Climate of Doubt about PBS’s Objectivity

October 24th, 2012 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

UPDATE (10/25/2012 2:30 p.m. CDT): As can be seen from the comments below, Catherine at PBS/Frontline says they did not interview me for this show. If this is the case, then the video of me used in the trailer was taken from some other interview. While John Christy and I seemed to recall a visit from PBS, we get a lot of film crews come through our offices (almost always freelancers who are hired for the job), and so I will have to check my old calendars (which are at home) to make sure whether someone claiming to represent PBS was here or not.

Another commenter noted that my words could be taken as either supporting the skeptics or the alarmists, depending on whether they are viewed in the context of being mixed in with Monckton & Ebell, or in the context of the whole show. Granted.

A saddened Big Bird leaves PBS studios after learning of journalistic malpractice.

This is just one more reason to defund PBS. If a “journalistic” organization cannot even provide some level of objectivity, why should the taxpayer be forced to support it?

From 0:18 to 0:21 in this trailer for the show “A Climate of Doubt”, I am seen talking about the U.S. government funding only research which supports global warming alarmism:

…yet, the viewer of the entire show will come away with the mistaken impression that I was instead talking about skeptics of manmade global warming being funded by shady organizations.

Note that PBS only showed my mouth in the above clip…why? Maybe because if my face was shown, people would find out that it was skeptic Roy Spencer speaking, and not some informant supposedly revealing the dastardly deeds of skeptics.

As I recall, I spent at least an hour with the PBS film crew outlining the skeptics case and why we speak out. None of it was used…except the small clip above, with the apparent intent to deceive the viewer.

Shame on PBS. They have now joined, along with BBC, my blacklist of news organizations to never do an interview with again. Fool me once….

49 Responses to “Climate of Doubt about PBS’s Objectivity”

Toggle Trackbacks

  1. We will have our day in the sun. The AGW theory is wrong. Look at GREENHOUSE SCORECARD, web-site

    It list all the predictions made by the models and what the actual data is, against those predictions. All the predictions are wrong.
    It is just a matter of time.

    I think your stance should be even stronger against the AGW theory.

  2. My comments as sent to Heartland:

    Joe, Jim,
    Thank you for the heads-up on this PBS production; I would have missed it otherwise.
    My overall impression is that the presentation gave a fair view of the efforts of Heartland, AFP, and CEI to use political activism to counter the Al Gore version of climate science. You all got a good amount of public exposure here to those not previously aware of these efforts. The video interviews were effective in the one hour format in presenting the timeline and successful strategies.

    However, the program was heavy on the issue of (successful) political activism, but sparse on the scientific issues supporting the push back against cap and trade, and climate alarmism. The issues of skepticism were cast as David against the Goliath of scientific consensus, and the use of PR experts and tactics to mobilize the masses, including the Tea Party.

    The 97% and scientific consensus were used repeatedly as implying the “true or accurate” understanding of climate. Fred did counter with the Oregon petition, but no mention was made of the shaky basis of the 97% claim.
    No mention was made of the fact that the climate alarmism position is largely a computer generated view of the future, and that such computer “scenarios” have failed to explain the plateau of global temperatures for 15 years (they stated 10 years) even as CO2 continues to rise. They made no effort to provide a link between CO2 and climate change; it was just assumed. There were the scary pictures of white plumes (of water vapor) belching from smokestacks.
    The program was careful to identify and qualify climate change and global warming as manmade climate change and warming. The issue of doubt of how much might be attributed to human activity was included in the Rep. Sensenbrenner interview.
    The issue of ocean level rise centered on the NC legislation was discussed without really providing the link between human activity and sea-level rise;

    it was just assumed. The pause in rate-of-rise was mentioned. No mention was made of land subsidence or other non-climate possible reasons for apparent costal sea-level rise.

    The issue of “skeptics” funding was shamefully one-sided, by the omission of a discussion of the numerically much larger funding of the alarmist position by the U.S. Federal agencies, state agencies, the WWF, Sierra Club, The Rockefeller Foundation, Greenpeace, etc. They made much of the Donors Foundation funding as a way of funding AFP with donor anonymity. No mention of the Tides Foundation funding of the alarmists.

