Dangers of Analogies: Earth’s Atmosphere Is Not Like a Greenhouse.

by Dr. Tim Ball on December 14, 2013

in Atmosphere,Philosophy,Political,Politics,Theory

“It occurred to me…””When the call centre message says ”Your call may be recorded for quality” they mean we are covering our backsides.

The following article is a response to a question about an article I wrote for Anthony Watts site linked in the first line below. Anthony wrote to me pointing to the question and saying he also wanted an answer. I wrote the following as response. Anthony decided not to publish, but kindly offered to direct others to this site for the answer. I present it here so some of them might know.

A comment on my recent article on climatology asked if I regretted being involved with The Slayers”. The answer is no. I don’t condone some of the tactics used to make their arguments, but believe they ask good questions and offer interesting points about problems with the IPCC and skeptical views on CO2. In the article I identified the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) demonization of CO2, but the problem is much wider and began with the false analogy of the atmosphere to a greenhouse. The Slayers and others grapple with inconsistencies between theory, known science, and misuse and misapplication in all climate science mostly generated to prove and maintain the false analogy.

Three quotes speak to the dichotomies a climatologist faces trying to fit specialist pieces in the complex generalist climate puzzle.

1. An article for the Institute of Public Affairs by Stewart Franks, Professor of Environmental Engineering at the University of Tasmania begins, “Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the science of climate change is the lack of any real substance in attempts to justify the hypothesis.”

2. Max Beran, civil engineer notes,

“I”m thinking of that schism that appears here (a blog group) quite often about downwelling IR radiation which climate science is happy with, and those who come to the subject via mechanical engineering rail against. Neither party give any attention to what physiologically it means to feel warmth, which is perhaps yet another aspect of understanding. I”m also thinking Beer”s Law – is it really a “law” or just an emergent property of what photons actually do as they dance their way through some medium like a canopy.”

3. Physicist Robert Oldershaw in New Scientist, 1990 wrote, ”A troubling trend of the new physics is that the theories have many arbitrarily adjustable parameters. Although these theories do make predictions, their effectiveness is compromised by excessive flexibility. The strategy goes something like this – Test the predictions, and if they are not born out experimentally, then achieve agreement, or at least avoid conflict, by twiddling with the adjustable parameters – or switching to a slightly modified version of the theory.”

In the article about demonization of CO2 I discussed the confusion created by disagreement in the “hard sciences”, but it goes much further. For example, there is the incorrect claim that CO2 is distributed evenly throughout the atmosphere, which has implications for Beer”s Law energy-absorption calculations because atmospheric pressure and absolute temperature decrease with altitude. Then there is the difference between blackbody radiation and excitation radiation and the list of goes on. They are all functions of the claim of a greenhouse effect and CO2 as a greenhouse gas.

On a web group (December 12, 2013) discussing these problems Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen, who had the intestinal fortitude to publish McIntyre and McKitrick when others refused, whose actions were given credibility by attacks by the gang at CRU exposed in the leaked emails, summarized the problem and issued a challenge:

A question to all, do ‘we’ really know enough about the behaviour of molecules and atoms, and emissions, to argue from facts rather than assumptions or wishful thinking? I do not and cannot know, but would just like honest answers on which everyone can agree. The objective would be for you (both sides) to agree to a set of unanswered question and /or assumptions that need further research and theory building before agreement can be reached. Any volunteer to make this set? I would publish it of course.”

The Slayers

As usual the attacks on the Slayers involved ad hominems followed by the guilt by association implications. I thoroughly examined all the charges made against some members of the group and found them wanting. However, I acted with precaution by asking one member to step aside from involvement in the book. He did so gracefully. I also latterly detached myself from the group because of issues raised in the lawsuits against me. As I anticipated, those ad hominems became part of the charges against me. I know that those who promote environmental issues and especially global warming will do virtually anything to silence those who ask questions. They consider ‘dirty tricks’ justified in the pseudo-science, pseudo-religious, political agenda. Apparently they believe the end justifies the means. You have to experience the attacks to know how nasty they are.

Now I find myself being attacked for asking questions about what the skeptics are saying. One senior skeptic told me there were now three groups, Warmists, Skeptics and Deniers and I was in the latter. It is my experience that too many skeptics are becoming as dogmatic as those they challenge.

Analogies and Models

Education involves explaining the world in a way people understand. This usually means using examples people relate to from experience. It ranges widely from substituting a familiar article for one less familiar, to a story representing an idea. The latter includes parables in the Bible or Aesop’s Fables; simple stories used to illustrate moral or spiritual lessons.

