C02 Absorption-Radiation Myths Regarding Global Temperature


"Quantum Physics, Radiant Chemistry, Thermodynamics, Photons, Quanta, Emissivity, Reflectance, Heat, Energy, Radiation, Irradiation, Electromagnetic waves, Frequency, Wavelength".  All terms you are never going to hear on your local news  report at five - ever. It's no wonder people can't make a decision on whether global warming is real or not. If you're not a trained Scientist you face a daunting task of wading through the literature and of getting through the language of Environmental Science. let alone the concepts of heating and cooling that are being presented by the literature for discussion and debate. 

I'm going to try to help by discussing an absolutely core issue - if you can understand the concept of a "black body" and then see how the IPCC has manipulated this concept you will be light years closer to understanding that the Greenhouse Gas Theory is nonsense and should be rejected. 


1. Assume you are standing in an open field when the Sun comes out from behind a cloud. You immediately feel the burning warmth of the Sun's rays on your skin; you begin to warm up if you were cold or you begin to sweat if you become overheated. That feeling is due to infrared (IR) heat waves being delivered from the Sun through empty space and through the atmosphere to your skin, where it is absorbed bringing on the feelings of warmth.

2. According to Quantum Physics all of the Sun's rays are composed of particles of pure energy called  Photons.. This particles travel at the speed of light in the form of oscillating electromagnetic waves. The frequency of a wave indicates the energy level of the Photon composing it - the higher the energy level of the Photon composing the wave, the higher the frequency it travels at.  See blog below for more info. 

3. The Sun sends a full spectrum of wavelengths at us, ranging from gamma rays to Xray to ultraviolet light to visible light to infrared heat (shortwave and longwave) and so on into extremely long wavelength radiations comprising microwaves,  radio waves etc. 

4. The Earth also generates photon based electromagnetic waves known as (long wave) infrared rays. These are sent off to space overnight when the Sun stops beating down and the vastness of outer space is made available to cool. We are interested in the frequencies known as "long wave infrared" with wavelengths ranging from 2 microns to 25 microns. This is the portion of the entire spectrum that is associated with the radiation of surface heat from the Earth directed towards outer space, mostly at night, and given credit for being one of the  major mechanisms that cool off the Earth after a day of heating up due to the incoming heat of the Sun. 

5.  The IPCC supports models that mimic the exchange of heat energy from Sun to Earth and from Earth to Outer Space and they give extreme importance to the mechanism of outgoing long wave infrared radiation in determining the heat balance of the Earth over the daily cycle of Sun heating and night cooling.  IPCC have identified Carbon Dioxide as an atmospheric gas that traps this IR radiation as it is sent upward and say that it throws  back its own emitted IR to the Earth causing an net heat imbalance and a net warming of the Earth. 


1. Very briefly (again) - IPCC says the Earth sends out long wave infrared heat ranging from 2 to 25 microns from its warm surface towards the icy cold outer space where it is lost permanently. They further state that every C02 molecule in our atmosphere absorbs these waves of pure energy photons as they come in contact and then re-radiates that absorbed energy  as new IR heat waves back to Earth.  

2. Carbon dioxide is said to do this by first absorbing a complete photon comprising an Earth sent long wave infrared electromagnetic wave; holding that energy within its molecular structure; realizing it is in an unstable hyper-excited state; then disposing of it  by radiating its own wave of long wave infrared energy.

3.  They further claim that many of the C02 generated heat waves are sent back to Earth even though the Earth is hotter than the molecule doing the sending.  This whole absorption, hold and reemission scenario all happens instantly (within a pico second).

4. Crucial to accepting the C02 based global warming mechanism (ie. the greenhouse effect)  is accepting that IPCC's declaration that C02 is not only capable of performing this magic, but that it is really good at it - 100% efficient at first absorbing and then re-emitting the full completment of absorbed energy delivered to it from Earth - ie. that it is a "black body".  

5. They are wrong.     Here are several descriptions of a blackbody from the literature. 



A blackbody is a theoretical or model body which absorbs ALL electromagnetic radiation regardless of its  frequency or the angle of incidence falling upon it, and REFLECTING NONE of it away from the surface. Conversely, a black body is capable of EMITTING ALL of the electromagnetic energy it has previously absorbed, again in the format of photon based electromagnetic waves. 


A black body is anything that absorbed all frequencies of electromagnetic radiation equally well. ... Ideal black bodies don't reflect any light. You can only see them from the light they emit. If a perfect black body happened to be fairly cold, you couldn't see it at all.