    No mention was made of what mitigation actions taken now would prevent how much of future undesirable climate change; just do something…

    Texas A&M Prof. Dessler got air time, but the true luminaries James Hansen and M. Mann were mysteriously missing in action.

    Overall, it could have been more balanced, but it was not the typical hatchet job by PBS.

    Charles Battig

  3. Christopher Game says:

    If only it were a conspiracy. A conspiracy is essentially secret, but these AGW people are blatantly open about their scam.

  4. Gary says:

    Looks more like Big Bird is being perp-walked!

  5. richard says:

    I work in the media,

    this is what you do, and for all the other scientists who want to be interviewed,

    you request that you either want to have access to the rushes of your interview to use as you choose or you take along someone you trust to film the interview, the quality of the camera pic is not important, sound is more important.

    If they refuse this request or say that your man will be in the way – insist!!!!! or walk away. if they say you refused the interview then print your letter and what requirement you requested on your bog.

    Have a release form that states what your man shoots can be used in any way you see fit and in any media. and then put the full interview unedited on your site.

    If you do not do this then stop bleating about miss -representation, come on fight!!!!

  6. richard says:

    there again just read this-

    Michael witterign about his interview with PBS.

    Michael E. Mann
    @timmytimj82 Spent half a day w/ them. Talked about #climatechange #denial campaign. It all ended up on cutting room floor 🙁

  7. richard says:

    sorry blog not bog above.

  8. Henry says:

    Roy I think you have this wrong. Your 2 sec is in with the other skeptics, so I hear it as you criticising climate scientists.
    “If you pay scientists enough money … they’ll find what you want them to find… they’re cooking the data” followed by Monckton wagging his finger.

  9. ilma says:

    Roy, I suggest you take a leaf out of Jo Nova’s book, and whenever you give an interview with a journalist, you have your own people record the entire session, unbroken, and post that up so you have incontrovertible evidence of your statements in their proper context that you can refer back to in any response to the program that features extracts of the interview. Jo Nova did this when she was interviewed by Anna Rose, and it was made a pre-condition of the interview that the interviewer had to sign up to.

  10. Just wait until I go public soon. They(the other side ) will see nothing like it!

  11. richard says:

    Dear Roy ,

    If i lived in America I would do it free of charge, come on, support Roy!

  12. I look at it from another point of view, and that is the more they push their obsolete man made global warming , the more opportunity there is for us, plus they at the same time are laying down the groundwork to hang themselves.

    They are antiquated fools, they know nothing about the climate ,and I say thanks.

    I have knew innovative ideas ,which of course will be put to the test this decade and we will see just how correct they will be or not be.

    Again I want to give thanks to all the man made global warming promoters, with whom withou,t I would not have such a great opportunity.

    Roy, you should also feel the same way and take that approach, or look at it from that point of view. Where would you be if they (the global warmers),were not like they are?

  13. Russell says:

    But Roy, It’syou!

  14. Milton Hathaway says:

    I got about half-way through it, and in hindsight I’m surprised I made it that far. Their big deal seemed to be the “97 percent of active climate scientists agree” thing.

    I suppose if you don’t understand something and have no hope of ever understanding it, that 97% number must make a very convincing argument. For me it’s just the opposite – I’d be very surprised if you could get 97% of ‘experts’ to agree on much of anything much beyond 1 + 1 = 2, let alone any subject that’s even remotely controversial. AGW theory ‘proof’ seems to be largely based on a bunch of computer models that exhibit wide variations model-to-model, and apparently have to be constantly tweaked as the future becomes the past.

    Having said that, I don’t take the AGW crowd very seriously. As Roy says, it’s simple economics that ends up killing AGW policy changes. It’s one of those self-correcting things – countries adopting significant AGW policy changes are shooting themselves in the foot economically, and early adopters are becoming the best argument for the non-adopters to kill any AGW policy changes of their own. Despite the deepest hopes and dreams of the AGW crowd, there is not yet any global authority that can enforce AGW policy world-wide, which means that non-adopters gain a huge economic advantage over adopters. Liberals in general, I think, tend to look off into the distance and see an idealized ‘Point B’ and yearn to get there from our current ‘Point A’, but have no use for maps.

