Runaway greenhouse effect a load of nonsense


So argues Steve Goddard.

The way a greenhouse effect works is by shortwave radiation warming the ground, and greenhouse gases impeding the return of long wave radiation to space. Since there is very little sunshine reaching below 30km on Venus, it does not warm the surface much.

And all that cloud cover on Venus reflects 65% of the sunshine back into space. Also, there’s almost no water vapour on Venus. Goddard goes on to argue it’s the intensely high atmospheric pressure that keeps Venus so hot.

Read on for the nitty gritty.

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  1. The load of nonsense if Goddard’s “analysis.” The reason Venus’s atmosphere is so dense is BECAUSE of an early greenhouse effect, which converted all of the planet’s H2O to CO2 due to ultraviolet disassociation. Here he shows a complete lack of understanding of planetology, and worse, it seems as though his article is completely political and intended to misrepresent the atmospheric dynamics of Venus just to dupe readers. I’ve got a more detailed explanation posted on your linked blog, which I’ve copied below:

    “Mr. Goddard shows here how little he understands about planetology. On its face, yes, the “greenhouse effect” is not responsible for Venus’s temeperature at present. But this is complete buffoonery, akin to saying that a person lives a tax-free existence every moment he or she isn’t being handed a paycheck with taxes removed, and then going on to calculate that 99% of American citizens go untaxed 90% of the time. It is not only incorrect, but it shows a complete misunderstanding of process.

    CO2 is a heat-storing molecule. More CO2 present in a planet’s atmosphere will store more heat as shortwave radiation has a harder time escaping the planet. The “runaway” part, then, is not isolated to CO2 but involves how other consitiuents of the atmosphere respond to this initial increase in heat.

    Venus has not always had a thick atmosphere, as evidenced by by circumstantial conditions of the early solar system as well as Venus’s geologic history. In fact, it likely started out quite similar to Earth’s early atmosphere, with no free oxygen, heavy in nitrogen with a smattering of CO2 and a decent amount of water and water vapor and nearly identical surface pressure (governed by the planet’s nearly identical mass and gravity). However, Venus’s slightly closer proximity to the Sun meant that more ionizing radiation was available to disassociate the water vapor in the upper atmosphere. As a result, hydrogen was separated from oxygen by ultraviolet light and lost to space, and the free oxygen quickly bound to plentiful carbon to make CO2. In this way, all of the planet’s water started being converted to CO2. Suddenly, this “greenhouse effect” vaporized more water, which meant it was vulnerable to UV disassociation, and yet more CO2 was created, which warmed the surface even further, vaporizing more water, which was in turn disassociated and turned to CO2…. a runaway effect. At the end, we have a Venus as we know it today – completely devoid of water with an absolutely incredible surface temperature and pressure. The hellish end-result of a runaway “greenhouse effect.”

    So, as a planetary geologist myself, I can only assume that Steve Goddard is aware of all of this and intentionally attempting to mislead his readers with this ridiculous and simultaneously well-researched farce. I can’t see how he could possibly have researched enough to produce the information he did about atmospheres and chemistry yet somehow manage to miss all information learned during the past 40 years about the history of the specific planet he alleges to describe. Either way, the production of this sort of catchy misinformation is why the US falls farther against other nations in science and innovation each year.

    If you’re really interested, read a book, not a blog, people. I can suggest quite a few if you’re interested in how planetary atmospheres really work.”

    • CO2 is a heat-storing molecule. More CO2 present in a planet’s atmosphere will store more heat as shortwave radiation has a harder time escaping the planet.

      But I’ve read that the heat absorbtion that CO2 molecules can take rises on a logarithmic scale, and that it’s pretty much maxed out already.

      Plenty of other places one can find that graph, too.

      And Lindzen and Choi demonstrated with empirical data that as temperatues rise, more radiation goes back out to space. This is in complete contradiction to all the computer models.

      And despite arguments to the contrary, it’s hard to ignore the relationship between sunspots and temperature.

      And I’ve seen graphs showing the long term trends of CO2 vs temperature, going back millions of years, and the two lines don’t match up.

      I just don’t see how a trace gas, essential to plant life, a gas of which most is natural anyway, is going to send the planet to hell. Anyway, if the warmies are right, or the sceptics are right, I see some changes being made to the way we live, but our industrial machine just isn’t going to be shut down.

      And if you argue that we should get off coal and oil, then I agree (not that we have to do anything as drastic as go cold turkey, though. Go nuclear, fusion one day if possible, but get people to realise, that wind and solar are not anywhere near being able to provide baseload power. R&D? Yes. Implementation now on a mass scale? No.

      You’ve emplored us to read a book not a blog. True. I emplore you to explore more thoroughly the political side of this climate change argument. It’s quite disturbing.

      If it really were as serious as Al Gore states, then why does he fly around in private jets? Why did he just buy an almost $9 million seaside villa?

  2. Bingbing –

    I am very aware of the political side of this issue, and the “Al Gores” of the world appear to me just as ignorant to planetology and politically-minded as the “nay-sayers.” Alas, the science is the ultimate victim here, in my view.

    The thing that has alarmed the scientists about all of this is the idea that a planet’s atmospheric dynamics CAN be permanently altered on a runaway course, as evidenced by Venus and Mars on opposite ends of the scale. Where are we relative to the tipping point? I’d say nowhere close. But I think we’re close enough to start making volcano-scale impacts, which could serve to make things harder for ourselves. Where is the ultimate cost benefit here? Hard to say. It’s really expensive to fix or build new levees, but that’s a drop in the bucket compared to rebuilding New Orleans.

    I lean precautionary, but that’s strictly opinion.

    • The other thing that gets overlooked too much is real pollution. Not this carbon pollution nonsense which is just an excuse for a governmental mega tax, but stuff like the dumping of dangerous chemicals into our waterways, heavy metals, sulpher dioxide and the like in the air, the chopping down of the Amazon.

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