Global Warming/Climate ChangeSociety

Greenhouse Effect in a Bottle

It’s incredible watching the back and forth over climate change. I’ve said before, and will say again, the heart of the matter is undeniable – CO2 (and other greenhouse gases) have a heat trapping effect in the atmosphere. It’s a replicable, fully documented and proven scientific fact. It is a natural law we cannot deny. Gravity means that what goes up, must come down. The law of thermodynamics dictates that evaporation cools. The greenhouse effect means more CO2 equals more heat.

Scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock from EADS Astrium visits the Royal Institution’s new Young Scientist Centre to carry out a simple experiment that shows how CO2 traps heat. – BBC

Watch the video here (opens in new window)

Or, is the lab experiment shown in the video also part of the secret plot to take over the world?

I put this post up today to save me having to repeatedly make the same comment on past or future posts. I will link to this page, and simply ask people to explain to me exactly how we can substantially increase CO2 and other greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere and NOT expect to see temperatures rise.

Yes, government and industry will find ways to capitalise on the unfolding drama. Yes, many of the supposed ‘solutions’ are detached from reality and promise even bigger problems and major injustices. Yes, the ongoing climate talks are a farce and will achieve nothing or worse. But, don’t let all these facts distract you from the base issue – one which, if we ignore, promises to make global-scale changes that will not be pretty.

I often read comments where people don’t want to read or know about climate change, or even the other acute problems we have with soil, water, energy, economics and politics, etc. Yes, we want it all to just ‘go away’. But, if We The People ignore these things, and fail to bring them to the attention of the mainstream populace, ‘solutions’ will be applied by the powers that be from a simplistic, reductionist mindset. We’ve seen it already with legally mandated biofuel quotas that are destroying rainforests. We’ve seen it already in the immoral injustices that come out of carbon trading. These ignorant efforts merely seek to keep flogging the dying horse we call perpetual growth capitalism. If more people understood the issues, these idiocies would never be allowed to happen. If people don’t clearly see the issues, and join the dots between them, we will see a lot more environmental destruction and social upheavel in the name of saving the planet yet. And, politically, the do-nothing attitude of climate skeptics makes their fears of fascist rule a self-fulfilling prophecy as well.

In short – if you can’t explain how we can expect global temperatures to remain static whilst pumping billions of tons of extra greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, then… well… perhaps you should just plain keep quiet. If you’re a skeptic and haven’t watched the video, and haven’t an answer for my question, then please don’t comment.

Obfuscation is not science.


  1. I wish skeptics could be made aware of the “precautionary principle”. If we THINK that our current industrial/fossil fuel supported lifestyle MIGHT be doing harm to the environment, is the common sense approach to wait and make sure we’re causing climate change (by which point it would be FAR too late to do much about it), or do we adjust our behaviour now, based on the possibility that we’re contributing to climate change?

    If certain governments can advocate a pre-emptive strike in war, why can’t they advocate a pre-emptive strike against anthropogenic climate change? (Although I tend to think the “writings on the wall” in this case)

    One path yields a potential “whoops” (of cataclysmic proportions), while the other a “better safe than sorry”.

  2. I think it is important to draw a line here between “skeptics” concerning anthropogenic climate change and people who just keep on spinning new excuses whenever they are disproven on any specific point.

    The latter behaviour most definitely is not “skepticism”, and true skeptics should revolt against such an abuse of the term. What makes a good skeptic is the ability to look at evidence, and, if proven wrong, step back and take deep a look into the mirror.

    There is a medical term that captures the behaviour of many so-called “skeptics” in a much better way, which I think hence should be used instead here as well: “Confabulators”


  3. Tony, the correlation between how much CO2 equals how much warming has been well documented and peer reviewed. Even studies on this from as early as 1896 are consistent with today’s research.

    Although CO2 makes up only 0.04 percent of the atmosphere, that small number says nothing about its significance in climate dynamics. Even at that low concentration, CO2 absorbs infrared radiation and acts as a greenhouse gas, as physicist John Tyndall demonstrated in 1859. The chemist Svante Arrhenius went further in 1896 by estimating the impact of CO2 on the climate; after painstaking hand calculations he concluded that doubling its concentration might cause almost 6 degrees Celsius of warming — an answer not much out of line with recent, far more rigorous computations. – Seven Answers to Climate Contrarian Nonsense

    – the purpose of the post was to solicit an explanation on why the world would NOT be warming given the scientifically proven radiative properties of CO2 and other even more powerful greenhouse gases like methane and nitrous oxide. The thread is not intended to discuss different types of climate skeptics or personal psychological failings…. I intentionally simplified the content of this post to keep the conversation focussed…. I’ve never seen anyone give a solid rebuff to this basic science, have been studying the topic for a few years now, and am quite weary of all the thousands of long-winded discussion threads that neatly avoid this.

  4. Craig – one reason that we might not see all the warming expected is that the heat energy is converted into other forms. Kinetic energy as wind may be the dominant form. The bottle is a pretty simple environment without as much opportunity for the energy to be converted.

    Of course this is hardly a invitation for complacency. Stronger winds, storms, hurricanes, sea surges and changed climate patterns are also destructive. Isn’t this why they now call it ‘climate change’ rather than ‘global warming’?

  5. I would laugh but I can’t stop crying.
    All the “skeptics” and the “confabulators”,could try sticking their heads in plastic bags,with rubber bands around the neck and then have a smoke,then go and sit in the sun.
    My hypothesis is and I only went to the 8th grade, is that you will sweat like a pig.Now make the quantum leap and imagine that you are the world.
    Good luck with this simple experiment.

  6. Tim,

    erm, I think it is a very safe bet to assume that most mechanical energy gets converted to heat, rather than the other way round. What you suggest really stretches thermodynamics.

    By the way, do you have an idea how much you would have to stir a liter of water to raise its temperature by one degree? (Answer:
    Do the mechanical equivalent of lifting it about half a kilometer to it). The suggestion that a substantial percentage of the heat trapped energy could end up in the form of mechanical energy seems quite outlandish to me. We are, after all, starting from thermal radiation here, and considering that those temperature gradients that cause motion maybe are limited by 30 K or so, that means that, even with Carnot efficiency, you certainly could not get conversion of more than 10% of that heat to mechanical energy. As the atmosphere is not a Carnot engine, and well below such efficiencies, I think it is quite safe to claim that certainly less than 10% of the extra energy end up in other forms than heat. So, that’s at best a minor correction, not a substantial effect.

