My Position

My position is to defend science, and defend quality of life – i.e. the environment, the political environment and the economic environment.

Most of the nonsense is on the alarmist side of the debate, but there is plenty on the skeptic side too.

The greenhouse effect is basic, fundamental science – like gravity.

The sun strikes the Earth’s surface, and warms it. This causes the Earth to radiate longwave radiation up through the atmosphere. Some of this radiation is captured by molecules of greenhouse gas, which causes the air to warm. Warm greenhouse gases in turn radiate more longwave radiation, half of which radiates downwards towards Earth and warms the Earth’s surface further.

This does not change the energy flux in the atmosphere. The energy flux moving upwards (via reflection, radiation, convection, evaporation, condensation, etc.) is always going to average out to be equal to the amount of incoming solar radiation. The greenhouse effect simply elevates temperatures above what they would be without greenhouse gases. It behaves like an insulator. It is not a heat source and does not violate the laws of thermodynamics. People who make that argument are completely clueless.

The vast majority of this warming is near the Earth’s surface, and is due to H2O molecules, rather than CO2. Forecasts of large amounts of CO2 warming, are not based on any legitimate science.


About stevengoddard

Just having fun
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57 Responses to My Position

  1. omanuel says:

    I agree with you, Steven, but the number of variables involved in climate change may be greater than any of us can define with the precision needed to predict changes in climate.

    A more basic error in climate models is the assumption that the Sun itself is a constant heat source described by the Standard Solar Model.

    Empirically, the best measurements and observations indicate that the Sun is instead a variable star heated mostly by a pulsar at its core.

    • emsnews says:

      The sun is increasingly variable as time goes by. It is not like it was way back say, during the dinosaur age. The fact that repeated ice ages are now occurring in recent 3 million years is a sign that something has changed and not towards ‘more heat’.

      • Emsnews, the thing that has changed in the past 3 million years is the world has been running out of CO2.

        On that graph, you can see that 3 million years ago, ice ages have become very severe, due to lack of CO2. The best thing humans have ever done to the earth is put CO2 back into the air where it belongs.

    • Sparks says:

      Why do you keep saying “pulsar”? and because the sun varies slightly it doesn’t make it a ‘variable star’, not in a ‘classical way’ but I’m interested in star evolution, will our sun become more variable over the next millions of years and become like the variable star Mira and similar stars?.

    • dikstr says:

      The sun is a variable star but not on the scale of a pulsar. Current research indicates that variations of solar luminosity are caused by cyclical tidal effects caused by the relative motions of the sun and planets about the center of mass of the solar system. The strong evidence for this are the shared harmonics of solar system astrometry, solar magnetic activity and the total solar irradiance. ( These tidal effects are certainly capable of modulating magnetic activity in the convection zone, photosphere and corona and may modulate the energy produced in the core as well. ( )

      Just curious, what is your reference for the solar pulsar speculation?

  2. richard says:

    always an interesting concept, two equal forces meet which one gives first. Downwards vs upwards.

  3. Ben says:

    Well stated Steven.


    Thanks for all your research on the sun. Missing from the models is the variable distribution of the sun’s output across the electromagnetic spectrum. One cannot assume constant ocean absorption if the sun’s UV output varies as much as recent measurements indicate.

    • omanuel says:

      I agree. If NASA wanted us to understand the reasons for climate change it would post:

      1. Variations in wavelength of solar radiation over each solar cycle
      2. Variations in wavelength of solar radiation since life emerged on Earth 3.5 Ga ago
      3. Variations in wavelength of solar radiation since the solar system formed 5 Ga ago
      4. Variations in wavelength of solar radiation associated with solar eruptions and flares

      I am personally convinced most “cosmic rays” come from the Sun’s pulsar core but I do not know what, if any, evidence NASA is hiding that would confirm/deny that suspicion.

    • Gail Combs says:

      Amazing how the warmists keep missing the little fact that the variability (that we see so far) is in the output of the different wave lengths and the oceans are going to absorb more or less heat from the sun as a result.

