Albert Einstein said no to CO2 radiative warming of the atmosphere

The hypothesis of global warming from man made CO2 depends on a much-repeated narrative about CO2 trapping infrared (IR) photons leaving the earth. Although a beguilingly simple idea, a host of assumptions underlie it. One of these is that the radiative photonic absorption – emission interactions of the trace gas CO2 dominate heat movement in the atmosphere. And it turns out, this argument, a pillar of the global warming theory, is false – it was refuted in advance by none other than Albert Einstein in 1917.

In this 1917 paper:

http://inspirehep.net/record/858448/files/eng.pdf

Einstein says this about radiative heating of a gas:

“During absorption and emission of radiation there is also present a transfer of momentum to the molecules. This means that just the interaction of radiation and molecules leads to a velocity distribution of the latter. This must surely be the same as the velocity distribution which molecules acquire as the result of their mutual interaction by collisions, that is, it must coincide with the Maxwell distribution. We must require that the mean kinetic energy which a molecule per degree of freedom acquires in a Plank radiation field of temperature T be

kT / 2

this must be valid regardless of the nature of the molecules and independent of frequencies which the molecules absorb and emit.”

Einstein understood like no other before or since the unity of mass, light and time. The equation e=mc^2 encapsulates this.

Mass, it turns out, is a condensed form of energy not really profoundly different from photons; mass is simply anything with inertia resisting acceleration: anything that slows you down. This PBS Space-Time video illuminates this unity, beginning with a nice demonstration of how a hypothetical box of photons which should have no mass, oppose acceleration and exert inertia exactly like mass.

https://youtu.be/gSKzgpt4HBU

A nice insight from this presentation is that the “speed” c is not merely the speed of light – it is the speed of causality, the fastest speed that any cause-effect agency can transmit influence. It is fundamental to space-time and the universe’s architecture.

This fundamental truth connects with Einstein’s assertion that the transfer of heat energy between photons and baryonic particles in a gas, is essentially no different from the Boltzmann transfer of heat energy from gas particle to gas particle.

The CO2 atmosphere warming story is a story that only recognises radiative transfer of heat. It considers most of the atmosphere – all the N2 and O2 for instance – as thermally inert. This is not credible not only because of convection, which moves at least as much heat as radiation. It is because of Einstein’s insight that radiation transfer of heat to gas is a Boltzmann process just like heat transfer from one gas molecule to another. And the much-hyped issue of IR absorption frequency bands is of negligible importance – as Einstein put it, “Regardless if the nature of the molecules and independent of the frequencies at which molecules absorb and emit.”

CO2 back radiation atmospheric warming is an error that was refuted in advance by Einstein. As in other fields such as gravitation, space time and relativity, Einstein has not yet been proved wrong. He won’t be proved wrong here either.

21 thoughts on “Albert Einstein said no to CO2 radiative warming of the atmosphere

    1. Einstein’s point was that absorption-emission phenomena account for a negligible fraction of heat transfer from radiation to a gas, most of it being Maxwell-Boltzmann type similar to mass to mass heat transfer. The whole CO2 IR absorption-emission story is of marginal importance in atmospheric heat movement.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “Einstein’s point was that absorption-emission phenomena account for a negligible fraction of heat transfer from radiation to a gas, most of it being Maxwell-Boltzmann type similar to mass to mass heat transfer. ”

        Where exactly did Einstein write this in his 1917 paper? Please quote from it….

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      2. I just did. Read what he said – it’s all there.
        To repeat the last sentence of the quote:

        “ this must be valid regardless of the nature of the molecules and independent of frequencies which the molecules absorb and emit.”

        “Regardless of the nature of the molecules”. How can it be any clearer than that?

        THERE IS NOTHING WHATSOEVER DIFFERENT ABOUT CO2 RELATIVE TO ANY OTHER GAS IN HOW IT GETS HEATED BY RADIATION.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. What’s “valid,” and the same for all molecules, is the way molecules acquire kinetic energy — by collisions — and how that energy is partitioned among them per degree of freedom.

        Einstein certainly knew that not all molecules absorb the same frequencies, as does every first-year chemistry and physics student.

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    2. “this must be valid regardless of the nature of the molecules and independent of frequencies which the molecules absorb and emit”, quoting Einstein.

      And if your answer is “he’s wrong and I’m right”, then … get help.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Your quote is from Einstein’s discussion of kinetic energy per degree of freedom in a radiation field. It doesn’t compare the relative energies, kinetic to radiation. Does it?

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      2. It shows that CO2 will be heated in a radiation field no more and no less than any other gas. That its IR absorption-emission behaviour is irrelevant.

        “ this must be valid regardless of the nature of the molecules and independent of frequencies which the molecules absorb and emit.”

        Einstein’s words, not mine.

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      3. You’re confusing absorption and kinetic energy.

        Einstein is talking strictly about kinetic energy there — “which molecules acquire as the result of their mutual interaction by collisions” — not energy that’s absorbed.

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      4. It’s one form of heat. Radiation is another. IR is emitted by the Earth. CO2 is extremely good at absorbing IR. N2 and O2 absorb very very little of it. These are fundamental facts.

