Dear Utterly Clueless Greenhouse Gas Skeptics

If you are cold, you cover yourself with a blanket. The blanket raises the temperature of the air around your warm body. The blanket is not a heat source. The blanket does not raise the temperature of the air above your body temperature. The blanket simply makes it more difficult for your body heat to escape into the room. Greenhouse gases similarly make it more difficult for absorbed solar energy to escape the surface of the Earth, which pushes the temperature of the air near the surface up.

People who try to claim that greenhouse gases don’t exist, make skeptics look stupid and make it easy for others to ignore us. Don’t do that.

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113 Responses to Dear Utterly Clueless Greenhouse Gas Skeptics

  1. Steve Case says:

    The limits to CO2 sensitivity are in the numbers that we all know. Wikipedia tells us the Greenhouse Effect is 33°C and that CO2′s contribution to that is 9-26% which works out to 3° – 8.5°. I’ve heard that CO2′s climate sensitivity begins operate logarithmically at about 20 ppm or so. That means there could have been 4 doublings of 25 ppm to get to the current 400 ppm, and it would follow that 3°and 8.5° divided by 4 would lead to a possible range of climate sensitivities for CO2 of .75°C to 2.1°C respectively.

    If there’s something wrong with that reasoning, I’d like to know what it is.

    • Estimates of 8.5 degrees are far too high, and absurd.

      • Steve Case says:

        Even if CO2’s share of the 33 degree greenhouse effect were true, the climate sensitivity could only be 2.1 °C (8.5 divided by 4). The IPCC’s AR5 tells us climate sensitivity is likely between 1.5°C and 4.5°C. If 4.5° were true, CO2’s share of the 33° greenhouse effect would be 18° or 54%. Nobody claims that, and no one at the IPCC, it seems, ever does the arithmetic.

    • Tel says:

      These things are wrong:

      The very concept of a global temperature is artificial and largely meaningless. Temperature is defined as energy divided by the available degrees of freedom into which that energy can disburse. The presumption is a Boltzmann distribution, and if you have a block of material which is conductive in a thermal sense then energy will automatically distribute itself according to a particular distribution. Call it a miracle of physics.

      You average out the temperature in the Bahamas with the temperature in Alaska and what you get is a temperature that does not exist. There is no exchange of energy between Alaska and the Bahamas, it’s an exercise on paper.

      Then there’s the averaging of minimum and maximum temperatures… also producing a meaningless result.

      Wikipedia tells us the Greenhouse Effect is 33°C

      Do you think someone measured that? With a thermometer? What they did was imagine an Earth with black surface and perfect internal conductivity and then calculate what they thought the “global temperature” would be. Then they attempted to shoe horn some scattered bunch of Earth surface temperature measurements and try to make it comparable with the super-simple model.

      As for CO2 climate sensitivity, no one has measured that either, what was measured is CO2 in a small box in a lab, to test absorptivity of IR, then stuck that in a model and decided that “globally” CO2 should contribute some particular Watts per square meter of energy, on average you understand.

      While radiation certainly takes part in the exchange of energy on Earth, it is part of a complex and tightly coupled nonlinear system, the majority of which has not been measured at all, but in terms of historical measurement we have a totally mixed bag, measured by a bunch of different techniques. Climate scientists claim this gives us a “global temperature” accurate to small fractions of a degree, and then claim they can subdivide this into components contributed by each factor. Load of cobblers, in any other type of science this approach would be laughed out of the room.

      Then there’s the supposed 30 year timescale, to make an official climate. Why an arbitrary 30 years? Why not 100 years? Why not 3 years? The 30 year average was an attempt to neutralize the Bruckner cycle, and strangest all despite that they are busy pretending there is no cycle.

      Nothing even remotely rigerous or repeatable.

      • DEEBEE says:

        Quite a few things to agree with but what is your point. Is it th at because we have not measured something, it must be wrong as a concept.

      • Dave G says:

        There is heat transfer between the Bahamas and Alaska. You have ocean currents and winds.

        • Tel says:

          In order for a single temperature to describe both places, the energy would have to disburse evenly between them. Creating an artificial average temperature on paper does not describe anything real.

          Besides, why not use a geometric mean? How about a fourth power mean? We don’t even have a good basis for the global averaging algorithm, it’s all just “guess so” math.

        • dave g says:

          It’s certainly not perfect. But if you have 3 million data points (for example) spread out all over the earth. You will have an indication. Not a perfect indication… but an 8 n dictation nonetheless.

      • tempestnut says:

        Tel 100% agree with you. Global average temperature is contrived and totally meaningless. Which makes a lot of other statements about contribution to surface temperature null and void.

  2. The blanket largely blocks convection. It is also not a gas with a very limited range of absorption frequencies. It is not a good conductor of heat, so heat does not get quickly distributed to the outer surface so it can be radiated away from the source of the heat.

    IR active gases radiate half the energy they absorb toward space. Actually a bit more because of the density gradient in the atmosphere. One must also remember that while the mean free path length is short, the speed of light is fast compared to convection and water transport. Very important, water vapor and even other IR active gases prevent some incoming solar radiation from reaching the surface during the day, producing a significant cooling effect in comparison to the small slowdown in surface cooling.

    The main effect of IR active gases is to slightly moderate the differential temperatures between day and night.

  3. gator69 says:

    I have no issue with claims of gases that moderate our climate, but do not believe for an instant that certain gases are ‘greenhouse’ and that they ‘trap’ heat. CO2 has cooling effects as well as warming effects, it is a gas, and only a gas.

    • They raise the temperature of the air near the surface.

      • gator69 says:

        They also cool the air near the surface.

        • gator69 says:

          Yes they do. Here is one example.

          “Posted by Nasif S. Nahle, April 6th, 2011 – under News, Opinion.
          Tags: Climate & Climate Change, Physics
          Abstract
          According to anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theory, carbon dioxide increases the potential of water vapor to absorb and emit IR radiation as a consequence of the overlapping absorption/emission spectral bands. I have determined the total emissivity of a mixture of gases containing 5% of water vapor and 0.039% of carbon dioxide in all spectral bands where their absorptivities/emissivities overlap. The result of my calculations is that carbon dioxide reduces the total absorptivity/emissivity of the water vapor, working like a coolant, not a warmer of the atmosphere and the surface.
          Update April 8, 2011. There was an error in calculating the overlapping bands, discovered thanks to criticism from ’Neutrino’. The errors are now shown with lines through them, the correct figures beside them. The ‘adjusted’ calculations give a greater cooling effect from carbon dioxide .”

