Weekly Climate And Energy News Roundup #448 – Watts Up With That?

Weekly Climate And Energy News Roundup #448 – Watts Up With That?

The Week That Was: 2021-03-27 (March 27, 2021)
Brought to You by SEPP (www.SEPP.org)
The Science and Environmental Policy Project

Quote of the Week: “Aqueous vapor [water vapor] is a blanket more necessary to the vegetable life of England than clothing is to man. Remove for a single summer-night the aqueous vapour from the air which overspreads this country, and you would assuredly destroy every plant capable of being destroyed by freezing temperature. The warmth of our fields and gardens would pour itself unrequited into space, and the sun would rise upon an island held fast in the iron grip of frost.” – John Tyndall, “Heat, a Mode of Motion” (p. 359, fifth edition, 1875) [H/t William Happer]

Number of the Week: – 13%


By Ken Haapala, President, Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP)

The Greenhouse Effect: As early as the 1820s, 200 years ago, the brilliant French mathematician and physicist Jean-Baptiste Joseph Fourier realized something was wrong. The earth was far warmer than it should be given its distance from the sun. In 1859 John Tyndall conducted experiments in spectroscopy (the interaction between matter and electromagnetic radiation). He determined that most atmospheric gases are transparent to both the energy from the sun and electromagnetic radiation, but certain gases absorb electromagnetic radiation. Tyndall labeled those gases which absorb infrared energy given off by the earth as greenhouse gases. The strongest absorber is water vapor.


The Greenhouse Effect – Happer: In a 25-minute presentation for the Shiller Institute, William Happer gives an outstanding presentation on the greenhouse effect, which is poorly understood by those claiming that human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are causing dangerous global warming. Happer is a distinguished professor in Atomic Molecular and Optical Physics – the field of physics that encompasses the interaction between matter and electromagnetic radiation, radiative transfer.

Happer considers the proclamations of a climate crisis a form of hysteria and they have no scientific backing. Unfortunately, governments and the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are promoting climate hysteria. Among the tricks they use is “bait and switch.” Photos of air in China polluted by soot, dust, etc. are passed off as pollution from CO2, N2O (Nitrous oxide), and CH4 (methane). These gases are invisible, transparent, but propagandists, including those in government, do not care.

The emissions of a clean power plant, which uses scrubbers for removing impurities from the exhausts, is about as clean as human breath, which is 4% CO2 and 6% water vapor (power plant emit much more CO2, but contrary to propaganda photos the CO2 is transparent.)

Happer points out that the 800-pound gorilla is the sun. About 30% of sunlight is reflected to space and about 70% heats the earth. Through convection in the oceans and the atmosphere this heat is transported from the tropics to the poles and to the top of the troposphere. The radiative effect primarily takes place above the troposphere where the atmosphere is very thin and there is little water vapor remaining. (Water vapor freezes out at the tropopause, about 20,000 feet (6000 meters) above the poles and 60,000 feet (18,000 meters) above the equator.)

[To TWTW, many of the problems of “solving climate change” encountered by climate modelers and others occurs because they fail to separate the issues of heat transport, by convection, from the issue of greenhouse effect, radiative transfer.]

Happer then discusses the work of John Tyndall (see quote of the week, above) and points out that we have forgotten this important work.

Happer brings up the work of Max Planck trying to solve the problem of how and why does radiation transfer work. In solving the thermal radiation transfer problem, Planck invented quantum mechanics. Why does the radiation distribution look the way it does? [Anyone claiming that understanding the greenhouse effect is simple physics does not know what he is talking about.]

Using the calculations of Planck for outgoing radiation without greenhouse gases the earth’s average surface temperature would be about 16 °F (minus 9 °C). [As Tyndall wrote, on the land masses each night, all plant life would freeze, making life on land unlikely.] With greenhouse gases, the earth’s average surface temperatures are about 60 °F (16 °C), making the earth habitable.

Happer super imposed on Planck’s graph is a graph using calculations and observations from the high-resolution transmission molecular absorption database (HITRAN). The second graph is named after German physicist and astronomer Karl Schwarzschild who died in 1916 on the Russian front from disease. The difference between the two graphs illustrates the greenhouse effect over the entire spectrum of infrared frequencies (wavelengths). The influences of various gases are identified.

