Merry Christmas From the Air Vent

It is a time of reflection and hope for the new year. A time when so many celebrate their beliefs, even those who don’t. It’s time to put aside our differences and look to what we all hope for the future. Its Christmas baby and there’s over a foot of snow on the ground!

The Air Vent has over 90,000 views since it’s inception in August, several top posts on wordpress and is still climbing. Of course its your contribution which makes this entertaining so thanks so much. I remember when The Air Vent started I made some post which said everything in life has consequences, except perhaps blogging to no one. With 12 clicks that first week I didn’t know what it would become.

Thanks to everyone for the great comments and I wish you all the best in the coming year.


12 thoughts on “Merry Christmas From the Air Vent

  1. Jeff I check your blog everyday despite the low activity rate. Your discussions are both intelligent and honest. I hope more people will begin to contribute. On a number of different blogs I have come across the notion that the greenhouse gas theory somehow violates the second law of Thermodynamics. Would you care to comment on this idea? The internet has so many “kooks” on it that it is hard to find someone who I can trust.
    This is a quote from William Pinn:

    “According to real scientists who ascribe to the real second law of thermodynamics–and not computer models–heat flows to where it is cooler. The coolest thing closest to a CO2 molecule is outer space with a temperature of around zero degrees Kelvin. The lower atmosphere is more than 273 degrees hotter, so why would heat go that way”
    Here is another paper from the I love my co2 blog
    Greenhouse Gas Hypothesis Violates Fundamentals of Physics by Dipl.-Ing. Heinz Thieme
    Have a wonderful Christmas- Alf

  2. Alf,

    Thanks for reading.

    I checked the links you sent and I have to be honest. Don’t read this stuff, it will suck the brains right out of your ears. 🙂 Those who wrote these posts don’t have the basic understanding (I hope) of why global warming works. If they were right the discussion would have ended long ago but the problem is not so simple.

    Link 1 claims that global warming requires that heat doesn’t leave the atpmosphere and must enter from cold space to be true. Well, unfortunately for them they forgot about the sun and the sun… is hot. The discussion then becomes how fast does it leave the earth.

    Link 2 mixes up the stated cause of global warming by CO2 with its heat content. i.e. how much energy does it take to warm a mass of CO2. This is again completely different from how fast does heat become re-radiated into space which is the main issue in global warming. I hope this was just bad science and not intentional.

    Link 3 has the same problems but is better written. Here’s a quote

    “These facts are slowly but surely dawning on climatologists. Grassl and others state (see above) that radiation absorbed by CO2-molecules will warm the atmosphere if no other reactions occur in the physical (in particular dynamic) processes in the earth/atmosphere system. In these “idealised conditions”, they say the greenhouse effect would be inevitable. Such “idealised conditions” must obviously include the proviso that air is stationary. It is really quite absurd that even now something so obvious as that hot air rises is not properly taken into account by the climatological profession. When air is heated up locally, it ascends and the warmth is removed. It also expands with decreasing atmospheric pressure at higher altitude, and cools so that no remaining warming can be observed. The warmth taken over by the absorbing air is transported toward the upper troposphere. The greenhouse effect does not occur.”

    While convection represents a potential feedback mechanism for release of excess heat of CO2 (more heat so more energy is released), the same CO2 molecule has the potential of catching another photon of infrared light and keeping it in the earth no matter which altitude it is at. The statement that because of convection the greenhouse effect does not occur is way over the top so I question the source. Had they claimed a reduction of warming or if there was model data with convection built in demonstrating the effect eliminates all warming I would listen more closely. It doesn’t make much sense to me because convection of warmer molecules are still warmer molecules! Again, the problem becomes not that it is impossible to trap more heat but how much heat is trapped.


    The basic method of global warming is high frequency visible light from a grey body radiator such as the sun heated to about 2850 deg K shines on the earth with most of the energy passing through the atmosphere easily. The earth heats to around 280K on average (I don’t have this number so I’m guessing 280) and re-radiates as a grey body emitter at this lower heat. The spectrum of lower heat level emissions from earth is primarily infrared which is absorbed substantially by water vapor and CO2. This means the light comes in and most makes it through. It is absorbed by earth and re-emitted as radiant heat. The atmosphere catches a higher percentage of the outgoing spectrum. — It does not mean that heat does not escape the earth according to the laws of thermodynamics — which I have had several classes on.

