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You Asked: If CO2 Is Only 0.04% of the Atmosphere, How Does it Drive Global Warming?

Got a burning question about climate change? Feeling curious about conservation? “You Asked” is a series where Earth Institute experts tackle reader questions on science and sustainability. To submit a question, drop a comment below, message us on Instagram, or email us here.

A reader named Paul submitted this question on one of our previous posts:

Why does CO2 drive global warming when there is only 0.04% of it in the atmosphere? And why isn’t water vapor the major driving factor?

Yochanan Kushnir
Yochanan Kushnir is a research professor at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, in the Division of Oceans and Climate Physics

Answer provided by Yochanan Kushnir

Earth absorbs energy from sunlight, but as the surface warms, it also emits energy in the form of infrared radiation (which we know of as heat) out into space. Water vapor and CO2, however, act like a cap, making it more difficult for Earth to get rid of this energy. Without gases like these to absorb the energy, our planet’s average surface temperature would have been near zero degrees Fahrenheit.

About 99 percent of the atmosphere is made of oxygen and nitrogen, which cannot absorb the infrared radiation the Earth emits. Of the remaining 1 percent, the main molecules that can absorb infrared radiation are CO2 and water vapor, because their atoms are able to vibrate in just the right way to absorb the energy that the Earth gives off. After these gases absorb the energy, they emit half of it back to Earth and half of it into space, trapping some of the heat within the atmosphere. This trapping of heat is what we call the greenhouse effect. Because of the greenhouse effect created by these trace gases, the average temperature of the Earth is around 15˚C, or 59˚F, which allows for life to exist.

CO2 makes up only about 0.04% of the atmosphere, and water vapor can vary from 0 to 4%. But while water vapor is the dominant greenhouse gas in our atmosphere, it has “windows” that allow some of the infrared energy to escape without being absorbed. In addition, water vapor is concentrated lower in the atmosphere, whereas CO2 mixes well all the way to about 50 kilometers up. The higher the greenhouse gas, the more effective it is at trapping heat from the Earth’s surface.

The burning of fossil fuels affects the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. Before the industrial revolution, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere was about 288 ppm. We have now reached about 414 ppm, so we are on the way to doubling the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere by the end of this century. Scientists say that if CO2 doubles, it could raise the average global temperature of the Earth between two and five degrees Celsius. We are already increasing the amount of energy that bounces back to the Earth. Because of the greenhouse effect, this is causing global warming with its many destructive impacts.

Both water vapor and CO2 are responsible for global warming, and once we increase the CO2 in the atmosphere, the oceans warm up, which inevitably triggers an increase in water vapor. But while we have no way to control water vapor, we can control CO2. And because we are increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere by continuing to burn fossil fuels, even in relatively small amounts compared to the entire mass of the atmosphere, we are disturbing the entire heat balance of the planet.

For more information on how carbon dioxide traps heat, why water vapor isn’t the culprit, and answers to several other interesting questions, check out this post: How Exactly Does Carbon Dioxide Cause Global Warming?

Science for the Planet: In these short video explainers, discover how scientists and scholars across the Columbia Climate School are working to understand the effects of climate change and help solve the crisis.
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JLocke
4 years ago

If CO2 increases follow temperature increases how can it be the cause? It makes sense that it could exacerbate the rise but how can it be the cause of the initial rise?

Miki
Miki
Reply to  JLocke
4 years ago

It’s the initial cause because it’s emitted in the first place
And that emission rises the amount of greenhouse gas and therefore the amount of heat trapped

Mary M. Douthwaite
Mary M. Douthwaite
Reply to  Miki
4 years ago

JLocke asked above, “If CO2 increases follow temperature increases how can it be the cause?” Miki answered, “It’s the initial cause because it’s emitted in the first place.” ? The response not appear to answer the question. How can a rise of CO2 be emitted in the first place if it follows the rise in temperature?

Hare
Hare
Reply to  Mary M. Douthwaite
2 years ago

It makes sense with positive feedback loop. 🙂

Edward
Edward
Reply to  Mary M. Douthwaite
2 years ago

When the earth’s atmosphere was being created millions of years ago I suspect the CO2 came from the carbon in rotting vegetation and from the oceans. Over eons, enough CO2 built up to cause the temperature to slowly increase. As the temperature increased the natural production of CO2 would also increase. Once the CO2 hit about 288ppm the atmosphere and the planet’s temperature became self regulating and a global temperature was maintained that allowed life of all kinds to flourish. Then the industrial revolution happened and humans started adding much more CO2 to the atmosphere. This extra CO2 caused the temperature to start rising. Over time, we’ve continued to add CO2 by burning fossil fuels. So now the CO2 is at 409ppm. The danger is that at our current rate of adding CO2, once the atmosphere hits 450ppm of CO2, scientists believe a tipping point will be passed. This will cause a continuous increase in temperatures, which will cause the oceans to release more CO2 as they warm, which will cause ever increasing rise in the earth’s temperature. This will become an ever increasing cycle. It’s sort of like a self fulfilling prophecy of destruction.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Edward
2 years ago

But the CO2 level has been fluctuating for billions of years. In the Devonian it was around 4000ppm (not a typo four thousand ppm). The global temperatures were higher than today, but not by much.

Rod J McKellar
Rod J McKellar
Reply to  Peter
2 years ago

That’s because the sun emitted less radiation then. As a star ages, it shrinks, and becomes hotter. The same amount of co2 in the atmosphere today would cook us.

Curtis Lightle
Curtis Lightle
Reply to  Rod J McKellar
2 years ago

So sun changes and cycles have a significant effect on global temperatures right?

I don’t know if CO2 causes or is correlated (or both) with rising temps. But since the oceans release CO2 as the temps rise, if Co2 caused warming them we have an endless heating loop right? Unless there are other factors that trump Co2 as the primary driver.

If so (which is simple logic), what are those drivers and are they what is really causing the warming? Temps started rising well before industrialization had any meaningful impact.

John
John
Reply to  Miki
2 years ago

.03% of the .04% is anthropogenic CO2. Not an issue.

Matt
Matt
Reply to  JLocke
4 years ago

CO2 can be both a primary and secondary cause of warming.

CO2 can be the primary cause of rising temperatures, as it has been in the last couple centuries.

CO2 can also be release from other sources (e.g. permafrost) in response to rising temperatures.

And so, 1) in previous warming periods that were I initially started by non-CO2 causes, CO2 rises predictably follow temperature rises (and then further drive more increase). 2) In other cases (including the current warming period) it looks like CO2 is the primary cause of warming, but similar to the above this warming will cause even more CO2 release (a feed-forward cycle)..

Werner Neurauter
Werner Neurauter
Reply to  Matt
3 years ago

If that theory where true, one would expect an uncontrolled escalation cooking the earth long time ago

Kim Libera
Kim Libera
Reply to  Werner Neurauter
3 years ago

And that did not happen Werner & it can’t given the current topographical makeup of the Earth. Venus cooks as the hottest planet in the solar system. The solid layer of co2/so2 clouds keep planetary heat in. Venus lacks oceans to absorb co2 & neither does it have any vegetation to take in co2 so that is why it has a high greenhouse effect. It is now a geologically dead planet, albeit that was not true in its infancy. The Earth has experienced several coolings & warmings. The Ice Ages were largely triggered by the Milankovitch Cyles of the Sun-Earth system. Warmings would follow coolings. In its infancy, the Earth was a very hot soupy inhospitable environment circa 1800 F.

Sam
Sam
Reply to  Werner Neurauter
2 years ago

Maybe because were conveniently forgetting opposite simmilar events such as CO2 causing more tree and plantlife to grow wich in turn absorb more CO2 converting it to oxygen.

Andrew Troup
Andrew Troup
Reply to  Sam
2 years ago

Maybe that would be plausible if it were not for two things: firstly: humans “managing” the nature and the amount of plant life.
The Amazon Basin is larger than the US, and it is being steadily deforested. The plants which replace the former rainforest capture only a small fraction of the former amount, and the carbon in that forest was almost all released as CO2 at the time of clearing.
Secondly, your point might carry some weight in the absence of rock solid data showing a steady increase in CO2 since fossil fuel oil first became available, most of it with the carbon atoms tagged unambiguously with the isotopic signature of fossil fuel origin.

Jamin Pillars
Jamin Pillars
Reply to  Andrew Troup
1 year ago

There has been heating since the end of the Younger Dryas so you should see a lagging increase in CO2. Antoine’s equation explains the relationship of CO2 solubility in the oceans and temperature.

Kim Libera
Kim Libera
Reply to  Andrew Troup
1 year ago

Notice how this observation goes deeper into a window on the concept of feedbacks & forcing. Meaning if there is a tiny tweak in case A, does it bring a dramatic response or small one or does it trigger something else. Plants are plants in terms of gobbling up CO2 but yes trees with large leaf surface area are significant & perhaps we should be growing more.

ddugger
ddugger
Reply to  Kim Libera
1 year ago

You might also want to consider that thawing permafrost and volcanic eruptions put out the same C isotopes as fossil fuels. Meaning global warming will increase those isotopes making fossil fuel CO2 nearly impossible to accurately distinguish and quantify. There is nothing about climate science that easy and or straight forward.

ddugger
ddugger
Reply to  Andrew Troup
1 year ago

Please provide refs. for CO2 fossil fuel tags.