        • That is ridiculous

          Essentially all photon absorption near the surface is transmitted kinetically to adjacent molecules, not re-radiated. Radiation from GHG’s is only a function of temperature.

          Any LW absorbed by CO2 instead of water has the same effect as being absorbed by water.

        • gator69 says:

          The only thing ridiculous, is the name ‘greenhouse gas’, and the people who believe they ‘trap’ heat. Our atmosphere moderates our temps, it is a two way street.

        • gator69 says:

          PS – Feel free to check his math…

          “Total Emissivity of a Mixture of Water Vapor and Carbon Dioxide in the Current Atmosphere of the Earth
          On July 3, 2010, at 10:00 hr (UT), the proportion of water vapor in the atmosphere at the location situated at 25º 48´ N lat. and 100 º 19’ W long., at an altitude of 513 m ASL, in San Nicolas de los Garza, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, was 5%. The temperature of the air at an altitude of 1 m was 310.95 K and the temperature of the soil was 330 K. I chose this location, near my office, because it is an open field, far enough from the city and its urban effects.
          From this data, I proceeded to calculate the following elements:
          1. The correction factor for the overlapping emissive bands of H2Og and CO2g.
          2. The correction factor of the total emissivity of carbon dioxide where the radiative emission bands of both gases overlaps, considering that the partial pressure of the carbon dioxide is 0.00039 atm.
          3. The total emissivity of the mixture of water vapor and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
          4. The total normal intensity of the mixture of water vapor and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
          5. The change of temperature caused by the mixture of water vapor and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
          Obtaining the correction factor for the overlapping emissive bands of H2Og and CO2g
          To obtain the total emissivity of the mixture of water vapor and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, we need to know the equilibrium partial pressure of the mixture of water vapor and carbon dioxide. The formula for obtaining the equilibrium partial pressure (ζ) of the mixture is as follows:
          ζ = pH2O / (pH2O + pCO2) (Ref. 5)
          Where pH2O is the partial pressure of water vapor in a proportion of 5% in the atmosphere –which is an instantaneous measurement of the water vapor, and pCO2 is the partial pressure of the carbon dioxide.
          Known values:
          pH2O = 0.05 atm
          pCO2 = 0.00039 atm
          Introducing magnitudes:
          ζ = pH2O / (pH2O + pCO2) = 0.05 atm / (0.05 atm + 0.00039 atm) = 0.9923
          Therefore, ζ = 0.9923
          Obtaining the total emissivity of a mixture of water vapor and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere:
          Now let us proceed to calculate the magnitude of the overlapped radiative emission bands of the water vapor and the carbon dioxide. To do this, we apply the following formula:
          ΔE = [[ζ / (10.7 + 101 ζ)] – 0.0089 (ζ)^10.4] (log10 [(pH2O + pCO2) L] / (pabsL) 0)^2.76 [Ref. 5]
          Known values:
          ζ = 0.9923
          pH2O = 0.05 atm
          pCO2 = 0.00039 atm
          (pabsL)0 (absolute pressure of the mixture of gases on the Earth’s surface) = 1 atm m
          Le = (2.3026)) (Aas / μa) = 7000 m
          Introducing magnitudes:
          ΔE = [(0.992 / 110.892) – (0.0089 * (0.992)^10.4] * (log10 [(0.05 atm + 0.00039 atm) 7000 m] / (1 atm m)0)^2.76 (Ref. 2)
          ΔE = [0.00076] * (2.55 atm m / 1 atm m) = 0.0019; rounding up the cipher, ΔE = 0.002
          Therefore, the correction addend for the overlapping absorption bands is 0.002
          Consequently, the total emissivity of the mixture water vapor and carbon dioxide is as follows:
          E mixture = ECO2 + EH2O – ΔE = 0.0017 + 0.4 – 0.002 = 0.3997
          Total Normal Intensity of the energy radiated by the mixture of gases in the air:
          Therefore, the total normal intensity (I) (or the spectral radiance over wavelength) caused by the mixture of water vapor and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is:
          I = Emix (σ) (T)^4 / π (Ref. 5 and 6)
          I = 0.3997 (5.6697 x 10^-8 W/m^2 K^4) (310.95)^4 / 3.1416 = 67.44 W/m^2 sr
          By way of contrast, the spectral irradiance over wavelength caused by the surface (soil), with a total emissivity of 0.82 (Ref. 1 and 5), is as follows:
          I = Esurface (σ) (T)^4 / π (Ref. 5 and 6)
          I = 0.82 (5.6697 x 10-8 W/m^2 K^4) (330 K) / 3.1416 = 203 W/m^2 sr
          Following Dr. Anderson’s recommendation (which I mentioned above in the abstract) I calculated the overlapping bands of a mixture of water vapor (4%), carbon dioxide (0.039%) and Oxygen (21%).
          The calculation for a mixture of atmospheric Oxygen (O2), Water Vapor (H2O) and Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is as follows:
          ζ = pO2 / (pO2 + pCO2) = 0.21 atm / (0.21 atm + 0.00039 atm) = ζ = pO2 / (pO2 + pCO2) = 0.21 atm / (0.21 atm + 0.00039 atm) = 4.1675 0.9981
          ζ = pO2+CO2 / (pHO2 + pO2+CO2) = 0.9981 4.1675 atm / ( 0.9981 4.1675 atm + 0.05 atm) = 0.9881 0.9522
          Consequently, the equilibrium partial pressure of the mixture of oxygen, water vapor and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is 0.9881 0.9522
          And the change of the total emissivity of the mixture is:
          ΔE = [[ζ / (10.7 + 101 ζ)] – 0.0089 (ζ)^10.4] (log10 [(pH2O + pCO2 + pO2) L] / (pabsL) 0)^2.76 [Ref. 5, 11,12,14 and 15]
          ΔE = [[0.9881/ (10.7 + 101 (0.9881)^10.4)] – 0.0089 (0.9881)^10.4] (log10 [(0.26039 atm) 7000 m] / (1 atm)^2.76 = 0.00989
          ΔE = [[0. 9522/ (10.7 + 101 (0.9522)^10.4)] – 0.0089 (0.9522)^10.4] (log10 [(0.26039 atm) 1 m] / (1 atm)^2.76 = 0.008 * 26.11 = 0.2086
          And the total emissivity of the mixture of gases in the atmosphere is:
          E mixture = ECO2 + EH2O – ΔE = 0.0017 + 0.4 + 0.004 – 0.00989 0.2086 = 0.3958 0.1971; or 0.2 if we round up the number.
          Evidently, the mixture of oxygen, carbon dioxide and water vapor, at current conditions of temperature and partial pressures, causes a sensible decrease of the total emissivity of the mixture of air.
          The general conclusion is that by adding any gas with total emissivity/absorptivity lower than the total emissivity/absorptivity of the main absorber/emitter in the mixture of gases makes that the total emissivity/absorptivity of the mixture of gases decreases.
          In consequence, the carbon dioxide and the oxygen at the overlapping absorption spectral bands act as mitigating factors of the warming of the atmosphere, not as intensifier factors of the total absorptivity/emissivity of the atmosphere.
          Conclusions
          My assessment demonstrates that there will be no increase in warming from an increase of absorptivity of IR by water vapor due to overlapping spectral bands with carbon dioxide.
          On the overlapping absorption spectral bands of carbon dioxide and water vapor, the carbon dioxide propitiates a decrease of the total emissivity/absorptivity of the mixture in the atmosphere, not an increase, as AGW proponents argue 1, 2, 3.
          Applying the physics laws of atmospheric heat transfer, the carbon dioxide behaves as a coolant of the Earth’s surface and the Earth’s atmosphere by its effect of diminishing the total absorptivity and total emissivity of the mixture of atmospheric gases.
          Dr. Anderson and I found that the coolant effect of the carbon dioxide is stronger when oxygen is included into the mixture, giving a value of ΔE = 0.3814, which is lower than the value of ΔE obtained by considering only the mixture of water vapor and carbon dioxide.”
          by Nasif S. Nahle, Director of Scientific Research Division at Biology Cabinet Mexico

