Sunday, November 14, 2010

'The Greenhouse Effect in Wonderland'

A scientist writing for an Italian climate blog has 2 recent posts illustrating 7 reasons why the laws of physics have been used incorrectly to describe the so-called greenhouse effect. Most of these points have been repeatedly covered here, but for those interested in another refutation added to the now more than 30 from other scientists who have dis-proven conventional greenhouse theory, here are the 2 posts (use Google translation):

Part 1
Part 2 

From the conclusion of Part 2 "The Greenhouse Effect in Wonderland" (Google translation + editing):

To summarize, here are the fundamental physical laws that the greenhouse effect theory violates, or poorly applies:

- 1st law of thermodynamics (it is impossible to create new energy from "back radiation")

- 2nd law of thermodynamics (colder bodies such as the atmosphere cannot raise the temperature of the warmer bodies such as the Earth's surface)

- Failure to use the carriers in the calculation of heat flow (a heat flow input can never be added to an output, but must be subtracted)

- Non-use of the Poynting vector (when two opposing heat fluxes EM waves are opposite, they have two directions of opposite propagation, and one must use vector analysis)

- Entropy (all exchanges of heat on Earth and the atmosphere require entropy to increase, which is incompatible with a hypothetical "greenhouse effect" -which requires entropy to decrease in order for heat to flow from cold to hot)

- Disregard for negative feedback of "cloud forcing" (makes no sense consider only the effect of heat retention of clouds, humidity and CO2, when these "greenhouse gases" are also an obvious sunshade of incoming solar radiation (45% LWIR), the effect of which exceeds heat retention)

- Boltzmann constant and Kirchhoff's law applied incorrectly (you can not apply the Boltzmann constant to rotating solids such as the planets and satellites, because the experimental data show that such simplistic calculations are incorrect).


  1. This misinterpretation of the second law has, as its analogy, that of the so-called "Intelligent Design" proponents who claim that the second law makes evolution impossible.

    A general statement of the second law, universally applicable, is that "entropy obeys a local paraconservation law." That is, entropy is "nearly" conserved. It means the following: change(entropy inside boundary) >= -flow(entropy, outward across boundary). That is, entropy in a region can increase, but that it can only decrease by flowing across the boundary into adjacent regions.

    In no way does DLWR violate this law. To show that it would, it's necessary to define a boundary and calculate that entropy decreases inside the boundary more than the outward flow of entropy across the boundary into adjacent areas. DLWR as described and calculated by, for example, SoD, does not violate the second law.

    Statements such as "heat cannot flow from a colder to a warmer region," while true in a highly constrained sense, are non-general and misleading. Thermodynamics without entropy is useless, it cannot be done.

    The author further (as does "Gord" in the comments to a different post) confuses fields with forces (probably confused by Star Trek usage I guess). An electric or magnetic field causes a force to act on a charged particle (or, in the magnetic case, a moving charged particle) but is not, itself, a force.

    A hill exposes us to a "gravity field" that acts on masses in an analogous way. I must do work to increase my potential energy in the gravity field. This difference between the gravitational force I feel in a gravitational field is directly analogous to the force "felt" by a charged particle in an electric field (or a moving charged particle in a magnetic field).

  2. Your comparison to "intelligent design" is ridiculous and so is the gobbledygook explanation of your 2nd law. The bottom line is in order for the NET heat flow to be from cold to hot requires an impossible NET DECREASE IN TOTAL ENTROPY. The "greenhouse effect" requires a NET radiative heat flow of 60C from the cold atmosphere to hot earth, and therefore a NET DECREASE IN TOTAL ENTROPY. Don't you know "energy only flows downhill?" Try as you might, but no theoretical "closed system" argument is going to succeed in overturning the Clausius formulation of the 2nd law, "heat doesn't spontaneously flow from cold to hot." Nor can greenhouse gases add work input necessary to make heat flow from cold to hot.

  3. A "net radiative heat flow of 60C"? Since when is heat measured in degrees C? I think you are quite confused.

    A "net decrease in total energy" where? There is no net decrease in entropy in any well-defined region without a greater flow of entropy outward through the region's boundary. Thus no second law violation takes place.

    It doesn't matter how you formulate the second law, if you do it correctly it is equivalent, though typically in less generalizable application, to the most general statement as I gave it. And it's not violated by the Earth's surface being warmer than it otherwise would be but for DLWR.

  4. 1. Let me break it down for you. According to the GHE, the earth is 60C "hotter than it would otherwise be" due to the NET radiative heat transfer from the cold atmosphere to hot earth. Therefore, the NET radiative transfer is from cold to hot which requires a NET decrease in total entropy.
    2. You misquote me as I never said there is a "net decrease in energy." I said the GHE net radiative transfer from cold to hot requires an impossible NET decrease in ENTROPY. Here's some remedial reading for you with an earth energy budget defined in terms of ENTROPY (see fig 5).