      And yes I agree with Steve description.
      The sun strikes the Earth’s surface, and warms it. This causes the Earth to radiate longwave radiation up through the atmosphere. Some of this radiation is captured by molecules of greenhouse gas, which causes the air to warm. Warm greenhouse gases in turn radiate more longwave radiation, half of which radiates downwards towards Earth and warms the Earth’s surface further.

      Although I think a more precise description is:

      The sun strikes the Earth’s surface, and warms it. This causes the Earth to radiate longwave radiation up through the atmosphere. If this radiation is of the correct wavelength it is captured by molecules of infrared active gas. Since, in the lower atmosphere the time to re-radiate a photon of longwave radiation from CO2 is orders of magnitude longer than the time between collisions, much of the captured radiation warms the atmosphere via collision. Those infrared active gases that do radiate longwave radiation radiate half of that energy downwards towards Earth. Therefore these infrared active gases keep the lower atmosphere and the earth’s surface from losing heat as rapidly as would otherwise happen without infrared active gases in the atmosphere.

      On a side note: People might want to look at Dr. Happer’s slides and listen to his lecture since he combines theory with real life data.

      A present CO2 is at 400 ppm so it is the shape of the far wings that is critical for determining the climates sensitivity to CO2 increases.
      For those short on time – Slides of interest:
      16 – FTIR data from satellite for different regions (Antarctica is interesting)
      18 – Identifies CO2 wavelengths of interest
      23 – Line strengths for different isotopes of carbon and oxygen (gives cross section)
      30 – Doubling sensitivity for CO2 is poorly understood
      31- Triangular approximation to CO2 Frequency cross section gives Logrithmic Warming.
      (This is where Dr. Happer’s findings are critical)
      33- cross section depends on line shape at band edges which drives warming.
      Back to the critical slides:
      22 – Neither Lorentzian nor Voigt line shapes are correct in the far wings!
      41 – Far-wing (global warming) cross sections much bigger with Lorentz broadening than with realistic far-wing broadening(circles).
      42 – 44 Using Voigt profiles increases the radiative-forcing increment from doubling CO2 by a factor ~ 1.4 But far wing absorption from Voigt profiles does not exist!
      Need experimental measurements!
      (The last ‘slide’ Dr. Happer showed was Feynman’s lecture)

  4. richard says:

    I guess the downwards is just replaced by the upwards, so neither gain nor loss.

  5. richard says:

    hard for me to put into the right words – on Sun up the surface starts radiating longwave, might be a stupid question but how does downward bypass upwards and at what point does the downwards decide to return upwards. I assume shortwave hits the surface of the planet and immediately radiates upwards, at what point does the downwards decide to go back upwards.

    • Ben says:


      1. An energetic particle at height h above the the earths surface emits LWR in a random direction. Nearer to the earth surface, the LWR would have an equal chance of missing or hitting the earths surface in absence of an intermediate collision. Assume for a moment that no intermediate collision takes place. The probability that LWR reaches the earth surface is proportional to the height of the particle at emission.

      2. However, we do live in a world with a large number of collisions. The nearer to the earth’s surface that emission occurs, the greater the concentration of particles available to intercept and re-emit LWR. So the probability that LWR remains longer in the atmosphere is directly proportional to the concentration of LWR absorbing particles around the emitter.

      3. The energetic particle may physically collide with a non-absorber prior to emission or LWR. The collision will impart some of the energy to the non-absorber. The probability that energy remains distributed in the atmosphere is directly proportional to the concentration of both energetic and non-LWR-absorbing particles around the emitter.

  6. PJ London says:

    Thank you for ending the confusion over what was being stated.

  7. phthisis1942 says:

    Seems to me that the earth being a sphere(nearly), that a lot of long wave energy radiated by greenhouse molecules would be outside the cone that has the molecule as the apex and the rays tangent to the earth as the base of the surface of the cone. Just saying’…

  8. Mike says:

    You are arguing facts which is good. However, some of these nuts believe in a religion based on a false science. No matter how many facts you can prove to them, they will still believe in their religion. Then you have politicians (cough, Obama) that then pander to their religion.

    It’s going to be a long fight…multigenerational.

