What is the greenhouse effect?

Written by Carl Brehmer

Is it a decrease in outgoing longwave radiation?
Is it an increase in downwelling IR radiation from the atmosphere?
Is it an increase in the R-value of the atmosphere, i.e., greenhouse gases act like insulation?
Is it a decrease in upper atmospheric temperatures which forces an increase in lower atmospheric temperatures? puzzled
Is it an increase in the atmosphere’s temperature lapse rate?
Is it a warming of the entire atmosphere while the temperature lapse rate remains unchanged?
Is it simply the difference between the Earth’s “effective radiating temperature” and surface level air temperatures?
Is it when greenhouse gases force heat to move back towards the Earth’s surface against the temperature gradient?
Is it simply when greenhouse gases slow the rate at which the surface cools?
Is it when greenhouse gases cause the outgoing longwave radiation to be emitted from progressively higher and higher altitudes?
Is it when greenhouse gases essentially turn the many mile thick, fluid, compressible, gaseous atmosphere into a solid piece of glass?
Does it only exist at night like John Tyndall said?
Is it “when carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere [and] it acts like the ceiling of a greenhouse, trapping solar energy and 
         retarding the escape of reflected heat.” Mass vs EPA 2007 (This is this definition that got carbon dioxide classified as a “pollutant”.)
Is it the effect without which the surface of the Earth would be the same temperature as if there were no atmosphere at all?
Is it the effect without which the surface of the Earth would be the same temperature as Mars?
Is it the effect that is assumed to have caused the Earth to come out of the Little Ice Age in the mid 1800’s simply because carbon dioxide levels 
        have increased since then as well?
Is it the effect that threatens to “runaway” causing the oceans to boil, convert to steam and kill everything?
 
Or:
 
Is it the mechanism by which carbon dioxide and water vapor are going to melt all of the glaciers if we don’t abandon the use of fire as an energy source?
Is it the mechanism by which carbon dioxide and water vapor are going to decrease crop yields if we don’t abandon the use of fire as an energy source?
Is it the mechanism by which carbon dioxide and water vapor are going to increase desertification if we don’t abandon the use of fire as an energy source?
Is it the mechanism by which carbon dioxide and water vapor are going to decrease the supply of fresh water if we don’t abandon the use of fire as an energy source?
Is it the mechanism by which carbon dioxide and water vapor are going to increase flooding if we don’t abandon the use of fire as an energy source?
Is it the mechanism by which carbon dioxide and water vapor are going to increase coastal erosion if we don’t abandon the use of fire as an energy source?
Is it the mechanism by which carbon dioxide and water vapor are going to increase heat waves if we don’t abandon the use of fire as an energy source?
Is it the mechanism by which carbon dioxide and water vapor are going to increase the intensity of cyclones if we don’t abandon the use of fire as an energy source?
Is it the mechanism by which carbon dioxide and water vapor are going to raise the sea level by more than 20 feet if we don’t abandon the use of fire as an energy source?
Is it the mechanism by which carbon dioxide and water vapor are going to increase heavy precipitation if we don’t abandon the use of fire as an energy source?
Is it the mechanism by which carbon dioxide and water vapor are going to increase the intensity and frequency of war if we don’t abandon the use of fire as an energy source?
Is it the mechanism by which carbon dioxide and water vapor are going to kill the world’s coral reefs if we don’t abandon the use of fire as an energy source?
Is it the mechanism by which carbon dioxide and water vapor are going to cause the ecosystem to collapse if we don’t abandon the use of fire as an energy source?
Is it the mechanism by which carbon dioxide and water vapor are going to cause the global economy to collapse if we don’t abandon the use of fire as an energy source?
Is it the mechanism by which carbon dioxide and water vapor are going to cause more droughts if we don’t abandon the use of fire as an energy source?
Is it the mechanism by which carbon dioxide and water vapor are going to cause more rain if we don’t abandon the use of fire as an energy source?
Is it the mechanism by which carbon dioxide and water vapor are going to cause more storms if we don’t abandon the use of fire as an energy source?
Is it the mechanism by which carbon dioxide and water vapor are going to increase death by disease if we don’t abandon the use of fire as an energy source?
Is it the mechanism by which carbon dioxide and water vapor are going to eliminate snowfall if we don’t abandon the use of fire as an energy source?

Is it the mechanism by which carbon dioxide and water vapor are going to kill almost everything on Earth if we don’t abandon the use of fire as an energy source?
 
Or:
 
Is it a boogyman that is being used to frighten humanity into willingly submitting to a global carbon tax?
Is it a boogyman that is being used to frighten humanity into willingly submitting to a draconian global energy policy?
Is it a boogyman that is being used to frighten Western nations into willingly submitting to deindustrialization?
Is it a boogyman that is being used to prevent third-world economic development?
Is it a boogyman that is being used by “renewable energy” companies to fleece the government of billions of dollars in subsidies?
Is it a boogyman that is being used to frighten humanity into willingly submitting to a restructuring of the global political order?
Is it a boogyman that is being used to frighten humanity into willingly submitting to population reduction?
Is it a boogyman that is being used to frighten humanity into willingly submitting to a global system under which every 
        human being and every resource is inventoried and controlled by a central global authority?
Is it a boogyman that is being used to frighten humanity into willingly submitting a massive wealth redistribution scheme?
Is it a boogyman that is being used to frighten humanity into willingly submitting to global fascism?
 