ATM
ATM
Reply to  Matt
2 years ago

How can you ascribe the rise in temperature in the last 2 centuries to CO2 when temperatures have been rising since the last ice age?

What makes the last 2 centuries special? Temps have risen more quickly and more slowly in other 2 century periods than today.

CO2 levels in the past have been far higher than 400ppm and the Earth was simply warmer and wetter and sustained life to a far greater extent than it does currently.

There is also the correlation between warmer times and human advancement. It seems that humans thrive when the climate is warmer, probably because food is more abundant and disease less so.

GerryM
GerryM
Reply to  ATM
2 years ago

You’re incorrect in one detail, the Earth has been cooling throughout the Holocene, and we are around 1000 years from the next ice-age. The rest of what you wrote is correct.

Dean Reynolds
Dean Reynolds
Reply to  GerryM
2 years ago

The Holocene began at the end of the Younger Dryas and the last glacial maximus. Temps have been on the rise since that time, with the exception of two periods. One period was about 600 BC and the other was the little ice age.

Since the little ice age we have been warming. Who knows when our next ice age will be, 1000 years is possible, but nobody really knows.

Again, none of these graphs have a straight line increase or decrease. There are 1 to 2 degree swings or temp variations during that period.

With the exception of these short ice ages, mankind has flourished. Just as we will flourish until the next ice age.

R.R.H
R.R.H
Reply to  Dean Reynolds
2 years ago

It seems people rely on past temperatures of the earth to base their arguments. Considering the modern thermometer was invented in 1714. No one really has a clue what the temperature of the earth was less than 1000 years ago never mind a million years.

Sarah Fecht
Reply to  R.R.H
2 years ago

Thermometers aren’t the only way to measure temperature. Here are a few other ways that scientists can track temperature changes thousands of years into the past:

https://news.climate.columbia.edu/2016/01/28/a-new-global-team-tracks-temperature-change-through-time/
https://news.climate.columbia.edu/2015/06/02/tapping-into-earths-secret-history/

Michael Robinson
Michael Robinson
Reply to  R.R.H
2 years ago

I believe that we do have a clue as to the temperature a million years ago.That is by observation of the fossil record, That way we don’t have to guess. The observers of the fossils have an idea, by plants and animals still around, about what temperatues were. Fossils in antiactica tell us that it was not always frozen.

ddugger
ddugger
Reply to  R.R.H
1 year ago

Consider that those early thermometers were hand made. As a research biologist I have purchase hundreds of laboratory thermometers. Up to about 1980 I had sort all those thermometers in each bulk purchase because they have a +/-2 degree variability in accuracy. This is more than the expected century climate variability. The metrology of climate science is its weakest component. Using past biological, geological and ice core data is clever, but near precise as what we need. Even our satellite altimetery data has to be “smoothed” to match land based tidal gauges. The exaggeration of our climate data precision has created expectations that simply can not be met. However, they can be used to mask focus on Earth’s human overpopulation that becomes more unsustainable by the day.

Chris Brodie
Chris Brodie
Reply to  Dean Reynolds
2 years ago

Dean, my concern is that all interglacial periods end. All interglacials warm and thaw the planet, but it’s always temporary. I believe that events kick in that drive a process that escalates a feedback loop that returns us back to an ice age state. There are good studies\idea to support arctic meltwater changing jetstream and ocean currents or\and salinity that kicks off the re-freezing process.

I’m much more concerned with 4km of ice over north america\europe than having to rebuild cities to a higher altitude (we’re rebuilding cities constantly. anyway and over a centuries timescale this is trivial to accomplish for us. ).

Did we just kick off the start of the next ice age by creating the ‘end state’ conditions?

ddugger
ddugger
Reply to  Dean Reynolds
1 year ago

I suggest you spend some time studying finite critical resource dilution and depletion economics. We might have been flourishing up to about 1970 like any other biological bloom exploiting the planets resources, but once our finite critical resources become sufficiently depleted we will respond just all over resource limited biological blooms.

Current wars are not about imperial land conquest as in the past century they are about imperial resource (energy) conquests – i.e. the ME, Ukraine and many other conflicts – all the impact of limiting energy resources.

Kim Libera
Kim Libera
Reply to  ATM
2 years ago

It’s only a theory. It is just that the media blirbs it to death as do the politicians. One cannot assign a single reason to the phenom given the present of other natural processes & contributions.

FattyBoomBatty
FattyBoomBatty
Reply to  Kim Libera
2 years ago

We can attribute fossil fuel burning as a principal contributor due to the isotopes we find in the CO2. Effectively we can carbon date the atmospheric gases.

Kim Libera
Kim Libera
Reply to  FattyBoomBatty
2 years ago

Carbon dating is only good for a 50k yr period. It does not get way back into the earth’s early eons of which other methods of isotopes must be applied. Nitrogen in effect which is some times inert & sometimes noxious is essentially there to prevent us from combusting due to volatile oxygen.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Matt
2 years ago

That’s positive feedback, and it has been seen in the past. But how, then, doe ice ages happen? If it were as simple as positive feedback temperatures would simply continue to rise and we would become a Venus-like dust bowl.

Kim Libera
Kim Libera
Reply to  Peter
2 years ago

We can’t become Venus because of 3 major sinks: water bodies, vegetation, limestone. Ice ages occur due to variations in the Milankovitch Cycles which are long term changes between a planet & its orbital properties.

Fran
Fran
Reply to  JLocke
2 years ago

Why hasn’t anyone mention weather from El Nino or LaNina. Which control weather changes.

Last edited 2 years ago by Fran
Kim Libera
Kim Libera
Reply to  JLocke
1 year ago

Has to do with mechanical & chemical weathering of rocks when speaking to the realm of carbon kept in rocks. Oceans will degas it when warmer vs colder (goes into solution). Do an experiment with warm champagne & one out of the fridge. The warm one once uncorked will erupt. All this has to do is with the Gas Laws in chemistry, Gibbs free energy, chemical bonds.

Abhaya Thiele
Abhaya Thiele
4 years ago

Thank you for this. To all those doing climate research or reporting . . . As many Americans think in terms of Fahrenheit, might you always accompany a Celsius temperature with its Fahrenheit equivalent?

Fran
Fran
Reply to  Abhaya Thiele
2 years ago

Just convert Celsius principle Just subtract 32 from the Fahenheit temp. Multiply that number by 5. Devide the results by 9.
Multiply the Celsius temp. by 2 and add 30 it will give you the Fahrenheit temp.

Uno Hansson
Uno Hansson
4 years ago
Jonathan
Jonathan
4 years ago

Wow, that was a weak answer, with a lot of “scientists say” type references. Not convinced at all. I was hoping for so much better.

Neobiognosis
Neobiognosis
Reply to  Jonathan
4 years ago

Can you articulate why you remain unconvinced and clarify the reasons you made this comment.

Honeybadger
Honeybadger
Reply to  Neobiognosis
3 years ago

Because water vapor has a lower density than CO2, so shouldn’t it be concentrated higher in atmosphere too? Water has more vibrational modes than CO2, so shouldnt CO2 absorb less IR radiation than water and allow more heat escape than water? Have you ever seen an IR spectrum of water compared to co2??? Water is largely ignored as a contributed to global warming because scientists have no good way to accurately measure it’s atmospheric concentration.

Kim Libera
Kim Libera
Reply to  Honeybadger
3 years ago

Good question here because water vapor gets little attention. It is the largest greenhouse gas–however, water vapor has a shorter residence time-always going thru some rapid turnover to precipitation. Indeed if we lack oceans we would be in trouble. I suppose to if someone proposed taxing the water, something that is required by every living thing, we would be in trouble.

James Halliday
James Halliday
Reply to  Kim Libera
3 years ago

We do. Water costs more per litre than gasoline and govts manage to tax it. Look at your utility bill, there’s tax on that as well.

FattyBoomBatty
FattyBoomBatty
Reply to  James Halliday
2 years ago

…and corporates take it for themselves and sell it back to us in bottles polluted with plastic toxins. <cough>Nestle<cough>.

IAN WILSON CAMPBELL
IAN WILSON CAMPBELL
Reply to  Kim Libera
3 years ago

We are told the industrial revolution caused co2 levels to rise and cause global warming, then surely a similar increase in water vapor emissions (courtesy of James Watt) would in theory have had a similar effect.

Sarah Fecht
Reply to  IAN WILSON CAMPBELL
3 years ago

Water vapor is a greenhouse gas, so it does contribute to climate change. However, the amount of water vapor in the air is a direct result of the air temperature — warmer air can hold more water. If we tried to take water vapor out of warm air, it would be pointless, because evaporation from plants and bodies of water would replace it immediately. So to have less water vapor in the atmosphere, we need to cool the atmosphere. How do we do that? By reducing other greenhouse gases. Not that the fossil fuel companies want you to know that.

ATM
ATM
Reply to  Sarah Fecht
2 years ago

Why would we want less water vapor? Water is the spring of life.

Andrew Troup
Andrew Troup
Reply to  ATM
2 years ago

*Liquid* water is the spring of life. No-one is proposing doing away with water, just having less of it evaporating to the vapour form at any one time — evaporation which, contrary to your implication, is extremely undesirable from the “spring of life” perspective.