    Now that I think about it, I think that Frontline gave the skeptics way too much credit. In the ‘good old days’ the AGW crowd had people convinced that AGW policy changes could be implemented without cost. (In fact, I remember some AGW folks actually arguing that the policy changes would create “economic activity”.) As the realization slowly sank in with the public that AGW policy changes not only are not free, there are significant negative quality-of-life and standard-of-living impacts, the support level dropped like a rock. True, the skeptics helped a great deal in pulling back that curtain, but it wasn’t a curtain that could have remained drawn for very long anyway.

  15. fyi, Dr. Spencer, we did not record an interview with you for Frontline. Not sure who you were referring to that interviewed you but it was not us.

  16. Bart says:

    Catherine at PBS/Frontline says:

    “…but it was not us.”

    But, it was not we. If so, who does that chin belong to in the video?

  17. Dave Burton says:

    Here’s more info on the “97%” fraud:

  18. PBS will have to change!
    Propaganda Broadcasting Service is no good.

  19. Alfred says:

    As a Brit, I was surprised at the programme (and grateful for your ‘heads up’). Charles Battig (above) made most of the points, but what surprised me was the attempt to make ‘skeptics’ look like heavily financed manipulators of the ‘truth’.

    Dave Burton’s analysis of the 97%, I have heard before, but I hadn’t seen such well defined figures before. So between 76 and 79 ‘earth scientists’ agree with AGW and between 30,000 to 20,000 disagree. That puts Frontline’s comment about why trust 2 doctors when 98 are telling you different, into better perspective. Why trust 79 when ~20,000 scientists are telling you not to trust the AGW debate.

    In my book, PBS has joined the club headed by the BBC (Biased Broadcasting Corporation) as one not to trust. My American friends had told me of this, but I didn’t understand this view until I watched this Frontline programme. Amazing and worrying.

    Come on PBS; please do something to restore your reputation. It is in tatters after this programme.

  20. Tom Waeghe says:

    Dear Dr. Spencer:

    Please chime in on this web site if you have an opportunity and keep up the good work!

    Thomas J. Waeghe, Ph.D. Chemistry
    Wilmington, DE 19803

  21. Markalang says:

    It seems to me that the PBS work went far wrong at about minute 18, by characterizing “the debate” as being whether or not warming has been occurring and will continue. If one follows the script, they essentially said that “97% (of scientists) agreed” that “the 2010’s will be warmer than the 2000’s”. This is so wrong in so many ways: The true debate is not about present warming; the Anderegg paper is not about whether warming will continue; the Anderegg paper poses questions that are not germane to the true debate, and is therefore meaningless, etc. Ask an average person what the AGW debate is about, and they won’t have a clue. Are you tired of the “do you believe in global warming” question? This sort of media drivel allows people to continue on with life without having to know anything. Most people want quick, decisive answers and convenient closure on which to hang their hat, like “97% of scientists agree”. “We don’t know” frustrates people, and the media knows this. I wish everyone would just stop in their tracks and ask “what is the true debate?” To me it is 1) what is the best prediction of the sensitivity, 2) what are the consequences if unchecked (if any), and 3) what are the costs/benefits to fixing it (if even possible). Where are these in the Frontline story?

  22. Tom ,they are clueless fools. The blind leading the blind. How dumb could one be???

  23. citizenschallenge says:

    Dr. Roy Spencer in your above article you write:

    “As I recall, I spent at least an hour with the PBS film crew outlining the skeptics case and why we speak out. None of it was used…except the small clip above, with the apparent intent to deceive the viewer.”
    ~ ~ ~

    I’ve looked at your website before and have again gone over the various pages again. Lot’s of text and various thoughts.

    But I’m wondering if you would be willing to offer a short bullet point list: “outlining the skeptics case and why we speak out.”

    Thank you for your time.