Or:
 
Is catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW) which is presumably being caused by the greenhouse effect a moral yardstick?
If you believe in CAGW are you a moral person?
If you don’t believe in CAGW are you an immoral person?
If you believe in CAGW do you want to protect the environment?
If you don’t believe in CAGW do you want to destroy the environment?

If you believe in CAGW will Gaia love you?
If you don’t believe in CAGW will Gaia show you her wrath?

If you believe in CAGW are you a good person?
If you don’t believe in CAGW are you a bad person?

If you believe in CAGW are you a selfless person who only wants to serve humanity?
If you don’t believe in CAGW are you a selfish person who only wants to satisfy your own needs?

If you believe in CAGW are your motives pure?
If you don’t believe in CAGW are you on the payroll of the greedy oil companies who are spreading disinformation?

If you believe in CAGW are you one who knows true science?
If you don’t believe in CAGW are you one who denies true science?

If you believe in CAGW will you go to heaven when you die?
If you don’t believe in CAGW will you go to hell when you die?

 
I’m just asking because I know what the “greenhouse effect” isn’t.  It isn’t science, because scientific laws have a singular, succinct definition that is quantified by a singular succinct mathematical formula, they don’t conflict with the other known laws of physics and they cannot be falsified by empirical observation.  Beyond that, science does not have a political agenda nor does it make moral judgments.

Comments (14)

  • Avatar

    bwebster

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    Welcome to the world of Political Science — which need not conform with normal scientific laws.

    In the real world of science, the greenhouse effect, resting on the assertion that “greenhouse gases” warm the planet, is rubbish.

    All one need do is examine the host of contrary evidence revealed by Earth’s past climate to understand that atmospheric CO2 cannot possibly be responsible for climate warming as theorized by warmists.

    One of the coldest Ice Eras Earth ever experience (about 450 million years ago) had global temperatures dropping 18˚F while atmospheric CO2 rose from roughly 10 times current levels to 11 times current levels — in other words, an increase in atmospheric CO2 from 4100 ppm to 4500 ppm occurred while Earth was plunging into a nearly “snowball Earth” ice era. When that ice era ended,[i] temperatures rose dramatically while atmospheric CO2 was dropping to 3000 ppm[/i].

    It is worth noting that Earth is currently in a different ice era, as well as an ice epoch and an interglacial (due to end) of an ice age cycle. In other words, [i]Earth’s typical climate is about 18˚F warmer than anything humans have every experienced[/i] (since the current ice era began about 60 million years ago)!

    Warmists cannot explain (with a straight face) these massive inconsistencies with their scientifically discredited greenhouse effect theory. So they simply deny the evidence of historic climate and atmospheric CO2.

    It’s all about politics and control.

  • Avatar

    Claudius Denk

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    [quote name=”geran”]Carl, Great post, and liked the info in you comment even better.

    The Greenhouse Effect (GHE) is a “belief system”. And, like most belief system, it takes a lot of “de-programming” to get folks away from it. I have had some success in one-on-one situations, but in on-line debates it is extremely difficult.

    Efforts like this post are most helpful.[/quote]

    Same is true for the concept of convection among meteorologists. They are equally as dumb as climatologists.
    http://www.solvingtornadoe.com

  • Avatar

    Greg House

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    [quote name=”carlallen”]The definition that you cite, i.e., surface warming due to back-radiation, was only one of them and it has mostly been abandoned.[/quote]

    It does not matter that they might change the story after being caught.

    The climate policy of previous years is not based on future reports, as you can guess.

    The fraud is obvious, but some people try to obfuscate that.

    They IPCC and “climate science” in general can be easily nailed on what they claimed.

  • Avatar

    Greg House

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    [quote name=”carlallen”]That was definition #2 [i]”Is it an increase in downwelling IR radiation from the atmosphere?”[/i]
    [/quote]

    No. Your #2 is just an obfuscation of what the IPCC really presented as their “greenhouse effect”. You have even hidden their term “back radiation”, which is more than just “downwelling”, because is suggests an absolutely absurd impossible process of the surface warming the atmosphere and the atmosphere warming the surface back to an even higher temperature.

    You chose to omit that unfortunately.

  • Avatar

    geran

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    Carl, Great post, and liked the info in you comment even better.

    The Greenhouse Effect (GHE) is a “belief system”. And, like most belief system, it takes a lot of “de-programming” to get folks away from it. I have had some success in one-on-one situations, but in on-line debates it is extremely difficult.

    Efforts like this post are most helpful.

  • Avatar

    carlallen

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    [quote name=”Greg House”]Carl, you forgot to mention the ‘greenhouse effect’ as presented by the IPCC, which is according to them warming the surface by back radiation from ‘greenhouse gases’.[/quote]

    That was definition #2 [i]”Is it an increase in downwelling IR radiation from the atmosphere?”[/i]

    #4 and #10 are also definitions of the “greenhouse effect” that can be found in the AR4 IPCC report.

