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One of the many anthropogenic climate change deniers on the Quora question and answer site pointed me to a lengthy study by father and son climate deniers Michael and Ronan Connolly: https://globalwarmingsolved.com/start-here/ which includes links to eight long papers, as some sort of ‘proof’ of no AGW. Deniers will run with any old bit of pseudoscience, misinformation or selective data if it suggests that AGW isn’t happening and that what we’re seeing is something else: natural warming, cooling, nothing. We went back and forth a few times and this is his most recent post to me:

“Had a quick look at your link [http://variable-variability.blogspot.com/2014/02/global-warming-solved-in-open-peer.html] and find it to be unconvincing, verging on ad hominem.

What you and other true-believers in pseudo-science fail to understand is that, if IR absorbing substances (the majority of which, by the way, is water vapour, not CO2), had any effect on the atmosphere then the lapse rate would be affected, ie, the temperature of the atmosphere with altitude would not accord perfectly with thermodynamic and physical laws. The measured lapse rate does accord with these laws and therefore one can validly conclude that IR absorbing gases have no appreciable effect on the earth’s atmospheric temperature.

If you or your clutch of believers can prove otherwise through the analysis of many millions of weather balloon readings, they you will have proven your thesis. Given no one has been able to do that, any other opinion is a as relevant as a fart against thunder. :-)”

This guy claims an honours degree in mechanical engineering majoring in thermodynamics of gas and steam. Anyway, my response is below. I haven’t heard back. Perhaps he now realises that he and Connolly and Connolly are talking nonsense. I doubt it though.

“What can one say about such convoluted research and set of papers as that put together by Connolly and Connolly seven years ago. The link is attacking the research findings and the method of publication rather than anything personal. No one else is involved with the ‘Open Peer Review Journal: for rigorous open peer review’ except C&C and the papers aren’t peer reviewed. Most of the blog page discusses C&C’s findings such as most global warming being due to urbanisation. No. The temperature data adjustment process takes care of the heat island effect.

As I said before, most of the science is probably okay (and perhaps taken from Ronan’s textbooks?) although there is certainly some pseudoscience in there, and the conclusions are wrong as I explained in detail on Monday. They talk about the globe switching naturally between warming and cooling with each lasting several decades. There is no such cycle. They say the last warming period was the 1980s to 2000s. Not true. It’s 1970s to current. And they say it was just as warm in the 1930s and 1940s as now. Not true. The 1930s were warm in the US but not globally. Temperatures increased globally from the 1900s to the 1940s due to an increase in solar activity. They then fell slightly due to aerosols from the 1940s to the 1970s, and have since increased due to our emissions. About the only temperatures that might be higher in the 1930s and 1940s than now are raw data on the US (2% of the globe) due to a US heatwave in the 1930s and due to high raw temperature data because of the heat island effect in city and town centres before weather stations moved to airports. They mention “the existence of a previously unreported phase change” in relation to temperature changes with altitude. They fall with altitude in the troposphere, are basically unchanged in the tropopause and then increase in the rest of the stratosphere; this has been known for decades. They talk about a “light phase” in the troposphere and a “heavy phase” in the upper troposphere and stratosphere and also in the lower troposphere of the Arctic. This light phase / heavy phase thing of C&C’s and their other stuff has been around for seven years and bits of it are copied onto a few denier blogs. But no one else seems to be talking about light phase / heavy phase or doing any further research into it. I think it’s just C&C inventing a bit of jargon like they’ve found something new. But it seems to be just the usual phase change between the troposphere and stratosphere.

C&C only look at North American weather balloons and up to 35 km for certain dates around 2010–11, thus there is no time series, just seasonal variations. Temperatures fall with altitude in the troposphere, are unchanged in the tropopause and then increase for the rest of the stratosphere. None of this is new. They talk about temperature changes being accounted for by water content and some “previously overlooked phase change”. But virtually all water, including water vapour, is within the troposphere. Re this phase change thing, they resort to a bunch of approximations: “Well, since we calculated the molar densities from the temperature and pressure measurements of the balloons, we can also convert molar densities back into temperature values. Since we found that the relationship between molar density and pressure was almost linear in each region, we decided to calculate what the temperatures would be if the relationship was exactly linear. For the measurements of each weather balloon, we calculated the best linear fit for each of the regions … We then converted these linear fits back into temperature estimates for each of the pressures measured by the balloons.” But the temperature values will include the effects of greenhouse gases, solar activity, albedo, volcanic activity, etc. And the lapse rate won’t be uniform but will be affected by weather: wind, storms, etc. C&C later decide that the phase change “… is due to the partial multimerization of oxygen and/or nitrogen molecules in the atmosphere above the troposphere” (which happens anyway, naturally) rather than ozone heating (which hasn’t been happening naturally). Again, there’s been very little research into the former (most of it is by C&C) and a great deal into the latter. But regardless of which one is correct or if both are correct or both are incorrect, this doesn’t explain the warming at the Earth’s surface.