  24. Frank says:

    Skeptical scientists could suggest that Frontline – in the interest of journalist balance – investigate “Climate of Consensus”. How did the public and our political leaders get the idea that 97% of scientists believed in CAGW – as depicted by “An Inconvenient Truth” – and that it could be avoided at a financially-sensible price by efforts such as the Kyoto Protocol? Who were the authors of the IPCC reports and what organizations were backing them? Would Heartland, CEI, and AFP have even made an effort create doubt (after the fossil fuel industry abandoned their effort) and succeed in creating doubt without:
    a) scandals such as Climategate and the Hockey Stick
    b) increasing anger about the politicized science in the IPCC reports,
    c) the increasing evidence that efforts to reduce CO2 emissions will be extremely expensive and ultimately ineffective,
    d) revulsion that the propaganda film “An Inconvenient Truth” is being shown to our children in schools as science,
    d) and above all, increasing scientific evidence that the IPCC’s models are biased high, especially the ONGOING PAUSE IN WARMING.

    On the other hand, you as a scientist need to tell your conservative and religious allies that climate change is an issue to be judged by scientific evidence, not politics or religion. Political philosophy and religious faith help us decide what to DO about problems confronting society, but they can interfere with recognizing problems.

  25. lil wayne Samantha Ronson, a DJ, is 31. Even her other movies followed suddenly Gossip Girl and Fashionistas before graduating from her feed. Consuming only fruit and fruit juice and water as you do with the Lifetime movie Liz And Dick and The Canyons, apparently feels she isn’t getting the respect she deserves. She will have some of the liver.

  26. citizenschallenge says:

    Dr. Roy Spencer in your above article you write:

    “As I recall, I spent at least an hour with the PBS film crew outlining the skeptics case and why we speak out. None of it was used…except the small clip above, with the apparent intent to deceive the viewer.”
    ~ ~ ~

    But I’m wondering if you would be willing to offer a short bullet point list: “outlining the skeptics case and why we speak out.”

    I’m not sure if Frank was trying to answer my above question, but here’s his list:

    a) scandals such as Climategate and the Hockey Stick
    b) increasing anger about the politicized science in the IPCC reports,
    c) the increasing evidence that efforts to reduce CO2 emissions will be extremely expensive and ultimately ineffective,
    d) revulsion that the propaganda film “An Inconvenient Truth” is being shown to our children in schools as science,
    d) and above all, increasing scientific evidence that the IPCC’s models are biased high, especially the ONGOING PAUSE IN WARMING.

    But I was curious about the skeptics case against the state of the climatological knowledge – not about the political wars.

    a) The Hockey Stick isn’t what the consensus is built on.
    b) Claims of politicizing is a political discussion, it isn’t about the state of knowledge.
    c) Rejecting the implication that CO2 emissions need to be reduced on political/economic grounds is an ideology not science.
    d) Revulsion towards AIT is likewise ideological and has nothing to do with reviewing the state of the science.
    e) Looking at the full spectrum of Earth Observation data indicate global warming continues.
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    Does Dr Spencer offer a short list of scientific reasons for speaking out against the consensus understanding?

    • Mack says:

      I can offer 3 reasons,
      1) We don’t like crap science.
      2) We don’t like science covered in political crap.
      3) We don’t like to be unnecessarily taxed.

  27. Doug Cotton says:

    Roy, it may take a decade or so, but eventually you’ll stop sitting on the fence, I suggest, with all due respect.

    Principia Scientific International continues to add to its numbers scientists who know that carbon dioxide does not control our climate. Keep joining in on our email discussions and maybe something will rub off.

    This, as I see it, summarises the current state …

    On 22 October 2012 Joseph Postma published on the PSI site what must be one of the most comprehensive papers ever peer-reviewed on the topic. See …

    Prof Claes Johnson was the first to put forward computations supporting the now-established fact that not all radiation striking a target actually transfers heat to that target. Radiation is not a bombardment of photons that explode like hand grenades and heat anything they collide with. If the radiation comes from a cooler source it is merely scattered and, energy-wise, the result is similar to reflection.

    In my own paper published on PSI on 12 March 2012 I discussed Johnson’s work and the quantification of heat transfer by radiation. Postma has cited my paper and included a detailed summary I wrote – see pp 47 to 49.

    The main effect of backradiation comes from water vapour – perhaps 100 times more effective than carbon dioxide in slowing the radiative rate of surface cooling. However, this radiative cooling makes up less than 30% of all heat transfer from the surface to the atmosphere. The important point is that the rates of non-radiative cooling can accelerate to compensate for any slowing of radiative cooling, thus leaving no net change in the overall rate of cooling.