    The fact is, the various Assessment Reports written by IPCC do not themselves have a unified definition of the “greenhouse effect” hypothesis. The definition that you cite, i.e., surface warming due to back-radiation, was only one of them and it has mostly been abandoned. For example, the latest report–AR5–calls the “greenhouse effect” “radiative forcing” (RF) and one of the definitions of RF is: [i]”. . . the change in net irradiance at the tropopause after allowing for stratospheric temperatures to readjust to radiative equilibrium, while holding surface and tropospheric temperatures and state variables such as water vapor and cloud cover fixed at the unperturbed values.”[/i]

    As you can see they have completely dropped any reference to “back-radiation” and it is now a [i]”change in the net irradiance at the tropopause.”[/i] Even they admit though that RF does not have a unified definition. In chapter 8 of AR5 they state, [i]”Alternative definitions of RF have been developed, each with its own advantages and limitations.”[/i] Thus the IPCC has itself validates my observation that the “greenhouse effect”, AKA “radiative forcing”, doesn’t have a unified, succinct definition. They believe that it exists; they have 95% confidence that human induced “radiative forcing” is causing global warming; they just can’t agree on what the it is exactly.

    Though expressed in somewhat obtuse language they actually admit in AR5 that “radiative forcing”, AKA the “greenhouse effect”, has never actually been measured but is rather a calculated number that is used in computer models to [i]”compare some aspects to the eventual climate responses to different imposed agents.”[/i]

    Carl

  • Avatar

    Mervyn

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    Whatever people want to believe about the so called greenhouse effect, we do know that NASA considers carbon dioxide and nitric oxide are a natural atmospheric thermostat, and are the two most efficient atmospheric coolants.

    How do we know? Watch the following NASA science video that has been referred to in a previous article here.

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/news/solarstorm-power.html

  • Avatar

    Physicist

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    Regarding convection, everyone needs to understand that “heat transfer by bulk fluid flow” is not a bulk flow caused by an external mechanical energy supply. All convection is driven only by a higher level of mean kinetic energy in some region where it is hotter than the state of thermodynamic equilibrium (with its associated temperature gradient) would normally be. So when direct solar radiation strikes an asphalt surface (emissivity 0.92) it can raise the temperature thereof because its intensity may be, say, 450W/m^2 which would support a temperature of about 305K and this causes air molecules at the surface interface to be hotter than what they were in the cool of the pre-dawn hours of the morning – ie near the supporting temperature. So upward diffusion and advection (that is, convection) occur. But warm air does not rise in parcels, and warmed air may even fall – convection is just a net movement of molecules during their normal free path motion between collisions. Extra kinetic energy in the surface “pushes” more molecules away so that “sheets” of warmed air appear to rise, but in fact it is mostly movement of the warmer temperature that gives this effect. A light fan will turn slowly, but the heat transfer can be faster than the apparent movement of the air which is very slow. But extra thermal energy absorbed from solar radiation in the upper troposphere of a planet can drive convection downwards.
     

  • Avatar

    CW

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    Well, Siemens Wash DC based headquarters is certainly using the boogeyman to further corporate returns using “wind energy” solutions for us little people in America. Apparently, they have not been able to resolve the wind energy issues in their multi-million Euro north Atlantic off-shore wind farm (the system does not WORK), so, they are here promoting how Siemens will benefit our energy needs in the years to come. Ah, corporatism at it’s finest.

  • Avatar

    Physicist

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    The Second Law of Thermodynamics implies that there will be a density gradient in a planet’s troposphere. Guess what! There is.

    The Second Law of Thermodynamics also implies that there will be a temperature gradient in a planet’s troposphere. Guess what! There is.

    Hence there is no need for concern about carbon dioxide or water vapour supposedly warming the Earth by that “33 degrees” because the laws of physics can be used to explain why they cool Earth’s surface when their radiating properties work against the gravitationally induced temperature gradient.

    Correct use of the laws of physics leads to correct conclusions which are in accord with empirical evidence.

  • Avatar

    Greg House

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    It is important to understand that the only politically relevant version of the “greenhouse effect” is the one presented by the IPCC in their reports, since governments base their climate policy on those reports.

  • Avatar

    Greg House

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    Carl, you forgot to mention the “greenhouse effect” as presented by the IPCC, which is according to them warming the surface by back radiation from “greenhouse gases”. “Greenhouse gases” are supposed to intercept the outgoing radiation from the earth surface and send it DOUBLED back, which is physically impossible.

    Since you know that very well, at least from our previous conversations, I just hope you did not do it on purpose to obfuscate this simple matter.

  • Avatar

    Pierre Latour

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    Good questions, Carl.
    Don’t look to the greenhouse gas theory literature for answers.
    I have searched it for a decade.
    There is no consensus, no theory and no literature.
    So your questions are irrelevant to anything beyond why are the still doing research? At $1 billion/day?.
    BTW They haven’t agreed on how many angels dance on the head of a pin either.
    Time for a nap.

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