    • emsnews says:

      With Reality winning every time, hands down. As we slide into yet another Ice Age, no one will be talking about ‘global warming’. We will all be seeking ways of not freezing to death now that we can’t use mastodon pelts strung up on their tusks, as homes. Thank goodness our ancestors during the Ice Ages figured out how to make fires.

  9. Paul says:

    I am still waiting for an experimental piece of evidence of the greenhouse effect…. Nowhere to be found.

    • Gail Combs says:

      You might want to look at Dr. Happer’s slides and listen to his lecture since he combines theory with real life data.

      • Paul says:

        Still, no lab experiment that proves the all thing.

        • Gail Combs says:

          Why in heck do you want a lab experiment? Take it from me (a chemist) scale-up can be very tricky. Also there is plenty of ‘lab’ evidence. Ask any chemist (like me) who has used an Infrared Spectrometer daily.

          Dr Happer used actual data collected in the field. Real measurements from nature.

  10. When I was a kid in school, I was taught that the greenhouse effect was a good thing. I still believe that today(because it is).

    Thank you for all your hard work, Steve. Your research is most appreciated.

    I believe some of these Climate alarmists think that that people will forget about their past failed predictions. Then of course the alarmists change their predictions to fit the current climate trend and say that we predicted it all along. I try and retweet/share your information as much as I can to my followers, colleagues and friends. It’s also important to show the public that weather disasters have always occurred and they are not increasing because of my SUV.

    I hope that common sense is prevailing in the general public. I hope that everyday people are catching on to the extremism and what politicians are really up to.

    I fear that it could be a long fight. There are millions of kids in public schools that are being brainwashed that the planet is dying because their parents and grandparents burned coal for heat, cooking and survival. It is that indoctrination that will be hard to overcome.

    Most people are fickle. Right now it’s cold and snowy in most of the U.S. No major hurricanes have hit the U.S. in over 9 years. Arctic sea ice is rebounding and record sea ice around the Southern Ocean. So people may be a bit more skeptical. But believe you me, if we have a stretch of record highs, a hot summer, sea ice shrinks even a little bit or if we have a massive hurricane hit the U.S. next year(it’s only a matter of time before we get slammed again), the rhetoric will be back. The mainstream media will be filled with distortions, exaggerations and lies.

    Anyway, Thanks again Steve for all you do. Keep it up.

    • Gail Combs says:

      “I believe some of these Climate alarmists think that that people will forget about their past failed predictions.”
      That is why the government wants to control the internet.

      Right now they are settling for banning anyone who tries to bring the skeptic side of the debate up on progressive news media.

  11. hazze says:

    Think all sceptics of CAGW agree with you. But that mchanism is one of thousend interacting pieces in the puzzle that becomes our climate…its chaotic.we should not pretend that each simple process observable in lab or theory really has that effect in reality.

  12. “The greenhouse effect is basic, fundamental science – like gravity.”

    No, the Greenhouse effect is a simplification of a very complex system whereas gravity is a very simple system.

    To show how the Greenhouse theory is not true in some instances, let me use a rather extreme example. Above 100km. the atmosphere heats up above surface level. If there were a “Greenhouse” gas (or more accurately an IR active gas) that were to sit in this layer, then rather than warming the world, it would cool it.

    The reason for this is best explained this way. If the surface is 15C,then anyone using an IR thermometer with a greenhouse gas free atmosphere would see a surface at 15C. If however, you then put a slightly opaque “greenhouse” gas at this 120km layer at around 50C, then measuring the IR temperature of the world from space, one would see the surface at 15C as before, but in addition we would partly “see” the 120km layer at a higher temperature.

    So, the average temperature of the world viewed from outside would increase. This necessarily means that heat loss increases and this “GREENHOUSE GAS” in this 120km layer will cause COOLING.

    And this dos actually happen. “Greenhouse” gases in this 120km layer will cool the world. It’s just that there’s so little atmosphere here that the effect is very small. But it is real.

    • Gravity is actually quite complex, but how it directly affects us at the surface isn’t.