A black body is an object that absorbs all the radiant energy reaching its surface with all the wavelengths. WHILE A gray body is defined as a body whose absorption does not change with variation in temperature & wavelength of the incident radiation.Jul 14, 2019


Imagine a "blackbody" molecule of carbon dioxide floating around in space, being bombarded with photon based electromagnetic long wave infrared radiation. All that incoming radiation (Eabsorb) is taken in, held, and then emitted (Eemit) with no energy losses (eg. frictional) at all. This is the C02 molecule as seen by the IPCC in its calculations of energy balance and global warming. 


BUT - a blackbody is not really possible and so the above image can only be an idealized scenario useful for theoretical (not practical) calculations in theoretical modelling. A more realistic view is given below of how any body (including the carbon dioxide molecule) floating in space, deals with IR electromagnetic radiation falling upon it. 

Carbon dioxide CANNOT be designated as a black body (and therefore cannot carry the massive absorption and emission properties of a black body) for a couple of reasons. 

     1. C02 is frequency specific (it won't absorb all wavelengths) restricting its ability to absorb to only 3 frequencies - 2.3, 4.7, 14.66 u meters. This is known as "fingerprint radiation". All the other frequencies of IR emitted by the Earth pass by C02 and head out to space or are absorbed by other types of molecules such as water.

This means that when finger print radiation is absorbed the energy is instantly converted to heat as increased vibration of the molecule. If the energy as heat is re-emitted by transforming into radiation, it is emitted as black body radiation, which all matter emits based on its temperature.

     2. These frequencies are not associated with Compton style full absorption (ie. electron shift) mechanisms that occur at much higher frequencies. They don't associate well with Rayleigh type reflection scattering mechanisms which occur around the blue light frequency portions of the spectrum. It is more likely that they associate with the Raman style of partial absorption of energy, with scattering of incident IR waves after contact and loss of small portions of its energy.

Electrons changing orbit does not apply to global warming. Electron orbit shift only applies to things like fluorescence or lasing. Global warming is about so-called finger print radiation being absorbed. This is due to covalent bonds stretching and bending during vibrations, where no electrons shift orbits.

    3. In this case, the real life situation shows that radiation falls upon the molecule and is subjected to being reflected away from the surface (at a longer wavelength) after a portion of its energy is subtracted and taken in by the molecule (which assumes a new "excited" mode). This absorbed radiation is then re-radiated out as a new electromagnetic wave with a wavelength dependent upon the energy level that the C02 molecule had previously held in that "excited" mode. 

    4. If Carbon dioxide cannot absorb enough energy to effect an electron shift, then it is more likely that it is holding its gained energy through an increased vibration of the whole molecule, involving stretching and bending instead of actual electron ejection and readmission. If heat is held in this way, then C02 won't get rid of it by re-radiating new IR rays, but rather it would transfer the heat out as kinetic energy transfer to surrounding molecules.

5. Practical application shows its viability  - Raman spectroscopy belongs to the group of vibrational spectroscopies. Spectroscopy is the study of the interaction between matter and light. There are different types of spectroscopy, which are typically named after either the used light source (e.g. IR spectroscopy) or the process of light-matter interaction exploited. Raman spectroscopy is based on the inelastic light scattering in a substance where the incident light transfers energy to molecular vibrations rather thsn electron shifts.. The scattered light can be detected by a Raman spectrometer and represents a "chemical fingerprint" of the substance. Based on such spectral information, a material can be identified or characterized.


Here's how the dynamic works. The IR is emitted from the surface of the earth as black body radiation, which has a wide bandwidth. Then CO2 absorbs a fingerprint set of frequencies, which is 8% of the available black body radiation. As it is absorbed, it is instantly converted into heat (in less than a pico second). The heat is distributed over all molecules in the atmosphere, which means 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen. 

This means that when finger print radiation is absorbed the energy is instantly converted to heat as increased vibration of the molecule. If the energy as heat is re-emitted by transforming into radiation, it is emitted as black body radiation, which all matter emits based on its temperature.

The reason why CO2 absorbs fingerprint radiation but emits almost none, is because all molecules absorb a lot of radiation and emit very little. This is why black asphalt heats in the sun. It absorbs most of the radiation and emits almost none. Radiation leaves almost entirely as black body radiation, because vibration of whole molecules, which creates black body radiation, is vastly greater than vibration within molecules, which creates fingerprint radiation.