    Climate change follows natural cycles, most notably 1000 and 60 year ones. Recent research has established that there were world wide temperatures similar to this period about 900 to 1000 years ago. So it appears the world will reach a 1000 year maximum in the coming 100 years or so, if not already. The superimposed 60 year cycle has been declining since about 1998, but did cause alarm in the 30 years before that. The cycles were not so well recognised then, so the IPCC et al made the huge mistake of assuming that 30 year trend should be extrapolated upwards for ever.

    In a nutshell, carbon dioxide does not, and never will have any effect on world temperatures.


  28. Doug Cotton says:

    As a footnote, let’s consider what actually happens when radiation leaves a warm source … 

    The EM energy in radiation from a warmer source is partly converted to thermal energy in a cooler target. However, that portion of it represented by the area under the Planck curve for the cooler body is not converted to thermal energy in that target, because it can resonate – as explained by Prof Claes Johnson. Instead, that portion of the energy is re-radiated as part of the cooler body’s S-B quota, and some of the energy in that new radiation will be converted to thermal energy iff it strikes a cooler body. The process continues until it reaches a target at absolute zero which cannot emit anything. This helps explain why the average temperature of emissions in space is between 2 and 3 deg.K.

    The fact is, that there can be no transfer of energy to a warmer target, because if there were, then that energy (now in the form of thermal energy) could escape by means other than radiation. No empirical evidence anywhere suggests that this happens.

    So, if to you the word “absorb” means that EM energy in radiation from a cool source is in fact converted to thermal energy in a warmer target, temporarily raising the temperature of the target even more, then I have to say that warmer targets do not absorb EM energy in this fashion. Instead, they use the energy in the incident radiation to create instantaneously some of their own S-B quota of outgoing radiation. Thus they don’t need to convert an equivalent amount of their own thermal energy to EM energy, a process which is more complex than merely “bouncing off” the incident energy. So, yes, the radiative cooling rate is slowed as I have agreed. But, the energy in the incident radiation was never converted to heat which could have caused sensible heat transfer. Hence rates of sensible heat transfer are not affected by backradiation from a cooler atmosphere. Yet the IPCC energy diagrams imply that they are, and also imply that far more heat exits the surface by way of radiation than is really the case.

    So, much of the observed radiation is not transferring heat from the surface, but instead “bouncing off” energy from the backradiation. So a much higher percentage of actual heat transfer must be due to sensible heat transfer than is implied by the IPCC diagrams. And the rate of cooling by sensible heat transfer is quite free to increase to compensate for any slowing of the much smaller proportion due to radiative cooling.

    If all this is not enough to make you and other readers question those energy diagrams, then I don’t know what would be.


  29. Doug Cotton says:


    If we look at Trenberth’s energy budget diagram on page 314 here we see 333 W/m^2 backradiation and only 396 W/m^2 for radiation from the surface to the atmosphere or direct to space. I would argue that, 333 of the 396 is merely scattered backradiation which, as explained in my earlier posts, does not transfer any (new) heat from the surface. So only 396 – 333 = 63 W/m^2 is transferring heat. Sensible heat transfer is shown as 80 + 17 = 97 W/m^2. Hence we have a total of 63 + 97 = 160 W/m^2 transferring heat from the surface. Of this, 97 / 160 = ~61% is transferred by sensible heat transfer. However, of the 63 W/m^2 of radiation we see that 40 W/m^2 goes straight to space. Hence carbon dioxide can have no effect on that cooling. That leaves only 23 W/m^2 being absorbed by the atmosphere.

    So, we have 23 / 160 = only 14% of heat transfer from the surface can possibly be affected by water vapour, carbon dioxide and their colleagues, (whom I refuse to call GHG’s) and it is not too hard to imagine other cooling processes accelerating to compensate for any slowing of this 14% of all heat transfer from the surface..


  30. RW says:


    I don’t think anyone understands what you’re saying. Trenberth’s diagram is not a model of the GHE, but rather a model of global energy flows. The 333 W/m^2 is just the amount of downward LW incident on the surface from the atmosphere. There are multiple sources for the 333 W/m^2, which are the 396 W/m^2 radiated from the surface absorbed by the atmosphere, the 97 W/m^2 of latent heat and thermals from the surface to the atmosphere, and the 78 W/m^2 of solar energy absorbed by the atmosphere.

