The Glass Jar Greenhouse Gas Experiment Problem

Written by PSI contributor

There exists on the internet, at the time of this writing, a video, purported to be: ‘Climate 101 with Bill Nye’
-although we never actually see his face- with the comment that anyone can replicate it.

In this video, a simple experiment is presented where two glass jars with thermometers in them, one filled with air and one filled with CO2, are exposed to energy from heat lamps, to show how CO2, as compared to normal air, causes excess temperature rise when exposed to heat.

There are several problems with this demonstration, not the least of which is the fact that the same thermometer is shown at two different levels, as if it were the actual readout from both thermometers. So we are not actually seeing the true result. There are also 2 sources of heat used (2 heat lamps) and we have no data to show diligence to guarantee that the heat received by the two jars is equal. Other authors have also pinpointed Nye’s bungling errors.

Watch Nye’s video here:

Since we are invited to do the experiment ourselves- and that is how true science really works- I suggest you take the time to do this simple task yourself and see what results you get. Don’t take my word for it and don’t take Bill Nye’s word for it, either.

In the interests of real, honest, scientific investigation, this paper is committed to the application of the Scientific Method as it relates to controlled experimentation. For the benefit of those who did not take basic science classes in high school, what this means is, in order to test the hypothesis, we need to create an experiment that accurately models the conditions of the situation we wish to investigate and all conditions are to be kept constant, except for the one variable we wish to test- in this case, the effect of concentrated CO2.

Falsification of CO2 Greenhouse Effect

Much has been made of the so-called effects of CO2 as an agent of warming the atmosphere in a greenhouse, thereby supporting the notion that CO2 is warming the planet and, by extension, is caused by man’s activities that generate said CO2. This experiment, easily repeatable by anybody, refutes the CO2 effect and thereby knocks the legs out from under Anthropogenic Global Warming and exposes, once and for all, SCIENTIFICALLY that AGW is nothing but myth.

You will need:
-2 identical glass jars, with lids that seal
-2 identical thermometers
-a clean, dry source of CO2, such as from an air gun cartridge
-a clear, sunny day and a place to put the jars in identical surroundings- protected from any breeze.

In order to ensure that we do not introduce errors of heat input, we will use only one heat source- the Sun. Since we are, after all, interested in real-life application, it only makes sense to place both jars in direct sunlight, in identical conditions.

It is also important that a clean, dry source of CO2 is used, so as not to introduce other variables into the experiment, such as water vapour. Do not use CO2 given off by a soda pop bottle or Alka-Seltzer, as I have seen done by some other demonstrations on YouTube, as this will introduce water vapour and invalidate the experiment.

Do a controlled calibration of the thermometers to make sure that they read the same under the same circumstances. Place them in the glass containers, close the lids and place them in the sunlight and do a calibration to make sure the two jars heat up the same. Repeat this process, swapping the thermometers, to make sure there are no errors due to variations in the bottles.

Be very careful to locate the jars in identical situations and make sure sunlight does not directly strike the thermometers. If there is any significant discrepancy, new items may have to be obtained. Once you are satisfied that they heat at the same rate, take them back out of the sunlight, uncover and fill one jar from your CO2 source. Close both jars, wait for equilibrium (CO2 from a compressed source is very cold) and place back in the same sunlit location as before. Watch and plot the temperature rise in both, until the thermometers stop rising.

Repeat the experiment several times, swapping around bottles, thermometers and CO2, to make absolutely sure no other discrepancies creep in.

I repeated this experiment with various combinations of jar, thermometer and CO2 and got the same results each time.

I am confident that you will discover, as I did, that the jar with the CO2 does NOT shoot way up in comparison to the one with air, as it is purported to do in those YouTube demonstrations. In fact, I found that it actually lagged behind by about 1/2 degree. I have seen other on line experimenters get the same results. But don’t take my word for it- do the experiment yourself!

That’s what true science is about. Repeatable experiments, NOT computer models, based on assumptions. Anyone who is interested in delving into the physics in greater detail would do well to study the Laws of Thermodynamics to understand that the ‘greenhouse effect’ cannot produce runaway heat buildup.

Comments (11)

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    Al Shelton


    The real world is not a closed system like the experiment.
    What about that???

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    Robert E, Murohy


    Principia- Scientific is an idiot, anti-science Climate Change denier forum. The demonstration it attacks here was not invented by Bill Nye, he just borrowed it, and despite the article’s false claims, it accurately demonstrates the basics of the green house effect, but it is not, nor does claim to be, anything but a demonstration of a simple idea. It is not, not does it claim to be, a lab experiment or a predictive model and does not even try to recreate the complex feed-loops that shape real-world weather. I have, in fact, have witnessed this demonstration in the past and it works exactly the way Nye says it does.

