National Academies and the (non) Greenhouse Gas Effect: Part 5

This article contrasts and compares two of the most important peer-reviewed climate studies of their day – one generation apart – to expose bogus greenhouse gas claims. We see how short the time frame was when consensus science switched from declaring the greenhouse gas effect as junk to claiming it as a trigger for an impending climate apocalypse.


We compare Ramanathan and Coakley’s 1978 study,’ Climate Modeling Through Radiative-Convective Models’ (hereinafter ‘Ramanathan’) with Kiehl and Trenberth’s 1997 ‘Earth’s Annual Global Mean Energy Budget’ (KT97). [1,2] Each paper has been regarded as a fundamental benchmark mirroring the best consensus science of their day.

According to Google Scholar ‘Ramanathan’ is cited by no less than 164 other climate papers. But just as crucial is that it is relied upon by Kiehl and Trenberth, the authors of our second paper. Today KT97 is as central to alarmist greenhouse gas physics claims as Michael Mann’s ‘hockey’ stick graph is to the historic global warming temperature record.

The most striking obvious feature of ‘Ramanathan’ is that it omits any mention of any carbon dioxide-driven greenhouse gas effect. Yet 20 years on KT97 makes the effect center stage in climate science attribution. This spectacular switch in emphasis begs the question: what great new discoveries caused this paradigm shift in climatology?

First, let’s summarize the key features of ‘Ramanathan.’ This is a gargantuan document (24,165 words) and explains in detail the best understanding of mainstream climate models of the time. But this weighty tome makes just three passing references to CO2. This trace gas is mentioned as being a “coolant” in the atmosphere whereas Manabe (1967) could provide only “approximate” numbers for its effect. Ramanathan make no connection whatsoever between CO2 and the long-discredited GHE. In fact, ‘Ramanathan’ suggests that if any gas drove the supposed greenhouse gas heating effect (GHE) it would be ozone (O3) as per this quote:

In the troposphere, H2O contributes the most to long-wave cooling and solar heating, while in the stratosphere, CO2 contributes the most to long-wave cooling, and O3 contributes the most to solar heating. “ (Page 476)

While the second paragraph of ‘Section E Models for the Earth’s Climate,’ ‘Ramanathan’ states:

The atmospheric distribution of H2O [water], clouds, and the surface ice and snow cover (which determines in part the reflectivity of the surface) are strongly coupled to the surface and atmospheric temperatures.”

‘Ramanathan’ also notes that the modelers (crassly) assume a fixed relative rate of humidity with no justification. So the hydrological cycle is made king and CO2 cools. Frankly, there is nothing on offer from ‘Ramanathan’ for the alarmists who want to cut human emissions of carbon dioxide. You may think that the great switch in thinking that followed ‘Ramanathan’ must have been triggered by an important and subsequent scientific discovery or two. But you’d be wrong. There have been none in regards to either the GHE or how CO2 works in the atmosphere. The only obvious change has been in the complexity of the computer models used and the assumptions fed into them.

But KT97, for all its guesses and fudges over the numbers is still cited by no less than 707 climate science authorities plus the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). But there is nothing in ‘Ramanathan’ to prompt the authors of KT97 to abandon the accepted and long-held position that there is no CO2-driven ‘greenhouse gas effect’ (GHE).

The literature is quite explicit on the issue. Before 1951 it was widely understood that the GHE hypothesis had been refuted. This is spelled out in no uncertain terms in an important publication by the American Meteorological Society.[3] While, in 1978, Ramanathan’s study, ’Climate Modeling Through Radiative-Convective Models’ gives no hint that modern day researchers should be looking at a CO2-driven greenhouse effect as a better explanation of our climate system.

As the title of the 1978 study suggests, convection was a known key climate driver and along with the water cycle it is mentioned repeatedly throughout. But what is never mentioned repeatedly is any GHE or the supposed warming properties of CO2. Indeed, the term ‘greenhouse gas effect’ gets only one passing reference and is associated ozone (O3), not carbon dioxide.

