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Gary Novak

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Because of Dilution, Heating with Greenhouse Gases is Impossible


CO2 heat

To heat the air 1C, each CO2 molecule would have to be 2,500C—an impossibility.

This is because there are 2,500 air molecules surrounding each CO2 molecule with carbon dioxide at 400 parts per million in the atmosphere. The so-called greenhouse gases are too dilute to heat the surrounding air.


On top of that, saturation only allows a small percent of the CO2 to be adding heat. No one can say what percent, but the the figure 5% used to be used—perhaps being ignored later due to being ridiculously high. That number would require increasing the dilution by another factor of 20, which is 50,000C for each CO2 molecule.

bell curve

Actually, one thousandths of the CO2 would still saturate, which means the 2,500 dilution would be 2.5 million dilution at the break-point for saturation. The reason is because saturation occurs in 10 meters for most of the CO2. Dividing 10 meters by 1,000 is 10 kilometers, which is the edge of the troposphere.


Climatologists admit that the temperature of the CO2 molecules in the air is about the same as the temperature of the rest of the air, which would have to be the case. Yet each CO2 molecule is supposed to heat the surrounding 2,500 air molecules to 1C upon doubling the amount of CO2 in the air.

Doing this would require CO2 to be a cold conduit for heat. There is no such thing as a cold conduit for heat. Temperature conductivity coefficients show that a very significant temperature gradient is needed to conduct heat.

If heat were passing through CO2 at almost the same temperature as the atmosphere and heating the rest of the air molecules, the heat would need to be accumulating in the air. Accumulation of heat cannot occur in the atmosphere. Absorbed radiation is re-emitted in 83 femto seconds.

Continuous Energy Transfer

The required 2,500C temperature for CO2 to heat the whole atmosphere by 1C average is a one-time addition. It only shows the nature of dilution. In actuality, the radiation flows create a dynamic system with energy flowing in and out constantly.

The one-time analysis does not indicate what the actual temperature would have to be for each CO2 molecule to heat the surrounding 2,500 molecules to 1C average. If the heat loss were extremely fast, the temperature of each CO2 molecule would have to be close to 2,500C. If the heat loss were extremely slow, the CO2 would be less than 2,500C.

temperature peaksThe heat loss is extremely fast, which means each CO2 molecule would have to be close to 2,500C to create an average atmospheric temperature of 1C.

The task would be like trying to heat a brick building by heating one brick. What temperature would that brick have to be to heat the whole building 1C average? If the heat were disappearing very fast, the brick would have to be extremely hot. If the heat were disappearing slowly, the brick would not have to be so hot.

A Calculation for Continuous Dissipation

molecules radiatingAn analysis of continuous absorption and re-emission of radiation goes like this: Each time a CO2 molecule bumps a surrounding molecule, it loses half its energy through conduction, and it loses energy through radiation. But the energy is constantly being replaced. Losing half of the energy while being replaced at the same rate would result in three fourths of the energy being retained. Reduction to three fourths would be 1875C.

The CO2 molecule is also emitting radiation while absorbing radiation. If rates were equal, another reduction by half would be required for loss of energy to sustain the needed temperature, which results in 2188C being the required temperature for transferring enough heat to the surrounding 2,500 air molecules for 1C average air temperature increase. The remaining 312 units of heat as temperature increase would be distributed between the molecules which CO2 bumps into. It would bump into about five surrounding molecules heating each one by 62C—that is to get the required 1C total over 2,500 molecules.

However, the absorbed radiation is fingerprint radiation, which is weaker than the emitted radiation, which is black body radiation. The fingerprint radiation which CO2 absorbs is 8% of black body radiation. This means emission is 12.5 times stronger than absorption.

But equilibrium would require emission to equal absorption. The higher tendency to emit than to absorb would drag down the temperature increase by CO2. Hypotheticals break down at this point, because the needed 2,500C is a total absurdity to start with.

What would actually occur is that the CO2 would only be heated trillionths of a degree centigrade, and no greenhouse effect would occur. Why trillionths of a degree? Because radiation is extremely weak. It's energy is dissipated in femto seconds. The energy cannot build up. This effect rides on top of normal temperatures, which are mostly produced through conduction, convection and evaporation.

If energy were coming from a warm earth and going into a cold atmosphere, more time would be required to re-emit the energy. But most of the radiation in the atmosphere moves less than ten meters, because saturation occurs within ten meters