        • You don’t understand the physics, and are doing exactly what I am asking you not to do.

          Greenhouse gases increase the temperature of the air near the surface. There is no question about this.

        • gator69 says:

          Good teachers continue to learn new things. Be a good teacher and stop attacking science.

        • Please stop. You have no idea what you are talking about.

          This nonsense is a plague on the skeptic community.

        • gator69 says:

          Also, if you have not noticed, I am not denying the ability of gases to warm the atmosphere. Just as I do not deny climate change. The models are all wrong, because the models believe in heat trapping gases.

        • gator69 says:

          The only plague on the scientific community, is a lack of skepticism and refusal to accept new ideas.

        • All weather models use greenhouse gas calculations. If the science wasn’t correct, weather models wouldn’t work. There is no question about this topic. It is pig ignorant to continue pursuing it.

        • gator69 says:

          Pig ignorant is thinking the science is settled.

        • DEEBEE says:

          Pig ignorant is to post long posts that you do not understand and then smear your argument to add things like settled science

        • gator69 says:

          I understand the post perfectly, so you must not be addressing me. Hello pot!

        • Infra-red active gases absorb some incoming solar radiation before it can be absorbed by the surface, thereby decreasing the possible warming of the surface. This effect may be small compared to the 33C effect claimed by the advocates of CAGW, but that 33C effect is greatly exaggerated. There is a large temperature gradient in the troposphere due the action of gravity on air molecules in which higher altitude potential energy becomes lower altitude kinetic energy. This is a simple matter of conservation of energy and this effect removes any need to posit a 33C temperature increase at the surface due to “greenhouse gases.”

          When a gas molecule absorbs IR emitted from the surface, it does re-emit that energy before a collision about 20% of the time. The high collision rate with other non-radiating (at least in the IR) molecules transfers the energy to the surrounding gas the remaining 80% of the time. But, the 20% re-emission of an IR photon does allow a small back-radiation effect, which at night is a contributor to a warming when there is high humidity. At that time, this small effect is not offset by the IR active molecules absorbing incoming solar radiation, so we can actually notice this effect. It is helpful that it moderates the differential change of temperatures between day and night. One might say there is a night-time greenhouse effect, but no daytime greenhouse effect, or even an effect averaged over the entire day. Of course the night time moderation of temperatures is also enhanced by decreased convection, cloud cover which does not act in the same manner as an isolated water vapor molecule, and a likelihood of water vapor re-condensing at a lower altitude.

      • mkelly says:

        Steve there are charts developed by Hottel showing the emissivity of CO2 at certain temperatures and pressures. The combination of CO2and H2O has a lower emissivity than H2O alone. This standard radiative heat transfer training.

        Nobody denies your insulation statements but N2 & O2 would be better insulators as they don’t have very good ability to radiate away heat.

        • They don’t have the ability to absorb radiative heat, so an atmosphere of pure N2 and O2 would be very cold.

        • mkelly says:

          But they do have the ability to gain heat from conduction from surface etc.

        • tempestnut says:

          The temperature at the surface is what it is due in the main to N2 and O2 the bulk gases. The pressure of these gases causes heat due to Kinetic energy. This heat is transferred by convection and conduction so is slow to make it to higher altitude. Radiation is not the main player at low altitude. The formula for calculating this temperature has been shown to work on all planets and moons with an atmosphere where we have been able to send probes and measure the temperature and pressure. The composition of the gases makes no difference. The missing part was always what happens at high altitude where radiation is the cooling agent for the planet and where the temperatures are very high. This was the issue with the Nikolov & Zeller’s model. The 2 threads have been merged into a coherent model by Robinson and Catling and made available to the public. http://faculty.washington.edu/dcatling/Robinson2014_0.1bar_Tropopause.pdf

          To ignore this or to say those that believe this are harming the sceptic cause is stretching the realms of reality. Some very eminent scientist are working to refine and validate this type of model. To my mind it makes far more sense than having us believe that N2 and O2 play no part in the temperature of the lower atmosphere where as a load of trace gases, the majority of which is water (which changes from a gas to liquid with opposite properties) totally control temperature via a mythical process called the greenhouse effect based only on IR radiation. The science is definitely NOT settled and this discussion needs opening up not shutting down as that is the way of the alarmists.

        • Why do you persist in making these straw man arguments? Nobody said “radiation is the main player”

          At least you are starting to admit that there is a greenhouse effect.

