James Hansen’s Bogus ’33 Degrees’ Greenhouse Gas Effect
Written by Dr. Pierre R Latour
[This article originally published as: GHG Theory 33C Effect Whatchamacallit (Pierre R Latour, PhD, Houston, January 15, 2012) at climatechangedispatch.com]
GHG Theory was invented to explain a so-called 33C atmospheric greenhouse gas global warming effect. In 1981 James Hansen [1, 2] stated the average thermal T at Earth’s surface is 15C (ok) and Earth radiates to space at -18C (ok). Then he declared the difference 15 – (-18) = 33C (arithmetic ok) is the famous greenhouse gas effect. This is not ok because there is no physics to connect these two dissimilar numbers. The 33C are whatchamacallits. This greenhouse gas effect does not exist.
Here is the science for what is happening. Thermal T is a point property of matter, a scalar measure of its kinetic energy of atomic and molecular motion. It is measured by thermometers. It decreases with altitude. The rate of thermal energy transfer by conduction or convection between hot Th and cold Tc is proportional to (Th – Tc).
Radiation t is a point property of massless radiation, EMR, a directional vector measure of its energy transmission rate per area or intensity, w/m2, according to the Stefan-Boltzmann law. It is measured by pyrometers and spectrometers. Solar radiation t increases with altitude. Black bodies are defined to be those that absorb and radiate with the same intensity and corresponding t. Real, colorful bodies reflect, scatter, absorb, convert and emit radiant energy according to the nature of the incident radiation direction, spectrum and body matter reflectivity, absorptivity, emissivity and view factors. The rate of EMR energy transfer from a hot body, th, is Q, w = 5.67Ae(th + 273)4, where A is radiating area and e is emissivity fraction. But it may not be absorbed by all bodies that intercept it, as GHG theory assumes. In particular, hotter radiating bodies do not absorb colder incident radiation and reemit it more intensely, as GHG back-radiation theory assumes.
Above Earth’s stratosphere, thin air T is rather cold, about -80C. Yet solar radiation t is rather hot, about 120C. So spacesuits have thermal insulation and radiant reflection. The difference, 200C, is meaningless. On a cold, clear, winter day on snowcapped mountains, dry air T = -10C and radiation t = 50C. I can feel them both.
Much of GHG theory fails to make clear distinctions between these two different kinds of temperature, T and t. One temperature, t, is analogous to velocity, 34 km/hour north; the other, T, is analogous to density, 1 kg/liter. So 34 km/hour – 1 kg/liter is indeed 33 whatchamacallits by arithmetic, but nobody will ever know what a whatchamacallit is because velocity and density are not connected by nature.
To clarify this enormous intellectual flaw, take boiling point of water is 100C (true) and freezing point is 32F (true), subtract 100 – 32 = 68 (correct arithmetic) and declare atmospheric pressure is 68 psia. The declaration is false because a) the difference between C and F has no meaning, b) there is no physics to connect 68 to pressure, psia, and c) atmospheric pressure is actually 14.7 psia. That 33C greenhouse gas effect that has everybody so upset and is researched ad nausea to death is not an effect, merely an easily explained pair of facts.
Therefore, it is quite true the 33C greenhouse gas effect defined by James Hansen in 1981 as thermal T = 15C at surface minus radiant t = -18C to space is whatchamacallit nonsense. Everybody knows you can’t compare apples to eggs; except perhaps Greenhouse Gas theorists. Since this is irrefutable logic, no experiment is called for. Logic trumps nonsense; that is why humans invented it around 400bc. No one needs to prove or disprove the existence of whatchamacallits. They are not even imaginary. There is no greenhouse in the sky.
Planetary atmospheres reflect, scatter, transmit, absorb, emit and diminish stellar radiation intensity at the surface according to Beer-Lambert Law, 121C incident to Earth’s stratosphere to 15C at surface. Thermal T of atmospheres increase as gravity compresses gas and converts potential energy to kinetic energy closer to the surface, -80C in stratosphere to 14.5C at surface. Therefore atmospheres cause the surface to be colder than it would be if atmosphere were thinner or non-existent. The more O2 is exchanged for higher heat capacity CO2, the colder the surface radiation intensity temperature. Atmospheres are refrigerators, not blankets.
GHG theory postulates back-radiation from cold atmospheric CO2 is absorbed by the surface, heating it more. This violates Second Law of thermodynamics (energy can only be transferred from hot to cold bodies), leading to creation of energy, a violation of the First Law of thermodynamics (energy conservation), and the impossible perpetual motion machine AGW promoters need to cause eternal global warming.
CO2 does not trap radiation; like all molecules, it absorbs some incident radiation according to its absorption spectrum and promptly emits it according to its emission spectrum. CO2 is not a pollutant; it is inert green plant food. CO2 should not be curtailed, starving Earth’s flora. Minor solar driven global warming from 1974 to 1998 has stabilized through 2011. CO2 has nothing to do with global warming; it actually cools Earth. Arctic ice does not melt because of global warming, increasing T; it melts when the average T > 0, at rate proportional to T, no matter whether T is increasing or decreasing.
This essay has seven scientific facts (33C whatchamacallit, no blanket, no back-radiation, CO2 no trap, CO2 inert food, no AGW, ice melts), each of which refute GHG and AGW. It has not been peer reviewed because it is well known to professional physicists and engineers; it does not merit a research paper, or research, or experiments. Logic just needs clear definitions and common sense, not government spending and regulation.
- Hansen, J, Johnson D, Lacis A, Lebedeff S, Lee P, Rind D & Russell G, “Climate Impact of Increasing Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide”,Science, Vol 213, n 4511, pp 957 – 966, August 28, 1981.
- Hansen, J, Fung I, Lacis A, Rind D, Lebedeff S, Ruedy R & Russell G, “Global Climate Changes as Forecast by Goddard Institute for Space Studies Three-Dimensional Model”, Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol 93, n D8, pg 9341 – 9364, August 20, 1988.