Thongchai Thailand

Does Thermodynamics Prove AGW?

Posted on: October 8, 2019



















  1. If climate change is a hoax, why do so many scientists say it’s happening?
    John Braccili, M.S. Chemical Engineering, University of Pennsylvania (1977)
    Updated Aug 1.
  2. I’ve read most of the posts on this thread. It seems to me, the number one reason stated by climate “skeptics” is that climate scientists are on the take. I have news for them. Climate denial is a lot more profitable. Ask Willie Soon. You’re not getting rich as a climate scientist.
  3. All the “science” they claim disproves AGW has been disproven. Of course, there must be a vast conspiracy by climate scientists to cover up “the truth.” Climate scientists must be socialists trying to overthrow capitalism. The real reason that “climate denial science” never gains traction in the scientific community is because it has no merit. There is no cabal of scientists trying to take over the world.
  4. John Purcell made the only scientific argument I read against AGW. Here is what he said: ”However, calculations on the greenhouse effect of CO2 show us that its greenhouse effect should be only logarithmic, not even linear meaning that as atmospheric CO2 concentration increases, more CO2 should have less and less of an effect. The effect overall is small, and there is no clear reason why it should actually be bad.”
  5. For a FIXED amount of IR radiation, his statement is correct. This theory is based on an experiment that was done many years ago and was generally accepted by the scientific community until the data proved otherwise. What’s wrong with the theory is that the earth is not a FIXED source of IR radiation. As the earth’s temperature’s rises, it puts out more IR energy that CO2 can absorb. The process is self-perpetuating. This is exactly how Venus became the hottest planet in our solar system at 460 deg C. If we endlessly dump CO2 into the atmosphere, the earth would be as hot as Venus.
  6. Let’s talk about the real science behind climate change: The first thing you have to realize is that at its very core, climate change is about a buildup of energy on the earth. Temperature change, melting ice, and extreme weather events are proxies for the energy buildup.
  7. All we know about the behavior of energy is encapsulated in the first and second laws of thermodynamics. The first law of thermodynamics is based on the principle that energy cannot be created or destroyed. I taught a thermodynamics class, and I used the following example:
  8. An instructor takes student A and student B into a room. There is a room air conditioner sitting on the floor in the middle of the room. The instructor plugs the air conditioner into a receptacle on the back wall of the room and turns it on. He tells the students that the room is perfectly insulated, and no energy can escape the room. The students can take any measurements they want, but they must determine if the temperature in the room rises, falls, or stays the same. Student A grabs a thermometer and measures the temperature of the room far from the air conditioner. He then measures the air coming out of the front of the air conditioner, sees that it’s colder, and declares the temperature in the room will fall. Student B leaves the room. He walks around the outside of the room and sees a meter on the wall that measures the electrical energy flowing into the room. He looks at the meter and sees that indeed, electrical energy is flowing into the room. Since that energy cannot be destroyed and cannot escape the room, he concludes that the temperature in the room will rise. Student B is correct. 