      • OK – Gravity is complex – it’s its a law whereas Greenhouse gas is more a “rule of thumb” which works to explain what is happening when the atmosphere is colder than the surface (which it usually is)

        But whilst on the subject. Did you ever read Hermann Harde’s paper: Only 0.6C warming – IPCC must now scale down warming prediction.

        If you want a scandal then this really goes to the heart of the subject.

        What Harde has found is that if you use the latest HITRAN IR spectrum data (not 1998 as the IPCC use) then the calculated value of CO2 warming drops by 30%.

        And the IPCC are clearly embarrassed by this figure as they studiously avoid putting the only real science in any of their reports (except once as a footnote).

        So, not once (as far as I can see) have they actually stated the level of CO2 warming. Instead they only ever state CO2+Feedbacks and this “CO2+feedbacks” is non-science.

    • Gail Combs says:

      Please look at Dr. Happer’s slides and listen to his lecture since he combines theory with real life data.

      • policycritic says:

        The site touts “Note: at noon the same day, Prof. Happer delivered a less-technical lecture at the John Locke Foundation, in Raleigh, NC: Watch this video »”
        [video src="" /]

        Watching the video now. His bio is impressive. Thanks for directing me there, Gail. Will watch this video and then listen to the audio with the slides.

  13. emsnews says:

    Ah, gravity! It all depends on where you are looking, at a distant mega-galactic powerhouse like The Great Attractor (which is eventually going to suck us into its maw in another ten billion years!) or a small moon that has only a little pull. 🙂 Then there are the black holes….

  14. Mike says:

    OK, how about a position on solar activity. I kid, I kid.

  15. richard says:

    I have always been under the assumption that to increase the warmth of a hotter object or area from a cooler one you would need a thermal heat pump/ Ground Source Heat Pumps. – obviously not needed in Iceland. Even if the ground was the same temp as the source I wanted to increases in temp I would still need a Ground Source Heat Pump.

    So turning this upside down if i wanted to heat the lower atmos from a higher point surely the same would be true?

  16. Steve Case says:

    The sun strikes the Earth’s surface, and warms it. This causes the Earth to radiate longwave radiation up through the atmosphere. Some of this radiation is captured by molecules of greenhouse gas, which causes the air to warm. Warm greenhouse gases in turn radiate more longwave radiation, half of which radiates downwards towards Earth and warms the Earth’s surface further.

    The atmosphere does not warm the surface. The ocean is warmer than the air. Colder bodies don’t warm warmer ones. All that happens is the downwelling longwave radiation cancels out similar radiation on the way up. The surface does warm up in response, but it’s the SUN that does the warming.

    Maybe you think I”m hair splitting here, but claiming the back radiation from greenhouse gas warms the surface leads to all sorts of wrong headed claims.

    • I’m not willing to entertain this argument any more. It is based on not listening, not reading, and not understanding what is being said. It is a straw man argument which has absolutely nothing to do with what is being discussed.

      Blankets warm you, but they do not warm you above your body temperature. They do not violate the laws of thermodynamics. They are not energy sources. They act as an insulator.

      I am going to start spamming all comments which bring this up.

      • Gail Combs says:

        I think the protest is over the phrase “… warms the Earth’s surface further.”
        which is not entirely accurate since GHGs acts to retard the loss of heat.

        In vectors.
        Earth ==========> Atmosphere
        Atmosphere ==> Earth
        so the net is:
        Earth =======> Atmosphere
        That does not violate the laws of thermodynamics however the earth ends up a bit warmer then it otherwise would have been.

        • During the day, GHG’s increase the rate of warming.

          It is a meaningless straw man argument, and I suspect was planted by alarmists to make skeptics look stupid.

  17. richard says:

    “it’s the SUN that does the warming” and the amount of GHG dictates how slow the cooling?

    • At night they reduce the rate of cooling. During the day, they increase the rate of warming. It is a meaningless distinction. People need to stop getting hung up on this nonsense.

    • Gail Combs says:

      In simple terms yes. As far as I have been able to find out.

