This geek wants to know

What do we make of this? The following I got via Climate Science, which to me is a solid resource for climate related news.

Today it featured a post by a Harry Dale Huffman, apparently showing the greenhouse effect is non-existent.

In the post the author compares temperatures on Earth (0.04% atmospheric CO2) and Venus (96.5% atmospheric CO2) at equal atmospheric pressures. That is, he compares the temperature on Earth at sea level (~ 1,000 millibar) to the temperature on Venus at the hight where the pressure also is ~ 1,000 millibar. And he finds that the only variable he needs to explain the difference in temperature is the difference in the Suns radiation, due to differences in distance to the Sun.

There’s a little more to it then that, of course. For the nitty-gritty I refer you to the post itself. It’s not that hard to follow. But the main argument is as I described: 98% of the differences in isobaric temperatures between Venus and Earth is explained by the difference in distance to the Sun. Carbon-dioxide doesn’t figure in the comparison, neither does anything else. It isn’t needed.

There is no sign whatever of a greenhouse effect on either planet. The fact that the temperature ratios are so close to that predicted solely by their relative distances from the Sun tells us that both atmospheres must be warmed, overall, essentially in the same way, by direct IR solar irradiation from above, not by surface emissions from below. Keeping it simple, the atmospheres must be like sponges, or empty bowls, with the same structure (hydrostatic lapse rate), filled with energy by the incident solar radiation to their capacity to hold that energy.

There is no greenhouse effect on Venus with 96.5% carbon dioxide, and none on the Earth with just a trace of carbon dioxide.

I don’t know nearly enough of climate science, or even just atmospheric physics to definitively say this is true or false. However, I know enough to be able to follow the argument and can see no obvious flaw. The argument is presented in a compelling fashion. The idea is beautiful in its simplicity and the results of the analysis seem to hold up to scrutiny. Hence, it has a certain appeal to my inner science geek. Contrary though it is to present-day received wisdom, I am inclined to accept the argument.

Digging around the site and related sites caused me a bit of worry, however. The author is also the author of a book proclaiming that at some point in the distant past the Earth was terra-formed by (alien?) life forms the author refers to as ‘the gods’. It has a bit of an ‘internet crank’ feel about it. You know the type: Wanting to explain everything with everything, on the basis of the flimsiest of correlations or coincidence, because all of it is connected, man!

But does that mean he is wrong on this issue? The results in that particular post are (or seem to be) easy enough to replicate. And it ties in nicely with the recent news that NASA satellite observations showed the Earth is shedding far more heat into space than alarmist computer models have predicted. Moreover, those observations show that the heat radiated off to space increases in times of warming. This seems to put a dent in the cumulative trapping of heat as suggested by the green-house hypothesis of the atmosphere.

So… What is going on here? Is that Venus-Earth temperature comparison the final nail in the coffin of the green-house effect? Anybody care to enlighten the curious (meaning first and foremost: ME!)?

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4 Responses to This geek wants to know

  1. William says:

    Two years ago I made the following posting on another site, on this same topic:Carbon dioxide increments will cause warming, but not significantly.  CO2 is only 0.038% of the air. Projected increases are to no higher than 0.01%.  By contrast, Venus has 90% carbon dioxide, that is 1000x as much.  Venus also receives twice the solar irradiation as Earth.  Planets absorb and radiate heat and so achieve an ambient medium temperature.  For Earth this is about 10C, or about 280K.  Venus is about 480C or 750K.  Note that Mars, without significant atmosphere, is about -60C or 210K as a medium, and Mars has half the solar irradiation as Earth.  Therefore Earth at Venus's distance from the Sun should have an ambient temperature of 150C or 420K.  Therefore Venus is 330C warmer due to greenhouse warming.As our own carbon dioxide variation is only about 1/2000 of Venus's atmosphere, therefore projected total atmospheric warming due to man's efforts is 330C/2000 = 0.15C.  It's a wash.