  7. Craig,

    My understanding of wind is that it is caused by the pressure differential formed between the parts of the atmosphere that are more in sun than others, as well as differences between land and sea. If CO2 does increase atmospheric warming, doesn’t it follow that the differential will be greater? Kinetic energy increases with the square of the velocity – so, perhaps it isn’t trivial, especially for a system close to equilibrium.

    What’s clear is that there are periods within this warming trend that see cooling, so your question of why you wouldn’t see warming is a good one and deserves an answer. I’d like to know, because that energy must go somewhere. Is it a limit of our ability to measure temperature, is the solar influx changing, or is there some temporary store of energy that distorts the trend, such as wind and ocean currents (which are partly driven by temperature and wind)?

  8. Tim,

    two comments (and please do get up to date with the quantitative aspects of the 2nd law of thermodynamics):

    (a) The data does show warming, see:

    Incidentally, I actually did re-check the claim that even if one cherry-picked the interval, a regression test would still give a positive slope of 0.11 K/decade.

    (b) Warming is more likely somewhat offset by the phenomenon of global dimming, related to the high aerosol count in the atmosphere caused by industrial activity.

  9. >>that energy must go somewhere

    Exactly. I recently saw a good analogy. If you light a cigarette in a closed room. You cannot exactly predict how the smoke will curl and what shapes it will make, etc. But, despite that, you know that the room will get smokier. The skeptic argument is “How do you know my cigarette will make your room smoky when you can’t even predict the shape of the smoke?”

    We do know that the oceans are the world’s biggest carbon sink, and we also know that increased CO2 absorption is acidifying oceans, with potential devastating feedback loops (imagine CO2 absorbing plankton, bottom of the food chain and an enormous carbon sink in their own right, dying off en masse…). Recent Atlantic studies on ocean CO2 absorption, if networked further to include the Pacific as well, could give us some interesting results.

    Re warming trend seeing cooling – it’s just not the case. There are localised cooling events, but weather is not climate. The zig zag line of warming temperatures will inevitably dip as it zags, but to sit at the bottom of a zag and say “it’s cooling” is shortsighted. El Ninos and La Ninas will come and go. Warming oceans may see shifts in ocean conveyor flows, shifting regional climates, but the aggregate temperature is still increasing.

    We are still pouring billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, and every year this amount is increasing, not decreasing. The increased heat energy in the ‘message in a bottle’ at top, as you say, must go somewhere. We ignore this at our peril.

  10. All scientists are skeptics or they wouldn’t be scientist.
    Regarding the comment on putting your head in a plastic bag and a rubber band around your neck is a poor example due to the fact we breath warm, moist air so you could do that in the dark and still sweat. I live in the state of Missouri within the US and we have had lower than normal temperatures especially in the summer. Our summers have also been extremely wet and winters have been really dry. From all the data I’ve looked at CO2 levels didn’t rise until after temperatures rose. I can also say from experiments I’ve done on my own that water vapor is more significant than CO2 on temperature. Are we putting too much water vapor in the air? Climate Changers say water vapor is insignificant. I believe most people believing in this nonsense refuse to look at all the proof that it doesn’t exist. I see over 30,000 scientists disproving climate change compared to a few thousand saying its a problem.

    I’d also like to mention that I am a strong proponent of permaculture and sustainability, cleaner air and water, and the use of cleaner energy. I believe this is where are focus should be, good stewardship of this planet. We can stabilize temperatures all day but what affect does that have on our health. When are we going to make a big deal of the genetically altered, chemical filled foods. When are the pharmaceutical companies going to be put on trial for the millions of people they slow kill with their junk. When are all the slaves going to wake up and realize they are the solution.

  11. Perhaps I should have stipulated that I’d delete comments that don’t fit within the guidelines I gave…. Rather, I just asked nicely for people to refrain from commenting unless they can “explain how we can expect global temperatures to remain static whilst pumping billions of tons of extra greenhouse gases into the atmosphere” given the proven radiative properties of CO2. I don’t see this in your comment Jacob. Only more unsubstantiated comments, disingenous statements and obfuscation.

    ‘Climate changers’ (that’s every one of us by the way), do not say water is insignificant. Yes, water vapour is the biggest greenhouse gas!! It is also why changes in the small percentage of our atmosphere that contains CO2 gets amplified so much. Water vapour is a positive feedback.

    I agree, we have other problems aside from GHGs. I shed light on them constantly (check our categories on the sidebar – like GMOs, etc.). But, the presence of these problems doesn’t scientifically negate climate change. Holistic solutions (relocalisation, soil carbon building, water harvesting and recycling, etc.) are all critical solutions to these many problems, and are also solutions to climate change – only the realities of the heat trapping properties of CO2 make implementing these solutions even more urgent.

    Once again, comments are strictly for explaining to me how we can expect global temperatures to remain static when we’re pumping billions of extra tons of CO2 and other greenhouses gases into the atmosphere in light of the proven heat radiating properties of those greenhouse gases. That is the purpose of this post. Please stay on topic. The inability of people to do so just proves the whole point of this post.

  12. Jacob,


    “Climate Changers say water vapor is insignificant.”

    I’d much like to see where you got that idea from. Everyone that looked into the physics pretty much should know the influence of water vapour.


    “I see over 30,000 scientists disproving climate change compared to a few thousand saying its a problem.”

    I take it you are referring to this petition:

    So… may I ask:

    (a) in what sense having obtained a BS from University and signing this petition would qualify one as “a scientist disproving climate change”. I’d much like to see all the
    peer-reviewed research articles written by those folks that
    “disprove the issue”.

    (b) why that number would in any way be impressive. I’m fairly sure there are way more Ayn Rand fans out there than that – Reason magazine has 60000+ subscribers, presumably most of them with some form of academic education – and I’m fairly sure you could get at least half of them to sign such a petition.

  13. This always gets me in a guff. I’m not referring to anyone here specifically but rather the “30,000 scientists”…blah blah. If you aren’t ACTIVELY involved in climate/environmental related research you have no business involving yourself in the climate change debate. Period.
    Seriously, would you go to an atmospheric scientist for advice on the state of the world economy? Obviously not, so why would you take the advice of an economist on the state of global climate change? Just because someone is educated and knowledgeable in one field doesn’t mean they know squat about another. (I’m not picking on economists specifically, but rather any “scientist” involved in a discipline unrelated to climate science).