        • dave g says:

          To me. Water outweighs everything.

          It holds and moves a lot of heat. The water cycle is a conveyer belt for this heat is it not? Speed it up… The earth cools. Slow it down, the earth gets warmer.

        • Gail Combs says:

          Steve, I am afraid that Nitrogen and Oxygen are radiatively active in sunlight.
          http://scifun.chem.wisc.edu/chemweek/ozone/ozone.html

          NASA
          “Ozone chemistry is at the heart of atmospheric chemistry.”
          — Bill Stockwell, Desert Research Institute

          ….Ozone’s impact on climate consists primarily of changes in temperature. The more ozone in a given parcel of air, the more heat it retains. Ozone generates heat in the stratosphere, both by absorbing the sun’s ultraviolet radiation and by absorbing upwelling infrared radiation from the lower atmosphere (troposphere). Consequently, decreased ozone in the stratosphere results in lower temperatures. Observations show that over recent decades, the mid to upper stratosphere (from 30 to 50 km above the Earth’s surface) has cooled by 1° to 6° C (2° to 11° F). This stratospheric cooling has taken place at the same time that greenhouse gas amounts in the lower atmosphere (troposphere) have risen. The two phenomena may be linked…..

          Nitrogen:

          …In the troposphere near the Earth’s surface, ozone forms through the splitting of molecules by sunlight as it does in the stratosphere. However in the troposphere, nitrogen dioxide, not molecular oxygen, provides the primary source of the oxygen atoms required for ozone formation. Sunlight splits nitrogen dioxide into nitric oxide and an oxygen atom.
          NO2 + sunlight ==> NO = O
          A single oxygen atom then combines with an oxygen molecule to produce ozone.
          O + O2 ===> O3
          Ozone then reacts readily with nitric oxide to yield nitrogen dioxide and oxygen.
          O3 + NO ===> NO2 + O2
          The process described above results in no net gain in ozone. Concentrations occur in higher amounts in the troposphere than these reactions alone account for. In the 1950s, chemists discovered that two additional chemical constitutents of the troposphere contribute to ozone formation. These constituents are nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, and they have both natural and industrial sources….

  4. Steve Case says:

    Greenhouse gases … make it more difficult for absorbed solar energy to escape the surface of the Earth, which pushes the temperature of the air near the surface up.

    B I N G O !

    Yes, absorbed solar energy. The sun does the warming.

  5. Robertv says:

    So in a 100 % CO2 atmosphere I would not need a blanket ? Or does the body not radiate in the correct frequency ?

    • No. The warming of greenhouse gases is spread over a tall column of air. A blanket creates all of its warming close to your skin. The blanket also blocks convection as an additional warming effect.

      However, in the tropics where there are lots of greenhouse gases, you don’t need a blanket – because the air remains warm.

      • Tel says:

        The tropics get more sun than anywhere else on Earth.

        Moist air makes tropical areas cooler during the day than they would be if the air was dry (compare to desert regions) and having atmosphere at all makes it much cooler during the day than no atmosphere (compare to the moon which reaches over 100 degrees C).

  6. Robertv says:

    Wouldn’t it be better to see the oceans as the Earth’s greenhouse and see the atmosphere as the separating glass or blanket?

  7. Baa Humbug says:

    Hi all
    Tony does a terrific unpaid job fighting this AGW scam but I wish we would’t use the blanket analogy because I’ve yet to see a homeless man sleeping warm and cozy under a blanket that covered 1% of his body. /sarc

    But seriously, I hate blanket analogies because I’ve yet to see the Japanese – who are the inventors of every single useless gadget ever conceived by modern man – invent a blanket that rises up off your body when it warms, then descends down gently when it cools. How cool (pun) would that be?

    • The primary greenhouse gas is H2O, which is very abundant.

      • richard says:

        It helps cool in the day and slow down cooling at night, if Steve wants to join in the so called naming of a natural occurrence as a ghg then let him if it helps him achieve his aims.

      • Gail Combs says:

        I mention all this because water and its effects on a rain forest vs a desert are often used by the Warmists to illustrate the effects of a greenhouse gas when what they are really illustrating are the combined effects of water’s latent heat of vaporization, the moist adiabatic lapse rate, clouds as well as GHG effect.

        H2O maybe a greenhouse gas (and yes it does absorb a lot more out going IR than CO2) but it’s main effect on the climate is from the latent heat of vaporization especially in the tropics up to around Lat 35° (based on a mini study by me) where thunderstorms are frequent in the afternoon when the temperatures head for the 90 °F range and there is abundant moisture. Thunderstorms rapidly transport energy to the tropopause. (Willis’s Thunderstorm thermostat hypothesis: How clouds and thunderstorms control the Earth’s temperature )

        Dr. Will Happer did agree with what Dr Brown and Peter Malcombe said about the time to radiate a photo captured by CO2 being about ten times slower than the time to the next collision in the troposphere. Dr Happer in his lecture also answered my question about where CO2 energy is radiated instead of being handed off via collision. Experimental data shows barely any radiation at 11 KM and that radiating is in the stratosphere ~ 47 KM above the surface.

        Tropopause height at the Poles varies between 7 km in winter and 10 km in summer, at the Equator the range is 17 to 18 km.

        The tropopause is the region of the atmosphere where the environmental lapse rate changes from positive (in the troposphere) to negative (in the stratosphere). The tropopause is also the place where the atmosphere loses water vapor and becomes dry. The lower stratosphere has much higher ozone concentrations than the upper troposphere and is the coolest part of the atmosphere.

        Lecture notes: Lapse Rate, Moisture, Clouds and Thunderstorms.
        http://eesc.columbia.edu/courses/ees/climate/lectures/atm_phys.html

        …As indicated above, the role of water in the atmosphere is extremely important. Consider the transport of heat from surface to upper troposphere that we discussed under dry convection. The presence of water makes the process of convection more efficient. Here are the components of heat transfer involved in moist convection: At the surface Conduction removes heat through contact with cooler overlying air, and Evaporation removes the latent heat required to push the vapor into the air. Convection acts to remove heat gain through both these processes from the surface up in the form of sensible heat (heat stored in the molecular motion of the air parcel – its internal energy) and latent heat (heat stored in the evaporated water molecules, ready to be released as soon as the air cools enough aloft). In doing so moist convection heats up the upper troposphere more efficiently than dry convection (that only moves sensible heat up). Once it reaches the upper troposphere the heat is released into space as radiation, balancing the incoming solar heating. In regions where moist convection exists, the temperature profile is less steepthan in dry convecting regions. In the tropics, where moist convection is always active, the vertical profile of temperature closely follows a moist adiabatic lapse rate…..

