MARCH 26th 2011

Vincent Gray. IPCC Lead Author

I pointed out in Newsletter No 264 that the real greenhouse effect  is the mechanism whereby the atmosphere cools the earth. A greenhouse merely inhibits this mechanism by preventing complete mixing of the air inside it. It cools the earth by day and warms it at night

The amount of net cooling is part of the "Earth's Energy Budget" but the amount is so uncertain that we are unable at present to find whether it is increasing or falling, or to what extent it is influenced by human activity.

The warmth of a greenhouse does not depend on the warming of the air by absorption of infra red radiation  by atmospheric trace gases. So the use of the  terms "Greenhouse Effect"and Greenhouse Gases  is deliberately misleading. This is the Fake Greenhouse Effect .

The origin of the term is ascribed by the Oxford English Dictionary to Glen Thomas Trewartha (1937)

<1937 “The so-called greenhouse effect of the atmosphere.”—Introduction to Weather & Climate by G. T. Trewartha, i. page 25> [[OED’s earliest quote]]

The absorption of infra red by atmospheric trace gases  was discovered by Tyndall in the 1860s. He  found that the most important trace gas was carbon dioxide

Arrhenius (1896) attempted to involve carbon dioxide but a careful reading of his paper showed that he failed to do this.

He did not make measurements himself but relied on the measurements of Langley on radiation from the moon. When compared with the radiation from the earth he claimed to be able to find the absorption from trace gases. This procedure is dubious for a number of reasons

  • He seems to have missed the predominant proportion of water vapour in the atmosphere and thus assumed that most of the absorption was caused by carbon dioxide. He does report some aberrant results but ignores them. One can only conclude that he must have been confused by the extremely variable distribution of water vapour in the atmosphere.
  • He depended on radiation from the full moon and the full earth. Night radiation is ignored
  •  He says "Now the temperature of the moon is nearly the same as that of the earth."
It is unclear what was found by Langley, but this is so far wrong that it is difficult to accept that the two infra red spectra coming from surfaces at very different temperatures can be directly compared in this way
Arrhenius' paper should not be accepted as a useful contribution to the idea that atmospheric carbon dioxide warms the earth, as he subsequently admitted.

So what is this theory dependent on?  It is supposed to depend on the concentration of trace gases in the atmosphere with absorption bands in the infra red

The concentration of water vapour in the atmosphere is extremely variable and estimates of its mean value are not published, so the chance of finding out whether it is increasing or decreasing, or whether it is influenced by humans are poor. Most authorities give a range of 0 to 4% with a reluctant mean of about 2.5%. This is  650 times the supposed concentration of carbon dioxide,  which is 0.0383 %.

Although it might be considered so concentrated that it saturates most of its absorption bands, it is also so variable that there would still be regions susceptible to increases in concentration.

It is clear that changes in water vapour concentration swamp any changes in carbon dioxide. Yet there are no calculations of "Radiative Forcing"or "Climate Sensitivity" for water vapour. It is just assumed to  be a "feedback" to temperature increases caused by the minor absorbing gas , carbon dioxide

The water vapour is assumed to have a constant relative humidity. There are very few weather stations in the world that measure carbon dioxide, but almost all of them measure relative humidity and they show that it is not a constant. The assumption of "feedback" is just plain wrong.

The measurements of carbon dioxide concentration also need to be questioned. The 40,000 measurements made by many observers between 1850 and 1958 and published in respectable scientific journals have just been suppressed, as have most contemporary measurements which do not comply with strict requirements over the ocean.  Measurements over land are almost non existent.

The sparse literature shows that concentrations are higher over industrial areas and lower over forests and pastures. Since the supposed "radiative forcing" depends on the logarithm of concentration it is less effective over industrial areas where it is claimed to promote warming and most effective over forests and pastures where it promotes plant growth.

The only conclusion is that the fake greenhouse effect is a fake,


Vincent Gray