  9. Point #1 Once student B determines energy is flowing into the room; it doesn’t matter what is going on inside the room. You could have heaters and air conditioners, creating hot and cold spots. Fans whipping around the air. Ice melting in one part of the room and freezing in another part. The temperature in the room is still going to rise. Point #2 Why did student A get the wrong answer? He cherry-picked the data. Had he taken measurements at the front and back of the air conditioner, he would have gotten the right answer.
  10. Points #1 & 2 are directly related to the controversies over climate change. Climate denial pseudo-science either contorts scientific principles or uses “cherry-picked” data. When it is rejected by those who understand the science, then there must be a conspiracy to prevent “the truth” from reaching the public.
  11. Let’s apply the first law of thermodynamics to the earth. Draw a box around the earth. What adds to earth’s energy balance? The sun contributes 122,400 TW (terawatts). Human release of energy contributes 20 TW. Geothermal energy contributes 50 TW. The last two are so small they are usually ignored.
  12. The only source that subtracts from earth’s energy balance is the earth’s radiant energy. The amount of energy the earth retains is about 300 TW. 99.755% of the energy absorbed by the earth is radiated into space. The small size of the retained energy is unimportant. Energy cannot be destroyed. It just takes a long time for the effects to become apparent.
  13. All that is necessary to show that climate change is occurring is to show that energy is building up on the planet. Instead of using temperatures, let’s use a count of all types of extreme weather events around the world shown in Figure 1 above. The only way that graph looks like that is if energy is building up on the earth. Tying it to CO2 is simple. We know solar energy has been on the decline over this period as shown in Figure 2. Notice how the earth’s temperature tracks solar radiation until around 1960. Then they begin to diverge. Solar radiation has been in a downward trend since 1980. Yet, the earth’s temperature has been in an upward trend. I wonder why?
  14. Therefore, changes in solar energy can’t be the cause of the observed increase in extreme weather. It has to be something that is continually increasing or the curve on the weather events plot would be flat-lining. The only source that fits that criteria is CO2. Figure 3 shows that CO2 is indeed the cause because here we see how closely surface temperature tracks atmospheric CO2 concentration. Notice in Figure 3 how there isn’t much of a correlation between CO2 and the earth’s temperature change until about 1960. Then there is a strong correlation between CO2 increases and the earth’s temperature. Why is 1960 so important? Since 1950 we’ve dumped into the atmosphere 85% of all the CO2 we’ve ever produced. Look at the slopes on that graph. Around 1950 we turned our production of CO2 into overdrive. The earth has some capacity to absorb a rapid change like this and temperature change has a lag time, but by 1960 those buffers were used up.
  15. The graph in Figure 5 is provided by NASA. It is a composite spectrograph of the infrared energy of the earth from satellite data. The “blue” area is the earth’s infrared energy. The “pink” area under the CO2 label is the radiant energy of the earth that the CO2 15mm absorption band is preventing from radiating into space, about 9000 TW. The “green” area is the amount of energy that CO2 could block in the future, about 14,000 TW. As the earth’s temperature rises, the earth emits more radiant energy and the blue area moves to the right, increasing the amount of radiant energy CO2 can block. That should put to rest claims of CO2 being benign and not capable of causing climate change.
  16. CONCLUSION: AGW is not a hoax. It is an existential threat to humanity.





