Friday, August 8, 2014

Paper proves Bill Nye's faked 'greenhouse effect' experiment is also based on the wrong 'basic physics'

Oh dear, the incompetent & faked attempt by Bill Nye to demonstrate the greenhouse effect for Al Gore's Climate "Reality" Project has also been shown by a peer-reviewed paper to be based upon the wrong "basic physics" as well. According to the authors, Nye's experiment and other similar classroom demonstrations allegedly of the greenhouse effect
"All involve comparing the temperature rise in a container filled with air with that of the same or a similar container filled with carbon dioxide when exposed to radiation from the Sun or a heat lamp. Typically, a larger temperature rise is observed with carbon dioxide and the difference is attributed, explicitly or implicitly, to the physical phenomena responsible for the climate change. We argue here that great care is required in interpreting these demonstrations and, in particular, that for the case of the demonstration described by Lueddecke et al., the results arise primarily from processes related to convective heat transport that plays no role in climate change."

Bill Nye the propaganda guy experiment for the Climate Un-Reality Project

According to the paper, Nye's experiment
"demonstrates an entirely different phenomenon: The greater density of carbon dioxide compared to air reduces heat transfer by suppressing convective mixing with the ambient air. Other related experiments are subject to similar concerns. Argon, which has a density close to that of carbon dioxide but no infrared absorption, provides a valuable experimental control for separating radiative from convective effects."
Not only did the authors find that addition of the non-greenhouse gas Argon had similar heating effects to CO2, the Argon control actually heated up slightly more than in the greenhouse gas CO2 experiment, definitively proving that such experiments assume the wrong "basic physics" of radiation were responsible for the heating observed, instead of the limitation of convection due to CO2 having a greater density compared to air.

Nye's experiment not only limits convection by addition of denser CO2, it completely eliminates convection by enclosing the CO2 in a bottle with the top on. 

According to the authors, 
"It has been known for more than a century that the warming of air in a real greenhouse results primarily from entirely different physics—mainly that the glass prevents mixing between the warm air inside and the cooler air outside, and therefore suppresses convective heat transfer between the interior and the exterior; the infrared absorption of the glass plays a much smaller role. We show here, via experimental data and a simple theoretical model, that the effects observed in the demonstration described in Ref. 1 arise from a similar restriction of convection rather than from radiative effects. In this case, it is the density difference between carbon dioxide and air, rather than the presence of a solid barrier, that suppresses mixing of the gases. Although the details differ, similar considerations apply to other demonstrations that have been reported."[including Nye's 'greenhouse effect' enclosed in a glass bottle]
Thus, Nye's experiment, in addition to the video fakery and incompetence, is not even wrong on the "basic physics" of the greenhouse effect.

As the authors point out in the conclusion,
"Although not an accurate demonstration of the physics of climate change, the experiment we have considered and related ones are valuable examples of the dangers of unintentional bias in science, the value of at least a rough quantitative prediction of the expected effect, the importance of considering alternative explanations, and the need for carefully designed experimental controls."

Full paper available here

Climate change in a shoebox: Right result, wrong physics

Paul Wagoner , Chunhua Liu  and R. G. Tobin

Classroom experiments that purport to demonstrate the role of carbon dioxide’s far-infrared absorption in global climate change are more subtle than is commonly appreciated. We show, using both experimental results and theoretical analysis, that one such experiment demonstrates an entirely different phenomenon: The greater density of carbon dioxide compared to air reduces heat transfer by suppressing convective mixing with the ambient air. Other related experiments are subject to similar concerns. Argon, which has a density close to that of carbon dioxide but no infrared absorption, provides a valuable experimental control for separating radiative from convective effects. A simple analytical model for estimating the magnitude of the radiative greenhouse effect is presented, and the effect is shown to be very small for most tabletop experiments.

Related tweets on Bill Nye:

  1. Bill Nuy -NOT takes anti-scientific position on Golden Rice that could save millions of the poor
  2. Watch Bill Nye use denier slur twice, claim Big Oil is source of climate skepticism
  3. Watch Bill Nye say there's less Antarctic ice than past, which is near record highs
  4. Watch Bill Nye The Incoherent Guy demolished by Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn
  5. Bill Nye the confused guy: “You cannot tie any one event to climate change, but extreme heat events can be tied to climate change"
  6. Bill Nye the propaganda guy warns that population growth is driving global warming


  1. Very nice work. Teasing apart conduction, convection and radiation in a system as complex as the Sun/Earth/Atmosphere system is very challenging. This paper shows just how difficult it is in a jar on a tabletop.