        The liquid-vapor phase transition in water takes up (or gives out) 540-600 calories/gm (= 2.25 to 2.5 x106 Joules/kg) (the exact amount depends on temperature)….

        When ice turns directly into vapor (sublimation) the heat required per gram of ice is the sum of the latent heat of melting and the latent heat of vaporization – a total of 620-680 calories/gm….
        The moist adiabatic lapse rate is typically about 6.5 °C/km (compare to 9.8° in a dry parcel). Unlike the dry adiabatic lapse rate the moist one is not constant, because the dependence of saturation on temperature is exponential (see above section 6.2), and the colder the air gets, the less water condenses per degree of cooling (confirm that with the aid of Fig 5). The colder the rising parcel gets, the closer the moist adiabatic lapse rate gets to the dry adiabatic rate.

      • That’s absolute true Gail, but I am trying to deal with one principle at a time and not cloud the issue.

    • gofer says:

      You should try Al Gore’s blanket. Its special.

  8. Tim G. says:

    I’m seeing several possible issues here. The first is the abuse of the term “greenhouse effect” by global warming alarmists which has lead to miscommunication in this discussion. Liberals like to take a scientific term for an observable, provable effect and add in other definitions that either aren’t proven or are disproven. For example, they tack onto the theory of evolution (genetic drift over time which has been demonstrated) the concepts of speciation (possible but unproven) and abiogenesis (not only unproven, but something the leading experts can’t even suggest a theoretical model for). Then when someone says they don’t believe in evolution referring to the enlarged definition, liberals insult them for not believing in the original definition part with scientific basis.
    In this case, they have changed the common usage definition of greenhouse effect to include the positive feedback cycle leading to a runaway increase in heat retention. The effect of certain gases trapping in heat is scientifically proven and demonstrable in lab conditions. The positive feedback cycle is not only not proven in lab conditions, but seems to be contradicted by satellite readings from the last few decades. For those of us who really are skeptics in the scientific sense, let’s make sure we’re not wasting time arguing over miscommunication.

    The second issue is one of identity. Just because someone claims to be a skeptic doesn’t mean they are. Liberals are very fond of the false flag tactic where they take a straw-man claim, assume a false identity as an opponent such as a conservative, christian, or skeptic, and argue loudly for the straw-man. They have two goals in this. The first is to try to trick some people in the target into believing in the straw-man argument which makes it easier to smear the group in the media. The second is to make the target group waste lots of time arguing about why they don’t believe in the straw-man topic instead of talking about real issues.

    To fix these issues we should:
    Be clear on our definitions.
    Stick to the scientifically proven and provable.
    Be clear about what we believe and don’t believe.
    Not waste lots of time on planted straw-man arguments.
    Stick to the important issues that help open minded people in the general population wake up to the deceit they’re being fed.

  9. Scott Scarborough says:

    Gator,
    Your calculations use absorptivity of O2. I never saw anyone claim that O2 absorbed IR before. What about N2 which is the majority of molecules in the air?

  10. Samuel S. Kullbers says:

    You write in your “Who is Steven Goddard” section, the following:

    “Science works through research and debate – not censorship, propaganda, faith, or intimidation.”

    Then, I read your comments to gator69 calling him/her “pig ignorant” and you refuse to debate because you disagree with him/her. WTH??

    After reading your claim that “science works through research and debate,” I expected you would carefully review the claim being made by gator69 and determine if it held up and, if not, point out where it was incorrect so there could be debate and learning by those who are not as sharp as you are. Instead, we get dismissive, rude, ad hominem comments that we are supposed to believe on “faith” with nothing to back up the dismissal.

    What is the purpose of this blog? Is it to educate people such as I who are interested in this topic or is it just so you can display your “superior intellect” and silence dissent?

  11. markstoval says:

    Here we have yet another in a long line of posts recently were Steve just asserts that you are stupid if you do not believe in the Jim Hansen account of things. I think he is looking to get in tight with the WUWT lukewarmers.

    The atmospheric effect does exist and it moves heat around the planet. CO2? The role of CO2 is tiny in the lower atmosphere. If it receives a photon of energy it will bump into a nitrogen or oxygen molecule and transfer that energy long, long before it has a chance to radiate that photon back down to the surface. “Back-radiation” plays a minimal role: so minimal that the effect can not be measured in the real world — only in computer models that have no predictive value.

    I really don’t see what Steve is getting out of all these short posts insulting the people who understand the role of the atmosphere. Perhaps he is just having fun. But, on the off chance he is willing to learn:

    http://scottishsceptic.co.uk/2014/07/02/the-co2-greenhouse-effect-is-real-sometimes/

    http://scottishsceptic.co.uk/2014/07/03/reconciling-skydragons-and-mainstream-skeptics/

    (but then again, the author of those posts actually made a comment here and Steve just insulted him without any science being mentioned. Sad really.)

    A question for Steve: just how hot is the surface of the moon at its maximum? Why is the earth not that hot at the equator? Hmmmm?

    • dave g says:

      He’s said it 100 or more times. Because of H2O.

      • Tel says:

        Therefore H2O, the well known “greenhouse gas” has a cooling effect, at certain specific places and times. It also has a warming effect at other specific places and times.

        There is no “average effect’ because we don’t live in an average world. Families do not have 2.3 children.

        • dave g says:

          Average is a bad term. Net effect would be better. Yes…. The effect changes. Depends what form the H2O is in. Probably effected by cosmic rays which is why low sunspot activity creates colder climate. Probably by changing the amount and type of cloud cover and the speed of the water cycle. Water cycle speeds up…more cooling.

      • tempestnut says:

        Water (H2O) is little understood by most, and when it comes to our atmosphere water changes from vapour to liquid changing its properties. Most people spouting on about H2O being the major “greenhouse gas” forget this.

        • Dave G says:

          Does water vapor radiate infrared back down to the surface or not? If it does, does the infrared have an effect?