Somehow, somewhere, between 1978 and 1997, when KT97 was first published, the GHE was resuscitated. CO2 suddenly became a key player in the system while it’s role was switched from being a cooling gas to a dangerously warming one!

But there is no citation in KT97 to explain how and when these reversals from ‘Ramanathan’ were made. As such it is hard to fathom why KT97 would incorporate ‘Ramanathan’ with it now being rendered a contradictory (and presumably debunked) reference.

So, with no explanation in KT97 it appears that the long- refuted GHE arbitrarily and capriciously became re-instated while the known cooling characteristics of carbon dioxide were (without explanation) reverse so that it was installed as the presumed cause of heating with a climate-forcing factor of 32 W m-2. Absent any scientific explanation for the switch, the reason must be unscientific, perhaps political.

Isaac Asimov Spills the Greenhouse Beans

KT97 thus rescued the greenhouse gas theory from the trashcan of science where it been cast out many decades earlier as affirmed by the American Meteorological Society (AMS), The AMS affirm that the idea that CO2 could alter the climate “was never widely accepted and was abandoned when it was found that all the long-wave radiation [that would be] absorbed by CO2 is [already] absorbed by water vapor.”

So what fundamentally changed? Despite today having 200+ scientists and climate researchers at it’s disposal Principia Scientific International (PSI) has studied this closely and found no reason whatsoever offered by government climatologists for this inexplicable rebirth of the already discarded ‘theory’-  let alone a compelling one.

Eminent Swedish mathematician, Professor Claes Johnson thinks he has a clue. It could reside in a confession by popular science writer, Isaac Asimov, as revealed by this quote from Asimov:

the most interesting scientific event in 1988 was that everyone started to speak about the “greenhouse effect” just because it was a hot summer, when I had been speaking about it for 20 years.”

Skeptic climatologist, Dr. Tim Ball is more specific about the “everyone” Asimov was referring to. The ‘hot summer’ reference indicates the finger should point to none other than NASA’s James Hansen who gave his alarmist GHE testimony in front of a sweltering U.S. congressional hearing (Hansen’s cronies had switched off the air conditioning the night before). [4]

Hansen’s theatrics followed the keynote speech about the GHE given to the Royal Academy by British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher weeks earlier. [5] None of these facts seems to have roused the slightest interest in the mainstream media, which swallowed whole the man-made global warming myth from the start.

New Climate, New Terms, Fresh Spin

Indeed, Asimov’s boast did mark a real watershed in the way the science was being manipulated. Manipulation is not too strong a word because events surrounding Hansen’s congressional testimony were carefully staged managed to dupe the politicians and the public.

Within ten years of Hansen’s showpiece performance the publication of KT97 marked the final abandonment of all reference to ‘convection’ as a key climate driver. Hereon in radiation, the GHE and human emissions of the CO2 ‘devil’ would be the only focus. KT97 also gives us a new term: the ‘blanket effect’ – a new analogy to help sell the new ‘science.’ The term supposedly describes how radiation is trapped within the atmosphere by the power of the ‘magic gas’ CO2 to cause additional surface heating. But nowhere in ‘Ramanathan’ was the ‘blanket effect’ term used. And why would it? Pre-1980’s science understood that the only ‘blanket’ helping to retain energy in our atmosphere was the vacuum of space – nature’s perfect insulator. But even today climate scientists ‘forget’ this well-established fact and refer instead to the ‘cold’ of space, which any self-respecting space scientist would scoff at.

Also, scientists knew full well that only latent heat (H2O) traps energy. While carbon dioxide -a gas that emits energy as fast as it absorbs it – was quite correctly considered in ‘Ramanathan’ to be a coolant.