  2. Oh, noes! Bill Nye was the go-to authority for the guy who has the $10,000 / $30,000 challenge out to disprove AGW - except that this fellow failed to note that Nye's appearance on the video he links to was opposite of a FAKE skeptic:

    The fellow's current comment section there has the comments in reverse order of the archive link above ( ). He was inundated with responses to his challenge, and all comments disappeared from all the blog posts for a while when he swapped comment systems, but they have reappeared in various forms...

  3. I am no friend of Bill Nye's, but .. how do you know that argon is not a greenhose gas? NIST document on infrared spectra of noble gases,, lists a rich collection of IR lines of argon.

    1. Very interesting didn't expect that since "monatomic molecules such as argon (Ar) have no net change in their dipole moment when they vibrate and hence are almost totally unaffected by infrared radiation" according to the 'consensus'

      Argon makes up 0.934% of atmosphere, 23.35 times more than CO2 0.04%

      WUWT? I'll be looking into this...


      AlecM says: August 11, 2014 at 6:31 am

      @Hockey Stick: the key is the partial solar emittance at 2 microns convolved with the partial Argon absorptivity in the atmosphere at that wavelength convolved with the absolute Argon concentration.

      It’s very nearly zero!

  4. CO2 is 0.04% of atmosphere, so Ar/CO2 ratio is 22.5.

    1. Got 0.934% from here

      .934/.04 = 23.35

  5. Konrad says:
    August 10, 2014 at 7:55 am
    I believe Anthony Watts of WUWT deserves credit as the first empiricist to effectively trash Bill Nye the [pseudo] science guy’s sorry offering in Al Bores’s “24 hours of tripe”-

    The experiment was of course hopelessly flawed from the beginning, heat lamps emitting not only LWIR but SWIR and SW as well. Containers of IR opaque glass and no control of background radiation. It wasn’t science, it was snivelling idiocy.

    Anthony Watts replicated the experiment as shown with identical materials and utterly destroyed Bill Nye’s inane claims. But Anthony went further and used image comparison and found that not only had they fudged the results, but they had imaged the same thermometer twice and claimed two separate thermometers. Could Bill Nye have stooped lower?

    Catweasel is wrong on my results. Poorly radiative gases mixed with radiative gases can absorb IR, and if gas density is high enough the radiative gases conductively transfer the energy to other gas molecules.

    Many are aware of Tyndall’s 1859 experiments showing CO2 attenuating IR emission. What many are unaware of is that the following year, 1860, he demonstrated CO2 emitting IR after being conductivity (not radiativly) heated.

    So what does this mean? It means this –
    – is the correct form of the experiment. Here two insulated containers have a matt black aluminium target plate in their interior base. The top of each is double glazed in IR transparent LDPE film. Internal to each insulated container is a radiation shielded circulation fan and thermocouple. One container is filled with dry air, the other pure CO2. Both target plates are equally illuminated with SW.

    The one with pure CO2 gets hotter, right?


    The CO2 acquires energy from the target plate not just buy radiation, but by conduction. The CO2 is better able to energy conductively acquired through radiation than is the dry air. Radiative cooling of the gas offsets radiative heating.

    Cue the panicked ERL* squealing from the “faithful”…

    *The ERL argument is effectively a claim that “adding radiative gases to the atmosphere will reduce the atmospheres radiative cooling ability. And anyone claiming that needs professional help ;-)

  6. My homeboy Anthony Watts called this tool out LONG ago

  7. Given that Bill Nye the Malthusian Guy thinks that climate growth is a problem, his opposition to Golden Rice makes perfect sense. It is a shame about all of those dead kids, but "omlettes and eggs", amiright?

  8. "Our results apply only to the interpretation of classroomscale
    demonstrations; they do not call into question the effects
    of anthropogenic greenhouse gases on the Earth’s climate
    or existing models of those phenomena."

    1. Of course they said that. That was not the issue being investigated by the paper and the experimental setup, therefore they cannot say on the basis of their experiment whether AGW climate model assumptions are correct or incorrect, only that these classroom demonstrations have nothing to do with AGW and are thus bad science propaganda.

  9. Blogger MS said...
    Hi Dr. Anderson,

    I'd be interested in your comments on this since you're an expert in spectroscopy.

    A commenter asked today... how do you know that argon is not a greenhouse gas? NIST document on infrared spectra of noble gases,, lists a rich collection of IR lines of argon.

    Indeed it does, and the NIST website lists 135 lines in the IR region. This was surprising to me since I thought the monoatomic Noble gases did not absorb/emit in the IR.

    Why wouldn't Argon also be called a "greenhouse gas"? Do you know of any plots comparing transmission spectra showing % transmission of Ar vs the "greenhouse gases"?