    This article lists no author, so I must assume it was written by John O’Sullivan who is Principia- Scientific founder and primary boost. Mr. O’ Sullivan who has in the past been caught lying about bout his academic and legal credentials.

    The greenhouse effect is a well established scientific principal that goes back a full 130 years.

    • Avatar

      jerry krause


      Hi Robert, specifically, and others in general,

      I reran the video a couple of times to confirm that what I thought I saw the first time was true. Robert, why did you not criticize the one who described the alternative experiment that it was not done like that of the video? What, you did not see a fundamental difference beside the use of the sun instead of heat lamps? The difference that can be see is that the tube transferring the carbon dioxide into the demonstration jars remains in the jar, holding its lid up, while the jars are being heated. Even after looking back I thought I had seen the experiment being run with both lids on and no tube. But this was not the case as I double and triple checked. And as he PSI contributor stated the video showing the changing temperature of the carbon dioxide thermometer was not of the carbon dioxide thermometer in the jar but with a thermometer outside the jar with its temperature rising because of some artificial prompting.

      Robert, if you can look at what can be seen that I have drawn to your attention, and not conclude it was a total fake job, you are a sorry case.

      Have a good day, Jerry

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        Peter C


        I have looked at the video. It is a total fake job. As well as the problem identified by Jerry, the thermometers appear different when the temperature rise scene is filmed. When the thermometers are in the jars they appear slightly distorted by the thick glass of the jars. Later they are sharp, indicating that they are not in the jars.

        As well as that I have actually conducted this experiment my self using plastic bottles and a heat lamp. In my experiment there was no difference between the CO2 bottle and the bottle containg room air.

    • Avatar



      Oh my ….”The lady doth protest too much, methinks”

      Besides, do you really think name calling bothers those at this site?

      • Avatar



        My comment above was directed to Robert E, Murohy. Something went wrong when I hit ‘submit’.

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      Joseph Olson


      From….Geologist-1011….website by Timothy Casey….”Fourier 1824″ on the distortion of comments to create GHG pedigree and “Tyndall 1861″ on errors in CO2 measurements. From Monthly Weather Review, June 1901….”Angstrom on Atmospheric Absorption” shows Svante Arrhenius was proven wrong on GHG in 1896, but horse and buggy peer review was slow.

      “Spencer Sorcery on Magic Gas” at FauxScienceSlayer website. The fraud of Hansen, Mann and Nye is compounded by the Lujewarmist lies. I have been lectured in person by Lindzen, Singer, Curry, Spencer, Stuntman Monckton and Tony ‘BlogBully’ Watts and they are all liars, intellectual cowards who refuse debate.

      Principia Scientific has some of the most principled scientists on the planet.

    • Avatar

      A Thorpe


      I have also done the experiment in the same way but I produced the CO2 at home. I but my bottles in the sun and I found no difference in temperature. We are constantly told that CO2 traps heat. Heat cannot be trapped. But, if it is, then when the bottles are taken away from the heat source the CO2 should retain the heat. I took the experiment to this stage and I can assure you the two bottles cooled at the same rate.

      You talk about the greenhouse effect being a long established scientific principal. If you are referring to Tyndall and others then their experiment did not demonstrate the greenhouse effect. You need to look up the definition of the atmospheric greenhouse effect. This is about heat being recycled in the atmosphere creating additional heating. This is not possible. If you think it is then please tell me how we can use it when heating our homes. The greenhouse effect is defined as heat being radiated from the earth’s surface, being absorbed (trapped) by the greenhouse gases and then some of it being radiated back to the surface to cause further heating. The scientific principal you need to apply is the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which says this cannot happen.

  • Avatar



    “The greenhouse effect is a well established scientific principal that goes back a full 130 years.”

    If the greenhouse effect actually exists then it has nothing to fear from being retested and retested again through empirical experimentation by independent researchers. If the greenhouse effect actually existed then these independent researchers would all reach the same conclusion, but they don’t.

    The “greenhouse effect” hypothesis has a number of problems from a scientific point of view.
    1) No clear definition. All of the laws of physics have a singular definition. Looking through the literature on the subject I found more than a dozen variations on how carbon dioxide via the “greenhouse effect” presumably makes surface level air temperature warmer. There are probably more.