    It also blows my mind how someone who can be pro permaculture and agricultural reform; anti GM food (a position for which there is far less supporting scientific evidence than there is for climate change), and STILL deny climate change and our contribution towards it.

    “I see over 30,000 scientists disproving climate change compared to a few thousand saying its a problem”

    Ludicrous, even if we only take into account the IPCC (which takes a very conservative look at current climate research and STILL supports anthropogenic climate change), this is still the largest international, multi-tiered peer-review scientific analysis ever conducted.

  14. All of our problems require resources to be used to fix the problems, these resources require resource vouchers (money) to allocate the resources. Although the fact that more CO2 in the atmosphere tends to increase temperature can’t be denied, more and more people are being disillusioned by the fact that the ones giving up their resource vouchers are also the ones that can least afford to. Thankfully, I believe that we will change our ways through rapidly changing technological and practical methods that will save money and emissions.

    My business sequesters about a ton or two of carbon a day (on a good day) and saves using fossil fuels in the process. It also expands the total amount of fertile top soil (only a dozen or so square meters a day), all while saving people money and providing an income for my family (all without government rebates). I hope to see thousands of people operating similar businesses around the world within a few years. There are many other businesses that are making progress in cutting emissions by more efficient use of electricity or other means and are or will soon become the more economical choice anyway.(purified graphite, adsorption chillers, algae grown for bio fuels etc etc)

    If we had to leave the problem of CO2 emissions up to governments and big business I would be very disillusioned as to whether those resource vouchers were being used in a productive way.

    Are the efforts of the many concerned people being used efficiently in spreading fear (security industry will be on a constant growth period), or would their efforts be better used promoting more positive endeavours. At the moment its the same simplistic argument over and over without many ideas being promoted that may actually have more of an effect that slogan chanting.

    We will find out in our life time whether our actions were the most productive thing to do for our sustainability, or if we have wasted huge amounts of resources on the wrong things. I wish that we would never see another article on CO2 and climate change without at least mentioning the other problems that intertwine with climate change (soil degradation, inefficient water use, unsustainable agriculture, warping of the Earth’s magnetosphere etc)

  15. Hi Craig,

    I’m aware of entropy, and Earth isn’t exactly an isolated system. It receives varying amounts of radiation and can give off varying amounts of it too. The Earth has had warming periods and high concentrations of GHG in the past and has somehow cooled again. Granted, we have crippled the earth’s ability to sequester CO2.

    It will be interesting to see what effect the decline in fossil fuel availability has on the climate. One possibility is that when industry grinds to a halt the global dimming effect recedes, exposing the greenhouse effect in its entirety. On the other hand, GHG emissions may plummet. But then, deforestation may accelerate. We don’t hear much about scenarios like that since resource scarcity and collapse is rarely taken into account by climate scientists.

    Appreciate your work,

  16. Tim – consider what will happen, economically, when oil becomes even more obviously scarce…

    This is what will happen:

    Our economies are based on liquid fuels. Investment will go there. We will (we are) switching from oil to ‘coal to liquids’.

    This is fuel that can be used in planes, cars, trucks. All made from coal.

    It was first ‘invented’ in Nazi Germany when the country’s oil supplies were threatened by ally forces.

    Coal to liquids has twice the CO2 emissions. Coal to liquds uses considerably more water in its production.

    Coal to liquids is a temporary replacement for transport fuels, but one that will cause significantly more emissions, more pollution, and a prolonging of the status quo that is killing us in every other area also.

    We have more coal reserves than we do oil….

    This is the easiest replacement. We’re not set up for solar and wind, because we’re too damned slow to realise what is going on. Electricity could run our vehicles, but we’re not doing it. It’s a major infrastructure change, and time is running out.

    I wrote this in 2006….!

    But, oil production plateaued in 2005. It takes more than a decade to even consider a ‘seamless’ transistion of any sort:

    Even if their transition is to just another form of pollution, like liquid fuels!!

    What I’m saying is, if we don’t transition, we will keep going. If we keep going, we will make more pollution. Even more….

    We need major cultural change. There is no technofix here – just an increasing awareness of our predicament.

  17. I’m not convinced CTL will happen to a significant degree. Investment is not necessarily made rationally, poor ERoEI will assert itself financially (the surplus capital is not available plus poor returns), and running short of a vital resource is disruptive.

    Greer and Orlov have written thoughtful articles about this:

    Orlov writes:
    “Firstly, the crash in oil production preceded collapse in USSR’s Gross Domestic Product. The lag time between the two, and the severity of the collapse are clear enough to ascribe causality: to say that the oil crash caused the economic collapse. On the other hand, coal and natural gas production, which also crashed, did so after the GDP collapsed, again, with a significant enough lag time to say with confidence that it was economic collapse that caused coal and gas production to crash.

    What actually happens to an economy and a society under such circumstances? With oil in short supply, industrial production plummets, the economy stalls, there is a financial crisis because of debts going bad, followed by a commercial crisis because of falling demand and lack of credit, followed by political collapse caused by dwindling government revenues, followed by social collapse as unemployment rises and crime becomes rampant. After a while of this, the idea of you and your friends going out to the oil field and pumping some more oil starts to seem rather odd, and so oil production heads to zero.”

  18. I’ve written about perpetual recession here. It outlines what you say. How it will all play out precisely, though, is not something mere mortal man can predict accurately, me thinks.

    Do we have an across the board collapse that happens ‘equitably’? Or do we see a strengthening of corporate feudalism? An intensifying of centralisation, where some attempt to persevere with the status quo that they so rightly deserve? To do so requires coal to liquids, tar sands, and conquest for oil and gas. And while the cost of these may become intolerable amidst economic mayhem, the reality is countries (like China and others) are making this move NOW. The plants that are set up today, will persevere as long as possible.

    One thing is for sure, the next couple of decades will not be like the last. The days of cheap energy are over. And most of us don’t even comprehend what that really means as none of us lived in an age where we HAD to live from real-time sunlight. We talk about it. Some of us tinker with it. Almost none of us have forced ourselves to rely on it – because we’ve never had to.