What is clearly shown is that the influence of CO2 on warming the planet is pronounced when the CO2 goes from zero to 400 ppm (parts per million (actually in volume)). But there is little influence going from 400 ppm to 800 ppm. Based on HITRAN, Happer estimates that going from 400 to 800 ppm will decrease radiation to space by about 3 W/m2, which is insignificant.

Happer’s review is based on rock-solid physics. He states there is no climate emergency.

Happer presents two graphs comparing projections of temperatures with actual data. The first graph is from a paper in Nature Climate Change (September 2013) which shows estimated changes in temperatures as °C per decade on which the actual surface data from the HadCRUT 4 (Hadley Center and Climatic Research Unit Temperatures version 4) data set is superimposed. All the estimates exaggerate actual changes, including Happer’s own estimates in 1982.

The second graph is from John Christy showing predictions from climate models compared with observations in the Global Bulk Atmospheric Temperature (Surface-50K ft). The models greatly overestimate the warming of the atmosphere where the greenhouse effect occurs.

Happer then discusses the benefits of adding CO2 to the atmosphere, stating the Earth has been in CO2 famine for several tens of millions of years and our primate ancestors lived in an atmosphere far richer in CO2 than today. In recognizing that his view is opposed to a supposed “consensus of scientists,” Happer points out that so was the theory of continental drift. What is important is that it agrees with observation and experiment.

Happer concludes by stating:

“Policies to slow CO2 emissions are based on flawed computer models which exaggerate warming by factors of 2 or 3.

“More CO2 is an overall benefit, so costly ‘mitigation’ schemes are harmful. We should have the courage to do nothing about CO2 emissions.” See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.


The Greenhouse Effect and CO2 – Hayden: Professor emeritus Howard “Cork” Hayden spent much of his career in laboratories experimenting with particle accelerators, observing how subatomic particles, atoms, and molecules interfere with highly charged subatomic particles. Also, he is on the SEPP Board of Directors and an editor of TWTW. He recently completed a paper for advocates of nuclear energy on Carbon Dioxide, Infrared Radiation, and Climate, which is posted on the SEPP website. His comments begin with:

“It is hard to believe, when thinking of things as large as the earth, that people get bogged down in minutiae, staring at things through microscopes and not seeing the globe. This essay is about the big picture, and everything herein is based on well-known facts.

“1. The solar intensity at the earth’s orbit is 1368 W/m2. The earth reflects 30% (approximately, and variably) of that, and the spherical average is 244 W/m2. (Note that in all cases, we will be talking of averages over the spherical area of the earth.)

2. At equilibrium the earth radiates precisely that amount back into space: 244 W/m2. (Minor disequilibria do occur frequently, but temporarily.)

3. The surface of the earth (at 288.4 K) radiates 394 W/m2, as determined by the Stefan-Boltzmann radiation law.

4. In other words, the surface of the earth radiates 150 W/m2 more than is radiated into space. That 150 W/m2 is retained heat, and obviously the atmosphere is responsible.

5. If the atmosphere had no interaction with IR, but still reflected 30% of the sunlight, its temperature would be 255 K, which is 33 K (= 33ºC) colder that it is now.

6. The 150 W/m2 of heat retention is responsible for that 33 ºC of warming,

“Some people may say that the numbers are not quite accurate, but in what follows, it is unimportant whether the difference is 140 W/m2 or 160 W/m2. What matters is that the atmosphere has a net effect of reducing the surface radiation by about 150 W/m2 to equal the net radiation to space. The surface radiation is calculable from the average surface temperature, and the radiation to space must equal the solar radiation absorbed by the earth.

“Now it is time to start thinking about the atmosphere. IR leaves the surface, and less IR goes into space. Obviously, what matters is the interaction between IR and molecules in the atmosphere. Whose expertise should one seek for information about this subject? Most people have no idea because the subject is so alien to their background. Physicists whose expertise is Atomic, Molecular, and Optical (AMO) physics, and chemists whose specialty is Molecular Spectroscopy may or may not know details of the relevant spectra (of CO2, H2O, CH4, and other greenhouse gases, GHGs). Suffice it to say that these subjects are not to be found in curricula of Meteorology or Climatology Departments, let alone in Political Science Departments or law schools. For a genuine expert, see Will Happer’s recent essay at https://www.independent.org/issues/article.asp?id=13458&omhide=true.