Daniel Deloge
Daniel Deloge
Reply to  Kim Libera
2 years ago

I am guessing you are not familiar with MD or CA laws where rain water is taxed.

FattyBoomBatty
FattyBoomBatty
Reply to  Honeybadger
2 years ago

Water vapour is indeed a greenhouse gas, however it behaves differently, and is exacerbated by CO2. Whereas CO2 forms an homogenous shroud, water vapour is patchy, both in its distribution and temporally.

Fran
Fran
Reply to  Honeybadger
2 years ago

But isn’t there more CO2 over oceans and water

ccdan
ccdan
Reply to  Neobiognosis
2 years ago

Because science doesn’t work that way. Science only works through rigorous experiments that can be duplicated with predictable results! “xyz say” belongs to dogmas/religions/pseudoscience.

Kim Libera
Kim Libera
Reply to  ccdan
2 years ago

The reason we have weather period is because we have 2 distinct surficial mediums: land & large water basins. Their properties are different with water having the highest heat capacity means it can hold heat longer but it takes a long time to heat up. Thus during the course of the day these distinctions set up pressure gradients which in turn drive wind which in turn becomes part of the jet stream norm moving large air parcels around the globe. The parcels may be land derived or water derived & they may comprised of drier air vs very muggy air. The ebb & flo create the daily patterns of weather & the sum averages of these parcels in a specific geographic region set up what is the climate. The water vapor factor is the chief culprit in creating the ebb & flow of weather so in turn for a large part of geochronological time sets up the climate. On periods of 50-100 million years the plates move about the globe & in this some ocean basins will close & some will open up, thus setting up new climate patterns due to the absence or access to a large basin of water.

IAN WILSON CAMPBELL
IAN WILSON CAMPBELL
Reply to  Jonathan
3 years ago

Another fact is that co2 heat radiating is logarithmic in that doubling the amount of co2 only results in a 50% increase, doubling again only 25%.

No CAGW
No CAGW
4 years ago

Water vapor has a window? It’s 5x the ghg and 10x more than co2. Co2 has “windows” too, it only absorbs in three small bands leaving 92% transparent to IR.

So, when the IR is “back radiating” down (not heat btw) it is more likely to be intercepted by N2, o2 which is 99% of the atmosphere, and repeat the process back to space. This happens at the speed of light. Chances of the same IR making it back to the surface from the TOA is unlikely.

Neobiognosis
Neobiognosis
Reply to  No CAGW
4 years ago

It is not unlikely, it is certain that a proportion of it reaches the earth’s surface, and the earth’s heat energy balance is then lost. The energy reflected back to the earth’s surface is 2.9 Wm-2. You may examine this, and decide it is a small increment on the radiation already reaching earth, you may not understand the significance of the unit, so I’ll add some clarification. The unit represents the amount of energy reaching every square meter of the surface of earth every second. A simple extrapolation takes you to the amount of energy we are incementing our budget by every second. It equates to the energy equivalent of more than 6 Hiroshima nuclear bombs per second. That is more than 360 bombs of that size per minute, 21600 per hour or more than 518,400 Hiroshima sized nuclear bombs worth of energy per day! Our energy balance is no longer in balance.

RJWan
RJWan
Reply to  Neobiognosis
4 years ago

Only half the Earth is being bombarded by the sun at any one time, not the entire Earth. If you get simple things like this wrong, it’s hard to believe you on the more complicated parts.

tired of this
tired of this
Reply to  RJWan
3 years ago

I don’t think Neobiognosis has got this wrong: The energy reflected back is the infrared energy emitted by the earth, which is emitted all the time – all objects emit radiation according to their temperature. So even at night the earth is radiating energy outwards, and some of it is being absorbed by CO2 (or other greenhouse gases) and radiated back to earth.

Werner Neurauter
Werner Neurauter
Reply to  RJWan
3 years ago

Still wrong, since the number is calculated (not meassured) from the incomming energy average, assuming energy emitted from earth is equal to that received by the sun. Which in any case is wrong.

No CAGW
No CAGW
Reply to  Neobiognosis
3 years ago

Your response is just propaganda. Hurricane winds are equivalent to about half of the total electrical generating capacity on the planet. The clouds and rain is about 200 times the total electrical generating capacity on the planet. The idea that the earth’s energy balance is lost is nonsense because any “energy” from co2 is what was in the system in the first place.
https://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/energy/energy-hurricane-volcano-earthquake1.htm

Roseland67
Roseland67
Reply to  Neobiognosis
3 years ago

This # was measured? Or modeled?

Guest2
Guest2
Reply to  Neobiognosis
3 years ago

We have a budget?

Hrvoje Lasic
Hrvoje Lasic
Reply to  No CAGW
2 years ago

Right now level of CO2 is around 414 ppm. In the past, it has been up to 7500 ppm and no problem, actually in this period earth life prospered mostly as plants need CO2 to grow. Water and water vapor are responsible for around 70% of the greenhouse effect.

FattyBoomBatty
FattyBoomBatty
Reply to  Hrvoje Lasic
2 years ago

That is only part of the picture, when it peaked at 7500ppm the atmosphere supported a very different ecosystem than we have now and most land mass was lost to high water levels. More recently around 350,000 years ago CO2 peaked at around 300ppm and is now moving north on 410ppm at an accelerating rate.

Rolf E
Rolf E
4 years ago

What are the formulas to calculate the temperature change from H2O- and the CO2- concentration in the athmosphere given a certain start temperature and a certain time with constant solar radiation.

Roseland67
Roseland67
Reply to  Rolf E
3 years ago

And these formulas were built using measurements or models?

I suspect you know where I am going with this,
that is why you answered the way you did.

James
James
Reply to  Rolf E
2 years ago

Indeed there is no formula. All we are given by so-called scientists are model predictions which vary enormously and the range of predictions hasnt narrowed over a 40 year time period of trying to produce better models

Helmut Wober
Helmut Wober
4 years ago

If CO2 is such a greenhouse gas, especially 50 km up, how come that the surface of Mars with an atmosphere that consist of 95% CO2 has an average surface temperature of – 40 degrees Celsius?

The 288 K, risen to 288.8K in the last 100 years on the surface of the earth are primarily due to adiabatic compression of the atmosphere, not green house effects.

Yes , rises in CO2 follow global warming with a time lag of 600 – 800 years, due to degassing of the Oceans, which cover about 71% of the surface of the earth.

Yes, the climate on the earth is changing, as it has done for the last 4.2 billion years, and (semi quantitatively) demonstrated by proxy isotope ratios of O2 and C for the last 450 million years. The causes of Climate Change (a change in the 30 year moving average of the temperature on earth, if this can be established with an acceptable margin of error!) are primarily sunspot activity cycles and Milankowitsch Cycles (see literature if you don’t know what they are) !!

Also water vapour, which occurs in 0 – 4% quantities in the atmosphere and increases with warming due to the principal sunspot cycles and Milankowitsch cycles has 18 – 20 time the heat absorption capacity of CO2 and absorbs solar energy over a wide spectrum of wave lengths, whereas CO2 is only susceptible over a very narrow range of the wavelength spectrum of solar radiation. With water vapor having 18 – 20 times the heat absorption capacity of CO2, do the math for even 2.5 % water vapor versus 0.04% CO2, let alone the 0.01% incremental CO2 ascribed to anthropogenic generation of CO2!

Air pollution, other than CO2, (ask the residents of Deli, Beijing, Singapore, Manila etc.etc. ) is the enemy, not CO2, which promotes plant growth including agricultural crop yields for an exploding world population. Other enemies are the rape of water resources, the rape harvest of the fish in the oceans and rivers, deforestation, slash burning of forests and crop residues, the paving over and asphalting of agricultural land due to corrupt municipal governments, especially in the developed world, garbage, particularly plastics. That is where the fight should take place. The Carbon Tax is for governments black hole treasuries and the uneducated masses.

Greta should stay in school on Fridays and study science!

Cheers,

Helmut Wober, P.Eng. (retired)

Curt Lightle
Curt Lightle
Reply to  Helmut Wober
4 years ago

That is a good explanation. I hope you are correct about CO2 and i suspect you are. Unfortunately for most of us (me included) without the training to critically discern the data we are left to wonder what the truth is.

What bothers me the most is the human caused crowd was caught back in about 2009 blatantly distorting the data. Many scientist are now committed to being right, so they would not admit they were wrong even if they knew they were. This is the biggest flaw in all scientific disciplines: ego, careers and money. Therefore you generally cannot trust their opinions to be without strong bias in the face of evidence that may disprove their long standing position (which they may have have staked their careers on). Especially archaeologists (sidebar).

The human caused crowd has a lot to lose now that they have staked their collective careers and scared people into hysteria. Quite literally. They may be correct, but I do not believe them at face value.

Another interesting tidbit is there is is no rebuttal of your well written position by the author. Makes me wonder……why they do not take on the well stated arguments presented here, perhaps because they have no good response?

CL

Kim Libera
Kim Libera
Reply to  Curt Lightle
3 years ago

You are absolutely correct on this & the IPCC fraudulent emails were dissected circa 2015. Colleges need grants to survive-they will spout out anything ditto Nasa. You should look up the 3-pronged debunking about the 97% consensus & the either peruse the web or go to Utube on “Hide the decline.” This was the graphing trick employed by one of the scientists in the false argument. It was leaked by a coworker. In essence, the 1960s temp decline was excluded b/c it was a decline.

