Sunday, July 11, 2010

Kitchen Colander Proves Greenhouse Gas Theory Won’t Hold Water

From Johnosullivan:

A climate researcher who disputes greenhouse gas theory has come up with a novel way to sieve out global warming spin: use a metal colander.

Alan Siddons, who along with Dr. Martin Hertzberg and Hans Schreuder co-authored the groundbreaking paper, ‘A Greenhouse Effect on the Moon?’ has devised a simple and ingenious analogy involving a metal strainer and a light bulb to ally fears about global warming created by theorists of greenhouse gases (GHG).

Understanding this explanation makes it far easier to go on and comprehend how the Earth’s atmosphere actually behaves. Siddons shows that, like the colander, the GHG hypothesis doesn’t hold water.

Add a Light bulb to the Equation

He asks us to, "Imagine inverting a colander over a light bulb to make it a lamp shade. Since it’s got holes in it, some of the light will leak out. But since it’s also like a mirror, a lot of light will be reflected back. Thus, less light will escape and it will illuminate what’s under the colander rather than lighting up the ceiling. That’s basically how most people think of the greenhouse effect."

The lightbulb is the earth emitting heat rays in this analogy, the colander is a layer of ‘greenhouse gases,' and what’s above them both is outer space, the "ceiling." So where’s the snag?

Well, by the tenets of greenhouse theory, the colander doesn’t actually reduce how much the lightbulb emits. Instead, the colander becomes so bright that the ceiling receives as much light as it did before!

"The colander now radiates what the light bulb isn’t radiating, making it appear that the colander isn’t doing a thing to prevent light from escaping. Thus this magical colander simultaneously stops light from getting out and releases all of it too."

That’s the actual theory in a nutshell, which even many perceptive people have a hard time grasping.

This exposition is both simple and effective in exposing the nonsense of what climatologists try to convince us is heating via ‘back radiation,’ a bogus mechanism they allege will ‘trap’ excess heat in carbon dioxide which they say, will cause runaway global warming: all because of our continued burning of fossil fuels.

Despite the trumped up fears about the so-called ‘greenhouse effect’ Earth still keeps on emitting the same amount of energy it receives.

Thus, unlike what a real colander would do, our atmosphere doesn’t ‘trap’ any of the energy we get from the sun.

Earth’s Energy Budget Always in Balance

Analogies are all well and good but what actual proof do we have that solar energy transported via atmospheric gases won’t overheat our planet?

Well, we have the detailed spectral radiative-transfer analysis of huge archives of atmospheric data from NASA and elsewhere. The data received from satellites plus radiosondes, etc. proves our planet’s energy budget remains perfectly balanced with no excess heat build up.

Researchers Lindzen and Choi (2009) showed that the proportion of the surface upward longwave radiation that is absorbed by the atmosphere is equal to the downward longwave atmospheric radiation; our planet was thus not over-heating and the Kiehl-Trenberth Earth Energy Budget Diagram (1997) used by NASA, who were recently exposed as having proof the GHG effect was bogus 40 years ago, was discredited.

Official: Government Climatologists are Poor Statisticians

Kiehl and Trenberth had ignored Kirchoff’s law of thermal radiation and vector field calculus and wrongly determined that the upward and downward longwave radiation should be multiplied by two, thus falsely doubling the heating effect, when it ought to have been factored at zero, meaning extra heating.

Trenberth lamented the 'missing' energy in a recent admission in Science (April, 2010). While NASA's Gavin Schmidt famously repeated the K-T error while ‘moonlighting’ over on his blog at 'Real Climate.'

However, we shouldn’t be surprised that climatologists are not good number crunchers; it was the Oxburgh Inquiry into Climategate that concluded that expert statisticians should be brought in to help sharpen up their dodgy mathematical skills.

Thus these third-rate doomsayers of science have been scratching their heads for years in vain wondering when their ‘runaway global warming effect’ was going to kick in; it never did and never will - because there is no ‘magical kitchen colander’ in our atmosphere.

Dr. Hertzberg, M., Siddons, A, & Schreuder, H., 'A Greenhouse Effect on the Moon?" ( May, 2010).
Lindzen, R. S., & Choi, Y., ‘On the determination of climate feedbacks from ERBE data,’ (August 2009), Geophysical Research Letters, Vol: 36, L16705.

SOURCE: John O'Sullivan at Johnosullivan - go to source for links & updates


  1. "Kiehl and Trenberth had ignored Kirchoff’s law of thermal radiation and vector field calculus and wrongly determined that the upward and downward longwave radiation should be multiplied by two, thus falsely doubling the heating effect, when it ought to have been factored at zero, meaning extra heating."