  31. Doug  Cotton says:

    RW – You won’t understand if you don’t read the papers I have referred to, and study what I have written in posts above..

    Let me put it this way: At least 60% of all heat transferred from the surface to either the atmosphere or direct to space does so by sensible heat transfer. Less than 40% does so by radiation. Because more than half of this radiation transfers heat direct to space through the atmospheric window, more than 85% of all heat transferred from the surface to the atmosphere does so by sensible heat transfer. Less than 15% does so by radiation.

    (My 61% has become “more than 60%” and my 14% has become “less than 15%” to allow for a little error, and not imply too great a degree of accuracy in KT’s figures.)

    Global energy flows are merely the result of whether the Earth is warming or cooling. They are not the cause. Long term natural climate cycles appear to be correlated (and caused) by planetary orbits in ways not yet fully understood. So climate itself is the forcing factor and carbon dioxide has nothing to do with it. This is why Roy’s monthly plots do in fact show how the superimposed 60 year cycle is starting to turn downwards, even though the ~1,000 year cycle may still have 100 years or so before its maximum, just a little above cirrent levels perhaps. Thereafter the world can expect about 500 years of cooling.

  32. Doug  Cotton says:

    A plastic bowl in a 750 watt microwave oven is not heated by the high intensity radiation (photons if you like) whereas the same bowl in front of a 750 watt electric radiator is heated by a similar intensity of radiation. So the bowl “detects” the frequency difference. Many seem to think that would not be possible and that all photons are the same and all cause warming. The frequency of the microwaves is less than that of the spontaneous radiation emitted by the bowl itself at room temperature. But the frequency of the radiation from the electric radiator is greater. That’s all that matters. That is a simple demonstration of how a surface “pseudo scatters” radiation which has lower frequency than its own emissions, and is not warmed by such radiation. This is the whole point of Prof Claes Johnson’s “Computational Blackbody Radiation” paper. So I have provided at least one example of empirical evidence which is not in conflict with what he has said. There has never been any empirical evidence to disprove what he said, and never will be. I have explained more in the first five sections of my paper.

    Water vapour radiates with many more spectral lines than carbon dioxide, so its radiation is more effective per molecule in slowing the rate of radiative cooling of the Earth’s surface. It is also much more prolific in the atmosphere, so its overall effect on this slowing is probably of the order of at least 100 times the effect of carbon dioxide. Hence it is not at all surprising that low cloud cover slows radiative cooling quite noticeably and, while it is present in that particular location, the rate of cooling by non-radiative processes cannot accelerate fast enough to compensate. But that is a local weather event, not climate. Over the whole Earth and over a lengthy period there will be compensation. In any event, what is being compensated for is almost entirely due to water vapour, with carbon dioxide having less than 1% of the effect on that mere 14% of all heat transferred from the surface which enters the atmosphere by way of radiation.

  33. Neven says:

    As I recall, I spent at least an hour with the PBS film crew outlining the skeptics case and why we speak out. None of it was used…except the small clip above, with the apparent intent to deceive the viewer.

    Wrong, that was from another interview (don’t you even remember what you say?).

    Maybe you could apologize to PBS now? That is, if you’re not too busy with all those hordes of film crews who come through your offices.

  34. RW says:


    “Let me put it this way: At least 60% of all heat transferred from the surface to either the atmosphere or direct to space does so by sensible heat transfer. Less than 40% does so by radiation. Because more than half of this radiation transfers heat direct to space through the atmospheric window, more than 85% of all heat transferred from the surface to the atmosphere does so by sensible heat transfer. Less than 15% does so by radiation.”

    I fail to see why the proportion of sensible heat transfer from the surface matters relative to the fundamental mechanism of the GHE, because generally sensible heat transfer from the surface accelerates radiative cooling to space.

    At 288K and emissivity near 1, the surface must be supplied with a net energy flow in of about 390 W/m^2 with only 240 W/m^2 of strictly radiative power entering a leaving the system at the TOA.