  2. Klein Verzet says:

    So, combining the post with what you've written, we arrive at the conclusion that the green-house effect is either non-existent or negligible. In any case it is not something to worry about.In itself that causes me quite some relief. But now: How to convince others of this factoid?

  3. newhdh says:

    Your numbers are not accurate, and your physics unsound.  Venus has 96.5% CO2, not 1000x that in Earth's atmosphere, but around 2400x (although your error in this doesn't matter, since it turns out there is no greenhouse effect — an increase in atmosperic temperature due to an increase in CO2 concentration — anyway).  While the effective radiating temperature of Earth is indeed 279K (almost 280K), that is not the mean surface temperature of Earth, which is 288K, but you are clearly trying to compare surface temperatures on the planets, and since the atmospheric pressure at those planetary surfaces are widely different, you can't properly compare the temperatures there anyway.  You have to compare at points of equal atmospheric pressure (because fundamentally, the temperature varies with the pressure due to the ideal gas law, so you have to remove that variable to properly compare temperatures in two planetary atmospheres).  When this is done for Venus and Earth, one finds that the temperature at a given pressure level in Venus's atmosphere is always just 17% higher than the temperature at the same pressure level in Earth's atmosphere.  This is not theory or speculation, this is experimental observation of the actual temperatures, so it is an undeniable fact (I link to the data in my article, so anyone can verify this).  This 17% difference (or 17.6% to be precise) is solely and precisely due to the difference in the two planets' average distances from the Sun, and nothing else.  (Thus, for example, your statement that Earth at Venus's distance from the Sun should have a temperature of 420K is quite wrong; it would be just 17.6% higher than its actual temperature at its actual distance from the Sun.)  Since the only difference in the temperatures in the two atmospheres is due to their different distances from the Sun, there is no warming of Venus due to the much greater concentration of CO2 in its atmosphere — that is, no greenhouse effect at all.  The real effect of an increase in CO2, as I explain on my blog, is to increase the efficiency, hence the speed, of heat transfer within the atmosphere.Since the detailed Venus data I used was obtained (by the Magellan spacecraft) nearly 20 years ago, my analysis should have been done by climate scientists (indeed, by any competent, interested scientist) that long ago, soon after the data became available.  So my analysis is not the "final nail" against the false climate "consensus" now; it should have been the preemptive "final nail" a generation ago.  My clear and simple analysis fundamentally corrects science's understanding of the real physics of atmospheric warming on a number of basic points, incredibly revealing a crisis of incompetence throughout climate science.And my greater research, and its epochal findings, show that the incompetence now being revealed in climate science is just the tip of the icebergy of incompetence across all of the physical sciences today.  Few are ready to hear that; almost none are ready to seriously consider it.  But when it is seriously considered, it is embarrassingly easy to prove it.  I have done so, and I only claim to be a competent physical scientist.  My research has opened the door to the next paradigm, in both science and religion (for it is not just Man and God, in human knowledge, anymore — the "gods" really existed, and remade the world and solar system).  What you may read of my greater work on the internet is just a little of the simplest, most obvious evidence, meant to be appreciated by anyone with a real desire to know the truth.  When you see my Venus/Earth analysis accepted by all, as the definitive correction of climate science, then you will know I am no crank.  I am the Galileo of this time.  And I really do only consider myself a competent scientist — but a gifted one beyond all expectation.

  4. Klein Verzet says:

    Dr Huffman,Thank you for stopping by and leaving your comments and corrections.So my analysis is not the "final nail" against the false climate "consensus" now; it should have been the preemptive "final nail" a generation ago.Yes, that would have saved us a lot of grief. And a substantial part of our economy.You will have to forgive me my scepticism in regard to your greater research. Your work throws up some intriguing questions and perspectives, especially with regard to the ancient civilizations, which current archeo-history seem to consistently underestimate and undervalue. My problem is that you seem to shift from the purely physical into conclusions about the meta-physical, for which there is, by definition, no proof. It is the same problem I have with the multi-verse paradigm: A particular view on how the universe ought to be informs the theory on how must be. In that respect we will have to agree to disagree.

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