  19. sorry for questioning the science
    I agree that the CO2 has risen
    maybe it is not fossil fuel use ?
    The past decade has seen a high percentage of rainforest destroyed for “eco-friendly” biofuels
    cut down carbon sink for bio fuel which we burn and call it “carbon neutral”
    please ask Copenhagen to explain
    Why should a tax on CO2 fix the climate problems ?
    The largest carbon sinks are destroyed and we pay for it
    this carbon tax is not a suitable answer, but with the blame on carbon, we are carried into a corporate solution

  20. Tony – I don’t disagree, at all, that the government and corporate response has been beyond stupid. And yes, deforestation is a MAJOR source of CO2 emissions. But of course fossil fuel use is also an enormous contributor – there’s no getting around that.

    The post here though is to try to sweep all this aside, to ensure we still recognise that the root problem is real – despite pathetic or disastrous ‘solutions’ (as I wrote in the post above).

  21. If I remember right, the contribution of agricultural malpractice (humus oxidation, deforestation) to anthropogenic CO2 has been somewhere in the range of 40% to 20% in the last few decades.

    Still, it is interesting to see how a few simple order-of-magnitude calculations using little more than the rule of three show that fossil fuels must have been a major player in this:

    Especially slides 6-8.

  22. ok we disagree on causes

    solutions are the issue in the long run
    Permaculture attracted me for the ethical reasons and the acceptance of nature being the only cure to restore eco systems
    The movement at the moment is on the blame of poor old CO2
    The solution is to create a living bio and sustainable sink that provides food and atmospheric changes for the balancing between nature and industry
    Panic and fear seem to scare us into monetary fixes that take rather than repair
    Plant the greatest forestry systems on the planet, rather than reduce what resource we use today
    then gradually convert to completely sustainable energy
    The Copenhagen argument is to make bad fuel “clean” through expensive means and offset through tokens
    Back to money as a solution

  23. “how we can expect global temperatures to remain static whilst pumping billions of tons of extra greenhouse gases into the atmosphere?”

    Are you familiar with the “saturation” argument? Does it not go far in answering your question?

    “What saturation tells us is that exponentially higher levels of CO2 would be needed to produce a linear increase in absorption, and hence temperature.
    …Saturation does not tell us whether CO2 can raise the atmospheric temperature, but it gives us a powerful clue about the shape of the curve of temperature vs. concentration.”


  24. JBob, the reference you gave (which I would consider as not too bad, if flawed in some details) actually agrees on the fundamental issue we are talking about here: A doubling of CO2 concentrations can be expected to give a climate response in the range of ~Kelvins, not tenths of Kelvins and not tens of Kelvins. The physics is fairly unanimous about that. And this is, I take it, also the point Craig wants to make here.

    The next question then should be: How do we deal with that? I actually do disagree quite strongly with the author of that web page on a number of issues, mostly related to interpretations, such as: “Most people would have great difficulty feeling an increase of 0.6 degrees Celsius. Any effects of such a small change would be slow and subtle.” Note that we are talking about a global temperature average here, and also note that e.g. saturation water vapour pressure depends quite strongly on temperature. So, one degree of change in *average* temperature can already change the nature of extreme precipitation (or drought) events quite impressively. Biogeographically, such shifts are quite noticeable. It’s not that all species are well-fed 24/7 and can just put on or take off an extra layer if it gets chilly or hot – or turn on the air conditioning.

    Picking out this particular point:

    “Anthropogenic CO2 contributions constitute 3.2% of the total atmospheric CO2 (using 288 ppm as the pre-industrial baseline). About 14.8% of the increase in CO2 since 1900, or 11.88 ppm, was caused by man-made additions.”

    I really would like to see the source of that claim. Just doing a few simple estimates, that figure seems highly suspicious to me.

  25. Tony – you say we ‘disagree on causes’. I’m perplexed. If I understand your thoughts, you agree that deforestation is a major source of CO2 emissions (“The past decade has seen a high percentage of rainforest destroyed for “eco-friendly” biofuels cut down carbon sink for bio fuel which we burn and call it “carbon neutral”), but somehow believe that fossil fuel use isn’t?? (“I agree that the CO2 has risen, maybe it is not fossil fuel use ?”)

    I don’t understand how releasing around one trillion barrels of oil (give or take a few billion) since mid-1850s cannot release CO2 into the atmosphere. I think you’d be the only person on the planet to believe such. Indeed, you believe modern deforestation is a significant factor, but if I understand you correctly, somehow ancient accumulated forests, that were once safely subterranean but have now been released into the atmosphere, cannot be responsible?

    And from your comments, the argument for excusing fossil fuel use from any responsibility is because man is attempting to ‘solve’ it through money based mechanisms?

    To say that I don’t believe fossil fuel use has any effect on atmospheric CO2 concentrations because capitalists are monetising the effects, is like saying I don’t believe swine flu is killing people because pharmaceutical companies are making money from vaccines. Yes, they’re making money, but it doesn’t mean people aren’t dying from the root problem. To make such arguments fogs the issue – and worse, deflects accountability from those at fault (this link goes to a page giving information on the source of H1N1).

    Just, in the case of swine flu, not all of us are culpible (unless we have a penchant for industrial pork). But in the case of CO2, fogging the issue deflects blame from every one of us – unless we’re living in a mud hut in a forest.

    For the record – I am not pro-carbon trading. Significant evidence for this is found here:

    At bottom of that post, which I wrote early 2008, you’ll find my attempts to be objective – a list of ‘Easy to Understand’, ‘For’ carbon trading articles, and a list of ‘Against’ articles. Which list is longer? (I was editor…).

    But, I keep my logic intact here – and don’t let mankind’s reaction to climate change fog observable scientific facts. Climate change is inconvenient, and it is wholly unjust that the biggest contributors to this problem are also attempting (and in many cases succeeding) to capitalise on it, but it doesn’t excuse away the fact that CO2 concentrations are increasing (from 288ppm to 385ppm – a 35% increase) and that CO2 has particular heat trapping characteristics that should not be ignored.

  26. JBob – while I commend you in your attempt to address the root question of this post, and not diverge into conspiracy theories and socio/political/economic obfuscations, I’m not sure T.J. Nelson is really a suitable candidate to disprove climate science.

    “T. J. Nelson is a research associate professor studying the biochemistry of memory and Alzheimer’s disease at the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute in Rockville, Maryland.”

    Looking at the referenced sources for some of his comments, I see articles that say the opposite of what he is trying to submit.

    While, as Thomas has said, Nelson doesn’t disprove the root issue, but only confirms it (that increased atmospheric CO2 translates to increased warming), he does make some blanket statements as if they’re fact but without giving scientific basis for it.

