Greenhouse gasses might not have any effect

There’s a guy named Douglas Cotton that has written papers claiming that greenhouse gasses don’t do what they are claimed to do. Here’s the gist of his argument.

If it were possible for the atmosphere to come to equilibrium, the kinetic energy plus gravitational potential energy would be equal at all altitudes. Since the potential energy is higher at high altitudes, the kinetic energy and therefore temperature would have to be lower at high altitudes. And the temperature would be higher at low altitudes. This establishes a temperature gradient at equilibrium independent of greenhouse gasses.

In practice, the atmosphere is always trying to come to equilibrium. So anywhere that heat is added, either by direct sunlight from above or by reflected from below, it spreads toward the regions of lower energy, toward equilibrium.

He explains this in this 15 minute YouTube and on his website and in papers linked on the site.

Of course, he’s going against a whole lot of people and saying a lot of science is wrong.

But his explanation makes good sense to me. What do you think? Has anyone heard of this guy? Is there an error in the explanation?

In my meteorology classes, we were taught that, on average, atmospheric temperatures go down 2 degrees C. for every 1000’ of altitude. So far, that’s been borne out by observation. We were also told that one REASON for it is compression causing heat which is why summers are hottest when there’s a high pressure area overhead and gravity takes charge. Of course, the PRINCIPLE cause of atmospheric heat is solar energy which, in the Northern Hemisphere is slightly less direct in the Winter than it is in the Summer which is why Northern Hemisphere winters are cooler than in the Summer when solar energy is more direct. Gravity plays a part in enhancing temperatures by aiding gas compression. Think of a high pressure area as a tall column of gas. The taller the column, the warmer the temp at surface level BECAUSE, in part, of gravity compressing that column of air since even gas has MASS.

Yes, or at least an omission as presented here: the earth is not a closed system operating in complete isolation. It has both energy inputs and outputs. GHG theory proposes that ghgs alter the ratio of inputs and outputs, causing more energy to remain in the system and altering the temperature at which equilibrium is obtained.

I don’t understand the significance of that. The atmosphere will never achieve equilibrium, of course, but the explanation described what the atmosphere is “trying” to achieve, the direction it’s headed, if the theory is right.

Conservatipn of energy. The,earth is constantly receiving energy from the sun, and radiating it away. If energy out doesnt equal energy in, then oversll system energy will change. All energy eventually degenerates to heat, so more energy remaining in sysyem means higher sysyem heat. If the equilibrium point changes, (regardless of the fact that its never actually reached) the amount of energy retained in the system will change as well.

Thats NOT to say hes,wrong, just that the information i see here is inadequate to explain him beibg right,as best i can tell.

The theory doesn’t argue with that. It just says how the total energy present distributes itself.

Well, at the end of the day it presents itself as heat. Heat is dissipating energy. Even if its recaptured and reorganized, it still dissipates back into heat. Some can be sequestered by conversion into (for example) fossil fuels. But the end state is always as heat. And energy conversion is generally an inefficient process, with most of the loss in the form of heat.

Again, i’m not saying hes wrong, just that what i’ve seen doesn’t explain where any additional energy coming into the system is going. It has to go somewhere; in this case, to move out of the system, that means radiating into space. On top of that, additipnal energy absorbed and then radiated away will have some effect during the time it remains in the system.

Go take a look at the IPCC’s ORIGINAL “computer model.” It TOTALLY left out the effect of Earth’s albedo on the system. THAT’S why everything since has been wrong.