The fingerprint type of IR absorption is due to stretching and bending of internal bonds. Nitrogen does not do that. But all matter absorbs and emits IR in proportion to its temperature as  black body radiation. Physicists say all matter has the same characteristics in absorbing and emitting black body radiation, except that the quantitative proportions vary, mostly due to reflection. For nonreflective substances, such as wood and concrete, the percent IR absorbed or emitted (called emissivity or absorptivity) is around 90% of a perfect black body. Metals are good reflectors of IR, so they have an emissivity of around 50%. This means they emit or absorb about 50% of the infrared radiation which contacts them. Kirchhoff's law says emissivity equals absorptivity, which means everything absorbs and emits black body radiation in the same way

There is a curve for black body radiation, and it applies to all matter. The curve slides toward higher frequencies for higher temperatures. At earth temperatures (around 300 degrees Kelvin) the black body curve (or Planks curve) peaks at a wavelength of about 10µM. The sides of the curve taper off at about 1µM and 30µM. Visible light is 0.4 to 0.8µM, which is just above the curve for cold black body radiation, but hot objects will radiate into the visible range, which is of course how an incandescent light bulb works. Carbon dioxide has fingerprint peaks at 2.7, 4.3 and 15µM, which are all within the black body radiation curve.

In some quantity, everything in the air including nitrogen and oxygen absorbs and emits black body radiation at frequencies which overlap the frequencies absorbed by CO2. In fact, the only reason why there is IR in the air is because the surface of the earth emits black body radiation in proportion to its temperature. The air then does the same thing at some level.

The question then is, in what quantity is the atmosphere absorbing and emitting black body radiation. The emissivity of nitrogen and oxygen gasses should be closed to 100%, since they do not reflect IR significantly. But the larger question is how does the quantity of black body absorption compare to the fingerprint absorption of CO2. Actual measurements and numbers do not seem to exist. 

There are about 30 times as many water vapor molecules in the air as CO2 molecules, and water vapor has a more effective fingerprint spectrum which is about three times wider than that of CO2. It is also much more variable. This means water vapor will swamp whatever CO2 does. It is obviously not being honest to say CO2 does twenty percent of the heating, when there is a hundred times as much effect by water vapor doing the same thing.


THE SECOND LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS - states that energy (as heat) will only flow from a source that is hot to an object that is cooler.  It never flows in the opposite direction as the concept of "back radiation" tries to make us believe. Black bodies behave according to this law, even though they emit electromagnetic waves over a wide range of frequencies. Furthermore, when each object reaches the same temperature there is no more exchange of heat energy between the two of them.

figure 1. 




figure 2.

If you assume that the blue object is a carbon dioxide molecule and the red body is the Earth you can see how the Greenhouse Gas Theory works. - ie. lots of heat comes from the hot Earth (red) and is absorbed by a (cold) molecule of C02 which then re-radiates back some of that heat to the (hot) Earth even though it is of lower energy (colder) than the Earth. This is not possible and is a lie.


The emissivity scale - lists many materials and assigns a number between 0 and 1.0 to them, in order to describe their emission / absorption capabilities compared to the perfect idealized material - a black body. A blackbody is assigned a number of 1.0 (total absorption / emission). A complete opposite of that, a pure white body that absorbs / emits nothing at all is given a value of 0.

ALL materials with a temperature above Absolute 0 are capable of absorbing / emitting electromagnetic energy.  Although we visualize solid materials of being associated with this property, gases also demonstrate it. Where does C02 fall on the scale?

I place some references within this section that give results of the work done to measure the emissivity of Carbon Dioxide. They demonstrate that - at atmospheric pressure, at a given partial pressure (ie. gas concentration) in air, C02 has an emissivity of close to .0024.  Even increasing C02 to massive concentrations (50%) it never gets to be a significant number, still ranging around the lower end of the scale (.16) and not showing any real tendency to absorb radiation at all. 

This is so close to 0 that C02 can easily be considered as a white body. 

So what?

 Well, it has to do with whether C02 can actually absorb IR radiation delivered from the Earth and conversely whether it can re-emit those IR waves back to the earth. It can't. It's a lousy heat absorber, a lousy heat storage vessel, a lousy radiator but an excellent deflector of infrared heat waves. 

It just doesn't do the things attributed to a true black body (remember IPCC gave it a value of 1.0) and so it cannot be given any credit whatsoever for being the basis of the global warming scenario.  It's all a lie, invented to fool the public and gain control. Same old. Same old.