Such substitutions are called analogies and work for general ideas, but have limited application for the specifics of science. Despite this the use of substitutes from single variables to complete concepts became endemic with the advent of computers. The worst, most inaccurate and exploited analogy is that of the Earth’s atmosphere and a greenhouse – the inaptly named Greenhouse Effect. It fit the IPCC political agenda of blaming human CO2 as the cause of runaway global warming because people associate a greenhouse with heat. It was such an effective analogy that it is now part of the language. It’s like “Holes in the ozone”. There never was a hole, but the concept of a leak in the roof exploits natural fear, especially when the implication is harmful radiation can enter.
At this point I read Joe Postma’s article on Analogies. I contacted Joe and told him I was writing a similar, but different piece on the same topic.

Analogies are actually models because they are built on substitution. They range from hardware models that are simply miniaturized versions to complete abstractions such as a mathematical model that substitute symbols for variables. Computers allowed expansion of models, which in turn expanded the use and need for analogies. It is impossible to build a model of anything without compromise. Some things simply cannot change scale, for example, as Science Fair contestants learn there is no material substitute for glacier ice to simulate plastic flow. Parameterization is a dangerous misuse of substitution in climate models.

Contradictions with Greenhouse Analogies

The first major problem is the Greenhouse is a closed system and the atmosphere an open system. Artificial lab experiments show CO2 molecules absorb and are warmed by long wave radiation. The problem is the evidence in the open atmospheric system is contradictory. Temperature increases before CO2 increases at all time scales and in all records; the computer models programmed to increase temperature with a CO2 increase are in disagreement with the actual temperature record for the last 17 years. Figure 1 best illustrates how this CO2 increase

dominates the IPCC projections.

The assumption that CO2 drives temperatures is also why every early IPCC prediction was wrong and why they began calling them projections. Uniform distribution of CO2 throughout the atmosphere is another fallacy built into the computer models and results in a non-existent “hot spot” in the upper troposphere.

Which part of the greenhouse represents the Ozone Layer? If it is the glass, which unlike ozone blocks 100 percent of the UV, then what represents the so-called greenhouse gases? There are no water bodies in the greenhouse yet the oceans comprise 70 percent of the casino online floor of the Earth’s atmosphere not to mention all the lakes and water on land. There are no winds in the greenhouse either vertical (convection ) or horizontal (advection). There are no clouds in the greenhouse, unless you build in screens, which only block sunlight. There are no clouds in the greenhouse and therefore no precipitation. The lack of a water surface means no insolation is used for evaporation, therefore there is no cooling effect or transfer of heat energy as latent heat. How much atmospheric CO2 is absorbed by water in the atmosphere? We don’t know how much water there is in the atmosphere in any phase.

We only began to determine the size and shape of the Troposphere a few years ago and there are still many unknown and unmeasured areas. Figure 2 shows the best

and most recent schematic.

Few are aware of the difference in altitude of the Tropopause between the Equator and the Poles or that these altitudes change significantly with seasons. How do the computer models accommodate these monthly, annual and long term changes? We know this measure is little understood from failures to accurately determine the frictional effect on space craft thus causing them to fall out of orbit.

The UN model assumes from the greenhouse analogy that energy exchanges between the atmosphere and space are purely radiative. Figure 2 suggests this is not the case. Since the atmosphere is a radiative surface how much does variation in that surface at the Tropopause change with global temperature change? Notice that at two locations associated with the Jet Streams there is mixing between the Troposphere and Stratosphere. Does this means heat is ‘leaking’ to space, if so how much? There is no heat leaking through the glass of the greenhouse.

The greenhouse does not experience convection and latent heat transfer so the IPCC and all other models cannot represent the real atmosphere. Water vapour is the most important atmospheric gas and serves to moderate the range not raise the temperature. Water vapour is not a factor in the greenhouse at all. In fact, without the greenhouse analogy there is no need to invoke the term greenhouse effect or create greenhouses gases.

A standard technique for winning an argument without having to deal with the facts and realities is to focus on a single point and keep pounding on it until people are mesmerized and distracted. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) diversion directed the world’s focus to CO2 with two important moves. The first was their definition of climate change as only those changes caused by humans. The second was the adoption of the greenhouse analogy for the atmosphere that mandated creating so-called greenhouse gases.

All early actions were to find historic support to create a narrative for the greenhouse concept. Now we know most of those were misused, or selectively reported. We learned that basic claims were already essentially disproved in 1909 by R.W. Wood but these findings were bypassed. Over 100 years later Professor Nasif Nahle duplicated and confirmed Wood’s experiment and results. They both demonstrated that the atmosphere does not function like a greenhouse.

Various attempts to replace the greenhouse analogy have failed. Most common is the blanket effect. They fail because the greenhouse thinking that heat is ‘created’ prevails. Other efforts to prove the greenhouse effect included comparison with other planets, especially Venus. Physicist H.D. Huffman showed how there is no greenhouse effect on Venus that the surface temperature is not a function of CO2.

He summarized his explanation as follows.

So there is no greenhouse effect. You have just proved that climate science is utterly wrong to think otherwise. This is the scandal that so many “experts” in climate science, and all the scientific authorities, will not face. Listen to the physicists that tell you there is no greenhouse effect; they know without having to go to the Venus data — and I am one of them. The continuing incompetence on this vital point among so many scientists, for more than a century, is amazing, and tragic.”