    They did not. The author is confusing what K&T wrote with the silly error Gavin Schmidt made on RealClimate. Has he read their 2009 paper (the diagram from which NASA uses, not the 1997 paper referred to here)?

    I have read both papers, and they calculated the "back-radiation" using the temperature of the atmosphere, using Stefan-Boltzmann, and didn't double anything.

    This blog continues its "straw man" nonsense accusing scientists of making statements and performing calculations that they have not. Before accusing anyone of anything scientists and bloggers should actually read the literature they claim contain the supposed "errors".

    The "colander" analogy is just too silly for words. Do you think we're all so eager to destroy the warmist arguments we'll accept any old rubbish?

    This kind of bogus argument gives us sceptics a bad name.

  2. MostlyHarmless,
    While I appreciate your comments, you need to tone down your language and just stick to the facts (as you see them). If I get another comment from you with unscientific defamatory language like "straw man nonsense" "too silly for words" "bad name" etc. I will just have to delete your entire comment, because blogger doesn't allow me to snip out sections - it's all or none. So, if you have something specific and scientific to say, do so, but leave out the rest of your opinions.

    Now, Alan Siddons has replied via email to your claims & I have edited a bit:

    Most people think that ‘greenhouse gases’ restrict the outward flow of heat from the earth. Roy Spencer compares GHGs to the lid on a cooking pot, for instance, or a blanket that reduces the amount of heat you're emitting. But try to explain to people no, this isn’t what the theory actually entails, and...

    As far as this doubling business, O’Sullivan is right on the mark: A doubling of energy due to a "two-sided surface" (the atmosphere) is the conceptual foundation of greenhouse theory. If it wasn't taught and accepted as the first course in Climatology 101, Kiehl and Trenberth couldn't EXPLOIT this concept in their energy budget and GET AWAY WITH IT. (See Siddons essay "The Greenhouse Hustle") This is STANDARD DOCTRINE, not Gavin Schmidt's personal delusion.

    From the IPCC's Climate Change 2001:

    Figure 1.2: The Earth's annual and global mean energy balance. Of the incoming solar radiation, 49% (168 Wm-2) is absorbed by the surface. That heat is returned to the atmosphere as sensible heat, as evapotranspiration (latent heat) and as thermal infrared radiation. Most of this radiation is absorbed by the atmosphere, which in turn emits radiation both up and down.
    Source: Kiehl and Trenberth, 1997: Earth's Annual Global Mean Energy Budget, Bull. Am. Met. Soc. 78, 197-208.

    And if that's too subtle for you, the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory spells it out plainly:

    However, atmospheres radiate both up and down (just like a fire radiates heat in all directions). So although the atmosphere radiates 240 Watts/meter² to space, it also radiates 240 Watts/meter² toward the ground! Therefore, the surface receives more energy than it would without an atmosphere: it gets 240 Watts/meter² from sunlight and it gets another 240 Watts/meter² from the atmosphere -- for a total of 480 Watts/meter² in this simple model.

  3. Frankly, I accept that if a 'skeptic' like MostlyHarmless doesn't see the logic here then that shows this message is not likely to convince others less pre-disposed to skepticism. So let's try this:

    What Siddons, Hertzberg, Schreuder, Gerlich, Tscheuschner, Anderson, Glassman, Novak, etc, etc. are proposing is a paradigm shift back to acceptance of general LAWS of thermodynamics that bats the unproven GHG HYPOTHESIS right out of the climate ball park.

    First, see how climate science has managed to get away with skewing the laws of physics: no scientist, skeptic or warmist, has ever claimed there is such a thing as "back-convection" - likewise, no one claims there is such a thing as "back-conduction" — these concepts would be so preposterous as to be universally laughed at.

    Yet, somehow a clique of doomsaying climatologists gets given a 'free pass' with their "back-radiation" gambit. How can this be when all the methods of heat transport must conform to the laws of thermodynamics and rules of energy conservation?

    If you look at it more closely you will find radiation can be shown to provide no more of a double warming effect than can convection or conduction.

    I ask that you apply some logical consistency here and see how the GHG fallacy falls apart:

    K-T, NASA, Schmidt et al. unhelpfully fudge together 2-D with 3-D modeling which already obfuscates any sensible analysis. But they then go on to ‘forget’ that when calculating any transport of electro-magnetic energy (radiation) all such flow is to be determined by field vector calculus (i.e. Poynting's vector (see Poynting's theorem) which is an energy conservation law: see John David Jackson (1998). Classical electrodynamics (Third ed.). New York: Wiley. ISBN 047130932X.

    Vectoring laws specifically require that when the direction of such energy flow is equal and in opposite motion (that spurious ‘up and down’) all such flows must be summed to zero. This is a law of science and not an option! Thus, just like conduction and convection radiation can have no BACK FLOW.