“Molecular dynamics involves not only IR absorption, but energy sharing through collisions. At high altitude, GHGs can absorb energy from collisions and then radiate IR to outer space. Things are not as simple as Mr. Gore pretends.

“The CO2 concentration is usually given (a bit too casually) in terms of parts per million (ppm), which chemists take to mean by weight. The known data, however, are expressed in units of parts per million by volume (ppmv), which is numerically the same as parts per million by the count of molecules.

“Again, we need to concentrate on the big picture. Let us take the words of the experts about the effect of doubling CO2 concentration.

“7. The current estimate is that if CO2 concentration is doubled, the additional IR amount that will be absorbed by atmospheric CO2 is 3.5 W/m2.

8. That is, doubling the CO2 concentration would increase the retained heat from 150 W/m2 to 153.5 W/m2.

9. If 150 W/m2 results in 33 ºC warming, what do you expect from 153.5 W/m2?

Carbon dioxide has been singled out and demonized on the grounds that our consumption of fossil fuels will cause/is causing “climate change” (nee global warming). You can see from list item 8 that the claim is dicey at best, but it is useful to look into CO2 a bit carefully.

10. At present, CO2 (at ca. 400 ppmv) is responsible for about one-fifth, 30 W/m2 of the total heat retention (150 W/m2) of the atmosphere,

At very low concentrations (compared to the present low 400 ppmv), CO2 is a very effective IR absorber in a certain region of the IR spectrum.

11. The first 200 parts per million of CO2 are responsible for about 26.5 W/m2. The next 200 ppmv—taking us from 200 ppmv to our present 400 ppmv—raised CO2’s total to 30 W/m2, and the next doubling—400 ppmv to 800 ppmv—will raise CO2’s total to 33.5 W/m2. [There may be some small disagreement as to the precise numbers, but not to the effect on temperatures that is extremely small.]

“The very strong GHG property of CO2 at extremely low concentration is likely responsible for the current demonization of CO2.” [Except for # 8, boldface was italics in the original]

Agreeing with Happer, Hayden is convinced that the proper physics shows that adding CO2 to today’s atmosphere will have little effect on temperatures. Not reproduced here is a diagram showing the energy emitted by the surface, and the energy emitted by the atmosphere, which is less. Note that the greenhouse effect, which occurs in the atmosphere, cannot be observed from the surface.

Using an illustration (not reproduced here), Hayden extends the concept announced by John Tyndall that water vapor is a blanket protecting the vegetable life of England from being destroyed by freezing temperatures. It shows a thin blanket covering the entire spectrum of outgoing infrared radiation. On top of a small section of that blanket is a thick quilt showing the blocking effect of CO2. A doubling of CO2 in today’s atmosphere will add a bit of quilt at the edges. After discussing issues such as feedbacks and other variables, Hayden concludes on Nuclear Power:

“There is no doubt that switching from fossil fuels to nuclear power would decrease our emissions of CO2. There is also no doubt that nuclear power is the safest of all energy options.

“There is doubt—profound doubt—that reducing CO2 emissions would have measurable effect on the climate.

“As I have done for the last several decades, I strongly recommend nuclear power and strongly recommend against basing the pro-nuclear case on the dubious claim that CO2 is causing a ‘climate crisis.’” [Boldface was italics in the original]


See links under Challenging the Orthodoxy.


Deadly Policy: Writing in WUWT, Nuclear physicist and chairperson of the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation Kelvin Kemm states some of the lessons we should have learned from the Fukushima disaster that occurred ten years ago. The most severe earthquake ever recorded in Japan caused a tidal wave that was as high as 40 meters, (130 feet) in some places, and killed about 15,000 people. The tidal wave wiped out primary and backup electricity for pumps providing cooling water for nuclear power stations. One station did not cool down properly and the fuel in three reactors melted.

The water no longer circulating resulted in steam and a buildup of hydrogen gas. The gas exploded, blowing off a lightweight roof in front of TV cameras. Government officials had to do something, so they ordered an evacuation of about 160,000 people in the neighborhood. As Kemm writes:

“So, one of the lessons learned from Fukushima is that a huge amount of nuclear power can be struck by the largest earthquake and tsunami ever recorded [in Japan], and nobody gets harmed by nuclear radiation.