FattyBoomBatty
FattyBoomBatty
Reply to  Kim Libera
2 years ago

If you read up on this you will see there is a lot more to the story than the ‘fraudulent’ emails spin put on it.

FattyBoomBatty
FattyBoomBatty
Reply to  Curt Lightle
2 years ago

We do have to remember that the fossil fuel industry has spent a lot of money, sowing confusion and untruths – profits are at stake. They employ the very same PR companies that covered up the tobacco industry leading to the deaths of millions worldwide. Those corporate entities don’t give a toss about you or I, just look at the cover up by Exxon, Total, BP, Chevron. If climate change is not a problem why go to so much effort.
Follow the money…
99% of meteorological papers concerning climate change are in agreement that it is a) exacerbated by man and b) probably not going to be good for us. The other 1% were written/sponsored by, guess who….?
Fortunately, the planet will carry on with or without us and it may not be a bad thing if man meets its demise.

Kathleen McEvoy
Kathleen McEvoy
Reply to  FattyBoomBatty
1 year ago

We use fossil fuel for a lot more than making energ. Roads, tires, plastic in our Electric Vehicles etc. Even if we decrease our use other counties will continue to use it because it will be cheap and abundant.

Johnwood
Johnwood
Reply to  Helmut Wober
4 years ago

Because the atmosphere is much thinner and at far lower pressure .

Wayne Hughes
Wayne Hughes
Reply to  Helmut Wober
3 years ago

Mars is further away from the sun so will likely be cooler by distance alone

Kim Libera
Kim Libera
Reply to  Wayne Hughes
3 years ago

Yes Mars is further out but I think the point he makes is the CO2 level. I don’t think ever seen any data on its CO2 content.

Kim Libera
Kim Libera
Reply to  Helmut Wober
3 years ago

Interesting point, I’ve not seen Mars come up in any of the climate alarmism debate. That is a stunner. Also note on the 2nd point co2 incline follows warming, not the other way around so this is correct.

FattyBoomBatty
FattyBoomBatty
Reply to  Kim Libera
2 years ago

Yes, a planet with a rarefied atmosphere (0.01 bar), low gravity, and temperatures cold enough for CO2 to exist in a solid state wouldn’t be expected to exhibit the same behaviour as earth…

Dietrevich
Dietrevich
Reply to  Helmut Wober
3 years ago

Because of two things: Mars is much further away and energy dissipates at the inverse cube of the distance, so it will receive less than half the solar input we get. Not much energy there to hold on. Then second, we have the atmosphere, 95% only tells you it’s composition with respect to other gases in the atmosphere, not the total amount. Mars atmosphere is almost non existent, it’s thinner than at that of our highest mountains. So there is actually much less CO2 per volume than on Earth, and this is a function in part of its gravity.
So there, having less CO2 than us to capture heat, it could not possibly hope to warm the planet even with the same amount of solar radiation we get, but to top it all off, it doesn’t even get half of it. So yeah.. no heat. And it doesn’t mean that CO2 has no effect.

Garry Anderson, CMEngNZ
Garry Anderson, CMEngNZ
Reply to  Helmut Wober
2 years ago

Well said Helmut,
Also the fact that CO2 at current concentrations is already saturated from an infra red absorption perspective, so adding anymore CO2 will have little, to no impact on it’s contribution to the GH effect.
This paper examines the thermal radiation of the 5 principal GH gases. https://arxiv.org/pdf/2006.03098.pdf
https://climatechangedispatch.com/study-more-co2-will-have-little-to-no-impact-on-global-warming/

Last edited 2 years ago by Garry Anderson, CMEngNZ
Lonnie king
Lonnie king
4 years ago

So if co2 is so high up in the atmosphere how do plants in the ocean and on land absorb it? Do certain densities make it come down ? Is the earth supposed to have ice on it? Have there been periods on this planet where it had no ice? If most of earths heat is released through the hole in the atmosphere in the Antarctic does the size of that hole change? Is earth’s orbit around the sun the exact same every year or is it moving closer and farther over the years? How much have the ocean levels risin in the past 1000 years before we started burning fossil fuel? Why is Mars frozen if co2 holds so much heat?

Kim Libera
Kim Libera
Reply to  Lonnie king
3 years ago

No there is plenty of co2 at sea-level just because we have humans, animals, & insects at sea level. Additionally, at night, trees & plants & plankton switch over to our respiration style. They take in O2 & exhale CO2–until the sun rises. It’s not the lightest gas, nor the heaviest. The planet has gone thru several ice ages which were induced by the Milankovitch cycles–yes climate changes. The ozone hole is actually refilling back w/ O3. Once the powers that be began to cease use fo CFCs, it was able to regenerate. The earth, like all planets follow an elliptical orbit, not an equidistant one. The earth is closest to the Sun-called perihelion in January while it is at aphelion 6 months later. Now in the very far distant future this positioning will reverse. There are minor perturbations in earth’s orbit that in fact today 1/9/21, they reported on news that the earth’s rotation showed an increase of speed, resultin the loss of a “second” to the time.

Brian Partrick
Brian Partrick
4 years ago

WHAT IS THE MOLECULAR MECHANISM THAT ACCOUNTS FOR INFRA-RED TRANSPARENCY ‘WINDOWS’ OF H2O? WHAT IS THE COMPOSITION PROFILE OF CO2 WITH ALTITUDE? HOW WAS CO2 COMPOSITION WITH ALTITUDE OBTAINED? HOW DOES CO2 (MOL.WT 44)ALMOST 3X MOL.WT OF H2O(18) RISE TO 50KM WHEREAS H2O VAPOUR DOES NOT? BEST REGARDS BP

Henry W Justice
Henry W Justice
Reply to  Brian Partrick
3 years ago
WTaylor
WTaylor
4 years ago

CO2 is .0004 particles for every 1 particle of the rest of the atmosphere. Saying that CO2 is causing global warming is like saying that 40 people in a stadium can out yell the other 99960. The truth is there for anyone who does not just want to believe it. Specific heat in physics proves the point. Unless CO2 has a specific heat that is a million, which it doesn’t, it cannot cause warming. However if you believe stop driving, heating your house and and any other activity not powered by solar or wind. Put your actions in line with what you believe.

Private Citizen
Private Citizen
Reply to  WTaylor
4 years ago

A cooler mass cannot heat a warmer mass. CO2 molecules cannot heat the earth in reverse (back radiation). The earth is the source of energy the CO2 above it in the atmosphere absorbs. Just like the radiators in your home or office cannot heat the boiler water in reverse. Heat flows from hot to cold.

John wood
John wood
Reply to  Private Citizen
4 years ago

The sun is the source of energy!!

James
James
Reply to  Private Citizen
2 years ago

Its also true that just as CO2 absorbs & emits radiation from earth in all directions, it does the same with the radiation from the sun so would have a partial blocking effect, thus netting to zero.

Sarah Fecht
Reply to  James
2 years ago

It doesn’t work that way, because solar radiation is a different type of energy to infrared

Joe Bayer
Joe Bayer
Reply to  Sarah Fecht
2 years ago

Please may I join the thread?

Steve Frazier
Steve Frazier
Reply to  Private Citizen
2 years ago

Correct, The colder atmosphere can not heat the warmer earth, this violates a law of thermodynamics. Anyone with an under standing of basic science knows what happens when you violate a law with your theory. You can not measure “back radiation”, because it does not exist. If you actually look at the green house gas theory, one will notice they (IPCC) divide the sun’s energy by 4, as if the earth was flat. Basic math on how to convert the area of a sphere, into a flat 2 dimensional circle.

Phil
Phil
Reply to  WTaylor
4 years ago

‘Negligibility’ based on volume is not a scientific measure. Just ONE gram (very negligible) if polonium can kill 50 million people.

The issue of climate change (in my opinion) does indeed hinge around just how much of an affect a change from 0.03% to 0.04% (25% more) of CO2 can have on temperature.

It may be a lot more than people assume, as the polonium example indicates, and that’s the area science needs to unequivocally understand.

Johnwood
Johnwood
Reply to  WTaylor
4 years ago

It’s not like people in a stadium…..it is more the effect on infrared wavelengths, and the heat reflection in upper atmosphere. Hence greenhouse effect…natural processes have been locking carbon away for millions of years!! since the industrial revolution carbon dioxide levels have risen higher and faster than ever, that combined with massive environmental destruction , population growth ,pollution and micro plastics should give us reason to be cautious . Is the current situation sustainable?

Kim Libera
Kim Libera
Reply to  Johnwood
3 years ago

The carbon process has indeed operated for a gazillion years. Yes we produce more carbon because we have machines & heating needs & electricity but I don’t think you want to give your furnace up. We have twice the number of people on the planet than 1960 so that means demands for things are higher & supply is always insufficient. If you’re speaking to the widespread display of trash–be it plastic, foam, paper, furniture, show me a mayor or governor that will actually do something to pick it up. Humans are lazy, sadly. This is unsitely pollution so I agree the plastic bags had to go & when plastic bags are taxed or just go away, that conserves the oil product in its original form & thus brings the price down. I don’t see one politiican taking on the issue of physical trash. There is some great tech out there to pick it up but the reason why they fuss on the carbon issue is because they want a carbon market system which is another gig for income redistribution. BTW USA led the world in 2019 in reducing emissions across the board.