    Finally, as per the real world observed evidence from ERBE satellite data shown by Lindzen and Choi (2009), and admitted to by Trenberth, we cannot detect any signal for back radiation in nature. Thus, we clearly deliver the GHG hypothesis our very own double whammy.

  4. Apologies if my language was a little strong. Defamatory language is a serious business. Defaming scientists by claiming that they've written or done something they have not is a serious business.

    I don't need a pat on the head and be told "go away and read this". I'm well aware of the various assumptions made in the Kiehl & Trenberth energy budget diagrams. I'm well aware of the the flawed assumptions made therein. I appear to be alone in spotting that there's a fundamental error - no albedo effect is shown reducing the "back-radiation" absorbed by the surface from GHGs.

    However, I return to my original point - where in either their 1997 or the later 2009 paper (which the author here doesn't seem to be aware of, neither paper is cited as a reference) do Kiehl and Trenberth multiply the upward and downward longwave radiation by two? The author of this article makes that claim - let's see the evidence.

  5. MostlyHarmless is proving he is no skeptic but an apologist for K-T's errors. Alan Siddons has given examples (above) of the standard K-T interpetations by those respected institutions-that also identify a back radiation gambit of the 'up and down' which they justify for multiplying by two-are they wrong? Because if my analysis of K-T is wrong then so are they.
    Moreover, Dr. Jeff Glassman identified the key differences between the K-T and Schmidt equations here:

    It reads, "the Kiehl & Trenberth budget, Schmidt's model is not faithful to it. Schmidt unbalances the atmosphere by lambda*G, while K&T have the atmosphere, including clouds and GHGs, in radiation balance. In the process, Schmidt made lambda, which he defines as emissivity, into the complement of transmissivity, which is also problematic.

    Schmidt says,

    >> Now we can make the model a little more realistic by adding in ‘feedbacks’ or amplifying factors. In this simple system, there are two possible mechanism – a feedback on the emissivity or on the albedo. For instance, making the emissivity a function of temperature is analogous to the water vapour feedback in the real world and making the albedo a function of temperature could be analogous to the ice-albedo or cloud-cover feedbacks.

    >>… if water vapour increases with temperature that that will increase the greenhouse effect and cause additional warming. …

    >> While this is just a simple model that is not really very Earth-like (no convection, no clouds, only a single layer etc.), … .

    Schmidt's first equation is S = (1-a)*TSI/4, where a is the albedo. Does he really mean to use an albedo for cloudless skies? He suggests that S = 240 W/m^2 is "vaguely realistic". K&T make it 235 W/m^2, with a reflection of 107 W/m^2 for total albedo. That includes a cloud albedo of 77/342 = 22% not including shortwave atmospheric absorption and 77/275 = 28%. Schmidt's model is not without clouds. It's just that his clouds are static.

    When water vapor increases, cloud cover increases, creating the most powerful feedback, and a negative feedback to boot, in the climate system. IPCC has been confused about the sign of water vapor feedback, and admits that it is the least understood process in its model. The sign would be strongly negative and IPCC's confusion relieved if it were to include dynamic cloud cover in its model.

    Schmidt's model falls apart without nit picking his choice of radiation model for the atmosphere. "

    As we see, both K-T and Schmidt concur elsewhere and wrongly multiply 'back radiation' as they justify its motion as a flux requiring a factoring of two. Yet, Poynting vector calculus tells us that such vector fluxes must sum the zero. Ergo, K-T and Schmidt et al. are busted. No 'back-radiation' can exist any more than can 'back-convection' or 'back-conduction' if we apply the LAWS of thermodynamics-the ghg concept is mere non-science sophistry.

  6. email received:

    It costs energy (heat) for the ground to emit its 240W/sq.m - 240 W worth. That is then intercepted by the atmosphere, which heats (240 W. worth.) It then cools itself back down by emitting to the ground and space about half each, so 120W goes back to the ground, which now heats 120W worth. That then cools itself by emitting that 120W back to the atmosphere, which heats 120W worth. The atmosphere now cools itself by emitting half to space, half to the ground (60 W). The ground now warms 60W/sq.m worth, and again cools itself by emitting that to the atmosphere, which warms by 60W. The air now re-cools itself by re-emitting half & half again, which warms the ground by 30 W. Which also now re-cools itself ....

    You get the idea. The net of all this back and forth is zero warming except for the declining ½ of each 'lump' of IR that originally made to to earth circulating back and forth. Which asyptotically approaches zero.

    The net effect therefor of the "back-radiation" is thus zero.

    Brian H.