“Another lesson learned is that an evacuation order issued too hastily did harm and kill people.”

Kemm quotes the World Nuclear Association Director-General saying:

“’Actions taken to mitigate a situation should not result in worse impacts than the original events. This is particularly important when managing the response to incidents at nuclear facilities – where fear of radiation may lead to an overly conservative assessment and a lack of perspective for relative risks.’” [Boldface added]

Kemm further writes:

“Thus, a decade later, we can contemplate the cumulative lessons learned. Above all, they are that nuclear power is far safer than anyone had thought. Even when dreaded core meltdowns occurred, and although reactors were wrecked, resulting in a financial disaster for the owners, no people were harmed by radiation. [Boldface italics in original.]

“We also learned that, for local residents, it would have been far safer to stay indoors in a house than to join the forced evacuation. We also learned that governments and authorities must listen to the nuclear professionals, and not overreact, even though the television news cameras look awfully close.

As Happer clearly shows above, Government officials in the US and in Western Europe are taking actions against carbon dioxide that will have impacts on their publics far worse than events caused by carbon dioxide. See links under Nuclear Energy and Fears.


Number of the Week: 13%. The abstract of a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) “Natural variability contributes to model–satellite differences in tropical tropospheric warming” states:  We find that 13% of the model realizations have tropical TMT trends within the observed trend range.” TMT is temperature of the mid-troposphere and model realizations is an absurd term for model runs.

For years Roy Spencer, John Christy, and others have been showing that model runs greatly overestimate temperatures in the lower- and mid-troposphere but have had their papers rejected. Now, natural variation is helping to resolve a climate puzzle? The only puzzle is why global climate models are used!


14th ICCC Rescheduled: The 14th International Conference on Climate Change presented by The Heartland Institute has been rescheduled to October 15 to 17, 2021, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. See https://climateconference.heartland.org/


Marc Morano’s New Book “Green Fraud”: So Explosive, Leftists Now Pressuring Amazon To Stop Selling It!

By P Gosselin, No Tricks Zone, Mar 26, 2021

Challenging the Orthodoxy — NIPCC

Climate Change Reconsidered II: Physical Science

Idso, Carter, and Singer, Lead Authors/Editors, Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), 2013

Summary: https://www.heartland.org/_template-assets/documents/CCR/CCR-II/Summary-for-Policymakers.pdf

Climate Change Reconsidered II: Biological Impacts

Idso, Idso, Carter, and Singer, Lead Authors/Editors, Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), 2014


Summary: https://www.heartland.org/media-library/pdfs/CCR-IIb/Summary-for-Policymakers.pdf

Climate Change Reconsidered II: Fossil Fuels

By Multiple Authors, Bezdek, Idso, Legates, and Singer eds., Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, April 2019


Download with no charge:


Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming

The NIPCC Report on the Scientific Consensus

By Craig D. Idso, Robert M. Carter, and S. Fred Singer, Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), Nov 23, 2015


Download with no charge:


Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate

S. Fred Singer, Editor, NIPCC, 2008


Global Sea-Level Rise: An Evaluation of the Data

By Craig D. Idso, David Legates, and S. Fred Singer, Heartland Policy Brief, May 20, 2019

Challenging the Orthodoxy

How To Think About Climate Change

By William Happer, An Online Discussion for the Schiller Institute. Mar 20, 2021 [H/t Rick Sanders]

Comments on CO2, IR, and Climate

By Howard Hayden, SEPP, Mar 26, 2021


Former Obama-Biden federal scientist Dr. Steve Koonin declares his climate dissent

By Charles Rotter, WUWT, Mar 21, 2021

Links to video of interview of Koonin by Larry Kudlow and prior article by Koonin

“I don’t think the word ‘science’ means what you think it means.”

The Climate Headline The Legacy Media Wouldn’t Dare Write

I & I Editorial Board, I & I, Mar 24, 2021 [H/t William Readdy]

See link immediately above.

Climate Dynamics: The True Control Knob of Climate Change

By Jim Steele, Landscapes and Cycles, Mar 25, 2021


Podcast: Roger Pielke Jr on Shadow Science Advice

Discussing those outside government recognized advisors Mar 22, 2021

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