The Tragic Tautology of the Greenhouse Gas Effect

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By John O’Sullivan (and N. Kalmanovitch*)

Carl Brehmer reminds us of a crucial internal conflict within the “greenhouse effect” hypothesis. So vague and self-contradictory are the myriad explanations given by climatologists of this “theory” that anyone who critically examines it soon understands that it is best explained as a tautology.

In rhetoric ‘tautology’ is defined as using different words to say the same thing, or a series of self-reinforcing statements that cannot be disproved because they depend on the assumption that they are already correct. We never have and never will get a detailed scientific explanation of the “greenhouse gas” effect (GHE) because for climatologists to seek one would require them to dissect it, thus exposing the truth; it hangs on nothing of any substance.

We are never given the “how” and yet science is all about how things work. When Principia Scientific International (PSI), comprised of 200 experts in science and engineering, sought clarification from the supporters of the GHE they were either ridiculed or ignored. So with no answers as to the “how” inquiring minds turned to the “why” for the rise of this climate chimera.

In a series of articles we saw that the idea of a GHE driven by carbon dioxide was re-invented in the late 1970’s after being widely accepted in science as having been refuted before 1950.

After decades this re-invented “theory” finally gained acceptance during the 1980’s as the field of government-funded climatology grew. We were given no reason why mainstream science had got it wrong in dismissing it so unequivocally for more than a generation. There were certainly no new discoveries in the 70’s suddenly proving carbon dioxide did “trap” heat after all. Moreover, despite all the inward investment in climate research no time, let along any rigor was applied to providing any standard definition of what this newly re-born “greenhouse effect” actually was.

“Analogously but Different”

Incredibly, despite forty years and a multi-billion dollar taxpayer-funded “carbon reduction” industry avidly pursuing control of this alleged climate thermostat there are no agreed equations and no agreed descriptors of how this “thermostat” actually works. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) adds to the confusion in this tragic-comedy by glibly declaring our atmosphere is analogous to a greenhouse “but different.”

These handwaving proponents of the hypothesis will always start out by admitting the only meaningful source of heat to the surface of the earth is the sun. But then they will often declare that certain gases then serve to drive “down-welling radiation” (or “back radiation”) from the atmosphere as a secondary heat source.

Please take no one’s word on this. Just do your own Google search; most definitions of the “greenhouse effect” either overtly assert or at least imply that downwelling IR radiation from the atmosphere adds additional heat to the ground/ocean.

But nowhere will you be told where the extra heat generated by the atmosphere goes, because all outward longwave radiation (OLR) at the top of the atmosphere (TOA) is equal to, and in balance with, all the absorbed sunlight.  So, within the “greenhouse effect” hypothesis all that “additional” thermal energy that the atmosphere generates disappears as mysteriously as it appeared in the first place (see diagram).

GHE tautologous Energy Budget

Image source: National Academy Press.

Astrophysicist, Joseph E. Postma speaks for most critics of this shape-shifting GHE. Postma points out that the duty of modern empirical science is to seek to identify the physical principles that underlay observed phenomena.  He writes:

“By identifying and understanding the underlying principle, we thus understand reality.  If we can mathematize the principle and justify it on a-priori mathematical absolutivity, then the phenomenon becomes a scientific Law, such as the Laws of Thermodynamics or Kepler’s Law of Universal Gravitation, or the Laws of Least Action or Least Time.  We can also engineer the physical principle and use it to our benefit, to produce products, services, and generally, to create wealth and increase the standard of living of people, etc.

The obvious question:  is the underlying principle of the atmospheric greenhouse effect actually defined, anywhere? All I have to tell you, is that “No, it is not.””

A healthy skepticism demands of us that we look again at the above diagram, sold to us as the basic model of the greenhouse gas effect. Imagine what difference the addition or removal of that cyclical flow of phantom internal energy would make on the system as a whole. It makes no difference scientifically at all and we could easily discard it if we wished by applying the accepted principle of ‘Occam’s Razor‘ (“plurality should not be posited without necessity”). But to a charlatan looking to pick your pockets for more tax dollars, it is very necessary being the cleverest and most powerful tautology ever sold.


*In 1827 celebrated French Mathematician Jean-Baptiste Joseph Fourier determined that the theoretical temperature of the Earth based on just the thermal radiation from the sun was cooler than the actual temperature due to atmospheric insulation. He named this insulation effect “un effet de verre” (an effect of glass) after work by French Scientist de Saussure who demonstrated this insulation using glass panes for insulation.

Later work by physicists Planck, Stefan, and Boltzmann provided understanding of the relationship between temperature of a body (blackbody) and the intensity of radiation allowing for the calculation of the Earth’s theoretical radiative temperature exclusive of atmospheric insulation according to the formula  Te = [So(1-A)/4σ]1/4 derived from Planck’s equations using the Stefan Boltzmann constant “σ”.

We can measure planet surface temperature from its radiative spectrum.  We can also calculate Te by making some estimate of both solar Irradiance (So) and the planet albedo (A). The subtraction of Te from the planetary temperature provides a metric for comparing the relative atmospheric insulation of the planets essentially calibrating the insulation effect first noted by Fourier back in 1827. This theoretical temperature difference depicting atmospheric insulation was renamed “the greenhouse effect” relating the insulation against thermal transmission by conduction by the glass in a greenhouse to the insulation against thermal radiation provided by the atmosphere of the planets.

Preying on overall public ignorance of science unscrupulous scientists rebranded the greenhouse effect as some sort of physical effect driven by CO2 emissions causing catastrophic global warming. This fraudulent use of the term greenhouse effect was introduced over 25 years ago and spawned a series of equally fraudulent terms such as “greenhouse warming” and “greenhouse gases” providing the propaganda vocabulary that has created a climate change issue out of nothing to serve the political agenda of the climate change scam perpetrators.

While the term greenhouse effect is perfectly valid in its geophysical scientific context; it is completely ludicrous when used as a mechanism whereby increased CO2 creates energy out of nothing and causes the Earth to warm to catastrophic levels as a result of an enhanced greenhouse effect.

This article takes the fraudsters to task exposing the fraudulently rebranded version of the greenhouse effect for what it is.





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