  7. The claim is made that Kiehl and Trenberth use atmospheric temperature to determine radiation. Okay then, what is the average temperature of the atmosphere? About minus 16°C, or 257 Kelvin. That’s the figure you get for its center of mass. The atmosphere is warmer at a lower altitude, of course, but also cooler at a higher, so the thing as a whole cannot be regarded as a heat source for a 288 K surface. Clearly, the 288K body is heating a cooler one, which is losing much of this heat to space. Treating it as a blackbody (which K-T do throughout their budget), the atmosphere can therefore only be radiating 248 watts per square meter toward the surface, whereas K-T have it radiating 324, making its temperature around 2°C, or 275 Kelvin. But alright, let’s accept this.

    Now, via thermal uplift and evaporation, K-T have previously cooled the surface down to 66 watts per square meter, which corresponds to minus 88°C, or 185 Kelvin, incredibly enough. Magically, though, the heat of their 275K atmospheric body gets added to this 185K surface and brings it up to a 15°C body that radiates 390 W/m². Kiehl and Trenberth justify this by the simple fact that 324 + 66 equal 390.

    Do temperatures add together, then? Of course not. And neither do two radiation sources. The heat of a 275K body transferred to a body that was previously at 185 can only raise its temperature to 275K at best. But, assuming that temperatures do follow the same rule as K-T’s strange radiations, then 275 + 185 should have brought the surface temperature up to 460 Kelvin, or 187°C. Thus the surface should be radiating 2539 W/m².

    The Kiehl and Trenberth radiation budget is an incoherent mess, in other words.

  8. Alan Siddons said:
    "The Kiehl and Trenberth radiation budget is an incoherent mess, in other words"

    Indeed it is, but I'm no apologist for them. What I want to see, and I thought all fair-minded sceptics would want to see, is a clear rebuttal, not a confused smear.

    John O'Sullivan repeats his claim that K&T "wrongly multiply 'back radiation' as they justify its motion as a flux requiring a factoring of two"

    I repeat my challenge - where do they do this? Introducing irrelevancies about Gavin Schmidt or some so-called "consensus" that K&T make this calculation just won't do.

    Precise reference please, publication, date, page, paragraph.

  9. Once the proposition is accepted that a "two-sided layer" can double the energy emitted, then it’s logical to conclude that multiple layers will generate even greater magnitudes. Modelers conclude precisely that. (See how they do it with glass layers in New Unphysical AGW Simulator Available!: )

    Here is a bare-bones schematic of the Kiehl-Trenberth budget, stripped of confusion.

    The energy in the atmosphere is tripled in this case. Moreover, the part which irradiates the surface never actually gets radiated in turn, i.e., 350 W/m² just sits there, refusing to radiate.

  10. MostlyHarmless,
    Thank you for inadvertently raising an important oversight in my article that rightly warrants correction.

    I do indeed offer my apologies to readers for my error in attributing a factor of two to the K-T calculations. As has been correctly pointed out to me by Alan Siddons and MS, K-T are not guilty of double counting as proven by the New Unphysical AGW Simulator Available!
    (Find here:

    No, in fact as the schematic shows, solar-originated atmospheric energy is almost exactly tripled! 519 ÷ 169 = 3.07. As we now see, you perform such magic by inventing multiple "layers."

  11. Clearly messrs. Siddons and O'Sullivan have actually read.the paper they deride, since they don't provide any references. They simply have ignored my challenge. My point is proved.

    In his post of July 12, Mr. Siddons correctly calculates, as I have done, that the atmospheric flux is derived from a temperature of 2°C. However, he then goes on to have his own "Gavin Schmidt" moment by using the net flux from surface-to-atmosphere to calculate a temperature! "Net flux" is the energy flow - it's invalid to back-calculate an effective temperature from it. Using the same method, for two bodies at the same temperature he'd derive a temperature of absolute zero from a zero net flux.

    Someone is displaying a rather thin understanding of the basics, and it isn't either me or K & T.

  12. Old new idea: Deep insecurity & entrenched conventionality motivates resistance to facts & to new information. Sceptics mistakenly underestimate the depth of conventional or faith based adherence to belief in AGW. According the article excerpted in part below, warmists are deeply insecure & conformist. Therefore those with the confidence to question misinformation may commit the fundamental error of lack of insight. Apparently sceptics are not offering the faith based folks enough initial alleviation of their own insecurity. It seems that offering self affirmation, confidence building compliments, before sceptics present warmists with dissonant fact based information, is truly essential for those who may be otherwise too threatened by new information.
    How facts backfire
    Researchers discover a surprising threat to democracy. a few political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information. It’s this: Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds.
    In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. The phenomenon — known as “backfire”. One avenue may involve self-esteem. people who were given a self-affirmation exercise were more likely to consider new information. This would also explain why demagogues benefit from keeping people agitated. The more threatened people feel, the less likely they are to listen to dissenting opinions, & the more easily controlled they are.