  35. Doug  Cotton says:

    Firstly, be assured that there are not 390-240 = 150 W/m^2 being accumulated in the Earth’s system or we would all have perished long ago.

    We live on the surface – that’s where climate is measured. When the Sun heats the local surface during the day, it is somewhat important for life that it cools by a similar amount that night – on average. OK?

    Sensible heat transfer rates have nothing to do with carbon dioxide. Radiation from carbon dioxide cannot affect these sensible heat transfers, by the laws of physics, for reasons I have explained in PSI peer-reviewed papers, as well as posts above.

    Even when CO2 plays about a 1% role (compared with water vapour) in slowing the rate of radiative cooling, the rate of non-radiative cooling (which dominates in surface cooling) simply accelerates to compensate. Just exactly when and how the energy then departs from the upper atmosphere really doesn’t affect us down here measuring the climate data. But it is comforting to note that NASA data shows the upper atmosphere to have very constant temperatures at the same time each year – year after year.

  36. Tom in Oregon City says:


    Sorry, but this looks like all smoke and mirrors to me.

    Nobody argues against the fact that the top of the atmosphere sheds energy by radiative emission. Likewise, nobody argues against the fact that the surface of the moon sheds energy by radiative emission. Why? Neither can shed energy by any other means, of course.

    Now, radiative emission is characterized by Stefan-Boltzmann, and is dependent only on the temperature and emissivity of the emitter.

    So if a rock on earth and a rock on the moon are both at the same temperature, and have the same emissivity, they will emit the same radiative emission. It’s perfectly OK to note the conductive heat loss of that rock on earth, shedding heat into the atmosphere.

    What’s NOT OK is to deny that the rock on earth is also shedding energy through radiative emission, since the atmosphere cannot “retard” the emission, governed only by Stefan-Boltzmann.

    So, Doug, if there is no IR absorption and emission going on in the atmosphere, why does the rock on earth not cool FASTER than the rock on the moon, since on earth it has access to TWO methods of of shedding energy, while on the moon it has access to only one?

  37. Doug  Cotton says:


    The rocks on Earth emit the same radiation as per S-B as those on the Moon at the same temperature. But the energy in most of that radiation comes from the backradiation. It is not energy from the surface, and so that “pseudo scattered” component of the radiation is not cooling the surface. As Earth has an atmosphere, the rocks also transfer energy to the atmosphere by sensible heat transfer (non-radiative processes) which are mostly molecular collisions. You really won’t understand a word of what I am saying until you read my paper and the referenced paper by Prof Claes Johnson.

    Meanwhile, all may wish to consider empirical evidence …

    The plot in the Appendix of my March paper shows that the rate of increase in long-term moving average temperatures (calculated over 30 years) has been declining since about the year 1900, and no doubt earlier.

    The green line on that plot – also on my second website, is about the trend you would see in a 60 year moving average that would remove the superimposed 60 year cycle. The declining rate of increase is what you would expect at this time in the 1000 year cycle as it approached its maximum. From this plot I suspect the maximum may be even as much as 200 years away, but it should not be more than about 0.8 degree above the present level.

  38. Doug  Cotton says:


    You say the atmosphere cannot “retard” the emission, governed only by Stefan-Boltzmann.

    True. But the atmosphere (through radiation, and radiation alone) supplies energy to the surface which can only be used for part of its own S-B quota of radiation, as per its Planck curve. (The energy in backradiation from a cooler atmosphere cannot be converted to thermal energy in a warmer surface.) So the surface does not have to use its own thermal energy to create what is in fact the majority of the upwelling radiation.

    Of all the energy transferring from the surface to the atmosphere, less than 15% is doing so by way of radiation that is absorbed by the atmosphere. These calculations appear in an earlier post on several threads. This 15% is all you have to “play with” when considering the effects of carbon dioxide and water vapor, the latter being at least 100 times that of CO2. These can have absolutely no effect whatsoever on the rate of non-radiative cooling for what is by far the majority of all heat transfer from surface to atmosphere.

    There is a detailed explanation regarding quantification of the one way heat transfer and related matters in my paper in Sections 1 to 5.

  39. Doug  Cotton says:

    Please refer to this post on Roy’s latest thread regarding the October figures.

Leave a Reply