    One of his central arguments, in relation to saturation, is that oceans constitute an almost limitless carbon sink (“the buffering capacity of the oceans is enormous”), and that we can continue to pour billions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere with the assurance that the oceans will soak it all up indefinitely.

    If this were true, then we would never had seen increases in atmospheric CO2….

    Rather, atmospheric CO2 concentrations are still steadily rising, and, in addition, significantly, it appears that the ocean’s ability to absorb excess may now be reaching its limits.

    “The Southern Ocean has been absorbing less CO2 from the atmosphere since 1981, even though levels have increased 40 percent due to burning of fossil fuels. Oceans absorb half of all human carbon emissions, but the Southern Ocean is taking up less and less and is reaching its saturation point, reported an international research team in the journal Science.” – IPS

    Reasons for this are potentially very complex, and all confirm that the ‘Gaia’ concept is alive and well within our delicately balanced biosphere.

    Nelson also states: “there is no question that emitting CO2 will cause it to accumulate over short periods. But other processes, such as sequestration, also work against it, causing the levels to decrease rapidly over time.”

    He is referring to what would happen were CO2 emissions to rapidly drop (i.e. a change in mankind’s habits). It’s an assurance that if things do in fact get really bad, we can back out quickly and watch the earth restore itself pronto. This is a very comforting/convenient, but linear view. Although touching on albedo effects, Nelson takes a very optimistic view that isn’t keeping pace with current knowledge. Where is his mention of melting permafrost with all its billions of tons of methane and CO2? Where is the recognition of the drying/burning effects we’re getting as rainforest shrink and become unable to water themselves through transpiration and precipitation. These and other feedback loops will not bring linear impacts – but threaten exponential feedback loops.

    I don’t believe we can look at the world as one where mankind can make dramatic adjustments on historical natural activity and just expect the world to shift to a new equilibrium to make room for it. There is certainly no evidence to support this presumption – a dangerous presumption at that.

    A better article on saturation:

  27. Craig, I admit I haven’t read all of your articles but it sounds like you have a well rounded understanding on our planet’s many systems.

    We don’t hear much about the Suns activity and how much of an effect it has on our climate but wasn’t the last ice age caused by a slowing of the Sun’s activity? We are apparently moving through very high concentrations of ionised plasma which is entering the suns magnetic field. Until we understand how the plasma will affect our suns activity (which it is having many unexpected effects on other planets within our solar system), we cant have a chance of knowing what percentage effect C02 is going to have or even if it may offer some protection from an oncoming ice age. I know that last comment could be slightly controvesial and its not something I can back up, but do we have that sort of certainty yet that we can rule it out as a posibility?

    The one thing that I think can’t be denied is that we MUST secure our food production by building as much biomass on this planet as we can. We’re in for a bumpy ride.

  28. Craig,

    I should have known that the C02 absorptions saturation issue would already have been through grinder around the internet. Thanks for giving me the realclimate link instead of just regurgitating its points without attribution as I have seen done on many other forums. I read the article and then read a little more from other sources, but honestly it is a bit above my head at this point. It would take a lot more time and study to draw anything near my own conclusions on that point.

    You mention the gaia hypothesis and the balance of the biosphere. I have had this question bouncing around my head lately: What makes us believe that the current global temperature is ideal for humanity, specifically our agriculture? Even if a little warmer were more difficult for us, don’t you think the enormous productivity and resiliency of permaculture approaches would be able to more than cope with such changes? The difference between the moonscapes of industrial agriculture and the potential in agroforestry, earthworks, “gardening” style, etc permaculture seems gigantic to me. I just can’t seem to get myself too concerned with GW when I see miles and miles of wasted cropland waiting to be regenerated and restored to health. So much potential for positive change…

  29. JBob,

    the physics behind the influence of CO2 concentrations on the radiation balance of the earth unfortunately is a bit involved. But at least, it is also accessible/measurable via satellite observations in the infrared. That’s why it is so important to notice that pretty much everyone agrees that even fairly crude models give a climate response to CO2 doubling in the range of some Kelvins. Note that the article you linked contains a number of interesting, and quite questionable assumptions. It may be worthwile to discuss some of these in detail, in particular the question whether positive feedback mechanisms already are contained in this analysis to the degree the author claims.

    The claim that “only ~12 ppm of the present CO2 would be anthropogenic” I would call an impertinent lie. Very roughly, there are in the range of 800 Gton of Carbon in the atmosphere, and about 100 Gton of that get absorbed and re-emitted by vegetation each year, and a roughly similar amount by the oceans. So, 1/4 of that C cycles every year. So, one could claim that the excess CO2 molecules in the atmosphere are mostly not identical to those we put there (as those emitted 20 years ago most likely would have been replaced by others from the ocean or vegetation), but that’s just a technicality that has no implications for the fact that CO2 levels are high precisely because we are continually overloading the reprocessing capacity, which certainly also is quite high, but actually not that elastic.

    Look again at that article. I’d say it is pretty evident that the author is writing driven by a fear of “the evil environmentalist who wants to shut down industrial technology and hence civilization”, and who therefore “has to have his sinister plans defeated”. Taking, for example, this sentence:

    >>> This validates suspicions that, if environmentalists get their way with CO2, a campaign to force us to reduce water vapor could well be next.

    The “ideology of fear” behind such ideas has had a number of influential apostles, most notably maybe the author Ayn Rand and her “Objectivist” cult of fire worshippers, see e.g. the leading two paragraphs of:

    Now, anyone who ever bothered to take a cursory look at permaculture easily should be able to identify this as rather dumb propaganda. Translated into permaculture language, her ideology is based on the assertion (never proven of course, as it is assumed to be so “self-evident”) that “peoplecare” is an impossibility unless one resorts to an excessive use of fossil fuels, and screws the idea of “earthcare”.

    Do some background research on Ayn Rand and that ideology. Maybe that’s enlightening. I won’t claim that this is to blame for all the “climate-skepticism” we see – that certainly would be too simplistic a world model. But understanding the structure of that particular ideology certainly helps.

  30. For everyone:

    A report by more than 100 of Europe’s leading marine scientists, released at the climate talks this morning, states that the seas are absorbing dangerous levels of carbon dioxide as a direct result of human activity. This is already affecting marine species, for example by interfering with whale navigation and depleting planktonic species at the base of the food chain.

    Ocean acidification – the facts says that acidity in the seas has increased 30% since the start of the industrial revolution. Many of the effects of this acidification are already irreversible and are expected to accelerate, according to the scientists.