    • dave g says:

      I really don’t know why your panties are in a wad. Steven doesn’t believe CO2 has a large effect. But CO2 does absorb long wave radiation and some of it reflects back. Whether it is made more or less so when it mixes with other gases is interesting and maybe important but it doesn’t change the fact that it is a greenhouse gas.

      I believe he just posted graphs yesterday that show exactly how weak of a greenhouse gas it is. Even using current weather models.

      Quit haggling over the details. We are on the same side.

  12. Timothy Dunlap says:

    Good grief. Blankets block convection of the air, which would otherwise cool you. Blankets do not warm you by absorbing and re-radiating infrared.

    Don’t take my word for it. Suspend a blanket over your bed in such a way that convection can occur under it. Surround yourself with blankets, without blocking convection.

    Believe it or not, radiant energy from cooler objects does not increase the temperature of a warmer object.

    And no, it doesn’t matter where the energy came from originally. It transfers from warmer to colder.

    The atmosphere absorbs some radiant energy. That makes the atmosphere warmer. Temporarily.
    The atmosphere loses heat rapidly.

    And it will not transfer heat to the ocean or land, unless the ocean and land are colder to begin with.

    “Clueless” is not the right word for “greenhouse effect” believers. “Thoughtless” is.

    • dave g says:

      And if it temporarily keeps the atmosphere warmer that will reduce the heat escape thus making it warmer then it would have been.

      Thus the greenhouse effect is real.

  13. Timothy Dunlap says:

    Dave G. The “greenhouse effect” involves warming the warm air at the surface with radiant heat from colder air above.

    Show me an engineering study from any industry, where radiant heat from a colder substance increases the temperature of a warmer one.

    Show me a laboratory experiment from anywhere, where radiant heat from a colder substance increases the temperature of a warmer one.

    Hint: There are none.

    There is no greenhouse effect.

    You are confusing “greenhouse effect” with “warmed by infra-red.” Like the author of the post.

    The atmosphere is warmed – mostly from the surface of the Earth — and it cools the Earth by absorption/radiation into space, and by convection.

    Without an atmosphere, we would be hotter in the day and colder at night, like the Moon.

    Dave G. we are NOT on the same side. I am on the side of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.
    It applies in the atmosphere as it does everywhere, and you can’t prove otherwise.

    (Don’t say the words “computer model” or “thought experiment” please.)

    • dave g says:

      Again. It’s stupid semantics. Whether it’s warming be infrared or warming by greenhouse gas. It’s semantics. What is your definition of the greenhouse effect?

      • Timothy Dunlap says:

        I told you that. It’s not my definition. It is not semantics either.

        “Dave G. The “greenhouse effect” involves warming the warm air at the surface with radiant heat from colder air above.”

        Specifically, heat that is absorbed and then re-radiated. The “greenhouse effect” story
        is that “back-radiation” from colder air makes warmer surface air hotter.

        As the glass of a greenhouse was once thought to warm the interior, by absorbing infrared and re-radiating it downward.

        Which physicist R.W. Wood disproved in 1909.

        To say that the atmosphere is warmed mostly by the surface of the Earth is to say the atmosphere cools the Earth’s surface. It takes heat energy away from the Earth’s surface by convection and radiation.

        The Moon, which has no such atmosphere, gets hotter than we do by day.

        The “greenhouse effect” depends on sophistry to nullify the 2nd law of thermodynamics.
        Without the application of work, heat does not flow from colder substances to warmer ones.

        • Dave G says:

          So… are you saying that infrared doesn’t get radiated back down to the surface or that it does but it has no effect?

        • Timothy Dunlap says:

          DaveG it doesn’t transfer heat…doesn’t raise the temperature. The atmosphere cools the surface itself. Air near the surface is heated by the surface by radiation and conduction, and that heat is transported away from the surface. By radiation and convection. Colder air aloft does not make warmer air below any warmer. 2nd law.

    • KTM says:

      “Show me an engineering study from any industry, where radiant heat from a colder substance increases the temperature of a warmer one.

      Show me a laboratory experiment from anywhere, where radiant heat from a colder substance increases the temperature of a warmer one.

      Hint: There are none”

      My guess is that it could be done. Place a heating element inside of a chamber made of one-way materials that only allowed IR to enter but not leave the chamber.

      http://www.nist.gov/cnst/light-070114.cfm

      Turn the heating element on for a set period of time, then measure the heat of the chamber. Now place another heating element outside of the chamber, set to operate at a “colder” temperature, emitting IR that can enter the one-way chamber but can’t leave. Re-run the experiment and see if the measured temperature inside the chamber is warmer.

      I expect that you would verify that IR from a colder object would have a measurable effect to raise the temperature.

    • tempestnut says:

      You are correct see my post above but Tony/Steve is on some sort of crusade against those who have in the main studied this subject far more thoroughly than he has.

      • Dave G says:

        Of coursse it doesn’t heat it up. It could slow down the rate of cooling though. Does it radiate infrared back downward? Or not? Id so, does this radiation have no effect?

        • Timothy Dunlap says:

          Only part of the spectrum is absorbed by water vapor and C02 and such. Therefore heat is not “trapped.” Cooling proceeds. Humidity is added mass and more mass takes longer to cool. Not because of “back-radiation.” If there were heat transferring down from above, dry deserts would be colder in the day time, due to lack of “greenhouse gas” above.

  14. KevinK says:

    Ok, try this thought experiment;

    Lets place two identical rocks (same emissivity, thermal capacity, shape, thermal diffusivity, etc), or “spherical cows” into an oven. Heat them to the same temperature, say 100 degrees F.

    Now transfer one inside an optical integrating sphere and the other into free space (both in a room with low humidity and “still” air). Assume the integrating sphere reflects all of the LWIR (that would be 100% radiative forcing).

    Now wait….. After a while both rocks will assume the same temperature, room temperature.

    So what is the effect of the 100% radiative forcing ? it simply changes the response time of the rock’s temperature. That’s all, no higher temperature, ever.

    The radiative gases in the atmosphere simply act to change the response time of the temperature at the surface and in the atmosphere. They simply form an “in-effective” optical integrating sphere with a huge exit port area, due to low concentrations of “GHG’s” and the adjacent spectral bands where energy can escape as radiation.

    The “greenhouse effect” determining the “average” temperature of the Earth’s surface is the biggest hoax ever perpetrated.

    Cheers, Kevin.

