The Riddle of Global Warming

They call CO2 the heat-trapping gas. And it emits on two bands at 15 micometer and at 4.3 micrometer. These correspond to Planck temperatures of 200 K and about 600K or 440 centigrade.


Now I can understand that a CO2 molecule after thermalization (receiving an IR photon for instance from the surface) achieves a temperature of 200K or about -70 centigrade and dethermalizes by emitting a 15 micron photon. Not that it would melt any ice.

But how in the world is the molecule expected to achieve 440 centigrade without immediately cooling down in the rather frigid air over Greenland to dethermalize with a hot 4.3 micrometer photon and cause instant devastation on the ice sheet?

I still don’t quite grasp the devastating IR backradiation. If I did, I think I would have already built a forge run by backradiation.

This rant inspired by a post about geothermally caused glacier melting in Greenland.


Update Apr 06: At the linked blogpost, Kenneth Richard contributed a link to a great paper by Elsässer talking about the 15 micron Planck temperature conundrum.


11 thoughts on “The Riddle of Global Warming”

  1. “I still don’t quite grasp the devastating IR backradiation.”

    I don’t either (don’t let on to sod or David Appell). But I’m working on it, too.

    What I’ve got so far is that if the photons that are absorbed by the CO2 molecule come from the earth, then the earth was cooled by the loss of them. Only some of the radiation emitted by the earth is scattered back to it, so it can’t ever reheat it to the extent it was before, without constant solar input. And that’s confirmed by the fact that it usually warms during the day, and usually cools at night. Air temps can be a significant factor though, and I’m not sure yet how to handle them, except perhaps to treat them, at least in part, as a kind of noise. But if the air is hot, it didn’t get that way from bumping into CO2 molecules. There just aren’t enough of them.

    In regard to you’re question about how a molecule gets to be 440 C, we llearned that temp is an aggregate property of matter. When you get down to the scale of atoms and molecules, there is always a statistical chance that some of them will be moving very fast. But unless the bulk is that hot, very very …..very very few of the 6.02E23 particles per mole of gas (22.4 Liters) will have the requisite energy. We used to have to do calculations involving those quantities back in college chemistry, but my memory banks storing that information haven’t been on line for a while.

    ASIDE – I’ve written a while back, on the topic (I forget where): Cows are smarter than warmists. When they are hot, they lie down on the ground (wet or dry) to cool off. They “know” that the heat capacities of water and earth are greater than that of air, and so their excess heat can be more easily lost to them than to air, thereby easing their thermal stress. Now if we could only put the warmists out to pasture…


      1. Yes. Well there’s many things to be considered. One of them is that IR photons do not necessarily cause evaporation or warming when hitting a water droplet but CHARGE SEPARATION… which in turn stabilizes clouds as all the droplets need to repel each other to form a cloud. This effect is completely unknown to IPCC physics.

        As Dr. Gerard Pollack held that lecture only in 2008, it follows that the IPCC GCM’s know SQUAT about that effect.


  2. Embarrassed to say I’ve never heard of him till now. Very nice! Thanks!

    Sorry this isn’t directly relevant (except that Pollack mentions Feynman), but it’s rather historic, which is probably why the quality is so poor.

    (It was so poor that I bought the book online which helped.)
    Just thought you might enjoy it.


  3. RE – Gerald Pollack

    Despite the research he presented looking legit, he seemed to gloss over a few things, the most significant of which I think is that while the water “structure” seems real, it is dynamic – i.e, it develops over time in response to the stuff he adds. It isn’t permanent. Remove the surface and the particles, and it goes away. I don’t think there’s anything mystical about it. But, as you point out, there could very well be some important ways in which I.R. is absorbed by clouds, …maybe.

    As he mentions, a lot of that was known, and apparently still is.

    They aren’t calling him a fraud, but he does seem to be pushing the envelop if he’s gone over to the water woo gang.. See also here, where he associates with people who’s credibility is more than questionable.

    That said, I do find his research interesting, but I’m skeptical that it’s terribly important, other than perhaps as you mentioned about the I.R. absorbance, if it can be shown to take place in clouds the same as in his lab.


    1. Well it explains charge separation in water droplets -stabilizing the cloud structure- and the buildup of the charge needed for lightning to happen. That’s the important thing for me – given the huge amounts of water and water vapor in the atmosphere.


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