    Read more here and here. As we’ve seen from the post above, people are not able to dispute that CO2 is warming the world. But, even if you were to completely, stupidly, ignore this, then what about ocean acidification? What will skeptics say that this? As a commenter on the first of the links above said:

    One really wonders how the denialists will counter this one: global conspiracy in acid readings? Unproven effects of acidic water on organisms? I am sure they will come up with something, as they always do, because they don’t care about the science, only about their dogmatic agenda.

    Ocean acidification really is a crisis issue. We’re talking about the breakdown of systems at the very bottom of the food chain.

    Glen: We do hear a lot about the sun’s activity in regards to climate change – although mostly in the skeptic camp. Read here and here for a start.

    >>”The one thing that I think can’t be denied is that we MUST secure our food production by building as much biomass on this planet as we can. We’re in for a bumpy ride.”

    Agree on both counts.

    JBob: “What makes us believe that the current global temperature is ideal for humanity, specifically our agriculture?”

    First, read the ocean acidification bit at top, and consider the interconnectedness of everything within our biosphere. I look at the world as a bit like a bicycle wheel, in the sense that you can pull a few spokes out and keep riding, if you ride carefully…. But, pull a few more out, and things get increasingly risky. Take enough out, and the whole thing collapses.

    For agriculture, specifically (not that you can really study it separately from the rest of the biosphere as they are all interdependent…), we are seeing increasing aridity in many areas, increasing floods in others. These are shrinking land areas available for farming and destroying crops, just as we’re adding millions more mouths to feed every year. As more land is destroyed/exhausted pressure increases on remaining land, and pressure increases to get more people out with chainsaws clearing what’s left of our forests.

    Additionally, some of the crops we’re most reliant on are shown to decrease in yield as temperatures rise:

    For every 1°C rise in temperature, there is a depression in grain yield by 8 to 10%. – FAO

    This has shown to be true for rice, wheat, corn and soy – base items for most of the world.

    More on this here. Studies indicate the dropoff in yield you get beyond optimum temperature is faster than the increase in yield before it.

    And, again, we can’t look at these things in isolation. Consider that most of the world’s glaciers are shrinking at an unprecedented rate. The world’s largest populations depend on meltwater from these glaciers for irrigation. China and India in particular, but the effects will be pronounced in many parts of the world.

    I could go on and on.

    The big thing to recognise is the interconnectedness of the web of life, and thus the absurdity of some skeptics’ claims that ‘global warming is good’ due to cherry picking some perceived benefit. And, aside from all the natural connectedness, don’t forget our human connectness (think migration, resource grabs, etc.).

    >>”…don’t you think the enormous productivity and resiliency of permaculture approaches would be able to more than cope with such changes?”

    To be honest, yes and no. Yes in the sense that a mainstream shift to permaculture systems could not only enable us to adapt to change (adaptation is going to be essential, as we’ve already got momentum going in climate change that will see a lot of changes even if we were to stop all industrial activity today) but could also rapidly reverse the damage – sequestering carbon out of the air and putting it where it will actually help us, in the soil (soil fertility is dependent on humus, the final stage of decaying organic matter. Rich, dark humus is primarily carbon. Read my post on soil to learn more). A good example of this is here, arguably the largest implementation of permaculture in the world, which has reversed desertification and revegetated three million hectares of arid land in Niger alone. Geoff’s example in Jordan is another good example.

    And, No in the sense that if permaculture does not become mainstream, and we persevere with centralised industrial agriculture, the imbalances we’re seeing today will continue. We’ll see more desertification, an intensifying water crisis (which, amongst other things, translates to more disease) and people will begin to understand the concept of ‘abrupt climate change‘ (see also).

    We’re heading into environmental conditions the world has not seen since the beginning of agriculture.

    We must overhaul our society. A few hobby permaculturists is not enough. Mainstream thinking MUST change, and now.

  31. Craig,

    I think the issue at the heart of all this is: as a species, we both depend on nature as well as our technology for our survival. Now that is not such an extraordinary thing: pretty much most species need shelter, for example, and in the broadest sense most of them use some technological approach to provide that. And certainly all species need nature. It’s just that we seem to have difficulty reconciling the needs and characteristics of nature with our (present) technology. In that way, we are actually not that special. Part of that problem is that our present engineers often don’t watch and think enough before they design, but just throw massive concrete-steel-oil-and-gas solutions at problems. Concerning this particular issue, it is very enlightening to in particular study the work of the engineer John Todd on “Living Machines”. I think he found a very good way to demonstrate that one can indeed match up nature with technology in a sensible way.

    Coming back to the analogy of the “jigsaw puzzle”: Nature desperately tries to tell us that we do something very basic very wrong. What is that key problem at the heart of the matter? The more I study Mollison’s work the more I get the idea he must have had some fairly profound insights into this. Take for example the poem at the beginning of “Permaculture One” that talks about people seeing “bamboo as a grass” and a different sort of people seeing “bamboo as a spear”. Note that the sort of global economy we have at present, and our present economic thinking, is still very strongly shaped by ideas from the cold war era. Both Communist and Capitalist thinking considered an economy as powerful (and hence desirable) that would be able to do a lot of advanced engineering in a short time-span. Bluntly, “having an economy that would be able to produce a lot of tanks in very short time-span, if needed” was regarded as a good thing on both sides. Landing a man on the moon? It all was about delivering a striking demonstration that a decentralized market economy with tens of thousands of supplier companies would be more effective at achieving a narrowly defined complex engineering goal than a planned economy could be.

    But as such, both “philosophies” missed the most important point. Strength is NOT about acquiring the universal ability to bend things to your will if you don’t like them the way they are, and in particular “conflict” is NOT a game of chess where you have to use your resources in a clever way to obtain a strategic advantage over the enemy. Yet, this perspective is what I would call the common basis of capitalist and communist thinking. It occasionally becomes quite visible, such as in Thomas Schelling’s book “The strategy of conflict”.

    There is a very different notion of “conflict” that regards such a situation as a product of some sort of confusion that can be traced back to an incomplete understanding of the issue at hand by all parties involved, and strives to come to a lasting solution by first clearing up that confusion. The key insight here is: when we think about conflict, then the concept of “violence” is a red herring that persistently distracts us from the perspective of having to work hard for a better understanding of the actual nature of the situation. Conflict really ultimately is a product of confusion: Forces clash which rather would have needed a design approach.