    Ozawa et al Reviews of Geophysics

    and pay special attention in Fig 3 to the 2 big arrows pointing ONE WAY ONLY showing heat only flows FROM HOT TO COLD.

    or if that's too difficult, Wikipedia:

    "From the mathematical definition of entropy, a process in which heat flows from cold to hot has decreasing entropy."

  5. You're correct, I mis-typed "energy" where you had stated "ENTROPY" though my response is applicable to entropy. I apologize for the error. That said, a "net decrease in entropy" can only make sense within a system boundary. Any thermodynamic calculation must take place in the context of a system (with a boundary, either an actual physical boundary or a conceptual one) or, in some cases involving fluid flow, a control volume.

    Once the system boundary is established, entropy within the bounded volume cannot decrease without increasing by a (in the real world) greater amount in regions adjacent to the boundary. This is the second law in its most generally applicable and universally accurate form. Statements such as "heat never flows from a colder to a warmer area without external work" are misleading and non-general.

    Entropy and energy are the only concepts necessary for a general thermodynamics and entropy is a statistical concept measuring what is not known about a system. While it can be measured, for example, in joules per kelvin, it can also be measured in bits. This is even hinted at briefly in the pdf you linked (paragraph 72).

    In any case, there is no boundary you can show where the second law is violated by the fact that the surface of the Earth is warmer than it would otherwise be but for the effects of DLWR. If you cannot demonstrate a boundary and a region in which entropy decreases without a consequent larger increase outside of the region, you cannot legitimately claim that a process would violate the second law.

    The Wikipedia quote is correct, and when such a thing happens entropy increases in an adjacent region, there are no exceptions.

  6. And where does the entropy increase in an "adjacent region" when entropy decreases due to the NET transfer from cold atmosphere to hot earth of the earth/atmosphere "closed system?"

  7. That calculation has been done, see

  8. Nice try, but once again makes the fundamental error that a radiating cold body can heat a radiating hotter body. Energy only flows downhill. Net radiative transfer from a lower energy/frequency/entropy body to a higher energy/frequency/entropy body is ZERO and therefore the cold atmosphere cannot cause a net heating of the warmer earth.

    The correct Earth entropy budget is not on the silly little blog you reference, but in the peer-reviewed study written by 4 geophysicists and published in the AGU Reviews of Geophysics I cited above. That analysis clearly shows heat only flows from the hot earth to cold atmosphere and entropy thus increases. You will find absolutely no references to "backradiation" "greenhouse effect" "greenhouse" "greenhouse gases" or "heat trapping" in that article describing the earth/atmosphere energy and entropy balance in the context of the 2nd law, because those are fallacious concepts.

  9. Actually, the article you cited is irrelevant to this point. It discusses the analysis of processes in the atmosphere via the concept of "maximum entropy production." It neither confirms nor refutes the concept of DLWR from a cooler atmosphere making a warmer Earth's surface warmer than it would otherwise be.

    Do you claim that this radiation, which has been measured repeatedly by multiple parties and written up repeatedly as well, does not occur? If you do not so claim then what, exactly, do you contend happens to this energy? If, on the other hand, you do so claim, let me know and the discussion can end.

  10. By the way, I forgot to mention that there's an error in equation 4 in the paper you cited. I got an error when embedding the Latex html to embed the equation so I can't actually show it as it should be shown but it's pretty easy to explain.

    The left side of the inequality is work, with unit joules, the right side is "Flow," (the temperature terms cancel) described as heat flux, or joules/second. It's not an important error an doesn't detract from the accuracy of their point but it's surprising they and the reviewers didn't catch it.

  11. No the article I cite is VERY relevant. As already stated above, a net heat flow from cold to hot requires a NET decrease in total entropy. Not only does this paper show that is obviously impossible it shows the only net heat flow is hot to cold to maximize entropy production in accordance with the 2nd law.

    All bodies above absolute zero radiate, so of course the atmosphere at an average radiating temperature of -5C radiates and this can be detected on the earth. However, none of this radiation from the colder atmosphere will heat the hotter earth due to the relativity of radiation, as explained by Claes Johnson:

    "relativity of absorption/emission of blackbody radiation.

    The radiative interaction of two blackbodies can shortly be described as follows:
    The (blackbody spectra of the) source and the receiver interact by electromagnetic waves.
    A higher temperature blackbody spectrum has higher frequencies than a lower temperature spectrum.
    A lower temp spectrum can borrow/absorb from a higher temp spectrum, but not the other way around.
    The reason is that coherent high frequency waves can be processed/deconstructed to incoherent noise showing up as heat, but incoherent noise cannot be composed into high frequency coherent waves, unless the temperature is high enough.
    A mathematical model showing these features is presented in Computational Blackbody Radiation."

    i.e. energy only flows downhill

    Sorry, but there are many many other posts on this blog and Claes Johnson's blog that explain why radiating cold bodies cannot heat hot bodies at all. I am very pressed for time now with other things and cannot continue this essentially private conversation with you on this topic. Therefore, comments here are now closed.