Wayne Hughes
Wayne Hughes
Reply to  WTaylor
3 years ago

I like the specific heat property you mention and will research this more as I am highly skeptical of C02 as a driver for any suggested global temp change..however..is that not like saying “how could this tiny bit of snake venom kill you? Its only 0.04% of your body mass”…?

michael mccoy
michael mccoy
Reply to  Wayne Hughes
3 years ago

interesting, but a poor analogy. Biological systems are not the same as systems governed by thermodynamics

FattyBoomBatty
FattyBoomBatty
Reply to  WTaylor
2 years ago

OK, here’s a simple analogy, take a couple of heavy sheets of a material, say metal or stone. paint one with a very thin layer of black paint and another with white paint and leave it in the sun. What do you think will happen? Yet the paint only accounts for a very small part of the total mass.

Jack
Jack
Reply to  FattyBoomBatty
1 year ago

To be accurate, you’d have to paint them at 0.004PPM not blanket cover the whole thing. You wouldn’t even see the paint at that concentration and to be really accurate the 0.004PPM would have to occupy the material in 3 dimensions and some would be stacked, reducing the concentration further.

Phil
Phil
4 years ago

I am unclear on the explanation as to ‘how’ the the absorption and retransmission of carbon dioxide heats the atmosphere, in the sense that you didn’t explain why it doesn’t negate itself because that process should apply in both directions, not just one.

This answer seems to say that the molecules allow heat from the sun in but reflect them down when the heat is trying to escape. Why doesn’t the heat from the sun get reflected back in that case and why doesn’t the heat from the atmosphere get absorbed and retransmitted out into space?

Is it because the infrared energy is only coming from the sun, while the atmospheric heat is just latent heat or something?

David
David
Reply to  Phil
4 years ago

CO2 and other greenhouse gases are transparent to visible light (which is why we can’t see them) but opaque to certain frequencies of infrared. So sunlight passes through unimpeded to hit the Earth and warm it. Then the warmed Earth radiates that heat as infrared back out into space. However, some of that infrared is scattered by GHGs, half of it back at the Earth to be reabsorbed and converted back into heat. (The author of this blog doesn’t do a good job of explaining how that works.)

This hasn’t always been a bad thing. The greenhouse effect has been responsible for keeping the planet a comfortable temperature for billions of years. We’re just adding extra blankets with the historic levels of CO2 we’ve been adding.

Henry W Justice
Henry W Justice
Reply to  David
3 years ago

To reabsorb and turn back into heat requires additional energy. Where does this come from?

James
James
Reply to  David
2 years ago

Which clearly isnt true. Clouds block heat on sunny days & trap heat on cloudy nights.

Dan Pangburn
4 years ago

The public has been falsely indoctrinated about causes of climate change. Deeper penetration into science confirms that CO2 follows climate change, not causes it. Water vapor has been accurately measured worldwide by NASA/RSS. It has been increasing faster than POSSIBLE from feedback. The irony is that reducing the use of fossil fuels, which is agenda of many, will have no effect on climate. https://watervaporandwarming.blogspot.com

John wood
John wood
Reply to  Dan Pangburn
4 years ago

What science? Real science?

Kim Libera
Kim Libera
Reply to  Dan Pangburn
3 years ago

Dan you are absolutely correct. Warming precedes Co2, not follows it. Reduction of cars or furnaces will not have a major effect on the planet’s temp. It’s not going to stop a heat wave & it’s not going to stop a blizzard. It may affect the clarity of the sky, but the Sahara Desert is not going to plunge to 20 during the summer. There is an agenda–carbon markets.

Michael Robinson
Michael Robinson
Reply to  Kim Libera
2 years ago

Lets not confuse weather and climate. There is enough confusion.

Pawan Ranta
Pawan Ranta
3 years ago

Co2 is a heat-trapping gas. I agree but how long it can hold the heat?

Zbigniew
Zbigniew
3 years ago

“CO2 makes up only about 0.04% of the atmosphere, and water vapor can vary from 0 to 4%. But while water vapor is the dominant greenhouse gas in our atmosphere, it has “windows” that allow some of the infrared energy to escape without being absorbed.”

But as we can see here:comment image

Co2 has much more and much bigger “windows” so your argument make no sense.

Andrew
Andrew
3 years ago

I had a question about CO2 and Venus. Venus has an atmosphere about 95% CO2 and 93 times denser than Earth’s, giving it 256000 more CO2 than Earth. But the temperature is only 2.5 times higher. Why isn’t the increase more if CO2 is a big player in trapping heat?

Sarah Fecht
Reply to  Andrew
3 years ago

Hi Andrew, good question! We’ve just published a blog post that tackles this question, plus a few others regarding CO2 and climate change. Check it out: https://news.climate.columbia.edu/2021/02/25/carbon-dioxide-cause-global-warming/

Fran
Fran
Reply to  Andrew
1 year ago

There is an Ozone layer

No CAGW
No CAGW
3 years ago

“because their atoms are able to vibrate in just the right way to absorb the energy that the Earth gives off”
These atoms absorb specific wavelengths and co2 only absorbs 2.7, 4.3 and 15 microns. 2.7 and 4.3 are not in the spectrum of earth’s radiation and are therefore irrelevant. This leaves 15µ which peak temp is -80C.

“After these gases absorb the energy, they emit half of it back to Earth and half of it into space, trapping some of the heat within the atmosphere. ”
You just described perpetual heat. If heat being ‘trapped’ is being sent back to earth, adding to surface radiation, then this is in perpetuity and violates conservation of energy.

” But while water vapor is the dominant greenhouse gas in our atmosphere, it has “windows” that allow some of the infrared energy to escape without being absorbed. ”
Water vapor absorbs at nearly all bands of the black body spectrum and has a permanent dipole moment whereas co2 only absorbs in 1, the 15µ band and has no permanent dipole moment. http://www1.lsbu.ac.uk/water/water_vibrational_spectrum.html

“In addition, water vapor is concentrated lower in the atmosphere, whereas CO2 mixes well all the way to about 50 kilometers up. The higher the greenhouse gas, the more effective it is at trapping heat from the Earth’s surface.”
50 km up where the temperature of that atmosphere is -130. The temperature suited for the 15µm wavelength. To suggest this temperature from 50 km can warm a warmer surface is a violation of entropy.

“Both water vapor and CO2 are responsible for global warming, and once we increase the CO2 in the atmosphere, the oceans warm up, which inevitably triggers an increase in water vapor.”
Co2 cannot warm the oceans. It takes 4,200 joules to heat 1 kg of water 1C. The idea co2 back radiation can penetrate depths of the ocean to increase its temperature is fiction. If in doubt, heat your bathwater with just co2.

“even in relatively small amounts compared to the entire mass of the atmosphere, we are disturbing the entire heat balance of the planet.”
No we’re not and neither is co2. Your article is pseudoscience.

leitmotif
leitmotif
Reply to  No CAGW
3 years ago

No CAGW.

Nail on the head.

Kathleen McEvoy
Kathleen McEvoy
Reply to  No CAGW
1 year ago

Isn’t CO2 a solid at -130

Steve McKinzie
Steve McKinzie
3 years ago

Sounds like High Concept to me. There obviously needs to be more time spent on research before we knee jerk into a plan of action. Regardless of the ongoing scientific research being done by many actual climate scientists (not just modelers) it should be noted that an over all decrease of pollutants has been achieved over the last 20 years. This means we have achieved cleaner air in the US and in the EU. It is to be commended and has not caused the economy to go into a tail spin. Cooler heads must prevail. Let’s be prudent and deal with facts and evidence not guesses. We all know that politics is the real driving force to this issue and it must be stopped.

Roseland67
Roseland67
3 years ago

How can anything “Trap” heat?

Heat will conduct and convect thru any substance on earth, even CO2.

CO2 will retard heat transfer and will radiatively force SOME heat back towards earth but not all heat that contacts all CO2 molecules goes back to earth.

So, how much heat, does the increase of 120 ppm of CO2, (from 280 to 400 ppm), add to earths atmosphere?

Kim Libera
Kim Libera
Reply to  Roseland67
3 years ago

Read Ed Berry’s book. Let me just point out that the public was led to believe that a doubling of co2 implies a doubling of temp. Not true. The correlation does not work like an arithmetic or geometric sequence. Rather the trend is logarithmically.

Kathleen McEvoy
Kathleen McEvoy
Reply to  Roseland67
1 year ago

Could it be that less Polution is allowing more sunlight to reach the surface and causing global warming?

Wi Seldon
Wi Seldon
3 years ago

Without CO2 plants and people could not survive. Man’s activities account for only 3% of the earth’s CO2 or .0012% of the atmosphere. To think man has any material affect on climate change is naive and defies facts, evidence and science. Ask yourself how the ice ages began and more importantly how they disappeared. It was not man’s activities than caused a warmer climate and the disappearance of ice sheets that were up to two miles thick. Climate is caused by the complex interaction of the changes in earth’s orbit, the wobble on its axis, ocean currents, air streams and most importantly solar activity. Climate change is a natural occurrence. To spend trillions solving a issue that doesn’t exist will create more damage to the environment, harm more animals and lower the living standards of billions of the earth’s people.