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      5. Kinetic energy of molecules is not heat, it is a form of energy. Radiation is not heat, it is a form of energy. Particles, molecules, systems can have energy, not heat. Heat is a mode of transfer of energy – it is not a form of energy nor indeed a form of anything. Heat is a process, not a thing. It’s a bit like running. Running is a mode of transfer of human beings. It is a process, not a thing. Humans do not contain “running” in much the same way that gases do not contain “heat”. Radiation certainly is not heat.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. However in experiments, if vials containing only O2 and N2 are irradiated by IR, they heat up. The presence or absence of CO2 seems to make little difference. How are N2 and O2 heated by IR? Or do you deny that this happens? Do O2 and N2 remain at static temperature in an IR field? Is there less interaction between N2/O2 and IR than between those gasses and neutrinos?

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      7. “However in experiments, if vials containing only O2 and N2 are irradiated by IR, they heat up.”

        Do they? Says who?
        Maybe it’s the vial inself that heats up.

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      8. Says Albert Einstein. That’s good enough for me. Appeal to authority is not cool generally but Einstein is an exception to prove that rule.

        Back in 1944 it was discovered that there is a night sky emitted IR component from molecular nitrogen:

        Click to access nph-iarticle_query

        And NASA have also studied nitrogen’s emission and absorption in IR:

        https://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=19700043976

        in recent years a deathly silence has fallen over IR behaviour of nitrogen and oxygen, for obvious political reasons. But to return to my original point, it is nonsensical to posit that the gasses N2 and O2 interact less with IR irradiation – or any electromagnetic radiation – less than they do with neutrinos. And remember that there is 2000 times more N2 in the atmosphere than CO2. So even if N2’s IR interactions are 1000x less than CO2, then they will still predominate.

        Here is the nonexistent emission spectrum of nitrogen:

        https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2016/02/17/nitrogen-active-in-the-ir-a-ghg/#jp-carousel-26947

        Liked by 2 people

      9. It’s one form of heat. Radiation is another. IR is emitted by the Earth.

        No. Radiation is emphatically NOT a form of heat. Heat is collisional and vibrational movement of atoms and molecules. Light is a massless field so it is meaningless to talk of light having or being heat. Anything with mass cannot travel at light speed, so the division between light and matter is absoute. Heat has to involve mass so immediately light is excluded. Light can transmit energy which originated as heat of matter. And light impingent on matter can make that matter hotter. Light can be characteristic of a temperature – e.g. cosmic microwave background characteristic of 2-3 K primordial residue heat from the big bang.

        But, light is not and can never be heat.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Dave is right, and you are wrong, so help yourself to Raypierre’s online atmospheric physics tutorial.

        If you can’t be bothered , “then… get help”

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  1. Russel

    Atmospheric radiative physics, you mean presumably.

    Weather and climate are a set of structures – clouds, circulation cells in both atmosphere and ocean, storms, oscillations, etc. Dimensionality keeps on dipping from chaotic turbulence down to the borderline region of emergent pattern. Ilya Prigogine explained it all with his nonlinear thermodynamics and his theory of “dissipative structures”. Time this was re-learned. Climate is a landscape of dissipative structures exporting entropy.

    And check out Noether’s law on how such a complex system will respond to perturbation: by exerting the minimum energy:

    https://ptolemy2.wordpress.com/2020/02/09/the-principle-of-least-action-calls-into-question-atmosphere-warming-by-co2/

    CO2 warming contravenes Noether / Fermat’s principle of least action. It’s more like most action.

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    1. That link is poppycock and anyway says “**MAYBE** the principle of least action could apply to atmospheric thermodynamics.” (Emphasis mine on MAYBE.) It’s just junk with no scientific proof or justification. In a few cases the (mechanical) notion of action, S= integral of the Lagrangian over time, can be extended to thermodynamics, but certainly not to a complex situation like the atmosphere, let alone CO2’s role in it.

      This is grasping at straws to the Nth-degree and the conclusion re: CO2 is absurd.

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    2. David
      The CO2 emission height story contravenes Noether’s law. That is obvious and not poppycock.

      BTW this paper details meticulous experimental work, hard to find in the literature, that shows that the IR heating of air, CO2 and argon are indistinguishable.

      Click to access Allmendinger_Behaviour-of-Gases_IJPS-rev.pdf

      And it shows that the heating mechanism is NOT frequency specific absorption but just Boltzmann like vibrational exchange. This proves experimentally exactly what Einstein said:

      “During absorption and emission of radiation there is also present a transfer of momentum to the molecules. This means that just the interaction of radiation and molecules leads to a velocity distribution of the latter. This must surely be the same as the velocity distribution which molecules acquire as the result of their mutual interaction by collisions, that is, it must coincide with the Maxwell distribution. We must require that the mean kinetic energy which a molecule per degree of freedom acquires in a Plank radiation field of temperature T be

      kT / 2

      this must be valid regardless of the nature of the molecules and independent of frequencies which the molecules absorb and emit.”

      Liked by 1 person

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