    This means the mechanism for AGW is sound, but the amount is unknown and could in fact be very small. I am personally certain that there are multiple feedback mechanisms in our atmosphere which are undiscovered or un-compensated for (I would expect convection to be considered but I haven’t studied the models yet). It’s easy for me to believe that because without them the atmosphere would probably have gone out of control long ago. You don’t find round rocks perched on the sides of steep hills!

    Merry Christmas to you to.

  3. Thanks Jeff: I have trouble navigating my way through all the scientific arguments since I have no background in science other then having spent some time trying to understand the philosophy of science, so I cannot base my skepticism on good analysis of the science involved. I need a layman’s explanation. My skepticism is more based on intuition and that in itself is not a good guide. As a paraglider pilot I do have some practical experience with the chaotic nature of weather systems. On a good thermal day it can be 80 degrees F on the ground yet you get dressed warm otherwise you will freeze at 10 or 12 thousand feet ASL. So ground station temp. do not represent an average temp. of the laps rate. I suppose climate models have taken that into consideration. Thanks again for the reply.

  4. Alf,

    There is no doubt that the method that the earth’s energy (received mostly as light from the sun) is radiated back out to space is complex, involving both convection and radiation. The real problem is that the earth’s atmosphere does not behave like a greenhouse, so the term greenhouse effect is totally wrong and misleading. The glass in a greenhouse prevents convection and does not stop infrared radiation. The atmosphere does not have a roof that stops convection, so that a lot of the heat is transported upwards by convection. As the air rises it expands due to the lower pressure (an expanding gas does work, at the expense of internal energy, and so cools). Thus the air temperature falls with altitude (about 1C every 150m). The air molecules are also radiating according to the absolute temp to the power 4. As space is at about 0deg abs, ultimately the earth’s energy balance ensures that the energy received from the sun equals that radiated to space. But in the meantime the air molecules are receiving radiation and emitting radiation in all directions. All very complex! I suggest having a read of Stephen Wilde’s article “Greenhouse confusion resolved” at

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

    And of course congratulations to Jeff for such success in only a few months.

  5. Jeff,

    thank you for your diligent, worthwhile and – as I just posted on Climate Audit, a word not normally associated with climate science – humble posts throughout the year.

    A Merry Christmas to you and your family and a Happy New Year!


  6. Phillip
    I have read Stephen Wilde’s article and was thinking of getting Jeff to comment on it. It was the co2 skeptic blog which got me wondering about the actual role that co2 plays as a greenhouse gas, though the blog seems, in my mind to be a little suspect. I am trying to get my mind around the whole “greenhouse thing” and have read a number of articles pointing out the fallacy of the greenhouse analogy.
    “an expanding gas does work, at the expense of internal energy, and so cools”
    Does this explain what happens to the energy in a molecule when a gas expanse? Could you explain? How does the conservation of energy apply?
    I hope I am not asking ignorant question but I think a site is need where lay people can have some of these complex things related to climate explained. It sucks having to depend on “consensus”.

  7. Phillip and Alf,

    As I read it, Stephen’s claims revolve around the fact that additional CO2 doesn’t result in additional radiation capture or at least very little. If that’s the case, he is right.

    For alf,

    Expanding gas does not always do work. In some cases it does, such as piston engines where work is done on the piston resulting in additional cooling of the gas.

    Gas expanding into a vacuum does no work but also cools from the expansion.

    Temperature is a combination of the velocity of the material’s atoms and the number of interactions/impacts per second. If gas expands into a vacuum some of the molecules strike nothing on the way out but the number of interactions drops rapidly with volume.

    If you climb to a higher altitude in a paraglider (sounds awesome) there are less air molecules and therefore less collisions and lower temp.

  8. re: #8 John F. Pittman

    This is an fascinating piece of “shovel work” by Willis. Also interesting implications with Santer et al (assuming it is sound). Joel Shore commented about the possibility of artifacts due to legnth of the time series or truncation so it obviously needs to withstand some scrutiny. In any event, Willis E. is one sharp “cookie” – as Lucia might say.

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