  1. Reference#1: “As the earth’s temperature’s rises, it puts out more IR energy that CO2 can absorb. The process is self-perpetuating. This is exactly how Venus became the hottest planet in our solar system at 460 deg C“: COMMENT#1: If this were the case warming would occur at any fixed level of CO2 without the need for fossil fuel emissions to increase atmospheric CO2 concentration. As the CO2 traps the earth’s longwave, the earth gets hotter and puts out more longwave. And that causes more trapped heat to return to earth which then gets hotter yet and so on and so forth. This means that at any level of CO2, warming is a feedback system out of control that will always go to the Venus state. But this is not the case because CO2 does not trap a given percentage of the longwave but at any given concentration, a fixed amount of heat. In this heat trapping mechanism, warming occurs only when atmospheric CO2 increases. This is the basis of the climate action demand that we must eliminate CO2 emissions with the possibility of having to remove CO2 if nature does not do enough of that for us.

  2. Reference#2: “Figure 3 shows a strong correlation between atmospheric CO2 concentration and temperature since 1960”:  COMMENT#2: AGW theory is not based on a correlation atmospheric CO2 concentration and temperature but between the logarithm of atmospheric CO2 concentration and temperature.
  3. Reference#3: “Figure 3 shows a strong correlation between atmospheric CO2 concentration and temperature since 1960“:  COMMENT#3: AGW theory is that warming since pre-industrial times is explained in terms of fossil fuel combustion by the industrial economy. The pre-industrial reference is marked as the year 1750 by the IPCC, by the year 1850 or 1880 by the HadCRU and GISS temperature reconstructions, and by the year 1861 in the RCP8.5 theoretical projection of temperature from climate models.
  4. However, as seen in this related post [LINK] , the empirical values of climate sensitivity in a moving 60-year window across these time spans is found to be extremely unstable with sensitivities ranging from λ=0 to λ=8. The theoretical values derived from fundamental principles in climate models show values of λ=2 (Manabe) to λ={1.5 to 4.5} (Charney).
  5. Climate science has responded to these difficulties by moving the start date forward until the sensitivity  values stabilize. For example, NASA has moved the date forward to 1950 [LINK] , climates scientist Peter Cox has moved it further along to “the 1970s” [LINK] , and many others such as John Braccili has selected an intermediate date in 1960. A rationale for this change has been proposed in Hegerl etal 2018 discussed in a related post [LINK] where the authors divide the original theory about “warming since pre-industrial times” into two segments that are referred to as “Early Twentieth Century Warming (ETCW)” and “Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW)” so that the AGW start date can be moved forward of “pre-industrial times”. It is noted that this new revised theory of AGW was constructed from the data.
  6. Although these forward dates for the start of AGW produce much better empirical results, their use in empirical verification of theory suffers from a circular reasoning problem that can be described as the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy. Briefly, the data used to construct a hypothesis cannot be used to test that hypothesis. Therefore, that statistically significant empirical support of AGW theory can be found by moving the date forward to 1960 does not provide empirical evidence for the theory that was derived from the data.
  7. A climate science anomaly in this regard is the so called TCRE or Transient Climate Response to Cumulative Emissions, a metric that shows a strong correlation between surface temperature and cumulative emissions and thereby a reliable and statistically significant regression coefficient that measures the warming effect of each teraton of cumulative emissions. Since this relationship is stable from the start date 1850, there was no need to move the start date forward to stabilize this measure. The start date for AGW therefore stays at 1850 when the TCRE is used. Such anomalies of convenience do not engender a great deal of confidence in climate science, particularly so when a closer look at the statistics of the TCRE reveals that it is based on a spurious correlation as explained in these related posts [LINK] [LINK] .
  8. A related issue with respect to the TCRE is the formulation of ClimateAction in terms of the carbon budget. The carbon budget is the maximum amount of emissions possible to stay within a prescribed warming target. It is computed with the statistically flawed TCRE metric and is therefore itself subject to the same anomalous behavior of the TCRE itself. The many difficulties with the carbon budget including the “Remaining Carbon Budget” issue can be explained in terms of its fundamental statistical weakness [LINK] .
  9. Reference #4: “Let’s talk about the real science behind climate change: The first thing you have to realize is that at its very core, climate change is about a buildup of energy on the earth. Temperature change, melting ice, and extreme weather events are proxies for the energy buildup.”
  10. Comment#4: The “build-up” of energy on the earth is described in climate science in terms of a build up of atmospheric CO2. The higher the CO2 concentration the greater the greenhouse forcing of CO2 through the sensitivity equation that temperature is proportional to ln(CO2). The human cause in this equation is that the industrial economy of humans burning fossil fuels is injecting external CO2 that does not belong in the current account of the carbon cycle. It is claimed that the external and previously sequestered CO2 from fossil fuels dug up from under the ground is causing atmospheric CO2 to rise. This relationship between fossil fuel emissions and atmospheric CO2 concentration is a critical element of AGW. Yet, there is no empirical evidence in the observational data outside of climate models to support this crucial and necessary relationship between emissions and changes in atmospheric composition [LINK] [LINK] .

5 Responses to "Does Thermodynamics Prove AGW?"

You make a really strong case for AGW, the best I have seen. You have the ability to cut through the static there and make reasoned arguments. One of the major problems I see is what if anything can be done about it. Everything I see seems to be window dressing, feel good attempts. Getting to zero emissions seems impossible. The world isn’t going to give up its gains to go back to a pre industrial society and I don’t think we are going to find a technological solution in any kind of a time frame that is reasonable.

Thank you for your comment. We invite you to check back in 24 hours when the post is completed and share your thoughts again. Warm regards.

“As the earth’s temperature rises, the earth emits more radiant energy and the blue area moves to the right, increasing the amount of radiant energy CO2 can block. ”
This is nonsense. The y axis is wave number or if it was wavelength, the far IR, the farther you move to the right. That has nothing to do with the number of photons. In fact, the longer the wavelength the lesser the energy per photon.

I believe Mars has an atmospheric concentration of 95% CO2 and an average surface temperature of -80F, so what would be the point of referencing Venus as our burning future?

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