    Since there's more than 23X more Ar in the atmosphere than CO2 I'm wondering if Ar could have a radiative effect on the atmosphere?

    Thanks much in advance for your help & kind regards

    09 August, 2014 16:56 Delete
    Blogger Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...
    This is an interesting comment. It caused me to do something I should have done long ago. I simply looked at the Line Spectra of the Elements in my 71st Edition of the Handbook of Chemistry and Physics and found that it listed 84 electronic transitions in neutral argon atoms in the near infra-red range from 750 nm to 3000 nm. The argon emission lines listed range from 750.3869 nm to 2,396.652 nm. Similarly, nitrogen atoms have 55 electronic transition emission lines in the near IR ranging from 739.864 nm to 1,787.826 nm. Oxygen atoms have 87 electronic emission lines ranging from 770.675 nm to 2,617.356 nm. Carbon atoms have a fairly rich emission spectrum also in the near infra-red with 39 emission lines ranging from 786.089 nm to 1,972.199 nm. The stronger argon emission lines in the near IR are more intense than those of nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon, but all of them have rich emission spectra, which means they also have rich absorption spectra.

    The arguments that are generally made that argon, nitrogen, and oxygen are not active infr-red absorbing gases are based on vibrational spectra considerations and do not consider electronic transition spectra. Clearly there has been a failure to see the Big Picture here.

    The absorption of radiation in the near infra-red will almost entirely be realized as the absorption of solar insolation. I do not have comparative spectra of the electronic transition spectra with the vibrational spectra with respect to intensities.

  10. 10 August, 2014 08:01
    Blogger MS said...
    Thanks for your reply!

    Yes, the Ar absorption & emission is mostly within the solar spectrum

    I'm wondering given Ar is the 3rd most prevalent atmospheric gas, absorbs in the more energetic near IR vs. "greenhouse gases" whether a significant portion of the so-called GHE is due to solar absorption by Ar?

    10 August, 2014 19:26 Delete
    Blogger Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...
    Because the electronic transition absorptions are in the near infra-red spectrum their effect in argon, carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen atoms is to intercept solar insolation before it reaches the surface of the Earth. The effect is to warm the atmosphere well above the surface level and to cool the surface. I believe I have listed these four atoms in the order of their absorption strength per atom. So argon is a stronger electronic transition absorber than carbon, which is stronger than oxygen, which is stronger than nitrogen. Because this near infra-red absorption is much stronger for each argon atom than for each carbon or oxygen atom and there are many more argon atoms than atoms in CO2 in the atmosphere, this near infra-red absorption effect in argon is much greater than for carbon dioxide.

    Because we are mostly interested in the surface temperature, these near infra-red absorption effects would not normally be called a greenhouse effect by many. One thing people are often careless about however is this issue of changes in the distribution of heat in our atmosphere due to the many effects that influence that distribution. From early on, I have tried to draw attention to the many ways water vapor, carbon dioxide, and oxygen adsorb in-coming solar insolation in the atmosphere and thereby diminish the heating of the Earth's surface. I thank you for drawing my attention to the effect of argon and to a better understanding of the near infra-red absorptions in general!

    12 August, 2014 02:50
    Blogger Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...
    Please note that my response to Rosco's earlier question about infra-red radiation by nitrogen and oxygen is also affected by these near infra-red electronic transition absorptions of incoming solar radiation and their re-emission into space from the atmosphere.

    12 August, 2014 02:56

  11. above comments from

  12. Bill Nye is like a 3 dollar bill a total fake and a fruad what ever became of Global Cooling a New Ice Age that TIME magazine was yammering about back in the 1970's? it seem to me these global warming fruads need to get 25 years in prison

  13. Hi all... Still trying to figure out this global warming deal... Was thinking of a way to make this experiment "apples to apples". CO2 is transparent to visible light, and that's what we get from the sun. Big incandescent bulbs give off heat of their own, in the wavelengths that CO2 absorbs (many of which the earth's black body doesn't produce).

    What if we created a few big metal boxes. In the walls had a few thermocouples at different heights (to test convection). Hole in the top, add varying CO2 concentrations from the top (CO2 sinks).

    Lower in a very cold metal ball with a thermocouple inside.

    The ball would only absorb the IR generated from the metal of the boxes, which would be centered around room temperature (far more typical of Earth).

    Most heat transfer in the atmosphere comes from convection. The Global Warming theory is (I believe) saying that certain wavelengths of Earth's black body radiation are absorbed by CO2 and transmitted to other gas molecules. I have no clue how MUCH is absorbed and re-transmitted by CO2. On the other side of the argument, I've only seen satellite measurements over time looking at intensities of the radiation coming from Earth. Increase in CO2, decrease in certain bands. How much heat does that actually translate to?