This awful mess in climatology is well summed up by astrophysicist Joe Postma:

The greenhouse effect is a manufactured fraud. It has no consistent description, it has no mathematical physics which actually describes it, it violates other well-established laws of physics, it doesn’t have a rational basis, and its supporters have proven themselves time and time again to be un-amenable to reason or criticism, and to not have an open mind or scientific and skeptical spirit in its regard; it is defended rather than criticized, reinvented rather than abandoned. It doesn’t follow the basic rules of science, just like climate alarm.”

Earlier we asked what great new discovery caused this dramatic switch back to the greenhouse gas effect, of which mainstream science had already dismissed before the middle of the 20th century. Frankly, we know of no such discovery to warrant the rescued a hypothesis that was tossed into the science trashcan by Professor R.W. Woods in 1909.

Moreover, the only conspicuous fact we have learned from the ‘laboratory’ of earth’s atmosphere since 1997 is that despite a rise of 38 percent atmospheric CO2 concentrations global temperatures have shown no intention of rising. In the interim between ‘Ramanathan’ and KT97 we have seen how badly KT97 got it wrong. In that 20-year period science clearly went awry. So much so, with around $100 billion spent on climate research in that time it is only fair to conclude we have lived through a wasted era.

So what actually motivated an entire field of science to perform such a U-turn? Perhaps the answer lies in the power of computer modeling and the political paymasters who commissioned those models. Moreover, since AGW promoters claim the science is settled and the consensus is overwhelming, why do they persist in securing more research money, in the order of $2 to 10 billion/year? That money buys a collection of secret government models programmed to factor in an unsubstantiated greenhouse effect that has never been shown to modify the temperature profile of the Earth’s atmosphere by one iota.


*This article is one of a series on this subject. The full set are found as followsPart OnePart TwoPart Three, Part Four

Part FivePart 6


[1] Ramanathan V. & Coakley Jr. J. A.,’Climate Modeling Through Radiative-Convective Models,’ Reviews of Geophysics and Space Physics,. Vol. 16, No. 4 (November 1978), accessed online: December 29, 2012.

[2] Kiehl. J. T. & Trenberth K.T., ‘Earth’s Annual Global Mean Energy Budget,’ (1997), National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

[3] Brooks, C.E.P. (1951). “Geological and Historical Aspects of Climatic Change.” In Compendium of Meteorology, edited by Thomas F. Malone, pp. 1004-18 (at 1016). Boston: American Meteorological Association.

[4] Hansen, J. E., ‘The Greenhouse Effect: Impacts on Current Global Temperature and Regional Heat Wave,’ (June 23, 1988), Statement to the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources.

[5] Thatcher, M., Speech to the Royal Society (27 September 1988), Public Statement, Speech ArchiveMargaret Thatcher Foundation (accessed online: December 3, 2012)


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12 responses to “National Academies and the (non) Greenhouse Gas Effect: Part 5

  1. Pingback: National Academies and the (non) Greenhouse Gas Effect: Part 4 | johnosullivan

  2. Pingback: US National Academies and the (non) Greenhouse Gas Effect: Part Three | johnosullivan

  3. Pingback: U.S. National Academies and the (non) Greenhouse Gas Effect (Part Two) | johnosullivan

  4. Pingback: Breaking: U.S. National Academies Find Greenhouse Effect Doesn’t Exist | johnosullivan

  5. Pingback: National Academies and the (non) Greenhouse Gas Effect: Part 5 « Skeptics Chillin'

  6. Shooter

    Kinda double posted. Some of the paragraphs are the same.

  7. johnosullivan

    Shooter, thanks for spotting the error. Have now corrected.

  8. Pingback: National Academies and the (non) Greenhouse Gas Effect: Part 6 | johnosullivan

  9. Pingback: The Tragic Tautology of the Greenhouse Gas Effect | johnosullivan

  10. When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and
    now each time a comment is added I get three emails with the same comment.
    Is there any way you can remove people from that service?
    Thank you!

    • johnosullivan

      Probably the easiest solution is to click ‘unsubscribe’ on the emails. That way WordPress will terminate them all for you.

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