He argues the major cause of global lapse rate is a function of increasing atmospheric pressure due to gravity. Others, like Hans Jelbring, proposed this explanation. His work was produced in Energy and Environment in 2003 as the ”The “Greenhouse Effect” As a Function of Atmospheric Mass”, but was a summation of his long held ideas.

Politics of The IPCC Greenhouse

The greenhouse was an ideal analogy for the political agenda of the IPCC and its originators. The fact the Earth’s atmosphere doesn’t work the same way at all was of no consequence, it allowed the introduction of the radiation controlled input and output of energy as explanation of global temperature. This, in turn, required gases with radiative absorbing properties, the now well known greenhouse gases. The IPCC established a global warming hypothesis that assumed CO2 was a radiative gas, that human activity would guarantee its increase and therefore create runaway warming. None of that is born out by the evidence. Instead of disproving their hypothesis the IPCC found evidence to support their CO2 assumption and created false explanations for evidence that proved it was wrong.

The IPCC dominated climatology to the extent that they blocked advances of the discipline for 30 years. This observation was the subject of an article that became part of one of my lawsuits. I urge people to read Lamb’s two Volume set, but especially Volume 2 Climate, Present, Past and Future, published 36 years ago and Oliver and Fairbridge’s The Encyclopedia of Climatology published 26 years ago. The interesting issue with the IPCC was that an increased level of corruption came after it was formed and with publication of the 1995 Report.

The leaked emails illustrate how material in the IPCC 1990 Report became problematic for the totally political purpose of the 1995 Report. Inclusion of Lamb’s temperature graph that appeared as 7c showed the Mediaeval Warm Period (Figure 3) was central. (McIntyre covered this extensively ) Secondary was the failure to make the link to humans, corrected by Santer’s rewriting of his chapter’s wording to include the phrase “discernible human influence” in the Summary.

Is This Accurate “Greenhouse” Science?

Here are two quotes about the greenhouse effect on a web group from a senior IPCC and climate change player Mike MacCracken . Does it agree with what skeptics say? Presumably these views are the official position?

The second sentence in the second paragraph is where you have failed to recognize an important element of how the process works. Basically, if the emission from CO2 (or H2O or other molecules with 3 or more atoms—each most active in particular wavelengths) that the surface receives (so emissions from molecules below the full absorption level), then the emission is more energetic because the temperature of the atmosphere (in most situations) increases toward the surface. This means more energy is returned to the surface, meaning the temperature has to rise to emit a greater amount of radiation, and in addition that sensible and latent heat transfer to the atmosphere will go up and, given convection, the temperature of the whole tropospheric column will rise.

And with the surface being warmer, the water vapor pressure rises and the atmospheric loading of water vapor rises. And in that water vapor absorbs and reradiates IR, the more water vapor, the closer to the surface the saturation occurs, so the greater the back radiation to the surface.

Simultaneously, at the top of the atmosphere, the increase in the CO2 concentration leads to emissions to space occurring, in effect, from a higher level in the atmosphere, and since higher levels of the troposphere are colder, there is less radiation given off to space, and for balance to occur (and here we are talking about global average balance, not at each location), the average temperature at the higher radiating level has to rise, and with convection determining the lapse rate, this all reflects a change that reaches to the surface (that is, the temperature of the higher radiating level can only rise if the temperature of the whole column rises).

And, as to Gandalf’s query, the way the inert molecules get rid of their heat is to bump into a molecule with three or more atoms, and that atom radiates energy away. Of course, that is also mainly how these molecules get their energy as water vapor and the non-H2O components of cloud droplets (and air pollutants and natural aerosols) are the main absorbers of incoming solar radiation in the troposphere.

On the 24,999 number, that comes from assuming that CO2 is the only radiating molecule, and this is just not the case—water vapor is critical, especially in the lowest 2 km, and its concentration goes to much, much above 400 ppm.

Mike MacCracken December 12, 2013, 7:36 AM

Surface radiates essentially as a black body. Atmospheric gases absorb and emit in particular wavelengths (well, most efficiently at a central wavelength that spreads a bit), based on their structure and various rotational and vibrational bands that result. Isotopic variations help to spread the wavelength band that this occurs.

Mike MacCracken December 12, 2013, 8:36 AM

Professor Huffman’s words provide the best summation of what using a greenhouse analogy has done and what needs to happen.

“How long will it take to purge climate science of its belief in the greenhouse effect, and how long to disabuse recent generations of students (and the general public) of the bad science which they have been, and continue to be, so determinedly indoctrinated in?”

I have no regrets for participating with the Slayers. I completely agree with the concept inherent in their work that the science is not settled. In fact, it is far from settled in climatology and demands we identify and debate each and every problem with civility.