    As long as we are stuck with thinking that is shaped by the idea of “progress” being all about increasing our capacity to use force to bend things to our will (“build more bombs”), and doing creative accounting to re-declare the destruction of valuable resources (Bill’s terminology would be “pro-creative assets”) as “production of wealth” (which actually at best is in the form of “degenerative assets”, hence actually liabilities, when seen in the right light), simple logic should tell us that we cannot be on the right track (in the sense that such an approach would quite automatically be self-defeating in the long run).

    So, the question is not one about “shutting down the world economy” or “depriving the holy engineer of his magical weapon – fire”, which is the fear in the hearts of many people who are very strongly opposed to emissions reductions these days. It ultimately is all about setting the conceptual-philosophical basis of our economic thinking right, getting rid of the “creative accounting” that re-declares destruction as “wealth generation”, and instead generating real, lasting, stable wealth (fertile soil, clean water, stable forests, etc.) that can support both us, as people, as well as the co-evolutionary context that we depend on (including “that which is wild”). The “redistribution of surplus” aspect of the permaculture ethics is much less about “fair share” as it is about “switching over from reinvesting the surpluses generated by destructive economic activity to further speed up the destruction” to “reinvesting the surpluses from rehabilitiative economic activity to further speed up rehabilitation”.

    It ultimately all boils down to “learning to see conflict as caused by confusion and resolving it through observation and profound design” superseding the idea of seeing “conflict as a need for the capacity to apply force”.

    Nice idea, but does it work in practice? Well… does Permaculture actually work then? I’d pretty much say so.

    Concerning these more abstract ideas, two other people apart from John Todd whose work certainly deserves to be studied, for they seem to have had profound insights into the nature of conflict and demonstrated the ability to productively use these insights to set up working solutions are Mohandas Gandhi, and Christopher Alexander.

  32. Up front I should say I believe that anthropogenic climate change is a serious issue which society should respond to by limiting it’s green house gas (GHG) emissions. Now I will respond directly and look forward to your responses:

    “explain how we can expect global temperatures to remain static whilst pumping billions of tons of extra greenhouse gases into the atmosphere”

    An over simplified example of how global temperatures could only rise by a minor amount despite GHG emissions is that a slight, or localised, rise in temperature could lead to higher evaporation of water from the ground. This would lead to greater cloud cover in the atmosphere. Clouds very effectively reflect the sun’s energy before it ever enters to atmosphere (or at least the troposphere, which is the lower 10km of the atmosphere). Thus, higher GHG could have a minimal impact on temperature.

    This is a believable hypothesis of how global temperatures can remain static despite GHGs. Water vapour may in fact be a negative feedback, contrary to what was said earlier. Unfortunately, cloud formation is one area of atmospheric science where science hasn’t yet been able to draw firm conclusions. All we know is that clouds potentially play a major part in global warming and that it is one of the biggest weaknesses of surrent climate change prediction models.

    As I said at first, however, I think society does need to address GHG emissions. The climate is such a complicated, chaotic system that I think that scientists can not know exactly how it will be effected by GHG emissions other than to say they might have a big impact on climate and cause a lot of human suffering (disease, floods, and hightened international tensions). It is not a major impact on our society to significantly reduce our carbon dioxide production, it is just bad news for some powerful members of our society (e.g. the oil industry). People can have a very high standard of living, and our economies be very successful without emitting all these GHG. Therefore, as someone said earlier in this thread, it’s better that we are safe rather than sorry and not carry on introducing this unusually high level of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. If we wait to see what the results are, it may be too late to avert incredible amounts of human suffering.

  33. Air has a mean molecular mass of 28.97 g/mol. Carbon dioxide has a mean molecular mass of 44.01 g/mol. The kinetic theory of gasses states that a gas molecule’s velocity is proportional to the square root of the ratio of the gas temperature and the molecular mass. Therefore, the mean air molecule velocity is 123.3% that of the carbon dioxide molecule at the same temperature.

    The gas inside the bottles impacts the bottle wall and exchanges energy with the surrounding atmosphere. Because of its increased mean speed, air molecules impact the walls 23.3% more often than the carbon dioxide molecules at the same temperature. Therefore, the contents of the carbon dioxide bottle will heat up 23.3% faster than the air bottle.

    If you plot the rates of temperature increase in the two bottles and take the ratio of those rates, you will find that the entire effect is fully explained by the ratio of the molecular masses. Since the earth is not immersed in a surrouding medium it is not cooled in the same manner as the bottles, i.e., through bottle wall impacts.

    Since the entire effect in the experiment you reference is fully explained by the molecular mass ratio and the bottle wall impact cooling mechanism, where is the radiative forcing effect necessary for global warming? The answer is that the experiment you reference and, apparently, rely upon for your argument is completely unable to discern a radiative forcing effect.

  34. Frank,

    I think you have have a valid point here. While for the earth, radiation is the only cooling mechanism, we also have conduction and convection in this simple experiment.

    So, if we strip out your numbers, which superficially appear very accurate, coming with 3 or even 4 digits, but unfortunately are quite wrong in more than one way, your basic claim as I understand it is that, in such a set-up, the non-air bottle will always heat to a higher equilibrium temperature than the air-filled bottle if we put in a heavy gas.

    Hence, what we actually would have to compare in this experiment is the CO2 warming (relative to air) and the warming (also relative to air) produced by a non-IR-active gas of about the same molecular mass, heat capacity, and – preferentially, effective radius – as CO2.

    Unfortunately, it is a bit difficult to actually do such a differential experiment here. Pondering over the periodic table, I don’t see an element or compound that could fit the bill. The closest analog may be Krypton, which, however, only has about 1/2 the heat capacity of CO2.

    Perhaps the experiment should be re-done in such a way that the heat conduction playing field is leveled by also putting 50% helium into both the air and CO2 bottle then.

  35. Thomas,

    For reference:

    Air molecular mass:

    Carbon dioxide molecular mass:

    Ideal gas law:
    Gives density as being proportional to the ratio of the pressure to the temperature. For the same initial conditions of pressure and temperature in the same size bottles, the density (and number) of molecules are the same.

    Ratio of molecular mass: 28.97/44.01 = 0.6583

    Kenetic theory of gases:
    Gives the mean velocity as the square root of the ratio of the temperature to the molecular mass.