Bartooc
Bartooc
Reply to  Wi Seldon
3 years ago

Maybe that’s why you never see any global warming scientists complain of their job. Getting paid to solve something that doesn’t even exists.

Michael Robinson
Michael Robinson
Reply to  Wi Seldon
2 years ago

There is and always be climate change. I do believe that Co2 and H2o vapor will create a greenhouse effect.
So we have climate change. But do we have global warming? Data suggests we do and it appears to be a more rapid warming than expected.
Is it manmade? I say yes and its because we need heat added to get warming. Need a warmer house? you need heat. The same must be true of our climate.
I also have come to the conclusion that1. CO2 can be measured from our ability to see back in time through ice cores that can be analyzed for CO2 in the atmosphere at almost any time we want.

2. in this whole thread I can’t remember a single mention of heat. No heat no warming. I do think that CO2 and H2O vapor are the culprits. But when they enter the atmosphere they are HOT! VERY HOT.
Burn wood and the sparks you see are tiny carbon particles releasing both those gasses. The Temp is in the range of 600-1000 C. Burning fossil fuels make, not just a lot of CO2 and H2O but heat witch is hard to see but can be calculated. Something like 1kg diesel,when burned in an engine, will yield 2KG CO2 and 1kg H2O and be discharged at the above temperatures.. Take a large tanker and it could burn 250vtons/day of fuel that has more carbon than diesel( bunker #6 I believe)..These engines are so hot they actually will oxidize N that is compressed into the cylinders by turbochargers.

When these hot gasses exit the stacks, now art a reduced temp, these molecules are very excited and vibrate the heat in all directions. Some up where they may actually, a small chance,, and reflect this heat in all directions again. Some will leave the earth in its normal heat dissipation routine. Some will radiate down into the ocean and will directly warm the ocean.
Speaking of ocean warming , lets take a look at engine cooling which is done by sea water. either directly or through the use of a heat exchanger. So there is a lot of heat that goes into the ocean(s).

Given that these large engines are the most efficient lets give them a 45% efficiency which is a testament to the engineering and machining that we have today. But this efficiency is running into the limits of the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

But we are still wasting 55% of the energy as heat.

Mylankovic
Mylankovic
3 years ago

This statement is likely incorrect:
“About 99 percent of the atmosphere is made of oxygen and nitrogen, which cannot absorb the infrared radiation the Earth emits.”

The natural greenhouse effect of atmospheric oxygen (O2) and nitrogen (N2)
https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1029/2012GL051409

Ed Huber
Ed Huber
3 years ago

Does heat really ‘bounce back’ from CO2? If so, does incoming heat to the Earth also bounce back?

Michael Robinson
Michael Robinson
Reply to  Ed Huber
2 years ago

I believe that the CO2 gets excited and vibrates, and just like a rattle radiates sound in all directions, heat that CO2 absorbs is radiated back towards space.

Gerard Dennis
Gerard Dennis
3 years ago

Question: I’ve always wondered how CO2 with an atomic number of 22 rises higher than water an atomic number of 10?
I’m an electrical engineer and as such my chemistry is a bit rusty so please forgive any ignorance on my part. I am truly interested in understanding the dynamics here.

BigWaveDave
BigWaveDave
Reply to  Gerard Dennis
2 years ago

When water vapor cools below a pressure dependent temperature that decreases as pressure decreases, it condenses to liquid water or solid ice, This generally occurs at altitudes well below 50 Km, leaving the rarefied air at 50 Km, very dry, while the CO2 mole fraction stays nearly constant throughout the atmosphere.

Gerard Dennis
Gerard Dennis
3 years ago

Another question also puzzles me. Again I’m looking for true answers, not a debate. As an engineer I must always be as objective as possible.
If CO2 can reach as high as 50km, would that not mean the 0.04% would need to cover a sphere of approximately 204,086,950 sq. miles at this altitude?
This was a quick Calc and may have a bug or two so forgive any math issues and feel free to correct.

Michael Robinson
Michael Robinson
Reply to  Gerard Dennis
2 years ago

I am new to this arena, not a scientist or mathematician so I have more questions than answers. Since CO2 is denser than air in general could ti be that the concentration near-surface, say 8 miles where planes work, but may have entered as a HOT CO2 molecule from a ship; That hot molecule heats the air around it and hot air rises, the C molecule is vibrating like crazy but soon the heat disipatesl. Does the CO2 molecule then drop down in the atmospher because it cooled and if created @ 30k ft its cold. Heat will dissapate fast. As the CO2 molecule drops the chances of being excited increas because heat is available but not like being spit out of a IC or Jet engine, but it radiates part back to earth.

Anybody have model I can begin to plug in some numbers as I gather the fruit.

Gerard Dennis
Gerard Dennis
3 years ago

If CO2 can rise to very high altitudes and heat energy will move in the direction of warmer to colder (crudely put), would not more of the heat radiated from the gas be more likely to move further to the colder area of higher altitudes rather than toward the warmer Earth? (Grated convection would be more efficient in a denser has at lower altitudes).

Gino
Gino
3 years ago

As O2 and N2 absorb heat at the surface and rise, does the CO2 in the atmosphere stop this cooling effect (hot air rises, cool descends)

Nathan
Nathan
3 years ago

If co2 trapped heat dry ice wouldn’t be possible and the muffler on ur car wouldn’t get hot. Water vapor conducts heat even better, go outside on a frosty morning soaking wet. Takes alot of energy to turn water into vapor.

Michael Robinson
Michael Robinson
Reply to  Nathan
2 years ago

I don’t believe that CO2 “traps” energy any more than glass on a green house doesn’t trap heat except for the time in the glass as it were. I believe that CO2 acts more of a reflector not trapper. Though under pressure as in the extreme high pressure of a diesel engine the CO2 forms “sparks” of CO2, thats how hot it gets.when you burn high carbon fuel like diesel or heavier even.

Nathan
Nathan
3 years ago

The burning of fossil fuels allows for more life on the planet’s surface.

Werner M. Neurauter
Werner M. Neurauter
3 years ago

This is not answering the question scientifficly., but politically. Please explain with relevant physicd why waterwapor is not the main driver. Saying that «we cannot control it» makes absolutely no sense,

Kim Libera
Kim Libera
3 years ago

Prediction did not pan out. The incline over the century was 1.6 degrees. I would just not label this as alarming. It is also rather pointless to derive a planetary average. Climate is really only pertinent to one’s immediate geographic region. In any given year, some places may be warm, some cold, some very rainy or snowy. The media has faciliated attention toward a degree of warmth. When I was growing up in the 70s, they were worried about an ice age. The bottom line is Mother Nature decides the climate, not mankind. The ulterior motive is to set up carbon markets where various entities can be taxed (punished) for using x amount of carbon that can be redistributed to some other poor region. Instead of trying to engineer a real economy, the powers that be always resort to manipulation of something that punishes humans. By the way one co2 molecule would not know the difference if it bumped into one that came out of a volcano or out of the mouth of a human or out of the back end of a car. Co2 absorbs IR in 4 specific wavelengths, not the whole spectrum of light. People may be under the impression based on the selective language of the scientists who have an agenda, that the Sun emits only in 1 part of the spectrum. It does not. These same scientists neglect to mention the 3 major repositories of co2 absorption which are the oceans (any water body), any vegetation (from tree to plankton), & limestone. It is the last factor that prevents the Earth from obtaining the runaway greenhouse effect of Venus.

Kim Libera
Kim Libera
3 years ago

What people may not be aware of in circular reasoning on the co2. People have been led to believe that it’s manmade co2 that situates itself about the planet & thus drives warming. So it begs the question: well during the course of every day, vegetation during nighttime exhales co2. Then we a tad of volcanic degassing, we have the oceans. A co2 molecule is a co2 molecule. How does one’s logic demonstrate that the manmade co2 is a problem but what comes out of our exhalation is some how benign. So I reiterate my earlier point, this whole controversey has nothing to do with designing a strategy to cool the earth. The crux of the matter is to design carbon markets by which some entity thought to be out of line with powers that be can be punished by fines which can then be redistributed to poorer nations & the guys at the UN can celebrate their Nobel Peace Prize. BTW I always try to explore issues & the info out there per some Nobel physicists is that co2 follows warming, not precedes. In terms of new technology I have nothing against solar or wind or biofuel but I want the grid to be decided by the market not politicians who could not pass a 3rd grade science test. Putting up a bunch of solar farms is not going to take down the planet’s temp. It’s just about getting these people in the market. But the question remains: how will people in high latitudes keep warm in the winter & will everybody have enough income to buy an electric car which will add stress to the grid because there will be constant recharging.

Sarah Fecht
Reply to  Kim Libera
3 years ago

The CO2 that we exhale is part of the carbon cycle. It ultimately came from eating food that grew when a plant took CO2 out of the air, so overall there is no net change in CO2. What DOES create a net change is when we take tons and tons carbon out of the ground — in the form of oil, gas, or coal — and burn it, dumping billion of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere that wouldn’t have been there before. It throws the cycle out of whack for a long time.

