
Barrett: This seems an irrelevant claim.
Latour: Probably because you don’t know what chemical process control systems engineering is and cannot see the valid analogy of a thermostat and fossil fuel combustion curtailment to control Earth’s temperature at some human specified setpoint. You can be forgiven because I have never met an AGW promoter, scientist or politician, who did. Which is why they keep trying to do the impossible, at other’s expense.
BTW no Congressman is licensed to practice control systems engineering, yet they practice controlling American’s lives all the time, incompetently.
Modeling temperature data is worthless. Systems engineers proved long ago one cannot prove or disprove cause and effect from correlated measurements alone. All the discussion about CO2 and T data is utterly irrelevant to the issue does CO2 affect T and if so why and how much? Only science and systems engineering can answer that. UN IPCC statistical models have no predictive power for this reason. If I said all the data since 1492 says every rooster always crows 3.14159 minutes before sunrise appears, without explaining the underlying physical mechanism, you may accept correlation but must reject the conclusion roosters cause sunrises because you know they are not the cause, for sure.
Barrett: Modeling is carried out for most processes and there is no other way of trying to understand the climate system.
Latour: We agree again. But engineering modeling of chemical process systems is a combination of science and art. The rigorous equations of mass, heat and momentum transfer are well known physics but mathematically and computationally intractable. They incorporate physical properties difficult to measure. So some simplification and empiricism is always needed, depending on the purpose of the model.
While this essay may seem long and complicated, it proves beyond any reasonable doubt with eight smoking guns, GHGT is false, AGW and CC fears are unfounded and the whole issue is a monumental fraudulent hoax for power and money. Harvard Law School would call this an indictment, trial and conviction. My brief essay is nothing compared to 2009 Waxman-Markey CO2 Cap & Trade Bill or Obamacare Law.
Barrett: You have proved that you have little understanding of the basic physics of climate change and your article is just ranting and that will get you nowhere.
Latour: Pretty presumptuous conclusion since I did not write my complete understanding of the basic physics of climate change in this little essay. It is incorrect and unfair on its face. I do not know what you mean by “just ranting and that will get you nowhere”. I am not going anywhere except to learn and teach. It is a nonsensical statement. Whatever it men it is not a very compelling argument for your position. You showed you have little understanding of the basic physics of climate change and radiant heat transfer. Your review contains no additional science. It did sharpen my debating skills though.
If you can invest an hour with this essay you can join Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) running rings around CO2 deniers. Just ask Rep Shelia Jackson Lee (D-TX), Rep Chris Van Hollan (D-MD), Rep Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Sen Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sen John Markey (D-MA) or POTUS to refute it.
Total comments 22
No disagreement 2