    • dave g says:

      That is ridiculous. In the real world, everything is in an equilibrium. When you make changes, it shifts everything to a new equilibrium. The world is spinning. It’s not a room in a building that’s climatically controlled.

    • Let’s try this thought experiment.
      You are cold. You put a jacket on. Then you are warm.

      • KevinK says:

        So, if I exhale very quickly the extra CO2 around me will keep me as warm as a jacket ???? I’ll try that in January and report back to you. Yes I can see it now on QVC, get your CO2 jacket here now for only $99, reduced from $500. Does it come with canned baked beans ?

        You obviously don’t want to have a serious discussion of this topic and cannot admit that like most things there are “degrees” of warming involved.

        Enjoy your tunnel vision.

        Cheers, Kevin.

      • Timothy Dunlap says:

        KTM (1) there is no one-way glass in the atmosphere (2) “stopping” infra-red in one direction involves either reflecting it or absorbing it in the other direction……Reflection
        does not involve the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

        A “thought experiment” is a circular argument. It boils down to, “it works this way because i said so.”

        R.W. Wood demonstrated in 1909 that greenhouses work by blocking convection of the air, and not by absorbing/re-radiating heat.

        Blankets and jackets block convection and conduction. They do not warm people by absorbing and re-radiating heat.

        If air can circulate underneath your jacket, or your blanket, the air will cool you as it does the surface of the Earth.

        As air does not cool the surface of the Moon, which is why it gets so hot.

        If there were a greenhouse effect, molten lava would get hotter instead of cooling.

    • pa32r says:

      I’m thinking that, perhaps, your thought experiment is missing an external energy source pumping energy onto your rocks. I believe such a source does exist in the Earth/atmosphere system. Do you think that that could possibly change the outcome of your experiment? /sw off.

      • KevinK says:

        I was attempting to isolate the energy gain mechanism from the loss mechanism to illustrate the utter ineffectiveness of a radiative gas acting as an insulator.

        If you put electrical heaters (a light bulb) inside an optical integrating sphere the “back radiation” does indeed warm the light bulb (known as “self-absorption”), and then the light bulb becomes more effective at converting electrical energy into light. But that is an artifact of the power supply / light bulb acting together as a system. If you use a “rock” inside an integrating sphere and warm it with a laser it will not permanently (i.e. in equilibrium) assume a higher temperature.

        If you want to believe that an unconstrained gas (with minimal thermal capacity) above a massive thermal entity (the Earth) causes a higher temperature so be it. But there is simply no observational evidence that this is the case. And centuries of engineering experience shows that this effect is so small that nobody uses the “greenhouse effect” for any useful purpose. And engineers have applied every real observed physical effect for one purpose or another.

        I assure you that if I could “trap heat” I would be a very wealthy person. I would simply collect it where it is inexpensive, transport it and sell it at a significant profit where it is uncommon.

        Cheers, Kevin.

    • Neal S says:

      I dare say one of the rocks will reach room temperature before the other one.
      And when the first one reaches room temperature, the other one will be hotter.

  15. KevinK says:

    Tony, just to clarify, would that be a straw man with a jacket, or a straw man without a jacket ?

    Oh, where exactly is that missing heat ? In the CO2, like in the troposphere ? No honest broker has observed it there. Surely if the “effect:” is saturated somebody should observe the heat there, correct ?

    Have a good day, Kevin.

    • dave g says:

      Last time I checked the RSS data. The upper atmosphere is shown as cooling while the lower atmosphere is stable.

      And Steven doesn’t believe there is any missing heat. CO2 had limited affect and is essentially already saturated as his graphs he just posted yesterday show.

  16. KevinK says:

    Hey Tony, please enjoy your time on the Beach in Mexico. One quick question, why not relax on a beach chair next to a CO2 spouting electricity generating plant ??? surely the CO2 out of the smoke stacks is as effective ???

    Don’t worry about me, I’ll be snug and cozy inside my engineered house with good effective heat sources (propane fueled) and real (non-gaseous) insulation in the walls/ceiling. Of course I won’t have to put on a jacket when the Sun goes down because it’s always 75 degrees inside by design, even when it’s zero outside.

    The real “straw man” in this debate is the unfathomable belief that a miniscule gas actually functions as an effective insulator and determines the “average temperature” of the Earth…..

    Sure, the “GHGs” act as insulators, but a urine poor insulator does not decide the temperature.

    Cheers, Kevin.

  17. Baa Humbug says:

    I think we’re talking at cross purposes.
    I have no doubt that the greenhouse effect warms the surface. I also have no doubt that a greenhouse effect would be present if we had 83% cloud coverage instead of 63%, but it would be cooler not warmer. Our albedo, which keeps 30% of solar radiation out is part and parcel of the ‘greenhouse’.

    The fact that there is ample H2O on this planet means that yes, the greenhouse keeps us warmer than we’d otherwise be, especially at night and at higher latitudes. By the same token, that same greenhouse effect keeps us cooler, especially during the day and at lower lattitudes, that’s why we dont fry to death at this distance from the sun.
    It can be said that a planet with 83% cloud cover is also experiencing a greenhouse effect. What about 93% or 99% cloud cover, is there not a greenhouse effect then?

    If there were no ghgs, the day side of the planet would be exposed to around 680 Wm2 of solar radiation equating to a bb temperature of 331K or 59 degC, this is not the case in reality.
    The very first act of ghgs as solar radiation hits the top of atmosphere is to cool the surface by blocking some of that radiation, the last act of ghgs is to inhibit terrestrial radiation from leaving the system.
    Before I can claim that ghgs warm the surface, or that they cool the surface, or indeed if they only redistribute energy rather than enhance it, I’d need to demonstrate with empirical evidence that the warming effects are larger than cooling effects, or net effects if you will.
    But I’m told we’re not talking about net effects, so I’m confused.
    Would someone shed some light on this please.

    • dave g says:

      Doesn’t the type and location of the cloud also matter?

      It’s just not clouds. It’s water vapor. Often you have high humidity and no clouds and you have a very large greenhouse effect.

      The big white thick puffy clouds overall are cooling I believe. A low overcast hazy sky… maybe a little cooling but that much.

      I fly often and for many years I saw very few big white puffies. Last few years I see them all over like huge blankets over the usa blankets that block the sun more than they keep it warm.

      Not all clouds are equal.