Kim Libera
Kim Libera
Reply to  Sarah Fecht
3 years ago

So you have told by a certain sector of people. But 2 points: should we have remained in the days of the Stone Age w/o furnaces to keep warm in winter & should have avoided all electrical gadgets of any kind that have improved quality of life? So it makes no difference if we have megatons or gigatons, because it still only occupies 0.038% of the atmospheric composition. Why does it remain here? Because the majority of molecules are scooped up by the sinks of this unique planet. When one speaks in gigatons, it sounds enormously alarming; but when speaks in percentage composition, co2 does not hit the alarm. In fact some of it is necessary for life to go on. The point I’m making is there is no key for alarmism. Alarmism should have facilitated that those who really believe in the planet going kaput in 12 years to drop their cars & use of any type of vehicle save a bicycle, remove all oil & natural gas furnaces from any building, & eliminate the use of our electrically connected gadgetry such as a cell phone, a computer, a blender, a stove, a vacuum cleaner, a telephone land line.

Sarah Fecht
Reply to  Kim Libera
3 years ago

Ok, you keep swallowing the lies from the fossil fuel companies.

Regarding the percent of carbon in the atmosphere: It only takes a few drops of cyanide to poison somebody. The cyanide will probably make up 0.038% or less of your body weight when you swallow it, but it can still be deadly.

Kim Libera
Kim Libera
Reply to  Sarah Fecht
3 years ago

Sarah-I don’t work for such companies. I’m a retired educator with 2 masters degrees (earth science/math). You are talking about 2 distinct molecules. Hey w/o co2 we would have no food. People are thinking that there just gazillions of co2 molecules around them, they are so spaced out b/c they are quickly taken up because we have these repositories. You have to do more research on some of the harder stuff & especially around the manipulation of the graphs. in addition, let me make it emphatically clear, climate does change. The Earth as a 4.5 billion history of the climate changing. But the heart of climate change points to the overall conductor which is our Sun,, the unbalanced positions of landmasses & ocean basins which in turn set up our wind belts & air pressure belts & ocean currents. Not to mention the many biomes we have on the planet & the geological structures which in turn lends itself to microclimates. You have to be able to read the motives of “people who are alarmists vs people who just have an opinion”. They do not want us in cars it’s that simple.

Sarah Fecht
Reply to  Kim Libera
3 years ago

You may not work for such companies, but the lies you are perhaps unintentionally sharing have been proven to be paid for by fossil fuel companies.

Nobody is saying that we need to get rid of every molecule of the CO2 in the atmosphere. We need to return it to normal levels.

Nobody is saying that fossil fuels haven’t helped build the world we live in. We’re saying that it’s time to move on to newer and better technologies that don’t pollute the atmosphere.

“You have to do more research.” The Earth Institute has had hundreds of scientists researching climate change for decades. You read that entire body of work and then we can continue this discussion. Until then, byeeee

Steve Paesani
Steve Paesani
Reply to  Kim Libera
3 years ago

Ever stop to think people themselves dont want cars and not just due to the pollution but also the vast resources and labour , of others typically, required to have one?

Ever stop to think that hundreds of millions of people have better plans for those resources and certainly the labour aka their work?

It is after all their own lives isn’t it?
Or have some maintained slavery and servitude, ownership of people, in opposition to the Universal Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms?

The past 60 years tell ls that tale. Pretty accurately at that.

Steve Paesani
Steve Paesani
Reply to  Kim Libera
3 years ago

The market? Automakers were bailed out (2008). And not due to lame “jobs and the economy” arguments but by threats of chaos.

Kim Libera
Kim Libera
3 years ago

https://youtu.be/bMenLxORN6M This is a link on some new technology people might not be aware of. It begs the question-why don’t you see all your reps chasing it. Nobody likes viewing all this garbage. Where is the advocacy to develop these boats & either assign it to an epa or private contractor. Not trendy enough. No campaign donations.

Danny
Danny
3 years ago

It is actually the opossite, an increase in water vapor caused by the increased sun activity warming our vast oceans, follows an increase of CO2 because heat and humidity accelerates the decomposition of decay matter thanks to bacteria action.

Todd K
Todd K
3 years ago

The truth is that we really don’t know just how much impact water vapor has on global temperatures. Nor do we know the extent, if any, that manmade CO2 emissions contribute to any warming. What we DO know is that any fluctuations over the course of the last 140 years(the”record”) are truly insignificant given these vast fluctuations in the amount of naturally occurring water vapor. The 140 years of recorded data, in comparison to the age of the planet, is not dissimilar to the difference between the thickness of a single sheet of paper and almost 3 miles. Or, about 8 inches compared to almost 3,000 miles. How many ice ages have we had before?

Kim Libera
Kim Libera
Reply to  Todd K
3 years ago

Scientists say that water vapor has a low residence time so does not matter that much as it’s converted back & forth in the hyrological science. However, we all know what humidity is like & that’s not going away (if you heard the expression-it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity). None of us were around for a long enough lifespan BCE to observe climate & this applies to the future. Humans simply don’t live long enough. We have had 5 Ice Ages-the Huronian, the Saharan, the Cryogenic, the Koo, & most recently the Pleistocene Age. The Milankovitch Cycles would induce another. Likewise the Hadean & Carboniferous were warm ages. The average incline in temp at 1.6 is nothing to write home about. Milankovitch would have an effect sooner than the expected plate tectonics in some 50-100 million years when the North American Plate bumps into Asia.

Dav
Dav
3 years ago

Ok. CO2 is a cap. Please show a study on infrared transmission through a gas column representative of earths atmosphere where heat transmission is drastically decreased by an increase in 100 ppm of CO 2

Kim Libera
Kim Libera
Reply to  Dav
3 years ago

CO2 absorbs IR at these w/l 1388 cm, 667 cm, 2349 cm. This is the cm unit. There is also 4300 & 15 microns (another unit of measurement). Note that these measures are discontinuous across the spectrum. The molecules at sea level or where most activities take place are widely displaced & quickly get picked up by the ocean or trees. The distinctions occur along the height of the atmospheric column where of course air pressure changes & also cloud types changes. Some clouds are opaque to IR, some reflect, some are translucent. Then again the higher the elevation, the less actual elemental molecules exist & they get spaced farther apart. That indeed will affect whether any particular CO2 molecule because of its vibrational capacity will disperse or absorb. A basic principle of molecular motion is that higher temps mean the molecules & atoms have lots of energy & are bouncing around w/ good speed. In a cold parcel, the molecules are like honeybees on a cold day-can’t seem to move too much. It should be noted that the air at height cannot warm itself. It receives the solar wind. The atmosphere is the thing in the way of the solar wind to the earth. The Co2 molecules that lie in the aforementioned strips of IR is what captures the photons.

Darko Martinovic
Darko Martinovic
3 years ago

CO2 increases temperature temperature increases CO2 this is classic positive feedback loop . Obviously there is negative feedback in the system. I presume plants grow faster when there is more CO2 so system is stabile for billions of years. CO2 used to be much higher and system didn’t spiral out of control. Can someone comment on this, it is impossible to find a climate scientist with an opinion on this issue with CO2 caused climate change.

Nachman Kanovsky
Nachman Kanovsky
3 years ago

If the IPCC states that CO2 is .04% of the atmosphere, and that anthropogenic is just .035% of that amount, then is it accurate that the total human caused CO2 is just .0014% (14 parts per ten million) of the atmosphere? Can climate change, specifically global warming, be the result of such a miniscule portion of the entire atmosphere? Cannot other larger factors be at play other than CO2?

Sarah Fecht
Reply to  Nachman Kanovsky
3 years ago

Ultimately, percentage points don’t really matter. The fact is that humans put 40 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. That’s not “minuscule.”

jack jones
jack jones
3 years ago

CO2 is heavier than the air when at equal heat and pressure it therefore falls and is absorbed by the trees and other plants along with the soil and oceans. That it is high up in the atmosphere and acting as a greenhouse gas is not scientific.
How do people think trees etc get hold of the CO2 if this gas that makes up around 0.04% of the atmosphere?
How are the oceans soaking it up and s on?

Sarah Fecht
Reply to  jack jones
3 years ago

Actually, plenty of CO2 finds its way into the upper atmosphere. This post explains how: https://news.climate.columbia.edu/2020/09/23/carbon-dioxide-distribution-atmosphere/

John
John
3 years ago

I have just one question, why is the level of oxygen in the atmosphere higher than that of carbon dioxide….. Oxygen is 21% while CO² is 0.03%

Frank Wang
Frank Wang
3 years ago

I don’t see testing data to support this theory. I think someone should carry out a small scale of simulation test before the globe acting effort that Change human life largely. As a scientist, I have not put any hypothesis into real life before it is proven by experiment data.

Simon Hinds
Simon Hinds
2 years ago

In other words, the answer is that it is water vapour that is the most important in heating the atmosphere and not CO2. Of course, it is argued that the main driver of increasing water vapour is CO2. I don’t know what the historical evidence for this is. But we should know that human CO2 emissions make up less than 4% of the CO2 total. We are meant to believe that 4% is driving the climate and 96% is not. Make that make sense.

