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The Concept of Distance
Distance is never accounted for properly in the global warming arena. Increasing the amount of CO2 in the air can only shorten the distance that radiation travels before being absorbed.
Near the earth's surface carbon dioxide absorbs all radiation available at its absorption peak in 10 meters (m). At 5 kilometers (km) of height in the atmosphere, the density of the atmosphere is about one half that of sea level, so carbon dioxide absorbs all radiation available to it at that height in 20 m. At 16 km of height (within the stratosphere) atmospheric density is about one tenth that of sea level, so carbon dioxide absorbs all radiation available to it in 100 m. That's not much distance. It's about a football field.
In the playpen reality of unrealistic persons such as Al Gore, there seems to be an assumption that radiation either goes from the earth's surface into outer space or it gets stopped along the way by greenhouse gasses. At very long wavelengths, some radiation does go from the earth's surface into outer space, but not at the wavelengths which are absorbed by greenhouse gasses. The shorter the wavelength, the easier infrared radiation gets absorbed or reflected.
So global warming is about shortening the distance that radiation travels. How do you get increased heat from shorter distance? In very unusual circumstances, slight increases in heat could be theorized, but if people knew how slight such effects are, they would stop destroying their economy to remove CO2 from the air.
A common error is to assume that shorter distance for radiation absorption always results in an increase in heat, because doing so would hold heat in. It doesn't, because all radiation which originates within the atmosphere moves in all directions equally. Shortening the distance radiation moves downward as well as upward does not change the location of the heat.
The official propagandists assume heat leaves the earth at approximately 5 km height, where the temperature is typically -19°C, because the Stefan-Boltzmann constant says 235 W/m2 will be emitted at -19°C. They then look for the increased heat due to global warming at 5 km in the atmosphere, and they don't find it. But that doesn't change their determination to promote their scam.
There is such a huge number of complex, interacting factors in climate that humans don't have the slightest ability to evaluate them and predict what the result will be. But nature balances them all and shows a result. Here's what nature shows about distance:
The lower atmosphere, called troposphere, extends to a height of about 10-12 km. Throughout the troposphere, the temperature decreases with height. The heat loss is a result of radiation. So the temperature change is nature's measurement of radiation emitted from the atmosphere. Some radiation is emitted from the earth's surface into space (mostly long wavelength infrared); some radiation is emitted from 1 km of height; and some is emitted from 10 km of height.
Radiation is emitted from all heights of the troposphere based on the interacting factors of wavelength, temperature and physical properties of molecules, such as fingerprint absorption spectra of greenhouse gasses. To look at 5 km for something is ridiculous.
If the Stefan-Boltzmann constant were corrected, it would show about one fifth to one tenth as much radiation given off at normal temperatures. Instead of the continuous, average heat loss from the earth of 235 W/m2 being given off at -19°C, it would occur at something like 40°C.
But gasses would not emit as solids do. So there is no layer or surface at 40°C where the radiation is emitted. The radiation just heads outward from wherever it is until it gets to outer space. The changing temperature of the atmosphere shows where it departs from. It leaves from the entire atmosphere.
The longest wave radiation gets into space from the earth's surface and lower atmosphere. When greenhouse gasses absorb radiation, it is re-emitted as blackbody radiation which includes all frequencies. So long wave radiation gets emitted again throughout the atmosphere.
Most shortwave infrared radiation cannot leave the atmosphere except high above the troposphere, because it gets blocked by greenhouse gasses. A small amount may go around the greenhouse gasses. There is so little energy left by the time shortwave radiation stops being absorbed by greenhouse gasses and escapes into space that no noticeable temperature change occurs at that height, which is in the stratosphere and higher.
Some persons don't seem to grasp the fact that global warming has an ing on the end. That means change. It has to do something different. Carbon dioxide absorbing radiation is not something different; it is what nature does. Propagandists don't want people to realize that nature already does everything humans could possibly do many times over. So the ing (change) which humans add to global warm is so miniscule and occurs so high in the stratosphere that it is irrelevant.