    Inverse square root ratio of molecular mass:
    sqrt(44.01/28.97) = 1.233

    Number of collisions with a wall:
    Gives the number of collisions as being proportional to the product of the density and mean velocity. Since the initial densities are the same (see above), the ratio of the number of collisions is equal to the ratio of the velocities. At the same temperature, this is the ratio of the square root of the molecular masses, i.e., 1.233.

    I fail to see how this is “quite wrong in more than one way”. Note also, that it is not I that am “quite wrong” in your assessment; it is J. Herapath who detailed the calculation in an 1816 paper entitled “On the Physical Properties of Gases” in the Annals of Philosophy (pp 56-60).

  36. Frank,


    1.: In the video, I see three numbers: 23.4 degrees Celsius at the beginning, 31.2 degrees Celsius for the air bottle at the end, and 36.1 degrees Celsius for the CO2 bottle. Looking at the computer screen as shown at 01:56, which shows a cut-off graph, I think it is somewhat reasonable to assume that these are the final equilibrium temperatures.

    That gives 7.8 Kelvins of heating for the air bottle, and 12.7 K for the CO2 bottle.

    Now you write:

    “Therefore, the contents of the carbon dioxide bottle will heat up 23.3% faster than the air bottle.

    If you plot the rates of temperature increase in the two bottles and take the ratio of those rates, you will find that the entire effect is fully explained by the ratio of the molecular masses.”

    from these numbers (and also, estimating slopes on the cut-off graph shown), I’d say that the ratio is certainly larger than 1:1.25. So, where is your 23.3% there?

    2. Have you considered doing a simple check of your calculation against a materials property table? I’ll use the same source as you here,

    Thermal conductivity of air at NIST STP is 0.024 W/m K, that of CO2 is 0.0146 W/m K, giving us a ratio of 1.64, rather than 1.23. (Incidentally, that correct ratio is pretty close to the ratio of the temperature increases observed here – but for now, I’d consider that a coincidence, for that ratio will surely depend on the thickness of the insulating gas blanket.)

    3. You are perfectly right that, all other things being equal, thermal conductivity goes with the inverse square root of the mass of the molecule. The noble gases obey that law somewhat
    nicely: For Argon and Helium, mass ratio is about 10:1, and conductivity ratio is about 1:3. However, what you seem to be unaware of is that heat conductivity also is proportional to the molar specific heat capacity at constant volume. (Intuitively: the number of thermal degrees of freedom transported per particle.) Oxygen and Nitrogen are pretty close to the expected value of 5/2 R for a linear molecule (2 rotational + 3 translational degrees of freedom, each contributing k/2 per molecule), while CO2, due to excitations of internal degrees of freedom, has a larger Cv of about 3.4 R. That’s a factor 1.36 you just omitted. In addition to this, thermal conductivity is proportional to the mean free path of the molecule, which is inversely proportional to its cross-section. The CO2 molecule evidently has a much larger effective diameter than both N2 and O2, hence a smaller mean free path. Another factor you did not take into account when comparing air and CO2.

    Just out of curiosity: may I ask what subject you did your PhD in?

  37. For me it’s reductionism. As I tried to express in earlier comments (my ‘pulling spokes out of a wheel’ analogy for example), I think we need to see the big picture. We can stare into better and better microscopes from now to eternity and never fully understand what we’re looking at. The interactions, chemically, biologically are limitless. This image, that I’ve used in a couple of posts on GMOs I think is a good visual representation of what I’m trying to say:

    We’re all excited that we’ve understood one little element of the puzzle, but can’t see how that single piece fits into a far bigger picture. Indeed, we don’t even realise there is a bigger picture. Worse, as we ‘cleverly’ mess with/manipulate that single piece, we discover knock on effects we didn’t anticipate.

    When we step back, to look at/observe interactions/relationships/balance in natural systems, we see we don’t have to understand all the minutiae to know that we’re messing with a system that worked perfectly for thousands of years until now. We know the oceans are acidifying through increase in carbonic acid, we know this is from excess CO2 in the atmosphere. We know we’ve cut down far too many trees (releasing their CO2 and removing their CO2 sequestration services) and are releasing more CO2 into the atmosphere via fossil fuels than at any time in known history, etc. I find it fascinating when I hear, for example, denialists using the argument that we’re a ‘carbon starved world’ ( ), making me wonder how all the trees we had a few centuries ago could ever have survived. The few trees we have left now must be soooo happy all the other trees are gone. It’s the same mindset that has people removing ground cover and cutting down trees because they believe the plants are competing with them for water, then discovering after they’ve done so that everything around them dries up. This is complete reductionism and ignorance about natural systems and their services.

  38. Beautiful experiment! Now instead of pumping CO2 into the bottle, pump some argon into the bottle and repeat the experiment. One of typical mistakes poorly trained scientist make is not defining the boundaries of the systems they are studying carefully enough.

  39. This test is rigged. Adding a gas to a tight bottle increases the pressure of the container and makes it more likely for the pressure to rise.

    This test should be repeated but with 4 different gases.

    One bottle with argon,(non-greenhouse gas), one with air, one with CO2 and one with Methane. Argon comes out with the highest temperature and Methane, (the more powerful greenhouse gas) comes out with the lowest.

    Explain this.

  40. Geraint,

    Oh please.

    0:51 does not exactly look as if CO2 were added to a tightly sealed bottle.

    Note also particular that after the time jump at 01:00 in the video, the right (from the viewer’s perspective) bottle is closed with a normal cap. So, how was this put onto a pressurized bottle without equilibrating the pressure?

    Apart from that, considering the other issue you raise – have you done that experiment and can you link to a video that proves your claim?

  41. December 7th 2009! that article was put on here and people are still arguing about lab experiments.

    I have to admit that I am skeptical about how much climate change can be attributed to the human controlled proportion of green house gasses… but it doesn’t really change anything. The same so called causes of Global warming (Industrialization) are the same causes of massive poisoning of the earth, along with all of the economic turmoil that we are living through. The solutions and preparation that would be needed to combat climate change are the same solutions that we need to reverse soil degradation, move toward sustainable water and energy use and ultimately build more biomass for our bumpy ride.

    There is no need to argue.

  42. Sorry to say that there is no greenhouse effect in this experiment. Why do IR cells in infrared spectrometers have NaCl windows? Could it be that IR doesn’t pass through glass? What you are seeing here is heat transfer not light transfer. For CO2 to be a greenhouse gas, 15 micron radiation has to be available.

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