C&C have the idea that a greenhouse effect has to mean that the heat is permanently trapped and the Earth would get warmer and warmer every day and night. No. Some of the heat is radiated back to space. Besides, their idea here forgets about the role of the sun and its energy heating the Earth by day. The greenhouse effect simply reduces heat loss. They say that CO2 would be favoured as insulation in windows if it could heat. CO2 is a better conductor of heat than many gases. But among greenhouse gases, water vapour and methane are better than CO2 at this. Gases such as argon and krypton are the best for window insulation as they don’t break down. CO2 is less effective but does reduce heat transfer a little. You can’t conclude anything about the effectiveness or otherwise of CO2 as a greenhouse gas simply because other gases are favoured for window insulation. It’s an effective greenhouse gas as it stays in the atmosphere a long time. They talk about theoretical collision-induced heating of nitrogen and oxygen as the basis of the greenhouse effect in climate models (which is wrong). But the article they link to doesn’t say this at all. They then say the energy equilibrium of the atmosphere means the greenhouse effect can’t exist. This is rubbish too. Different things happen to both incoming and outgoing radiation. If somethings slows the outgoing radiation, such as greenhouse gases, this doesn’t mean there isn’t energy equilibrium. And on and on they go. A lot of it looks like textbook science and then they keep throwing in some odd and faulty conclusions.

Well down the Andy May article you link to [https://us-issues.com/2017/09/01/new-atmospheric-theory-explains-radiosonde-data-without-co2/], he says this: ‘IR-active atmospheric gases like water vapor and carbon dioxide do radiate IR in all directions and this can be detected, it is just that this radiation does not affect the atmospheric temperature profile significantly according to Connolly and Connolly’s work.’ Or as you say yourself ‘… one can validly conclude that IR absorbing gases have no appreciable effect on the earth’s atmospheric temperature’. It’s taken 40+ years (since the 1970s) for our emissions to push temperatures up a degree Celsius, so I suppose that this doesn’t sound like a significant or appreciable effect. But CO2 is increasing 100 times faster than coming out of the last glacial period and temperature 40 times faster. So that is very quick, far more than what would happen naturally. That is more than enough evidence in itself for anthropogenic global warming, apart from the experiments, observations, the science itself, thousands of scientific studies, a consensus view of climate scientists based on their research, and of course that there is no other explanation for the accelerating temperatures, accelerating ice melt, and accelerating sea level rise we’re seeing, plus the rapid increase in weather extremes and species extinction and vulnerability. Plus nothing else is causing the warming apart from our emissions (which I suppose is why deniers like to deny it’s warming). Solar activity is falling. Volcanic activity is low. The albedo effect, ocean currents, and earth’s axis tilt and orbit have all had little or no effect. Indeed, albedo, tilt and orbit all have only a long term effect which is currently one of cooling (we are supposed to be heading to another glacial period in thousands of years’ time). Changes in ocean currents are more a result of climate change rather than a cause of it. And of course there is a close correlation between CO2 and temperature as we’re seeing in recent decades, and also in the ice core data as another good example. The graphs show a very close correlation between temperatures and CO2 levels. Deniers like to think that in the warming periods, temperatures change first and then CO2 levels, and this is the impression one gets from looking at the graphs. But after a glacial period, it’s changes in earth’s orbit that initiate warming, not CO2. As the oceans warm, CO2 is released from there into the atmosphere. The increase in atmospheric CO2 (it’s risen from about 180 ppm to 280 ppm between glacial and interglacial periods) causes temperatures to increase as CO2 is a greenhouse gas. About 90% of the warming happened after the increase in atmospheric CO2. Yes, water vapour is far more abundant than CO2. But water vapour stays in the atmosphere an average of 7–10 days. A lot of CO2 can stay there up to hundreds, even thousands of years. Also, extra CO2 causes warming which causes extra evaporation and thus more water vapour (it’s up about 4% in the last 40 years), leading to greater temperature increases. For every degree of warming caused by extra CO2, the extra water vapour will lead to another roughly one degree of warming.”