    2) Empirical observation does not support it, e.g., water vapor, presumably the most potent “greenhouse gas”, is actually a lower atmospheric coolant. If water vapor did cause surface level air temperature warming it would be seen to increase the atmospheric lapse rate because its concentration drops so precipitously with altitude, but it doesn’t. Weather balloon soundings consistently show water vapor decreasing the atmospheric lapse rate, which is inconsistent with the notion that water vapor is a “greenhouse gas” even though it does absorb up-welling terrestrial IR radiation. In order to be a “greenhouse gas” water vapor would have to actually cause a “greenhouse effect”, which is to cause warmer surface level air temperatures.
    Your reference to the greenhouse effect being a well established scientific principal for at least 130 years, is probably a reference to the work of John Tyndall (1820-1893) who attempted to transfer the results of his lab experiments to the greater atmosphere. One example was his “Rede Lecture delivered in the Senate-House before the University of Cambridge 16 May 1865” in which he spoke of the rapid rate at which the air cools during at night in arid climates, which he attributed to the absence of substantial amounts of water vapor. The problem with his lecture is the “greenhouse effect” hypothesis is not about the rate of nighttime cooling; it asserts that “greenhouse gases” cause an increase in the AVERAGE temperature of a region usually an annual average–the average surface level air temperature over the course of a full year. Had John Tyndall taken the time to look he would have seen that the average yearly surface level air temperatures in arid climate are predictably higher than their more humid counter parts that lie along the same latitude. Yes the presence of high humidity does decrease the diurnal temperature swing (which means that rate of nighttime cooling is lower), but its effect on the average yearly temperature is to decrease it.
    3) Studies using surface radiation readings contradict the notion that surface level air temperatures are directly proportional to the intensity of down-welling atmospheric IR radiation. For example, the downwelling IR radiation in cooler, more humid Mississippi is ~50 W/m^2 higher than in warmer Nevada even though they lie along the same latitude and thus receive the same amount of sunlight throughout the year.
    4) Believers in the “greenhouse effect” hypothesis tend to believe that ad hominem attacks are scientific evidence. “Principia- Scientific is an idiot, anti-science Climate Change denier forum” founded by the lying Mr. O’ Sullivan. Ad hominem attacks are not scientific evidence.

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    Flaming Mo'


    I used rectal thermometers calibrated in Bill Nye’s anus. Then both jars produced huge amounts of foul-smelling sulfur and methane, but very low temperatures. Does that mean global cooling is on its way?

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    This is so silly I can’t believe it !

    Robert E Murohy is obviously a completely indoctrinated alarmist and scientifically illerate !

    People who support any of these “experiments” are lacking any credibility.

    As “Bill Nye’s” thermometers are directly heated by the lamps this demonstrates that CO2 is a better insulator than air – nothing else !!!!!

    A better insulator has NO powerful radiating ability – if it did it would be a better conductor !

    This video is fraud – here’s proof using established facts and correct science :-

    Air has a specific heat at constant pressure of 1.01 J/g K.

    CO2 has a specific heat at constant pressure of 0.844 J/g K.

    Air has a thermal conductivity of 0.024 W/mK @ 25°C.

    CO2 has a thermal conductivity of 0.0146 W/mK @ 25°C.

    Air has an average molecular mass of 28.966 g\mole.

    CO2 has an average molecular mass of 44.01 g\mole.

    Based on these well established empirically measured results, and the relationship established by Avogadro, one expects that to increase the temperature of one mole of air by 1°C requires:-

    Q = m x c x deltaT = 28.966 x 1.01 x 1°C = 29.25566 J.

    For CO2 :-

    Q = m x c x deltaT = 44.01 x 0.844 x 1°C = 37.14444 J

    If the volume and pressure of the two jars is truly equal then the air has a mass of ~28.966 g per litre and CO2 ~44.01 g per litre.

    Thus, unless the decades (centuries ?) of empirical measurement of physical and chemical properties are completely wrong equal volumes of CO2 and air at the same pressure heat at different rates with CO2 requiring 37.14444/29.25566 = 127% more energy.


    What is demonstrated is that CO2 is a better INSULATOR and this is obvious from well established measurements. It has no powerful radiative capacity at all !

    Before people make the idiotic assertion that radiation and conductivity are different put your brain in gear and recognise that the empirical results must include a radiative component – IF CO2 radiates IR it does so during the test !

    If IR radiation is an additional method (as well as conduction) for CO2 to transmit energy it should be a better conductor – IT ISN’T !

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