      • David A says:

        It is increases the residence time of some energy in the atmosphere, which would otherwise escape the atmosphere. (Providing the energy it redirects comes from upwelling LWIR, and not from conductive collision from a non GHG molecule)

        It clearly does not change the input, therefore the only way ANYTHING that is not a change in input can change or increase the energy within a system (this time defined as the atmosphere) is to increase the residence time of some aspect of energy within the system.

        It really is no different then adding water to a pool that is leaking out through a hole, and loss and input are equal, so the water level stays the same. Increase the residence time of some of the water in the pool, (partially block the leak) and the water level will rise.

    • jae43 says:

      Stephen: Methinks thou dost protest too much. You must have some serious doubts about the “greenhouse effect,” or you just want to stir things up, since u keep repeating yourself . Your overly simplistic explanation completely ignores thermalization and the fact that about half of the incoming solar radiation is longwave (IR).

      I am convinced that convection and thermalization completely overwhelm any radiative effects. Why is the increased CO2 not having any effects on temperatured? Why is it hotter in Phoenix than Atlanta?

      See the recent article in PNAS that I linked earlier, which agrees with me. Where is your rebuttal?

      See the articles disproving the radiative warming effects at Principia Scientific International. SOMEBODY should show why they are wrong and not just keep repeating the standard mantra.

      • I have covered those issues over and over and over again. You are making straw man arguments about things that are not in dispute.

      • Gail Combs says:

        “Why is the increased CO2 not having any effects on temperature?”
        Because the increased CO2 has caused increased plant growth. The plants took up energy from the sun plus the extra CO2 plus water and converted it via photosynthesis into sugars. This converted incoming energy in to the chemical energy stored in plants.

        Do you think I can sell that explanation to the Vegan Greenies?

  18. Robert B says:

    “Warm greenhouse gases in turn radiate more longwave radiation, half of which radiates downwards towards Earth and warms the Earth’s surface further.”

    The temperature gradient is important here. If it were not there then there would be no insulation from back radiation. The back radiation is not necessary for a temperature gradient (I’m not saying that its not important for transfer of energy).

    A tightly wrapped space blanket works by being a poor emitter. A black bag with a gap between the body and the bag would also work, not because of back radiation but because the bag would be cooler than the body.

    I was enlightened by warmies. They don’t make it very public for obvious reasons and I’m not a plant.

  19. higley7 says:

    “Warm greenhouse gases in turn radiate more longwave radiation, half of which radiates downwards towards Earth and warms the Earth’s surface further.”

    What I do not get here is, how can the LW radiation from the cooler air warm the surface, which is always warmer than the air? The energy levels equivalent to the LW radiation in the surface are already filled and thus the radiation will be reflected back upward. That’s the problem with this model, in terms of thermodynamics. The climate models have sunlight 24/7 and the GHGs will be saturated and also the factor that dissipates energy from he GHS as heat is rather small. It will warm the atmosphere a tiny bit, but then they are just as capable of converting heat energy to LW radiation, making the effect in sunlight probably a wash. A GH effect, yes, but not rather small.

    • Curt says:

      highley: Radiative absorption does not work that way. Objects of many different temperatures can emit radiation of the same wavelength. That radiation carries absolutely no information about the temperature of the object emitting it (or in fact whether it was thermally emitted at all).

      The receiving object cannot discern whether the radiation of this wavelength came from an object of higher, lower, or the same temperature. All that matters is its absorptivity (between 0 and 100%) for this wavelength, which determines the odds that it will absorb this radiation and thereby increase its own internal energy (which usually means “warming up”).

      But because absorptivity always equals emissivity at any wavelength, and a higher temperature body always emits more than a lower temperature body at any wavelength, the resulting overall power transfer will be from hotter to colder.

      Oh, and the climate models most certainly do NOT assume 24/7 sunlight. Most have an update period of about 15 minutes (IIRC) and compute the angle of each cell over the earth’s surface to the sun — of course, half of the cells in any time period receive no sunlight at all.

      Do not mistake the simplified cartoon drawings that attempt to explain basic concepts for what the real calculations are. The models have MANY issues, but this is not one of them.

  20. kuhnkat says:

    “The vast majority of this warming is near the Earth’s surface, and is due to H2O molecules, rather than CO2. Forecasts of large amounts of CO2 warming, are not based on any legitimate science.”

