Saturday, October 2, 2010

Why Heat Doesn't Flow from Cold to Hot and the Myth of AGW

Pertinent to discussions on the Shattering the Greenhouse Effect thread, this fascinating excerpt from the book Uncertainty: Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr, and the Struggle for the Soul of Science, explains how physicists came to explain the one-way transfer of heat from hot to cold demanded by the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics using statistical techniques. For the uninitiated, the reason this is of interest in the AGW debate is that climate scientists continue to make the fundamental physical error of assuming that a colder 'greenhouse gas' atmosphere at an average radiating temperature of -5C can heat a warmer Earth surface at +15C in violation of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. Without making this erroneous assumption, the entire AGW facade comes crashing down.


  1. Interesting history, does the book say anything about the photon concept?
    This article by Trevor Marshall "The myth of the down converted photon" and a previous article arXiv:quant-ph/9711046v1 20 Nov 1997 by Marshall and Santos find the concept is obsolete. I quote from the latter "We conclude that the “photon” is an obsolete concept, and that its misuse has resulted in a mistaken recognition of “nonlocal” phenomena.
    (This article was published in ”The Present Status of the Quantum Theory
    of Light”, ed. S. Jeffers et al., Kluwer, Dordrecht, 1997, pages 67 - 77)"

    keep well

  2. Hi,

    Bugger. Yesterday I posted to realclimate, asking how the CO2 (cold) could transmit heat to the surface (not as cold), by means of "backradiation".

    I never finished high school. I now realise I'm not as clever as I thought. There are quite a few educated scientists apparently saying the same thing as me.

    Thanks very much for the article.

    Live well and prosper.

  3. Anonymous,

    Kudos to you for your common sense recognition of basic physics that an army of PhD climate scientists do not understand.


    Thanks for the refs which I will check out and email to Claes. As to this book, it is on preview for both and google books - type in search box 'photons' or whatever your interest. BTW each of those sites let you preview pages that may be blocked on the other -just use the search box.

  4. I think what we have to realize is that what the Greenhouse theory is meant to explain is precisely the temperature difference you mentioned. Why is it the case that the atmosphere maintains a temperature much lower than the surface? There is no a-priori reason why this should be the case, even in the presence of a gravity field, just check the literature.

    In your kitchen the refrigerator maintains a much colder temperature than the surrounding, but only as long as it is supplied with electricity.

    On the contrary, the atmosphere seems to be able to maintain a temperature gradient without any input of work, and the greenhouse hypothesis proponents claim that this is because of greenhouse gases. Many scientists seems to be incapable of realizing this fact, maybe it is because of some freudian defence mechanism: "No, wait a minute, they can't have been that stupid". But that is precisely how stupid the entire business is.

    But the problem remains unsolved, and it would be of an immense value if a number of top scientists from both the theoretical and experimental fields were brought together to discuss the matter thoroughly in an objective and unbiased way. Because the problem seems to be more difficult than we imagined.

  5. Oh, come on! Most of the "warmers" are NOT saying that heat flows from cooler to warmer. They are only saying that radition from the cooler object causes the warmer object to cool more slowly--which would probably be true of the atmosphere if it weren't for the little detail of convection...

  6. jae,
    No, the warmists in fact claim that the Earth is 33C WARMER i.e. INCREASED in temperature than it would otherwise be due to colder greenhouse gases heating the surface. In the shattering the greenhouse effect thread, SoD admits he does believe a -5C object next to a +15C object increases the temp of the 15C object, believe it or not.

    couldn't agree more!

  7. I just put the following at
    Maybe someone here can answer the question!
    cementafriend says:
    October 4, 2010 at 12:39 am

    Tenuc, can you prove that photons exist? See my post at Also, the definition of radiation in the Chemical Engineers Handbook is “Radiation is the transfer of heat from one body to another, not in contact with it, by means of wave motion through space”. Micro-waves are the long waves on the radiation spectra. They excite specific molecular bonds particularly those in water.
    The transmission (through bodies), absorption (by bodies), emission (from bodies) and reflection of radiation waves makes logical sense but can the same be said of a mythical photon having discriminating energy levels?

    keep well


  8. MS: The warmers believe that the 33 C results from a greenhouse effect which "traps" heat, not from colder air heating hotter air. They don't seem to understand the previous post about the ideal gas law.

  9. jae,
    the warmists think the cold atmosphere "traps heat" (impossible) and then sends it back to warm the warmer Earth by 33C (impossible) with the cold GHGs simultaneously releasing and trapping the same heat to double or triple the total energy according to KT in violation of the 1st law (impossible).

  10. I'm sorry, not to be a basher or anything, but this is completely wrong. Heat travels in three ways: convection, conduction, and radiation. The energy recieved by the earth is in the form of radiation. Then a certain amount (unaffected by the atmospheric CO2 due to the frequency of the radiation) is absorbed by the earth. This number is decreased by heavy cloudcover, which has a high "albedo" or reflectivity. Then the energy absorbed by the earth is convected and conducted around the atmosphere. But a large amount is radiated back to space (in a different frequency). The greenhouse gasses reflect the radiative energy of this wavelength back to the earth, which reabsorbs it. Then the process is repeated. Ironically, you are correct that there may be a cooling trend because, due to the higher global temperatures, more water evaporates from the oceans and other bodies of water. This evaporated water in turn creates increased cloud cover, which reflects more energy into space. The fresh-fallen snow and ice created by these clouds also increases the albedo, reflecting more energy into space. This decreases the temperature of the earth more, and as more and more ice and snow build up, the albedo (remember, that's reflectivity) increases and this cooling cycle becomes self-reinforcing and there is a global ice age. so yes, there may be a cooling trend (although i think this data is way too narrow to be able to tell for sure) but that's bad news, not good.

  11. Anonymous,
    You really don't have to try to explain the "greenhouse effect" to me - I'm very familiar with the erroneous notion you repeat - that "greenhouse gases" "trap IR heat" and "back-radiate" to supposedly make the earth hotter. As I have shown many, many times on this blog, this concept is a fallacy that violates the 1st and 2nd laws of thermodynamics. Suggest you read more posts since I can't repeat everything in this comment.

  12. simple explanation of why the K-T Earth Energy Balance is wrong - you can't just add radiation fluxes!

    1. That is exactly the issue. It must be done deliberately in the hope that people think this is a law of physics. This deception means that the earth seems to be radiating more energy than arrives and so this has to be created, hence the greenhouse effect. This is also wrong because energy cannot be created by the atmosphere. It is also wrong to assume that there is an energy balance at the earth's surface and at various levels in the atmosphere, all made worse by treating this as a flux balance.

  13. True