      • Baa Humbug says:

        Yes ofcourse the type and location of clouds matter, yet there is no getting away from THE FACT that these very same clouds are the cause of the majority of the planets albedo…..COOLING.
        Those fluffy white clouds can and do reduce surface temperatures dramatically when they block out sunshine. I’ve had personal experience of this phenomenon 🙂

        • dave g says:

          And other clouds don’t. And when there is no clouds it doesn’t mean their still isn’t tons of moisture.

          To me, cloud formation is the big key… and we don’t understand it well. It turns water vapor that is the worst green house gas into water vapor that has the best albedo.

          This is the key variable that confounds the models.

        • Baa Humbug says:

          With all due respect, we’re moving off topic.

  18. bwdave says:

    The problems with the GHG paradigm are that in reducing the process to an instantaneous steady state of average temperatures and input flux, it ignores Earth’s rotation which stores transports and releases heat; and that much of the heat storage transport and release is via water, which has no direct temperature to heat content relationship.

    Aside from that, Kevin is correct in stating:

    “If you want to believe that an unconstrained gas (with minimal thermal capacity) above a massive thermal entity (the Earth) causes a higher temperature so be it. But there is simply no observational evidence that this is the case. And centuries of engineering experience shows that this effect is so small that nobody uses the “greenhouse effect” for any useful purpose. And engineers have applied every real observed physical effect for one purpose or another.’

    The greenhouse effect is the product of simplistic nonsense. It is a cancer being suffered by science. Sorry to hear that Tony aka Steve has fallen ill.

    • Has mass stupidity struck? If you are incapable of reading or comprehending what I am saying over and over again, I will put you on spam.

      • Baa Humbug says:

        It’s your blog, you can do whatever pleases you.
        Those who make claims need to understand their claim well enough to be able to explain it in the simplest of terms, with accompanying evidence so that dumb bastards like me can comprehend.
        Repeating the same thing over and over, ignoring the counter evidence and spewing ad homs like ‘stupidity’ etc isn’t going to convince anyone.

        But like I said, it’s your blog. You are free to adopt whatever style of debate you wish, but don’t get angry when people like me remind you that your behaviour in this instance is no different, not in the slightest, to that of alarmists.

        At this stage I’m going to ask you just one question Tony. Are there any situations, be it geographic, seasonal etc where the very same greenhouse effect cools the surface?

        • dave g says:

          Define greenhouse effect.

        • Baa Humbug says:

          The presence of certain gasses in the atmosphere that leads to a surface which is warmer than it otherwise would be and that observed coolness of nights in dry deserts as opposed to the warmness of moist tropics is the empirical evidence which supports the theory.
          This definition is what I understand from the last few posts on this subject by Tony. It is NOT my definition. I make no claims therefore I have no need to define anything.

        • bwdave says:

          The coolness at night in dry deserts relative to elsewhere is because there is little or no water vapor to condense and release latent heat.

        • The greenhouse effect is when intelligence comes in your ears, but only stupidity comes out of your mouth.

  19. PetterT says:

    Stevengoddard; I encourages you to read “Mathematical Physics of Blackbody Radiation” by math. prof. em. Dr. Claes Jonson, KTH, also co-author of “Slaying the Sky Dragon” here: http://www.csc.kth.se/~cgjoh/ambsblack.pdf

  20. David A says:

    The entire debate on this would be fun, and strictly academic if not for the politics.
    It is however irrelevant to the political implications. The fact is CO2 is net beneficial, the warming is not happening as advertised, and all the observational evidence supports the skeptics.

    When the skeptics win, this will be a more important issue. Now, it is poor political wisdom to debate.

    After the world verifies that CAGW is dead, then I will more seriously question the role of GHGs, which without question both cool and warm the planet. As our host said, at low elevations conduction take place far more often, making all molecules, both GHG and non GHG behave in a similar fashion. At elevation GHG molecules send some of the energy to space, some towards earth again. In theory this level should warm ( however it is warming far less then the models predict) and the stratosphere above should cool yes? If the stratosphere cools, does its opacity change? Does conduction from the troposphere up increase? In a non GHG world, how would the upper atmosphere cool Only by back conduction to the surface I imagine. Humm?? Such a world would have a very different lapse rate I imagine. Would the surface then be receiving the standard solar insolation, plus back conduction? Of course would said back conduction be balanced by more conduction up from the surface? How would conduction and convection change? Is the ratio between conduction, convection and radiation constant? How do the oceans affect all of this?

    I do know one thing. (The only way to change the energy content of a system in a radiative balance is to change the input, or to change some aspect of the residence time of energy within the system) This works to ALL theories, including the blanket analogy.

    • bwdave says:

      While tempted by your choice of battle argument, I can’t overcome the gut feeling that overtakes me every time I think about the prestigious institutions promoting the simplistic stupidity that forms the basis of the AGW/CCC scam. So, it seems to me, this entire debate on this would be more fun, and strictly political if not for the academics.

      How does one define radiative balance for a cyclic regenerative process that receives energy from a spot centered over a cyclically moving half of its axially rotating spherical surface of varied state, texture, reflectivity and emisivity; and emits it from anywhere on the surface? Will the energy it emits equal the energy it received from the spot? What if some of the energy is stored?

  21. gator69 says:

    “At least you are starting to admit that there is a greenhouse effect. You are making progress.”

    Tony, I have never denied a moderating effect of certain gases, just as I have never denied climate change. The “Greenhouse Gas” theory as defined by the climatocracy, is oversimplified and overstated, it is not a major factor in climate change as we know it. The “Greenhouse” gases are far more than what this theory defines them as, and our planet is far more complex than that.

    “Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts” – Richard Feynman

  22. gymnosperm says:

    Don’t call it a blanket. That is Al Gore’s analogy. It makes us look stupid to our very learned colleagues who question the effect as it is currently understood.

    • Gail Combs says:

      It is adding the words ‘Greenhouse Gas’ to the word ‘Water’ that raises my hackles especially since the Climastrologists say water’s effect on the climate is a feedback from the CO2 control knob when we know up take and out gassing of CO2 is dependent on the temperatures of the oceans.

      Water is a heck of a lot more than ‘just a greenhouse gas’ and with the absorption of sunlight into the oceans to depths of one hundred meters, It’s heat capacity, the latent heat of vaporization and clouds is a major player in the climate of earth.

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