    Yesireee Buddy!!!

    I would modify one of your memes though. You, like many other luke warmers, hang onto the 30c increase due to GHG’s like I hang onto my Bible. What is wrong with it?? It conflates the physics of various items in our environment and assigns them ALL to GHG’s. For instance, you correctly point out the importance of the double point of water and the large amounts of energy it entails. So tell me, what temperature does ice melt and water evaporate?? Well it depends. For freezing it depends a lot on the impurities. For evaporation it also depends on the PRESSURE!!! With no air pressure there would be no oceans as the water would evaporate at ridiculously low temps. Well, that is an overstatement as the water vapor would become an atmosphere as gravity would keep it around. Still, the temp is partially set by the amount of pressure at the surface!!

    The point is that the GHG’s radiative properties do NOT provide the full 30c by themselves.

    Another excellent example of how weak the radiative properties of GHG’s are is found in research looking to enhance the greenhouses for growing plants. Differing IR blocking films have had very poor performance with some experiments actually showing a LOSS over clear plastic!! Obviously there is more to it than just GHG’s. Racehorse tried to sandbag me with a GreenHouse experiment years ago that showed several degrees improvement with special films. Actually reading the research turned up the FACT that the higher performing film was actually coated to prevent condensation. If the water vapor condenses on the film it dumps its heat through CONDUCTION and warms the film which then radiates part of it outside!! Preventing condensation was the real workhorse!!

  21. Anne Ominous says:

    Steve, with all due respect — and I do respect your position and all you’ve done — you should leave the physics to the physicists.

    Now don’t get the wrong idea: I’m not about to try to tell you there is no such thing as a greenhouse effect. But the basic “back-radiation” model of how it works, which is the one generally assumed by the CO2 warming models, is fundamentally unsound.

    Explaining how radiative heat transfer works is difficult because it is very counterintuitive. But the fact is that radiative heat transfer does NOT work like a blanket, nor does it work like a reflector. Those are very different things and they work by very different mechanisms.

    And yes, people have been observing absorption and emission of radiation at various wavelengths for well over a century, but it wasn’t understood very well at first, and most people don’t know squat about it even now. Arrhenius for example was quite wrong, and we are suffering the effects of that even now. (His CO2 law was not necessarily wrong, but his generalization of it to the whole atmosphere is not supported by either science or observation.)

    But I just want to say this: I implore you, do NOT do like so many others and compare the greenhouse effect to insulators or reflectors. Those who do add to the confusion and actually play in to the bad science of some of these AGW models.

    An insulator — like a coat or a blanket or styrofoam in the walls — works by preventing heat loss by CONDUCTION and CONVECTION. It has very little effect on radiative heat loss or transfer, except for a slight delay as the insulator itself warms.

    A reflector is just what the name implies… it actually reflects the radiation. A reflector can slow heat loss by radiation. Recently, I read a comment by someone claiming they could prove the concept of “back radiation” by measuring the radiation coming off of clouds vs clear sky… but that’s nonsense, of course. That’s REFLECTION. The fact that after a sunny day, it tends to stay warmer at night when there is cloud cover as opposed to when it is clear, is the result almost entirely of reflection.

    Absorption and re-radiation — a part of the “back radiation” idea — works very differently from either of those. As you say elsewhere: absent any reflectors, the RADIATIVE loss from an insulator wrapped around you is dependent almost entirely on the heat source (you).

  22. PeterMG says:

    I just want to thank Steve/Tony for his dogged determination. For whilst I disagree with him over some matters, some of the comments and conversation has helped me hugely understand some of the counterintuitive aspects of the way our atmosphere works. I hope Steve/Tony you can put your frustration away and let discussion of this subject continue. It is helping others enormously, especially those like myself who realise we know diddly squat about the atmosphere and need more open forums to encourage real physicists out into the open so that we all benefit from their collective knowledge.

    • That is my intention. But in order for that to happen, people who didn’t accept the most basic absorption/emission physics had to be removed from constantly disrupting the conversation with their personal attacks.

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