Specific Heat of CO2
If CO2 has a higher specific heat than another gas, it heats up slower within its daily time of heating than does the other gas. Within its limited heating period, a high specific heat gas heats up to a lower temperature but then cools off slower while exchanging the same amount of daily heat. The truly high specific heat material of the planet Venus is the basaltic surface material of the planet itself.
It is claimed that CO2 captures more heat in the infrared as it radiates away from Earth than do other gases. While this may be true, the molecules of CO2 are not like tiny mirrors that reflect heat back to the source. Once an atmospheric gas molecule has absorbed a photon or a sort of packet of heat, the molecule’s size increases and subsequently, the molecule’s density drops. Amongst “cooler” molecules, the reduced density molecule then climbs away from Earth in a convective fashion; it climbs away from Earth above cooler higher density gases.
Cooler gases always travel down toward Earth’s surface while hotter gases always travel up and away. As if on a conveyor belt, heat moves away from the planet’s surface in a convective fashion. At some instant during its travel away from Earth, it gives up its photon packet of heat in a random direction. Often the heat is absorbed into another molecule that, as a result, begins its own climb away from Earth. The photon, like a ball bouncing randomly in a pinball machine, ultimately is lost to space. In a pinball machine, the downhill slope eventually wins out over the pinball. With heat flow in the atmosphere, the downhill slope is decidedly away from Earth.
In addition to convection, there is another contributor to heat flow’s downhill slope away from Earth. That which a photon “sees” above is of decreasing density due to falling pressure. Odds are much higher that heat will ultimately eject away into space rather than making its way back to Earth. In addition, space is a much bigger target than is Earth- the curvature of Earth’s horizon is especially significant at higher atmospheric altitudes.
Only the photons that hit Earth contribute to an increase in Earth’s temperature. Those photons that are bouncing around in the atmosphere do not contribute to Earth’s temperature.
Looking down on Earth through the atmosphere, how does a satellite distinguish between surface temperature and the emission of heat out of the atmosphere? While a particular photon is bouncing around in the atmosphere, it has no measurable effect from a satellite above. Satellites measure only that heat that has left Earth’s surface and that which has left Earth’s atmosphere. A temporarily elevated satellite reading in the infrared could easily indicate a cooler temperature at Earth’s surface but with a warmer upper atmosphere since all heat passes through the atmosphere.
With current strategies centered on CO2’s properties, too many variables including many that are seemingly random are involved to yield any definite solution concerning warming trends- equations are missing. A new strategy is required. However, this computation does not require new science but is thermodynamics; it is a mechanical engineering problem involving the refrigerant properties of water. The “laws” of physics thoroughly describe radiant and convective heat flow, thermal properties of gases, etc… Either the problem’s clear certainty, or an end to the wasted resources inherent with the policies of panic, requires a different approach for solution.
Except for its partial pressure contribution to global atmospheric pressure, forget about CO2. Desert regions are hot because they are devoid of all liquid refrigerant; they are devoid of water- hot such as the Atacama Desert where insolation is near maximum and where rainfall and evaporation is virtually zero. Cold desert regions such as the Polar Regions are naturally cold because insolation is minimal there. Mountain peaks are cold because
they are at a lower pressure level, and at lower pressure, water’s refrigerant properties dictate a lower temperature. Water’s capacity as a refrigerant moderates Earth’s surface temperatures overwhelmingly- much more so than can any blanket of atmosphere made of non-condensable gases at constant pressure.
With world population having exploded, trouble in one form or another, atmospheric or otherwise, seems to be a given. Add to that the probability of unexpected natural phenomena such as volcanism, meteor strikes, and a fluctuating magnetic field. An atmospheric catastrophe may be looming on the horizon but the factors involved are immense and there is no real chance the activities of the world’s population could be organized to stop it- no matter what the cause.
If temperatures are going up and glaciers are receding, the logical causes, once discovered, will not likely be humanly fixable. Making such a fix is akin to changing the weather- a proposition that has been danced around throughout humanity’s existence. The Sun’s energy fluctuates and nothing can be done about it. The level of solar energy reaching Earth’s surface varies with conditions on the Sun and with Earth’s magnetic field fluctuations and again, it is entirely beyond human control. The continents are moving, their temperatures vary, and it is not controllable.
The insolation variations that result in temperature fluctuations at Earth’s surface, especially the sea’s surface, are likely the real cause of variations in atmospheric CO2 levels. Although more rain scrubs CO2 out of the atmosphere when conditions are warmer, warmer surface water does not absorb CO2 as readily as does cold surface water. Water, once frozen, does not absorb any CO2- yet another form of stability in the Earth System.
One cannot even claim that global warming, if it is occurring, is bad- bad for Earth’s living inhabitants and their eco-systems. In fact, wetter warmer climates support more life, both animal and vegetable, than do colder climates. A warmer climate does not doom Earth’s living inhabitants, yet a colder climate may. In every case, proposed solutions are economically catastrophic while a warming planet is only an inconvenience. We are fortunate that Earth’s water cycle has some built in properties that prevent runaway atmospheric conditions.