Sarah Fecht
Reply to  Simon Hinds
2 years ago

We have already explained why you’re wrong about both of those things, multiple times. Here’s another example: https://news.climate.columbia.edu/2021/02/25/carbon-dioxide-cause-global-warming/

Jackson
Jackson
2 years ago

It is not true that water vapour in the atmosphere cannot be controlled. Fundamental physics tells us that changes to temperature and exposed surfaced area will affect rate of evaporation.

Sarah Fecht
Reply to  Jackson
2 years ago

Right, and we can control the temperature of the planet by controlling our carbon emissions. I don’t think there’s an effective way to control the surface area of all the water on Earth without killing the things that live in it and depend on it.

Jackson
Jackson
Reply to  Sarah Fecht
2 years ago

Atmospheric vapour can be influenced by other factors other than temperature. When there is significant changes to a terrain, it will also alter the atmospheric vapour in that terrain. Large scale changes to the way water is used and exposed will also alter the atmospheric condition of a terrain. We do not need to look far. Industrialisation has clearly alter large part of Earth’s terrain through clearing of vegetation for agriculture and turning them into cities.

It is over simplification to suggest that heat control the water vapour in the atmosphere. It is one of the factor but NOT the only factor. It can be adversely affected by changes to terrain, human activities, changes to atmospheric temperature gradient, etc. Even attempts to green large region of desert to vegetation will influence local atmospheric vapour condition and ultimately impact global climate.

There is a lot of the energy in the troposhere that cannot be observed by just studying the surface temperature. This is because a lot of energy is in the form of latent heat. Latent heat of vaporisation is huge (2260 J/g) if you compare it with the amount of energy needed to raise 1 degree C of water(4.18 J/K g). The same energy for vaporisation is enough to raise the water temperature to over 540 degree C assuming that it would not boil!

We can’t control Earth’s temperature because we lack sufficient comprehension of the way our climate interacts. We can only attempt to alter the climate and try to mitigate the change. I think it is crucial for climate scientists to deepen their understanding on Earth’s water cycle. It is not enough to just look at the global surface temperature.

Sarah Fecht
Reply to  Jackson
2 years ago

Scientists literally know all this and more, and they still say that to reduce water vapor in the air, we have to reduce other greenhouse gases. https://news.climate.columbia.edu/2021/02/25/carbon-dioxide-cause-global-warming/

Ernie Martin WØAUU ( ham radio IS NOT cb radio
Ernie Martin WØAUU ( ham radio IS NOT cb radio
2 years ago

On line you can see a chart, source : Scource ’02 ( temperature ) ,Berwer ‘ 01 ( co2 ) this chart goes back in time 600 million years. If you go back 4,500,000 years you will see we are IN an ice age, BUT the co2 is 4,500 PPM ! HOW can the co2 be that HIGH IN AN ICE AGE ? THAT tells me co2 does NOT drive the earth temperature but something else does and we don’t know what yet.
Mr. Martin ( degree in oceanography from Texas A and M, electronic engineer and ham radio operator for 68 years. North pole once and South pole twice on ice core drilling team )

Arthur Barrios
Arthur Barrios
2 years ago

Why don’t you include the percentage of atmospheric CO2 which is natural ?
If excess CO2 is causing global warming, How did a 3 1/2 miles thick ice sheet melt before the Industrial Revolution?

James r
James r
2 years ago

“Of the remaining 1 percent, the main molecules that can absorb infrared radiation are CO2 and water vapor, because their atoms are able to vibrate in just the right way to absorb the energy that the Earth gives off. ”

How convenient? They found the substance they love to hate, but plants love to love, and blame it for global warming — a term already quite defunct.

But how is it that CO2 being 53% denser than air, is able to hover in the atmosphere indefinitely?

Also this section did not answer the origination question, why CO2 being only 0.04 % of air composition, can act as a cap to trap heat. Not making any sense.

I am even more unconvinced now after reading this article. Patronizing and disrespectful to the intelligence of the man on the street.

RHelvy
RHelvy
2 years ago

For an an actual IPCC accredited climate scientist who can explain the the mistakes of both deniers and alarmists, go to drroyspencer.com. He has actual temperature plots, and a number of articles for the layman about sampling, climate modeling and other related topics.

Kim Libera
Kim Libera
Reply to  RHelvy
2 years ago

I do communicate with Roy because he is a centrist & a straight arrow. He uses data, not hypothetical plots. He also works with John Christy who is also very sound in the science. John participated in the IPCC. To make note, the debate is often misframed as an us v them thing. People who don’t believe in climate alarmism are not necessarily deniers. Climate changes & it goes in cycles. What scientists disagree about include these 4 things: anthropogenic vs universal contribution, specific processes as they relate to the gas laws, thermodynamics, the electro-magnetic spectrum, energy accessibility/efficacy/storage capacity, proxies vs actual data, & the contributions from the other subgenres of earth science. I personally consider myself to be well-versed in the 4 genres of earth science. I have followed many podcasts & a whole of literature. I do not buy into media blirbs or what Leo D. says. I go by the literature as presented in my vast library of textbooks. On complex physics, I resort to scientists that are deep in this field & there’s around 20 or so.

michael mccoy
michael mccoy
2 years ago

Doubtful. That is, C02 has been increasing substantially since the industrial age, but it is still a trace gas. The amount of climate change is too great to be caused by the trace amounts of CO2. Additionally, Earth has been through five significant ice age and warming cycles before the industrial age and any related CO2 emissions. The last 200 years are minor time when compared to 4.5 Billion years, the age of the earth.

Kim Libera
Kim Libera
Reply to  michael mccoy
2 years ago

You are correct it is still a trace gas & that is because the repositories absorb it & this issue is apparently not discussed in intro science classes. The texts may be written just to get people to be alarmed & buy an EV when they grow up. I can confirm the 5 Ice Ages plus several warm cycles well before the IR. Geologists have broken down the lifespan of the planet into several cycles ranging from large to somewhat large to medium to small. Geologically speaking a 200 year time span is considered just a blip on the chronological scale–sort of a like a nanosecond. Additionally, when intro science speaks to the Ice Age they only refer to the Pleistocene but not any of the early ones.

Donavan Spencer
2 years ago

Perhaps you have already done it, but please explain the mechanism by which CO2 causes Ocean Warming.

Does liquid water absorb LWIR at the frequency CO2 emits?

ray hines
ray hines
2 years ago

So is it true that if we had no atmospheric co2, which currently makes up only 0.04% of the atmosphere; the maths models say the earths average temperature would be zero Celsius??

Kim Libera
Kim Libera
Reply to  ray hines
2 years ago

We would not be able to model such a hypothetical. It would be difficult for our planet’s evolution not to have CO2. Volcanism, the primordial source of CO2, is part of the fabric of terrestrial planets given that this is a vented product from any volcanic eruption. Then came the age of the first bacteria which photosynthesized sunlight & dumped off the oxygen which was toxic to it. During the Palezoic we had the first foundations laid of oil & coal seams. I have not seen any equations on this inquiry.

GerryM
GerryM
2 years ago

“Scientists say that if CO2 doubles, it could raise the average global temperature of the Earth between two and five degrees Celsius.” Not because of the rise in CO2, for which a doubling will raise the temperature by 1C, but because of an “amplification” caused by an increase in water vapour. They haven’t any idea how much cloud cover will increase because of the extra water vapour so ignore it. Clouds currently reflect circa 30% of incoming radiation from the Sun.

Sarah Fecht
Reply to  GerryM
2 years ago

The details are much more complicated than that. Having more clouds could potentially trap more heat, making warming worse: https://news.climate.columbia.edu/2020/09/01/project-clouds-climate-modeling/

Kim Libera
Kim Libera
Reply to  GerryM
2 years ago

The CO2 scale is logarithmic so the temp can only go up 1.5 or so. I don’t see where you get an amplification in water vapor via CO2. Areas of continents affected by water vapor are going to be marine coastal climates (polar/tropical), islands, areas around large lakes. Across the 30 degree parallels are the location of our desert regions which are not prone to moisture. They will remain the hot dry regions bright & sunny that they are. I don’t see where extra water vapor would be obtained; it’s already there based on the current configuration of land masses & ocean basins. Not until major tectonic action kicks in & reconfigures the earth.

Bug
Bug
2 years ago

This is absolute nonsense on the scale of a (political) scientist’s assessment of physical law and the weather. Face it, we are coming out of an ice age! There are only two significant sources of ice left on the planet that are moderating global temperatures, Antarctica and Greenland. They are melting rapidly and nobody is going to change that — there will eventually be conifer forests on the North Slope and deserts in subtropical regions. The Sahara will continue to grow into Southern Europe. Point 04% is insignificant compared to water vapor and cloud reflection. Rather than political posturing, we should be preparing by clearing wildfire debris fuel and massively improving water systems.

Louis Bishop
Louis Bishop
Reply to  Bug
2 years ago

Since heat rises how does the supposed heat emitted by co2 get to the earth

Kim Libera
Kim Libera
Reply to  Louis Bishop
2 years ago

It reradiates from the ground thru the air parcel.

Alex Bajc
Alex Bajc
Reply to  Bug
2 years ago

No one has mentioned volcanic eruptions beneath the oceans.
This itself releases gases and warms the oceans which as they warm release c02. The warm oceans then also warm the atmosphere. Warm atmosphere does not warm the oceans. simple bathtub tests can prove this.